Hostgator Review: Pros & Cons You Need to Know Before Signup
HostGator is a popular hosting provider that aims to make hosting easy and affordable for its users.
HostGator hosts over 8 million domains and is one of the most popular web hosts in the industry. With 1-click WordPress installation, 99.9% uptime guarantee, and 24/7 support, it’s a smart choice for every website owner. We consider them one of the best web hosting for businesses.
In this detailed HostGator review, we will look into:
- Reliability: Will your website be available 24/7/365 without any downtime?
- Performance: How fast will your website load on HostGator? We will run our own performance tests to analyze this.
- Customer Support: Can you count on their customer support? Will you be able to easily get help when needed?
- Features: Do their features help you easily create and manage your website?
- Pricing: Do they offer the best pricing in the industry? Are there any HostGator deals that can save you money?
Bottom line: Want to skip the details? To summarize, we found HostGator to be a reliable and customer friendly hosting service. Their 24/7 customer support is among the best.
That’s why we’ve added HostGator as one of the best WordPress hosting companies.
Not Started With Hostinger Yet?Use our special HostGator link below to get up to 67% off their web hosting. You can buy hosting from just $2.49/month.
Let’s check out what HostGator has to offer and when (and when not) to use it.
Pros and Cons of HostGator
Like every other product and service, each hosting company have their pros and cons. Here are the pros and cons of HostGator that we learned:
|Pricing: There are few hosting providers that can match HostGator in terms of pricing; you can be sure to find large discounts and special offers most of the time, especially if you opt for longer billing cycles.
Reliability: HostGator guarantees an uptime of 99.99%.
Free Website Migration: HostGator can transfer website files, databases, scripts, and one free domain registration transfer for free during the first 30 days of signing up.
Generous money-back guarantee: HostGator offers 45 days money-back guarantee. Normally, web hosting companies do not offer a money-back guarantee exceeding 30 days.
Flexible billing periods: You can choose between monthly and yearly billing periods. Longer billing periods will get you the most discount.
Free SSL: Your hosting package includes a free SSL certificate that provides security for your website domains and subdomains
|Tricky prices and fees: Very cheap prices the first term and expensive upon renewal. $25 is charged if you need to restore from one of their backups.
Aggressive upselling: You need to review the additional services pre-selected during the sign up process. If you are unsure, then uncheck them anyways. You can always add them later when needed.
Poor backups: Unless you pay for an add-on, you have access to only 1 backup.
- Ease of Signup: Easy signup process.
- Payment Methods: Credit Card, PayPal.
- Money-Back: 45-day money-back guarantee.
- Hidden Fees and Clauses: Introductory pricing is only available for long-term plan purchases. Renewal rates will also more than double. Extra services, like backups and malware monitoring, are all extra fees, too.
- Upsells: Lots of upsells.
- Account Activation: It can take up to 24 – 48 hours to activate your account.
- Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: cPanel.
- Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): They make it easy to install popular apps and CMSs in a few steps using QuickInstall.
Can you imagine what will happen to your business if your site goes down frequently? Fancy additional features are meaningless unless your site stays online.
We’ve started to see a few other hosts pop up with uptime guarantees recently, and it means all customers win as a result. Competitors coming out and doing this helps raise the bar for the entire industry. It forces everyone else in the market to either match their guarantee and raise the standard level of service or risk falling behind.
Let’s find out how well HostGator performed.
HostGator Speed Test Results
The most important performance indicator is speed. A faster website is good for your users, and it also helps your SEO rankings.
In fact, studies suggest that 1 second delay in page load will cost you 7% less conversions, 11% less page views, and a 16% decrease in user satisfaction.
Would your site perform under peak traffic hours?
To test this we used a tool called LoadImpact. It sends virtual users to a website and gradually increases the number of users on your site up to 100 at once.
You can see the result in the chart below:
The green line in the chart is page load time and the blue line shows the number of users on the site. As you can see, our test site performed really well up to 80 users, after that it started to slow down.
These results are particularly good for a shared hosting account. Remember that on a shared hosting account, you share server resources with other sites hosted on that same server. You will need to upgrade your hosting account if you start getting more visitors at the same time.
HostGator Server Response Time
The content of your website significantly affects the page load time. For example, if your website has many images, then it will increase the page load time.
This affects your server’s speed test results. We wanted to see how fast the HostGator server actually responds.
To test this, we used a tool called Bitcatcha. It works differently than other website speed testing tools. Instead of loading the content, it only tests the response time of the server.
It also runs the test three times from multiple locations spread all over the world to get the average response time for each location.
Here is how HostGator performed in these tests:
Our HostGator review site performed really well. The server response time remained less than a second. In the United States, it was merely 37 ms.
Overall, this result indicates that your site will load quickly around the world.
HostGator Support and Customer Service
Websites are usually long-term projects. This means that when you’re choosing a hosting company, you’re making a choice for many years.
It is thus essential to think beyond the immediate discounts and consider things that may make a difference over time – like service stability and customer support.
HostGator provides a knowledge base, phone, email, and live chat support. The last option is the fastest.
Inside your hosting dashboard, you will find their support portal. This portal helps you find quick answers from a knowledge base of 680+ articles and 500+ video tutorials.
However, there was a time when you need to wait 5 – 10 minutes to reach their live chat support – which I find rather dissatisfying. Customers who are big on live chat support might want to check out others (SiteGround has the best live chat support in my experience so far, go check out).
