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Why I Left SEMRush for SE Ranking

SEMRush vs SE Ranking

*Updated 3/25/24

I’ll be honest: I really like SEMRush. As someone in the digital marketing world, I know exactly how much value this one-stop-shop, all-things-SEO platform brings to a marketing team. And while some tools like Ahrefs might offer an alternative, for a long time, nothing has really come close to the value that SEMRush brought to the table.

Like many services that go unchecked for too long – SEMRush has become a very, very expensive business tool. At Everest Legal Marketing, we were spending $6,000 per year for SEMRush. At SE Ranking, it’s HALF.

But, like I said, SEMRush is awesome. If I didn’t have an alternative, I’d continue to pay the premium that SEMRush demands.

Unfortunately for SEMRush though, there is a competitor gaining rapid popularity and was starting to seem like a pretty worthy adversary to test: SE Ranking, and although it felt a little like cheating, I couldn’t continue forward with SEMRush without giving SE Ranking a fair shot.

So, I scheduled a software demo, signed up for a trial, and then went all in after seeing SE Ranking’s capabilities first hand – and now I am paying exactly half what I was for SEMRush: $3,000 per year. And you know what? I’m probably never going back to SEMRush.

Sign up for an SE Ranking Demo & Trial

If this article is helpful in your decision making, you can sign up for an SE Ranking demo using my affiliate link, if you sign up for their services Everest Legal Marketing will earn a commission. You must be logged into your SE Ranking account when signing up in order for us to earn a commission.

SEMRush Is Technically a Better Tool… I Just Don’t Care

I know there are going to be some SEO monoliths out there who will scoff at the idea that SE Ranking is a worthy competitor. And, to some degree, I would agree with them.

If you are in the top 1% of users for SEMRush, a “power user” slogging through millions of data points and targeting even the deepest trenches of keyword phrases, then SE Ranking might not have the completeness you’ll need or be accustomed to.

After all, SE Ranking only has 7 billion keywords in their database, while SEMRush has 25 billion. So, obviously, SEMRush is way more valuable, right?

Wrong. Here’s the truth of the matter: most agencies don’t need that much data. Plain and simple.

I’ve been doing SEO for a long time, and I can tell you first hand that after using SE Ranking to manage our clients’ SEO programs, we are losing absolutely zero horsepower in our keyword targeting or rank tracking. We have not missed a single beat.

Why? Because it’s not in our clients’ best interest to go after tiny, miniscule phrases and keywords that equate to about .1% of the total search volume. We are focused on the top end – getting as much potential traffic as possible to convert into actual clients rather than complete SEO market dominance.

If that’s your thing, more power to you. But it isn’t fiscally smart for our clients or even particularly useful. The bottom line is that if it’s critical, SE Ranking skips the spinning wheels and gives you the core functionality you’ll need. And if I can get the job done to the high standard we hold ourselves to and be more cost effective for our clients in the long run, you bet your a$$ that’s what I’m going to do.

Things I Really Like About SE Ranking Compared to SEMRush

When comparing an industry standard tool like SEMRush to anything, everything is going to seem a bit foreign at first. However, there are some really great features of SE Ranking that I really enjoy that SEMRush doesn’t have as of this writing:

  • Rank Tracking: SE Ranking is a really great rank tracking tool with detailed charts and graphs that quickly show fluctuations within a project at a glance.
  • Guest Link: You can run a rankings report and send a link to the report to your client in about 3 seconds, even if you’ve customized some of the elements of that report. You can’t imagine how much time this saves over the course of a month.
  • Client User Seat: You can add a User seat for your client if you want them to have access to run reports on their campaign, but not access to edit or delete the campaign. I don’t know that I’d use this, but it’s nice to know it’s there if I need it.
  • Ranking Accuracy: I’ve noticed in the past year or so that SEMRush has repeatedly reported wildly inaccurate ranking fluctuations across multiple client projects. On numerous occasions SEMRush would show that a website dropped 80+ positions, and then the next day show a full recovery. I have not seen this with SE Ranking in the last 90 days.

The User Interface for SE Ranking Is Way Better

I want you to put yourself in two locations: the first is the inside of a commercial aircraft cockpit; the second is the driver’s seat of your car. I don’t need to bother asking which one of these you could more comfortably go to the grocery store in, do I?

This is the reality of the SEMRush vs. SE Ranking debate – most people only need to go to the grocery store; that is, they only need a select few popular tools to manage and work on their SEO programs. Sure, some people need all the advanced tools, but that number isn’t very high. Even among small to medium sized agencies.

If you’re anything like our agency, the last thing you need is to worry about wading through a bunch of tools, functionalities & software bloat when you’re just trying to use the software for its core functionalities.

SE Ranking doesn’t have the extra fluff that, put bluntly, most people and agencies don’t want or need. A cleaner interface also means SE Ranking has a quicker dashboard response, which means faster workflows, easier project navigation, report generation and ultimately, a more productive ecosystem.

You Get a Free Migration Specialist

One of the biggest worries holding me back from leaving SEMRush was the years of historical ranking data and notes we had logged. But I found some good news during my initial research: if you pay SE Ranking for a year of service (and get a discount), you get access to a migration specialist who will help you import your data from SEMRush.

The downside to this I discovered is that they won’t be able to help you transfer historical notes, but it’s relatively easy enough to do, and it absolutely beats migrating it all on your own or spending a ton of extra money per year just to avoid data transfer.

Things I Wish SE Ranking Would Improve

Reading this article you might think it was an easy decision choosing and staying with SE Ranking. Well here’s a few things I didn’t know about before I cancelled SEMRush that I wish I had – none of which would’ve ultimately changed my mind to cancel SEMRush:

  • Daily snapshot reports: none. With SEMRush you can easily configure an automated, lightly detailed snapshot report of client rankings so you can easily identify wins & losses or problems. SE Ranking does not have such functionality. You can log in and scroll through projects, but it would be much better to have an auto-generated report that can be run & sent to specific team members daily
  • Sharing reports among team members. At the moment, if I create a client project in SE Ranking I can share it with my team members, but I’m the only one who can view reports created for that client. This makes no sense.
  • Connecting Google Analytics can be cumbersome. The way a user adds Google Analytics to a client project is repetitive and cumbersome. If you have over 50 client projects to track, you better schedule a whole day to do this.
  • Google local / GBP rank tracking capability limited. This one grinds my gears. SEMRush’s tracking easily shows if your project is ranking organically, or in the local pack. It seems like such a beautifully easy execution, one wonders why SE Ranking can’t do something similar. It’s a completely separate tracking module in SE Ranking. Also, there’s a hard limit of 50 locations that can be tracked locally in SE Ranking – which seems extraordinarily low for an SEO tool designed for agencies that might have a single client with dozens of locations. At the time of this writing there’s no way to even upgrade for more locations.
  • Whitelable functionality is $600/yr. If you want to replace the SE Ranking logo with your agency logo on generated reports, be prepared to pay so that you can look professional.

A Few Final Thoughts

I am not here to say that there is a clear winner for everyone; I am however, here to say that, for our operations, and I’d imagine the vast majority of other small to medium sized agency operations, SE Ranking is a very worthy & capable competitor to SEMRush. Even with its shortcomings I plan on staying with SE Ranking for the foreseeable future.

*Affiliate disclosure: Everest Legal Marketing earns a small commission if you sign up for SE Ranking through our affiliate link to their website from this article. This article is completely unbiased and a small commission does not diminish our beliefs or the validity of the comparison points of SEMRush vs SE Ranking.

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