SEMrush vs Google Keyword Planner – SEO Tool Comparison

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Keyword research is crucial for the success of any website and its SEO.

Using the right phrases will generate organic traffic that can convert to sales and clients.

MarkGrowth found that the ROI of SEO continues well beyond after a campaign finishes.

The ROI of SEO

That means if you put in work now to refine your search engine optimization, it will pay off many months later on autopilot.

However, so many businesses don’t properly research keywords, and do you know why?

They aren’t using the right tools!

With so many keyword research services on the market, it can be hard to settle on just one, so I don’t blame them.

That’s why today I’ll be comparing two I use daily, SEMrush vs Google Keyword Planner.

Scroll down to learn how they compare in terms of features, accuracy, and more.

Starting at
Site audits
Keyword research
Backlink building
Local SEO
Social media scheduling
Competitor analysis
Link building
Paid advertising
Try SEMrush
Google Keyword Planner
For Life
Starting at
Keyword analysis
Competitor analysis
Google Ads integration
Group keyword ideas
Budget planning
Try Keyword Planner

SEMrush review

SEMrush home page

SEMrush was launched back in 2008 but gained tons of popularity within the last couple of years.

They are a full SEO suite that provides backlink analysis, keyword research, traffic evaluations, and more.

You can use them to audit your own website to discover areas of improvement or successful aspects to double down on.

They’ve earned the following awards for their great service:

  • Best SEO Software Suite Award presented by the European Search Awards in 2017.
  • Best SEO Software Suite Award presented by the US Search Awards in 2017.
  • Best Software Innovation Award presented by the UK Search Awards in 2017.

Let’s look a bit deeper into what they offer.

Is SEMrush accurate?

One concern that commonly arises with SEMrush, and any SEO tool for that matter, is accuracy. You don’t want to receive the wrong information since you’ll implement it on your website.

The last thing you want to see is your traffic or rankings dropping because of this.

Here are my two cents.

SEMrush is accurate but by no means 100% perfect. I’ve used it many times on my own web properties to only see the information that was clearly incorrect.

For example, Google Analytics would claim that my traffic was 100 users per day, but SEMrush would say a much lower number.

I would suggest using SEMrush’s traffic data more so as a ballpark estimate. This response to a Reddit thread sums it up perfectly.

Is SEMrush accurate

But, some of their other information, like backlinks, I have found to be very accurate. The same goes for keyword rankings.

Make sure to read my guide on how to build high quality backlinks if you haven’t already, too.

You always have to remember that tools like these scrape data from search engines; they aren’t the search engines themselves, right?

If you’re using a tool straight from Google, they’re pulling information from their own services, which will have incredible accuracy.

Besides that, SEMrush has a ton of priceless tools that will skyrocket your rankings and SEO performance.

Is SEMrush free?

SEMrush does offer a free account to get a feel for the platform and to determine if it’s the right fit for your needs.

With a free account, you will receive the following features:

  • 10 searches per day: Search up to 10 different reports for any websites in a 24-hour period. If you were to enter a URL and then click the keyword report, this would count for two searches. This is fine if you casually use SEMrush.
  • 10 results per search: You can only view the top 10 keywords you rank for, 10 backlinks you have, etc.
  • 1 project limit: A project is essentially a domain. This project can be saved and contains all of the information you want to know about a specific website. It makes viewing analytics and reports much more convenient. With the free version, you only have a single project.

When you want to upgrade, there are four different plants available.

SEMrush pricing

The cheapest is $99.95/month, and the business package is $399.95/month.

As you move up the different plans, you receive different features like white labeling and API access.

Enterprises can contact SEMrush to set up a package that is tailored to their exact needs.

And if you’re enjoying today’s article, check out this one I wrote on fascinating SEO statistics.

SEMrush features

So, what exactly does SEMrush have to offer? Quite a bit, to say the least. These are the main features that will take your SEO to the next level.

Keyword research

SEMrush keyword research

SEMrush has a great keyword research tool that displays a website’s top keywords, their positions, how much traffic they drive, and more.