HostGator Hosting Plans, Features, and Pricing
HostGator offers a variety of hosting plans. You can choose from shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated servers, cloud hosting, and WordPress hosting plans.
All these plans are feature-rich and suitable for different budgets and hosting requirements.
Not sure which type of hosting you need? Here’s a quick breakdown to help you choose:
- Shared hosting: best for small, basic sites with low traffic, such as single page blogs.
- Cloud hosting: best for sites that experience hikes and dips in traffic, such as stores running online sales.
- WordPress hosting: best for WordPress websites of all sizes.
- Reseller hosting: best for those starting their own hosting business.
- VPS hosting: best choice for most standard websites – it’s an encouraged upgrade from shared hosting.
- Dedicated hosting: best for very large websites and online stores that need advanced customization and security.
This HostGator review focuses on their shared hosting plans,
When it comes to shared hosting, HostGator clients can choose between three plans, ranging from $2.75 to $5.95 per month (for a 36-month billing cycle and with the initial discount):
Looking at the features available, you might be wondering what the difference is between unmetered and unlimited. Let’s take a quick look to clear up any confusion.
Unmetered means you’re not charged for the amount of resources you use – but there is still a limit on how much you can use. It’s very unlikely that your site will approach these limits, however, and HostGator will email you if it looks like you might exceed their limits.
Unlimited really does mean there’s no limit – so you can as many domains as you like!
Another feature you’ll see a lot is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). This encrypts information passing between your visitors and your website, protecting data from hackers or leaks. Google warns visitors when they’re entering an unsecured site, so having SSL really is an essential feature.
We only recommend the Hatchling plan for very small websites – as the name suggests, its features are best for sites that are just getting started online. You can only host one domain, and you can’t upgrade your SSL certificate for added protection.
The Baby plan is a good middle-ground for $3.95 per month – you can host an unlimited number of domains, and if you want to upgrade to private SSL then you can. This makes it a better choice if you’re running more than one website or need better security.
The Business plan has the most advanced features, giving your site more room to grow. It’s also the best plan if you’re running a small online store. You get a free upgrade to a Positive SSL (which offers a higher level of security than the basic version) and SEO tools to help people find your site online.
So, which plan should you choose?
- If you need to host more than one domain, the Baby plan is your best choice.
- If you want to run a small online store then you’ll need a Business plan.
- For simply hosting a single site that’s just getting started, the Hatchling plan will get you on your feet.
Conclusion: Is HostGator the Right Choice for You?
Now that you have read our detailed HostGator review, you are probably thinking if HostGator is right for you?
HostGator offers a variety of hosting plans that fit all budgets and requirements. They offer all the tools you will need to build a website.
Over 2 million customers have already trusted HostGator. Whether you are a seasoned Internet pro, or just starting out with your first website, you’ll find every necessary tool to bring your website to the next level.
So yes – Hostgator is a go. And I personally think the Gator is particularly a good choice for newbies and individual bloggers who wish to “stick with the crowd”.
If you do have a more professional project, I’d encourage you to check out SiteGround and DreamHost.
Ready to get started with DreamHost?Use our special HostGator link below to get up to 67% off their web hosting. You can buy hosting from just $2.49/month.
5 Best Siteground Alternatives in 2021
SiteGround is a stellar Web host that offers excellent performance and a variety of WordPress-specific features. It is generally highly recommended when you are looking for managed hosting and expert customer support.
However, its recent price increase may force some users to look for cheaper SiteGround alternatives.
Here’s the old and new prices of SiteGround:
|SiteGround Plans||Old Price||New Price|
Fortunately, there are several affordable options worth considering. The companies we have selected offer reliable uptime and decent page load times.
They also provide convenient WordPress features and dedicated customer support.
In this article, we will review five of the best affordable alternatives to SiteGround.
Although they are not all the same, it is always wise to shop around to ensure you get the best value for your money. Let’s dive in!
Five best and cheapest SiteGround alternatives
Each of the alternatives offers basic functionality at similar prices, so the solution that is right for you will depend on the additional functionality you need for your site.
Thanks to various factors, Web hosts can now offer more for less. This means more flexibility and choice for consumers like you and me.
Today, most shared hosting plans are less expensive than $5/month. For those who are new or host simple sites with few resources, cheap shared hosting is a great place to start.
Now, let’s take a look at the five we consider the best.
Bluehost is a basic provider for many beginners because of its intuitive cPanel dashboard and one-click WordPress installation.
It is officially recommended by WordPress.org, so it comes with many useful features to make your life easier.
You’ll receive automatic updates, easy preparation sites, and built-in caching for extra speed, making Bluehost an attractive alternative to SiteGround.
Based on our testing, SiteGround offers better performance and overall customer support.
However, Bluehost remains an excellent choice if you’re on a tight budget. It offers exceptional uptime and a decent selection of WordPress-specific features.
Bluehost offering free website migrations for qualifying WordPress websites within the first 30 days after signup.
For only $2.65 per month on the Basic plan, you have access to the following features:
- 50 GB of storage
- Free domain for the first year
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Free SSL Certificate
- Free CDN
Learn more about Bluehost in our review.
DreamHost is officially recommended by WordPress.org, so rest assured that you won’t miss out on any WordPress-specific features.
Both companies have a high level of customer satisfaction and promise 99.9% uptime.
Nevertheless, DreamHost is a worthy candidate that offers user-friendly features and an affordable choice of plans.
It comes with a 97-day money-back guarantee and automatic WordPress updates for added peace of mind.
