The Keyword Overview is our top-level report to look up any keyword in the Semrush database. After entering your word or phrase in the search bar you’ll see the keyword’s search volume (national and global level), number of results, CPC, Competition level, volume trend, and more.
- Top-level examination of any keyword in the Semrush database
- Instantly judge a keyword’s estimated value and competition
- Portal to deeper keyword research reports in the software
- Option to send keywords from the Bulk Analysis tab directly to the Keyword Manager
But before you can bring in any traffic from search, you need to decide which search terms are worth targeting. This is where keyword research becomes so important.
The Keyword Overview report is the easiest place to start your keyword research and get familiar with Semrush's reports and metrics.
Analyzing a Keyword’s Value
When you launch a Keyword Overview report, Semrush will provide you with an initial assessment of a keyword’s value.
- Volume: the average number of times per month that a keyword was queried on Google (on the national level).
- Keyword Difficulty: an estimation of how easy it would be to rank your website for this keyword with SEO
- CPC: cost-per-click ad advertiser pays Google for a click on their PPC ad on this keyword’s SERP.
- Com: the density of advertisers bidding on this keyword for their ads on the national level. A score of 1.00 indicates the highest level of competition, and a score of 0.00 indicates no competition. Although this metric refers to competitors in paid search, it can be representative of a keyword’s organic value as well.
- Global Volume: the combined total of the keyword’s monthly search volumes across all of our country databases
- Results on SERP (Search Engine Results Page): the number of URLs displayed in organic search results for a given keyword.
- SERP Features: hover over the icons to see which special SERP features are present on the results page for this keyword
- PLA: the top Product Listing Ads (Google Shopping) seen on this keyword’s SERP
- Ads: the top Google Ads PPC ads seen on this keyword’s SERP
- Trend: how much interest web searchers have shown in a given keyword in the last 12 months.
Knowing search volume allows you to estimate how popular a keyword is. But popularity isn’t the most important thing when picking your targets.
Tip. This report provides data on a national level. You can check out this article about Local Marketing Tools on Semrush to get a list of tools where you can narrow down to a local level.
Finding the Right Keywords to Target
High-volume search terms are great for driving a lot of traffic. However, actually ranking for a high volume keyword is easier said than done.
The more popular a keyword, the more competition there will be to go after that sweet traffic. So, the higher the search volume, the harder it is to overrun your competition.
Let’s say you run a website for a local electronics store. If you want to outrank your competitors on Google, it would be better to look for keywords with low volume and a low keyword difficulty score.
These keywords might fly “under the radar” of your competitor’s strategy and could be quick wins for your site.
These are also known as long-tail-keywords. Long-tail keywords are smart targets because they are more specific with their intentions.
While it may have less search volume, this keyword is more valuable for an SEO strategy because its intentions are more clear. In the SEO industry this is called “searcher intent.”
With a more specific keyword, you can be more effective targeting searchers by providing super-specific content on your website. In contrast, “headphones” would likely be too broad and competitive of a keyword to effectively target with SEO.
When thousands and thousands of people Google “headphones,” you can never know what they all want. But, when only a few hundred people search for “best wireless headphones for working out,” it’s easier to offer them exactly what they want.
Tip: use the Keyword Gap tool to find gaps in multiple competitors’ keyword strategies.
Keyword Variations, Questions & Related Keywords
The keyword variation widgets show you a snapshot of similar groups of keywords that you can dig through to find your perfect target keywords.
- Keyword Variations: search phrases that include your original keyword as well as additional modifying words. Keyword Variations help you find the most popular related searches to your main query.
- Questions: search terms where Semrush sees a “who, what, where, when, why, how, is, can, etc.” Questions are great for generating content ideas for blog posts, FAQs and content pages on your site. Answering commonly searched questions can help your SEO, including voice search optimization.
- Related keywords: keywords that have similar results as the queried keyword. With related keywords you’ll find common misspellings and topically related search phrases. Related keywords make for excellent keywords to target with PPC, because misspelled keywords generally have a lower CPC and competition level.
This data is pulled directly from our Keyword Magic Tool so you also get the total volume and average keyword difficulty. If you click on the number of keyword suggestions you will be brought directly to the Keyword Magic Tool.
Checking the Trend
A keyword’s trend helps you understand the seasonality of your target audience and predict when driving traffic with a particular search term will result in seasonal spikes.
The trend chart in this report will show whether or not a keyword’s search volume fluctuates throughout the year or if it stays relatively constant.
If you see that a keyword’s trend doesn’t peak and stays at the same level, then you’ll need to make sure that you're targeting this search query year-round.
However, if a keyword has a seasonal spike, then you can plan accordingly. For example, a keyword like “bathing suits” may trend higher in the spring and summer months.
