Starting at $69 per month, Searchmetrics Essentials is a nice all-around search engine optimization (SEO) tool kit. It offers all the basics you’ll need for SEO-focused digital marketing, including a full range of functionality across position monitoring and rankings, keyword research, advertising-focused pay-per click (PPC) research, as well as backlink and social link tracking. However, it lacks some of the advanced features and niceties of our Editors’ Choice contenders.
For one thing, Searchmetrics Essentials doesn’t provide the depth of SEO features and recommendations or the intuitive user experience (UX) of Editors’ Choice tools Moz Pro and SpyFu, or at least not at its comparably priced package. Much of the platform’s most valuable features and tools are reserved for its enterprise tiers, and its position monitoring and rank tracking also fall short of that offered by Editors’ Choice AWR Cloud. Nonetheless, Searchmetrics is a worthwhile option for SMBs that are looking for one tool from which they can monitor search positions and run an effective SEO strategy.
Pricing and Plans
Searchmetrics begins at $69 per month for the Essentials plan, which gives you 10,000 rankings per report, limited access to the Searchmetrics research database, up to two years of visibility history, and keyword rankings incorporating the past two weeks’ worth of data. You can also save $138 by paying $690 annually. After that comes the Searchmetrics Essentials Pro plan, which starts at $149 per month (or $1,490 annually).
On top of the capabilities of the Essentials package, you can further analyze your websites at the subdomain level, see historical keyword rankings for up to four weeks, and access more markets and data with the Essentials Pro Package.
The upper levels of the Searchmetrics product tiers do not have listed prices on the website but the company said pricing “depends on usage” and ranges from $36,000 per year ($3,000 per month) up to $500,000 per year with customized pricing billed annually and with multi-year contract discounts available. These enterprise tiers are more in line with enterprise SEO platforms such as Brightedge, Conductor, and Linkdex. As this roundup is focused on SEO tools for SMBs, we reviewed the Essentials package and did not focus on the extensive premium functionality available at those tiers (the price of which would be far out of reach of the vast majority of small businesses). Searchmetrics does provide details of the additional features available at those tiers. A full tier-by-tier feature breakdown can be found on the pricing page but some of the highlights are as follows:
- Suite Business package: 50,000 rankings per report, advanced research database access, limited access to content performance and competition modules, SEO project management, two years’ worth of keyword discovery data, Google Analytics and Google Search Console integration, and customizable performance dashboards.
- Suite Enterprise package: 100,000 rankings per report, advanced content performance analysis, real-time visibility alerts, Content Composer for Adobe Experience Manager, social engagement analysis, white-label and growth reporting, application programming interface (API) access, page traffic forecasting, and channel and conversion reporting.
- Suite Ultimate package: 200,000 rankings per report, multiple API keys, certification program, advanced onboarding and support, onsite professional training, managed services consulting, and advanced research data and export. The Suite plans also come with integrations to Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, IBM Digital Analytics, Webtrends, and a number of otther third-party analytics tools.
UX, Position Monitoring, and Keyword Research
Searchmetrics Essentials keeps things simple and straightforward with its user interface (UI). The first thing you see when you log in is a search bar to enter the domain on which you’d like to run an SEO query. Upon entering PCMag.com, I was taken to the home dashboard that gave an overview of the site. Similar to AWR Cloud, the first thing you see is a list of the domain’s current rankings according to Searchmetrics across organic results, paid search, link rank, and social rank. There’s also a breakdown of desktop versus mobile visibility, with green and red percentage changes, though the mobile breakdown is still in beta.
The main dashboard presents an array of quick-hit information serving as a worthy SEO cockpit from which to operate. Scrolling down, there’s an interactive world map showing SEO visibility in different countries followed by widgets covering all of the platform’s main functionality: ranking data, an organic versus paid and competitor-focused keyword breakdown, a backlink profile, social rankings, and more. It’s a similar scrolling layout to what you’ll find in SpyFu and SEMrush, with a straightforward top navigation bar that shows tabs for SEO Research, PPC Research, Backlinks, Social Links, Keyword Research, and Content Performance (only available at higher tiers). This kind of unified dashboard is far easier to navigate than the more disjointed list of available SEO tools you’ll find in platforms such as LinkResearchTools and Majestic.