It also offers innovative packages such as WooCommerce hosting or fully managed DreamPress plans if you need more robust solutions for your website.
You can upgrade to the cheapest Basic package for only $2.59 per month, which includes:
- Free domain for one year
- Unlimited traffic
- WordPress pre-installed
- Free automated WordPress migration
- WP website builder
- Fast SSD storage
- Free SSL certificate
If you wish to host several websites, you need to go for the unlimited plan.
It starts at only $4.95 per month and includes unlimited storage and emails.
It should also be noted that DreamHost allows you to pay monthly, which could be convenient for those who don’t want to commit to a one-year or three-year contract.
Learn more about DreamHost in our review.
This company offers a variety of hosting services, including managed WordPress hosting with features comparable to SiteGround.
We tested both providers and found that SiteGround’s customer support is superior to that of HostGator. However, if you don’t need a lot of help, this option is worth considering.
If you don’t want to sacrifice too much functionality, you may want to consider HostGator’s managed WordPress services, which come with advanced security and supercharged speed.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can switch to the Hatchling plan for as little as $2.75 per month, which includes:
- Free domain for one year
- FREE website & domain transfers
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Free SSL certificate
- 45-day money-back guarantee
Learn more about HostGator in our review.
4. A2 Hosting
If fast page load times are your top priority, A2 Hosting may be the best alternative to SiteGround for you.
This host likes to position itself as the fastest on the market, and it beats SiteGround in this respect.
We were also impressed by its ultra-fast servers, which you can read about in our detailed review of this provider.
In terms of WordPress-specific features, A2 Hosting does not disappoint.
It offers WordPress installations optimized for maximum performance and security.
You can also access its ultra-fast Turbo and Cache Litespeed servers for an additional speed boost.
What’s more, it’s one of the few providers to offer Linux and Windows hosting.
You can join A2 Hosting for only $2.99 per month for a single website on a shared server. The basic startup plan includes:
- 100 GB of storage
- Up to 5 databases
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Hassle-Free Money-Back Guarantee
- Free site migration
- SSL Certificate
- Security analysis
The more advanced “Drive” plan gives you unlimited storage to host as many websites as you want. You also get free automatic backups and unlimited database access starting at only $4.99 per month.
Learn more about A2 Hosting in our review.
Hostinger is an international company that provides hosting and domain names. The company exists since 2004 and is present on all continents. It represents nearly 29 million users worldwide. Hostinger is part of the 000Webhost, Niagahoster, and Weblink group.
Compared to its competitors, the platform focuses more on hosting performance, in order to guarantee optimum service.
Hostinger offers a wide variety of hosting services, ranging from advanced VPS cloud hosting plans to beginners who simply want to get started with cheap shared hosting.
Hostinger’s cheapest plan – “Single” is priced at $0.99/month, which includes:
- 10 GB of storage
- 100 GB bandwidth
- Free SSL certificate
- 30 days money-back guarantee
- 2 MySQL Database
- 2 Subdomains
- 1 Email Account
If you’re willing to pay a little more, Hostinger’s Premium shared hosting plan (starting at $2.59/month) includes a free domain, SSH access, unlimited databases; and Mail Assassin, which protects you from spam.
Learn more about Hostinger in our review.
Although SiteGround continues to be one of the best hosting providers on the market, its recent price increase may make it too expensive for some users.
Considerable savings can be achieved by switching to one of the companies listed above. However, you may have to sacrifice some features.
To recap, we’ve discussed five of the best and cheapest SiteGround alternatives that come with comparable performance and WordPress-compatible resources.
If you don’t know where to start, Bluehost is our first choice because it comes closest to SiteGround in terms of customer satisfaction and offers many WordPress-specific features at a low price.
However, you can’t go wrong with any of the companies in this article.
Semrush Competitive Research Toolkit
Semrush provides its users with a toolkit called “Competitive Research“. This toolkit includes 13 specialized tools, which will help you monitor the overall performance of a competitor’s site. An overview of performance related to organic research (SEO), advertising, content and PR (Content Marketing), and social media.
Looking at what our competitors are doing, what are their strengths and weaknesses, knowing how they rank well on search engines, will allow us to know the market well, gain a real competitive advantage, and be able to make intelligent decisions with a strong impact on the overall visibility and communication strategy of a site.
Imagine being able to reverse the success of one of your competitor’s largest sites and identify its weaknesses and take its place for certain keywords? That’s the beauty of competition.
We will see in this article how it works!
The ultimate goal of this analysis is to get an overview of the strategies that work for your competitors in your market so that you can adopt them, improve them, and gain a competitive advantage. This analysis is focused on competitors’ sites.
Why Should You Conduct a Competitive Analysis?
Tell me, have you ever thought about any of the following?
- Increase your traffic exponentially using only the resources at your disposal.
- Find keywords with high search volume that have not been targeted by other SEOs in your space.
- Find keywords that give your competitors the highest ROI.
- Search for high competitive keywords used by your competition and win.
These are the opportunities that SEO competitor analysis offers.
More specifically, it tells you how you stack up against your competition.
SEO has a competitive factor. You want to rank higher, spend less, and get the best return on investment. The way to do this is to know where you stand compared to your competitors.
Semrush Competitive Research Toolkit
Here are the 13 tools of this toolkit and their specificities :
Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a website, compare the metrics with those obtained by your site (we will see all this in detail in this article).
Analyze a specific market or domain to highlight trends and understand its potential. What about market leaders? We will also cover this tool in detail a little further down in this article.
Analyze the organic traffic of the site under study, know the most performing keywords and the changes in positions.