As a website, you could strategize with seasonal website content or an advertising campaign to target this keyword.
Analyzing a keyword's organic value
If you scroll down, you’ll see the Keyword Overview report lists the top domains whose landing pages pop up organically for the search term you are analyzing.
You can view the SERP itself with the blue “View SERP” link, and generate real time metrics on these top performing websites with the button.
If you find your website in this list, congratulations! Google considers your page one of the best and most relevant to the given keyword. But don’t miss the chance to strengthen and improve your ranking.
Improving your search rankings organically can be the biggest factor when it comes to beating out your closest online competitors. Since billions of searches happen every day, getting your site up in the rankings for the right keywords can really pay off.
Whoever is ranking currently on the first page of results are your SEO competitors. You can check each competitor’s web page and analyze its content, structure and usage of the particular keyword. You can click on the small arrow to open the page in a new tab or click on the URL to open an Organic Research report for that webpage.
From that report you’ll be able to see this page’s keywords, backlinks, traffic share and more.
If your domain isn’t at the top of the search results, you should then analyze the content of those pages in order to learn from them.
One of our Project tools, On Page SEO Checker, can help you generate ideas for improving your content.
Tip: You can export each part of the report in XLS or CSV formats.
Analyzing a keyword's advertising value
If your site doesn’t naturally rank for keywords, you can still get search traffic by bidding on keywords through Google Ads.
Below the organic listings you can also find the top PLA Copies (product listing ads), Ad Copies (Google Ads) that appear for a keyword in paid search results. Take these as inspiration for writing your own ad copy and analyze the landing pages they are pointing to.
If you’re an ecommerce website, pay attention to the top product listing ads. These advertisers are your top Google Shopping competitors.
The Keyword Ad History widget will show how actively websites bid on the keyword in the last 12 months on the national level. Click it and you’ll be forwarded to the Keyword Ads History report, which will have more information.
By using Semrush Keyword Analytics you can determine your best performing ads over the past year. With this information you will be able to see which strategies are bringing in the greatest ROI and use this for continued success in your future search advertising.
If you have already been using the analyzed keyword for your advertising campaigns, you can use this data for improving your ads’ search visibility.
Now that you're comfortable querying a Keyword Overview report, be sure to check our the Keyword Magic Tool to dive even deeper into keyword research.
Tip: To view historical data for a keyword, use the selector at the top.
Analyzing keywords in bulk
Using the Bulk Analysis tab you can analyze the metrics for up to 100 keywords. You will get the Volume, Trend, Keyword Difficulty, CPC, Competitive Density, SERP Features, Results on each keyword.
After comparing the keywords, send the keywords that best fit your SEO strategy to the Keyword Manager, a keyword repository for all your keywords gathered with different Semrush tools.
At the moment, you can get historical data only for one specific keyword at a time in Keyword Overview tool. Bulk Analysis allows analyzing sets of keywords, but metrics are always up-to-date.
Understanding the Keyword Difficulty Score
Keyword Difficulty is a metric that tells you how much SEO effort it might take to organically rank a page in the top 10 results on Google for a certain keyword. You can use it to plan out your SEO campaigns and set priorities.
Looking for keywords with low KD% scores will help you find long-tail keywords and low-hanging fruit for your campaigns. The higher the percentage is, the harder the competition will be, and the more work you will need to do before seeing results.
The keyword difficulty score is a percentage from 0 to 100, and the higher the percentage, the more difficult Semrush predicts it would be to rank for. Keyword difficulty calculation is based on a variety of factors such as the median number of referring domains pointing to the URLs that are ranking, the median ratio of dofollow/nofollow links pointing to these, the median authority score of the domains that are ranking, and the SERP-related qualities of the keyword itself.
In general, there are 6 levels of how difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword:
- 0-14 = Very easy. These are the best opportunities to start ranking new web pages on Google as soon as possible without backlinks.
- 15-29 = Easy. These keywords have some competition but are still possible to rank for when you’re starting out. To be able to rank for these, you’ll need quality content focused on the keyword’s intent.
- 30-49 = Possible. Slightly more competition. You’ll need well-structured and unique content appropriately optimized for your keywords.
- 50-69 = Difficult. You’ll need to have some backlinks in addition to your well-structured, helpful and optimized content in order to compete here.
- 70-84 = Hard. Even stiffer competition. These keywords will demand more effort in terms of getting higher authority referring domains in order to rank your well-optimized and helpful content among the top pages.
- 85-100 = Very hard. The absolute hardest keywords to compete for, especially for a new website. These will demand a lot of on-page SEO, link building, and content promotion efforts to eventually rank and acquire traffic.