I love using this to discover which keywords deliver the most results to my website and then optimize those pieces of content. It also gives me a good idea of what topics perform best.

That’s why I also published an SEO writing guide if you want to learn how to write blog posts that rank every time.

But that’s just for domain overviews.

You can also use SEMrush to find related keywords with the keyword overview search.

SEMrush keyword overview

It displays related keywords and ones that contain an exact match (phrase match). To the side, you can see the search volume and CPC if you’re interested in using them for PPC.

The trend chart on the top right displays how often the keyword has been searched over time. This will give you a good idea of the volume and if it’s worth pursuing.

Backlink analysis

Backlinks are still one of the most important ranking factors for any website. Without them, you can’t expect to grow very much.

To keep tabs on your link profile, SEMrush has an insightful backlink analysis feature.

SEMrush backlink analysis

The top left window shows some of the latest backlinks to a website and their anchor text. To the right of this, you can see the ratio of do-follow to no-follow links.

The top anchor’s list will give you an understanding of which anchors your website receives the most and which types of links they attribute to (text, image, etc.)

Traffic levels

If there’s one metric every webmaster is always watching, it’s traffic. Call it visitors, unique’s, or users, but it all comes down to traffic. And SEMrush has got you covered.

SEMrush organic traffic

On the overview page of a domain, SEMrush reveals how much organic, paid, and display traffic it receives.

As I mentioned earlier, I have found this to be inaccurate at times but also very accurate in other circumstances. I would always double-check it against Google Analytics or Google Webmaster Tools.

I love the graph on the right, as it gives you a nice visual of how your traffic is growing over the years. You can switch between a few different time periods, as well.

Is SEMrush worth it?

Dishing out $99 per month or more can be quite costly for some entrepreneurs.

But, think of it as an investment. You’re going to pay that subscription and gain priceless information on your business.

If you can take the keyword, traffic, and other data to better your website, there is potential for a fantastic ROI.

Overall, I would say SEMrush is well worth the fee. You get so much more than just a keyword research tool, but rather a full suite to analyze your website or competitors.

If you’re interested in alternatives, read my list of the best 9 SEO tools for marketers.

Google Keyword Planner review

Google Keyword Planner

Google’s Keyword Planner is a part of the Adwords PPC platform. While it can be used to discover keywords for paid campaigns, it’s also excellent for organic search.

It’s completely free to use and has been around for almost two decades. Adwords began in 2000 with only a few hundred advertisers but has grown to account for 95% of Google’s revenue.

How does it stand up as a tool for SEO? Let’s find out.

Is Google Keyword Planner accurate?

This is the biggest benefit of using a keyword tool straight from Google — the data is extremely accurate.

They are pulling it from their servers, after all.

Have you ever seen what they actually look like? It’s nuts!

Google servers

Google Keyword Planner features

Here’s the big difference between SEMrush and Google’s keyword tool.

Keyword Planner does what its name suggests — and that’s it.

Keyword planner results

There’s no traffic analysis, backlink breakdown, or fully-fledged website reports.

It does one job, and it does it very well.

This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you require.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the UI is clean, and it’s easy to understand what you’re reading.

In the top right, you can set different time frames and even download all of the keyword results as a CSV.

For those who are interested in using this tool, you can access it via the Google Keyword Planner login page.

SEMrush vs Google Keyword Planner verdict

So here’s the deal.

These two tools have some similarities but are completely different at the same time.

SEMrush is a complete SEO package that includes backlink auditing, traffic analysis, and detailed reports.

They are known for having questionable accuracy, though.

Google Keyword Planner, on the other hand, has very accurate search data, and that’s it.

It’s free, which is a huge plus, while the cheapest package for SEMrush is nearly $100/month.

If you’re looking for a tool to find new keywords to rank for, Google should be your go-to.

For those that require a full marketing suite, you will find much more benefits by opting by trying SEMrush.

Read my reviews on other SEO tools below:

Learn more in my SEO copywriting course.

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