Analyze the keywords on which your competitor ranks. Compare its positioning to yours (up to 5 URLs, sub-domains, sub-folders). Identify common keywords and opportunities.
Know the links and the origin of your competitors’ backlinks.
Compare backlink profiles, up to 5 domains. Identify interesting sites for your own strategy.
Know and analyze your competitor’s paid search keywords and landing pages, get a copy of their ads, and build an industry profile.
Identify the amount of display and text ads that a website delivers via Google Ads and AdSense.
Identify the products your competitor is advertising on the Google Shopping network.
Choose the most effective distribution channels to share your content and analyze the presence of your brand on these networks or that of your competitors: find the right resources, evaluate their potential and select according to the right criteria!
Find the right article topic, find sites that cover the same topics as you, explore any related subtopics that your competitors cover to enrich your content strategy.
Compare the performance of different pieces of content (from different websites) and the interactions they generate, measure interactions on social networks, backlinks, and even keyword portfolios for any article.
Social Media Tracker
Track your main competitors on the five most popular social media to determine which types of social media generate the most interactions and adapt your own social media strategy.
>> Analyze and discover your competitor’s SEO strategies with SEMrush. Try them FREE here! <<
I present you two tools from the “Competitive Research toolkit“. Follow me!
1. Traffic Analytics: Know Everything About Your Competitors
The “Traffic Analytics” tool, as its name suggests, allows you to analyze the data concerning the traffic of a website and the engagement generated with Internet users: the number of visits, unique visitors, the average visit duration, bounce rate, traffic sources, best-performing pages, geographic distribution, etc.
In short, you will understand, a bit of everything you have in your audience analysis tool (Google Analytics, etc).
But, while it is easy to get this data for your site through your audience analysis tool, it is less obvious to get this information for your competitor’s site. What Semrush makes available to us here is a real gold mine of information. Used intelligently, this data will allow you to take the temperature of the industry and clearly identify the strength of your site.
The tool, therefore, allows you to have an overview of your site performance compared to your competitors’ site. And sometimes it can have good or bad surprises. The most important thing is to know your place and make the right decisions for the future.
And since we are here in a competitive study, it is appropriate to select your competitors for analysis and comparison.
So, here are some data and the graphs that you can get from the Semrush traffic analytics tool:
- Estimation of total site traffic of any domain and its sub-domains.
- Visits analysis, unique visitors, pages/visit, average visit duration, and bounce rate.
Interesting to know where your site is located. Does it get more or fewer visits than its competitors? What actions can you take to reverse the trend?
How do these analyzed sites get their traffic? Is it rather direct traffic? From backlinks? SEO? Social? Advertisements? On which domain is it interesting to try to get a backlink?
Interesting to know the competitors’ efforts on the backlink strategy for example, or to know if they make advertising campaigns, etc. There is also a notion of reputation and popularity to read between the lines with direct traffic.
Traffic by Country
Geographical distribution, which countries do visitors come from? What percentage of traffic comes from these countries?
Interesting to know this figure to see the extent of traffic.
What percentage of visitors come to my site and also visit one of my competitors’ sites? Which competitor has the greatest audience overlap?
Interesting to know if I am at the same target as my competitors. Strategies are then necessary: change the target so as not to be in direct competition, or, on the contrary, go for it and try to capture more of my competitors’ audience.
This is roughly what you can get with the Semrush traffic analytics tool. Everything you need to analyze traffic, visits, sources, both for your sites and those of your competitors.
You’ll find your strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll be able to make strategic decisions based on findings closer to reality. Having these estimates is an invaluable competitive advantage.
2. Market Explorer: Know Everything About Your Industry
Market Explorer allows us to study and deepen a niche market in order to better understand the target audience. With this tool, you will be able to compare your site to that of your competitors and evaluate the demographics and characteristics of your market.
Knowing your market is a strong competitive advantage because only then will we be able to differentiate ourselves from others and gain market share.
Who is in my market? Who are the leaders and challengers? What are the strategies of my competitors? What are the market opportunities? How can I leverage this data for my business? So many questions to ask and which must be answered in the most relevant way possible in order to gain positions and climb the ranks!
The figures and data from Market Explorer are then the raw material of our analysis.
Zoom on the data and their graphs that you can get with the Semrush Market Explorer tool:
List of relevant sites to the chosen domain and an estimation of their market share. You get a list of sites positioned on the market according to their traffic volume and also a focus on the most relevant sites for the topic. Top 10, top 20, top 30 of the sites best placed on the topic of the site analyzed: the leaders, new sites with high potential, sites with interesting growth, and sites well established on the market!
Interesting to know your competitors to know exactly with whom you share the cake. According to their weight, their strategies, their targets… You will be able to decide to follow them or to move away by changing strategic direction.
Domain vs Market Dynamics
Details on industry traffic trends and its own performance. You get the same list of market competitors but ranked according to their percentage of traffic. You also have the ability to compare your performance to industry performance.
Interesting to know exactly which market player gets the most visits, even by the source of traffic (direct, referral, search, social, paid). Interesting also to see the disparities between players and traffic trends. Enough to put pressure and try to climb to the top!
Trends in traffic sources. You will be able to identify the traffic sources in the market. Which support is the most used in your industry (direct, referral, search, social, paid)?
Interesting to know exactly which media your target uses to arrive on a site in the industry. This will guide your acquisition strategies.
In-Market Audience Interests
Main interests of the audience present on the market. You will be able to understand what the main interests of your readers are.
Interesting to know exactly the interest of its target. This will allow you to respond to them through relevant and value-added articles.
Market Audience Gender & Age
Market audience demographics. You will be able to explore details on the gender and age groups of industry targets.
Interesting to know exactly your target. Studies on personas and profiles are very interesting, even indispensable to target your communication, your writings, and your strategy. We need to know our target, this is the key to absolute relevance!
To finish this mini-presentation, which I hope you will find useful, please note that in Market Explorer, two other tabs are available:
- The first “Relevant Sites” will allow you to see at a glance the traffic data and traffic sources. Interesting to be able to use this listing according to your needs. You can filter the file, export it … and add sites to regular monitoring.
- The second tab, the “Custom Market“, allows you to track sites defined beforehand. You will have exactly the same data as presented above, but for the sites you have chosen. You will not be able to follow all your competitors, and you will have to make choices.
You know your target now, your competition, your market, etc. The next step is to reflect on your strategy to make it as relevant as possible. The winning recipe is yours, copying a competitor incorrectly will not pay off.
>> Analyze and discover your competitor’s SEO strategies with SEMrush. Try them FREE here! <<
Read also: SEMrush Tutorial 2020 – Ultimate Guide & Free Trial [100+ Screenshots]
SEMrush Tutorial, Pricing & Free Trial
What is SEMrush
SEMRush is the ultimate competitor analysis marketing tool to find out what exactly your competitors are doing with both paid and organic search and what type of ads they’re running. All that information is perfect.
So if you’re a marketing agency, if you’ve got your own company and you putting out content, so you want to actually be able to see how you stack up against the competition and how you beat the competition.
This is a type of tool that you’re gonna need to get that data before you actually go to market right.
SEMrush consists of over 30 different tools grouped into five major toolkits. Switch between the toolkits using the drop-down list in the top left corner menu.
There are five different SEMrush toolkits:
- SEO Toolkit
- Advertising Toolkit
- Social Media Toolkit
- Content Marketing Toolkit
- Competitive Research Toolkit
You can also use the all navigation with all toolkits layout or go to the project clicks list directly.
Let’s have a closer look at each toolkit:
SEMrush SEO toolkit
Helps with every aspect of SEO. Inside, you’ll find solutions for competitive analysis and keyword research, improving your backlink profile, conducting a deep technical audit of your website, and fixing the issues, local SEO, on-page SEO, and even daily rank tracking.
SEMrush Advertising toolkit
Offers tons of insights for your google ads campaigns and tools to prepare your next campaign for launch. You’ll find data to inform your search display and even product listing ads campaigns at all stages of the campaign. From competitive research to keyword collection to writing an ad copy and even managing the extensions.
SEMrush Social media toolkit
You can see how your competitors engage with their audience on social to actually steal their best practices. It also helps with posting and content creation, influencer marketing as well as for analytics, and overall strategy enhancement.
SEMrush Content marketing toolkit
Covers the complete workflow. From analysis and strategy, topic and keyword research, to actual creation of SEO optimized content and really maximizing its reach and impact. Work with the content published both on and off your site to get a much bigger picture.
SEMrush Competitive research toolkit
Unites powerful tools for 360-degree market analysis. Benchmarking, pre-sales, and even pitching. It provides comprehensive data about a website of your choice, from their search engine marketing strategies and advertising tactics to their content performance PR efforts and followers growing techniques.
SEMrush SEO toolkit
Your entire SEMrush SEO experience starts with the SEO Dashboard that contains key SEO metrics that provide a helicopter view on domain optimization.
You can easily connect your Google Analytics and Search Console to keep track of the key metrics in one place.
SEMrush SEO toolkit contains of five main parts:
- Competitive Research
- Keyword Research
- Link Building
- Rank Tracking
- On-page and Tech SEO
1. Competitive research
Contains tools and reports where you can have a look at any domain including your competitor’s domain in terms of traffic, organic keywords, and positions, or do benchmarking in keywords or backlinks.
Reports in this workflow include:
- Domain Overview
- Traffic Analytics
- Organic Research
- Keyword Gap
- Backlink Gap
Now it’s time to move on to competitive research. And the biggest benefit SEMrush provides is its Traffic Analytics tool.
The data is provided with historical information, for any location and any devices. So you can look at both a desktop, mobile, or all devices together.
You can look at one domain itself or do benchmarking. So it’s a good option to compare up to five domains in terms of traffic metrics.
There are 3 other metrics that are worth paying attention to Pages per visit, average visit duration, and bounce rate.
These metrics indicate how visitors interact with the domains.
Look at different traffic sources and benchmark them.
There is a bar chart at the bottom of the page showing traffic distribution by country.
See where your competitors are getting traffic from, and consider targeting those locations as well.
To get more details, you can go to traffic sources and investigate detailed information about the traffic sources type.
As well as referring sites, search engines, or social networks where they are most active.
Go to the ‘Geo Distribution’ tab to see where the visitors of the analyzed domain are located.
Once you’ve taken a quick glance at your competitors’ sites, it’s time to get down to details,
With Traffic Analytics, you already have a general understanding of your competitors’ website performance. But what about the numerous aspects of it?
Organic Research will help you analyse your competitors’ sites and identify the keywords they rank for.
You can even analyse their site on different levels. Look at the entire domain, subdomain, or even a particular URL.
In the Organic Positions report, you can see the keywords and their positions.
Also, you’ll find a comprehensive table that shows the list of keywords your competitor is ranking for.
If you want to work with this keyword to find the most ancient interesting ones, you can use advanced filters. You can filter by any column and use several filters simultaneously.
After it, you can export the data to excel or CSV.
To make sure that all of your organic search rivals are on your radar use the Organic Competitors report to run a quick scan of your competition in the locations you are targeting.
Competitors are selected based on the number of common keywords and the total number of organic keywords.
Use the Keyword Gap to compare your keyword strategy to that of your competitors.
Just pick five competing domains and use the chart view. The charts include both mutual and unique keywords for the competing domains you compare.
Make sure to pay attention to the section that describes unique keywords to uncover missing keyword opportunities for your search strategy.
Keyword Gap doesn’t just cover your organic keywords, you can also look at paid or PLA keywords as well.
Now it’s time to look at Backlinks. SEMrush’s Backlink Gap tool has similar functionality to Keyword Gap.
You can enter your competitors’ site to Backlinks Gap, check out where they get their backlinks from, and cross-check the list of referring domains with your own list to discover some missing opportunities.
2. Keyword Research
Where you can find related keywords or any kind of long-tail keywords.
Reports and tools in this workflow include:
- Keyword Overview
- Keyword Magic Tool
- Keyword Difficulty
- Organic Traffic Insights
Keyword Magic Tool
You also need to do some keyword research before you implement an efficient keyword strategy for your own domain. And this is where Keyword Magic Tool enters the stage.
Keyword Magic Tool has everything you need for keyword research.
With this tool, you’ll create a solid keyword list from just a single keyword. Then you’ll be able to refine your list, gathering the most important and significant keywords.
By entering your seed keyword and selecting the desired database, you’ll get a list of the top keywords semantically related to the search.
Then we’ll narrow down our results. This could be done with the help of matched filters like Broad Match, Phrase Match, and Exact Match.
- Broad Match is set by default. It includes variations of all forms of a seed keyword in any word order.
- Phrase Match provides keywords which may include your seed keywords in a variety of orders. This filter uses the format of seed keywords.
- Exact Match is the most strict filter. It shows keywords that contain seed keywords in the exact form and order.
We can also find question-based keywords that contain our seed keyword by clicking the Questions button.
It is always useful to know what our target audience is actually asking.
It’s believed that if your content is optimized for question-based keywords, your chances of winning assert features like featured snippets become much higher.
All the keyword ideas will be organized into groups and subgroups by search topic.
For each group and subgroup, the tool estimates the keyword’s total volume and its average difficulty.
To specify your research topic, you can use flexible filters to include or exclude a keyword from your search.
You can also filter by metrics such as:
- Word Count to find fat heads or long tails.
- Volume to find keywords that are being more searched for
- Keyword difficulty which is an estimation of how hard it is to outrank your competitors when targeting a certain organic keyword to find realistic targets in terms of competition.
- Search features to find keywords that could lead to a winning search feature.
The basic idea here is to find the most relevant high-volume keyword for our H1 title, longer keywords with lower volume for H2 titles, and finally even more precise longtail keywords for H3 titles.
That’s how the spine of your text structure is actually created.
When you’re done with collecting keywords, send them to the Keyword Analyzer.
It is a kind of keyword repository where we can view real-time keyword metrics and refined our keyword list based on that info.
In the keyword analyzer table, there is a list of chosen keywords which you can sort and filter by several parameters such as volume, keyword difficulty, or the number of search features.
We can also see the top 10 competitors for each keyword.
Once you’ve made the final choice for keywords you want to work with, just send them to other SEMrush tools like PPC Keywords Tool to optimize your PPC campaigns for your target keywords, and Position Tracking tool to keep track of your performance.
We can also export them to an excel file.
With the help of the Keyword Magic Tool, you can research keywords for the topics you’re going to write about. With its functionality, you’ll be able to choose the amount of suitable ones.
Try the tool on your own and experience its magical powers and leave behind that old way of doing long and boring keyword of research.
The keyword difficulty tool helps us to compare up to 100 keywords.
You can see which features are present on your target keywords’ results pages.
3. Link Building
Where you can do both, backlink analysis of any competitor’s domain and benchmarking or analyze your domain. Both existing, a backlink profile to find the toxic backlinks and get rid of them or to find the best prospects and acquire them to improve your backlink profile.
Reports and tools in this workflow include:
- Backlink Analytics
- Backlink Audit
- Link Building Tool
- Bulk Analysis
Before jumping in straight to building links, you have to look at your competitors and at your own backlink profile. And this is where you go to the Backlink Analytics tool.
You should use Backlink Analytics to analyse your competitors’ backlink strategy and benchmark your backlink profile against theirs by looking at the key metrics.
The tool allows you to look at backlink profiles from various angles.
And actually, get redirected to any referring domain that caught your attention.
Learning about your and competitors’ backlink profile is only half the battle. To really win, you have to optimize your backlinks, this is when you use the Backlink Audit Tool.
Let’s configure the tool:
Step 1: Choose the domain type to let the tool pull out the most accurate results.
Step 2: Enter your official brand name if needed.
It will help SEMrush define brand anchors.
Step 3: Specify the categories your domain is associated with.
It will help SEMrush identify bad-quality backlinks.
Step 4: Select your target countries.
Then click on “Start Backlink Audit”
The tool conducts an audit of your existing backlink profile to pin-point toxic links that hurt your rankings. And you can even reach out to owners of the site that gave you a “bad” backlink right within the tool.
Go to the “Audit” tab to see the list of your backlinks.
If a backlink is good, move it to the “Whitelist”.
If you are sure that a certain link is low-quality, send it directly to the “Disavow” list.
You can export this list to a file and upload it to the Google Disavow Tool afterward.
The biggest help in Link Building comes from the Link Building Tool.
Configuring The Tool:
Step 1: Enter up to 10 keywords that you wish to earn a higher ranking for.
Step 2: Enter up to 10 competitors. Then click “Start Link Building”.
It gathers potential best backlink sources and prioritizes them by the value they bring to your website. Each prospect is analysed by several parameters and gets sorted by rating.
Pick the prospects you’d like to work with and choose the best strategy to work with the potential backlink source.
For instance, let’s start the outreach with one of the lists. As you can see, SEMrush already has the contact details for your email outreach.
You can easily create a letter and monitor its status as well. After you acquire a backlink, you can just mark it and look at the existing backlinks in the Monitor tab.
So you can see that SEMrush’s Link Building tool covers the entire link building workflow.
And once you integrate it with your Google Search Console and Gmail, it will only make your job easier.
Where you can compare up to 200 backlinks or URLs.
By several metrics like authority score, backlinks numbers, follow/nofollow, and even more detailed information about the backlinks.
4. Rank Tracking
Where can monitor your new competitor’s performance for the target set of keywords across heading location.
Tools in this workflow include:
- Position Tracking
Position Tracking allows you to track your site’s search performance across multiple locations and various devices all at the same time.
First, let’s set the Position tracking tool up,
Step 1: In the setup menu, choose what you want to track: a root domain, a subdomain, a URL, or a subfolder.
Setting up your Business Name will help you see the locations where you succeeded with getting into Local Packs.
Step 2: Unlike the SEMrush ‘domain analytics reports’ which provide data on the national level, Position Tracking allows you to track rankings for a specific location!
Step 3: Next, add up to 20 competitors to compare your rankings to.
They can be either added manually or selected from a suggested list.
Step 4: Finally, choose keywords for your tracking campaign.
You can add them manually, receive suggestions based on SEMrush’s organic or paid positions reports, receive suggestions from your Google Analytics account, or import them from a file.
The Overview Page
Once the report is gathered, you will jump to the “Position Tracking” overview page.
There you will find the visibility trend of your website.
- 100% visibility means that the tracked domain, subdomain, or URL has the first position for every keyword in the project.
- While zero visibility indicates that it doesn’t rank in Google’s top-100 for these keywords.
You can analyze how your competitors succeeded in ranking for the keywords of interest by seeing which domain has the highest “visibility” metric.
Also, keep an eye on the estimated traffic and average position metrics.
Estimated traffic is a calculation that predicts how many people will visit the domain daily from the keywords being tracked.
The average position is the average of all the rankings for the keywords in your campaign.
The Ranking Distribution Report
The “Ranking Distribution” report allows you to:
– Find out who attracts more attention by comparing your domain and your competitors’ domains’ visibility and estimated traffic.
– See the number of keywords in the campaign you and your competitors have in the top 3, top 10, top 20, and top 100 positions.
The ‘Rankings’ report provides you with data on your ranking and your competitors’ ranking for every keyword you’ve set up in the campaign.
The report is organized as a table with a list of keywords.
If you need more detailed analysis, go to the Landing Pages sections to see which pages rank for which keywords.
And since you can check your positions at a local level, you can always identify your niche competitors by using the Competitors Discovery option.
Take a look at our suggestions and mark the relevant ones. And simply blacklist the ones you don’t want to look at right now.
On top of that, the tool showcases whether there are any Featured Snippets for your relevant keywords.
And to make sure you always stay updated on any changes, positive or negative, set up custom alerts that will notify you of any significant changes to your SERP position.
It allows you to optimize your SEO strategy and stay informed of the latest Google updates.
Sensor tracks the volatility of Google search results on a daily basis, showing you how many changes there were in the rankings.
You will be able to react quickly and adjust your optimization plan.
Let’s learn more about the Sensor,
Here is the current Sensor score.
It shows the actual SERP volatility level which reflects changes in Google search results.
Below, you can see the SERP volatility trend for the last thirty days with notes that inform you about the most important changes in the algorithm.
To see which SERP features are present on SERPs for different categories, look at the SERP features occurrence list.
With it, you can watch out for Google’s algorithm updates that affected the popularity of SERP features.
Under the ‘Deviations’ tab, you can see the difference in volatility on a particular day compared to the monthly average for different categories.
In the ‘Personal Score’ tab, you can track the dynamics of your keyword positions for the devices and locations you’ve set earlier in the Position Tracking tool.
This will help you figure out whether any significant changes have occurred in your niche or whether it is only your rankings that have suffered.
This might mean that your website was experiencing some technical issues on that day.
You also can embed the Sensor widget into your website.
5. On-page and tech SEO
Now when you’re completely warmed-up with your keywords, backlinks and ranking covered, it’s time to get to heavy-lifting, the Technical & On-page SEO.
Tools in this workflow include:
- Site Audit
- SEO Content Template
- On-Page SEO Checker
- Log File Analyzer
- Listing Management
Site Audit tool allows SEOs to uncover what website sections and versions of the site (desktop or mobile) to audit.
Let’s configure Site Audit :
Step 1: Enter your crawl scope (it can be a domain, a subdomain, or a subfolder).
Step 2: Choose a user agent to crawl your site(It can be either the mobile or desktop version of the SEMrush Bot or the Google Bot).
Step 3: Apply allow/disallow rules to include or exclude the exact parts of your site from the audit.
Step 4: Specify URL parameters you want to be ignored during crawling.
Step 5: Bypass website restrictions, enter your credentials in this slide to allow the Site Audit bot to reach those pages and audit them for you.
Step 6: Finally, you can schedule automatic audits, setting the preferred day of the week for the audit.
All the issues that are listed within the tool are grouped by their severity level. Which makes it easy for you to prioritise what you should fix right away.
Issues are also grouped by themes or your site’s performance for particular SEO areas.
Let’s start with Crawlability,
The Crawlability report helps you identify whether any of your crawling budgets get wasted to pages with issues.
HTTPS Implementation: Since Google places close attention to site security, take a look at whether you have any security issues that need fixing right away.
International SEO: If you happen to have a website that operates across multiple countries and in different languages, see if your Hreflangs are correctly placed.
Site Performance: Also, keep a close eye on your site speed. The arrival of Mobile-First is placing bigger and bigger importance on site speed.
Internal Linking: When it comes to on-site SEO, you cannot avoid dealing with internal links.
Site Audit can easily identify any issues with your site’s internal link structure to help you optimise the most efficient link juice distribution.
In a nutshell, these are the on-site and technical SEO issues Site Audit covers for you.
For more efficiency, you can choose whether you want to explore the full list of issues, or only analyse the issues of a particular page on your site.
And to prioritize your efforts, even more, connect your Google Analytics to Site Audit to start working on the pages with the highest traffic.
SEO Content Template
Let’s look at how it works,
Enter a keyword that you are targeting.
The tool will analyze the strategy of your top 10 competitors.
And show you key recommendations.
Also, you will see how your top 10 competitors are using your target keywords.
At the bottom of the page, you will find some simple suggestions about what keywords you may want to add to your “title”, “meta”, and “H1” tags and to the main text.
You can export all these results to a doc file and use them for creating SEO-friendly content!
On-Page SEO Checker
Once you’re done fixing technical SEO issues on your site, it’s time to get down to optimizing particular pages of your site for particular keywords. And this is where On-Page SEO Checker comes into play.
Let’s configure the tool.
Step 1: Select your target location.
Then add the pages and keywords you want to study manually or import them automatically from SEMrush Organic Research.
Step 2: Choosing a crawler user agent.
Step 3: Scheduling re-collection of ideas.
If you choose a weekly basis, the tool will recrawl every Monday.
With the On-Page SEO Checker, you can optimize existing pages of your site for target keywords.
On the Overview page, you will see the number of ideas under seven categories.
If you open up the entire list of recommendations, you’ll see them sorted by priority level.
When you open the “Top 10 Benchmarking” section, you can compare your performance against the top 10 domains that organically top the SERP for every target keyword you specified.
Log File Analyzer
The Log File Analyzer is a technical SEO tool that will allow you to understand how bots from Google interact with your website.
Where can you find the access log?
First, access your server. You can do that by using the Cpanel of your hosting provider or using an FTP:
Using the Cpanel: Look for something with a name like: “file manager,” “file management,” etc.
Using an FTP client: After you have entered a server file directory, you can get your access logs. You can be found in these three most popular types of HTTP servers and locations:
- Apache: /var/log/access_log
- Nginx: logs/access.log
- Windows: C:\Windows\System32\LogFiles
Once you have accessed the Log File Analyzer, in the left-hand menu in the On-Page & Tech SEO block, you simply drag and drop your file to upload.
It might take a few minutes for larger files.
You can filter to only track desktop or smartphone bot activity and even change the time period.
SEMrush offers an extensive list of management and reporting tools, from custom PDF reporting to the Projects section.
The first section is Projects that encompasses various tools that cover different aspects of website visibility.
It’s the perfect space for gathering research data from across the Internet by setting up various tracking and auditing tools.
And the important thing that you can do with this project is to share it for view or edit with your entire team or a client.
And if you actually need to create a custom report that combines data from various tools, you can use My Reports.
You can create the report from the scratch or use a pre-defined template.
It’s quite easy to use. You just drag and drop which widgets you want to see in the interface.
You can even connect your Google Analytics and Search Console to get a comprehensive view of your SEO progress.
Once you’ve crafted your perfect report, schedule it to be emailed to your clients and coworkers on a regular basis.
Just don’t forget to save your newly crafted report as a custom template to make sure it’s always at hand whenever you need it.
This was an overview of what SEMrush SEO Toolkit can offer. But once you get down to work, you’ll find out even more features.
Here you can see that you have the option of going either monthly or with an annual plan. If you go with the annual plan you will save some money.
Let’s just take a quick look at the pricing: for the Pro, it’s just $99.95 a month, for the Guru $199.95, and for business $399.95.
Now let’s click over and look at their annual plans. Notice the savings you will receive if you go with the annual plan, $200 for the Pro, $400 for Guru, and $800 for the business plan.
If we just will scroll down and look at a few of the features, you notice that you have various thresholds depending upon your needs.
You can go through this and see just if the plan will match up with what you are seeking.
What is also nice here, is that there is a 7-day money-back guarantee on any SEMrush subscription.
SEMrush 7 Days Free Trial
SEMrush is mainly used for three reasons:
- Spy on your competitors.
- Increase your overall search traffic.
- Boost your income or website sales by using the best performing keywords.
For the next 7 days, you can avail SEMrush for free without any restrictions. And trust me, 7 days plenty for you to figure out that you’re gonna like it.