One of the stronger areas of Searchmetrics functionality is rank tracking and position monitoring. In the Rankings section under the SEO Research tab, I found a filterable list of organic keyword for which PCMag.com is currently ranking, with the link to the corresponding landing page URL, current position in search results, cost-per-click (CPC) for the keyword, average monthly search volume, and Searchmetrics’ custom Traffic Index metric, which gauges the assumed number of clicks on the search result on you competitors’ corresponding keywords. I would have liked to have seen a clearer plus/minus metric on the package to get a sense of how keywords have been faring, rather than having to search out a small icon that brings up a pop-up box showing that keyword’s organic position history with a line graph breakdown. Editors’ Choice AWR Cloud handles this kind of position monitoring far more smoothly.
The domain analysis features, however, do include a clear trending column showing how subdomains and organic directories within your site architecture are trending in search results. The competitor breakdown report is also fairly comprehensive, presenting a graph of shared keywords of competing domains mapped against Searchmetrics’ Traffic Index. The results table below the graph does a good job of connecting return-on-investment (ROI) directly to search results by approximating the dollar value of competitors’ traffic and your site’s position relative to the competitor’s on shared keywords. Editors’ Choice SpyFu gives you a far deeper cost and ROI breakdown from here as well as more interactive competitive analysis features such as its Kombat tool, but Searchmetrics is among the more capable SEO tools we tested when it comes to ROI metrics. You get a lot more in the enterprise suites around ROI such as content performance and market analysis, but Essentials plan users have enough features to get by.
One other interesting ranking metric available is a “winners vs. losers” feature that breaks down the keywords that rose and fell the most in the past week of search rankings. Searchmetrics also makes it easy for an SEO workflow to progress directly from rank tracking to keyword research. From all keyword ranking pages, you can click on the Options icon next to the result to go directly to the platform’s Keyword Discovery tool.
The Keyword Discovery tool operates similarly to the kind of barebones ad hoc research capabilities of Ahrefs. I did a search for several keywords including “online shopping,” “digital marketing,” and “small business accounting” to see what types of related keyword suggestions and recommendations Searchmetrics provided. Each keyword results page gave me the average monthly search volume for that term along with CPC and a “Competition Score. This is similar to the type of keyword difficulty metric provided by most of the top ad hoc keyword research tools, including Moz Pro, SpyFu, and KWFinder.com.
Though, unlike KWFinder.com, Searchmetrics doesn’t provide a column in the related keyword results showing each term’s respective competition score—a key 1-100 metric that approximates the difficulty of ranking on the first page of that keyword result. To the tool’s credit, it does populate an Ad Budget column that tells you how much your business would need to spend for paid advertising to rank on that keyword. However, I had to click on each related keyword to check its individual competition score.
From here, there’s also not much you can do at the Essentials tier in terms of keyword categorization and management. The option to save a keyword as a dashboard stops you at a paywall, and the only other options it gives you are the ability to export the keyword report as a PDF file or send it as an email. It offers this rather than letting you group keywords into lists or providing targeted SEO recommendations on how to optimize your site and specific landing pages to rank for that keyword. Searchmetrics does a solid job of providing keyword metrics and related keyword suggestions, but falls short of KWFinder.com, Moz Pro, SpyFu, and SEMrush in terms of proactively strategizing around that target keyword. Its keyword research capabilities are more on par with Ahrefs.
SEO-Driven Content Creation
Since our initial review, Searchmetrics has also rolled out a new tool in its suite: the Searchmetrics Content Experience. This integrates with content management systems (CMSes) such as WordPress and Drupal, and gives businesses an interface within the Searchmetrics platform to create search-optimized content with inline metrics and recommendations.
Built on the Searchmetrics Research Cloud, the same underlying database that powers the main SEO platform, the Content Experience includes a topic explorer, which acts as a social listening matrix to identify trending content topics with greater SEO value, and a content editor. The editor works the same way as a basic CMS with word processing and formatting options, but pops up real-time updates on your content score, overall readability, target length, and other SEO factors to improve the content’s search value. The recommendations also include analytics data on campaign ROI, and a question finder to surface potential questions customers are asking on a specific topic compared to competitors writing about the same trends. As with the Searchmetrics Suite plans, the Searchmetrics Content Experience is priced by custom quote and billed annually.
The Searchmetrics Suite enterprise tiers also offer content optimization features, which analyze live or proposed webpage content (created in the content editor) and compares it against your top competitors. The end result is a report card with actionable content recommendations. The tool can perform content analysis for any page in real-time, identify spam content that could harm search performance, and discover most relevant content for each of your pages to attract visitors most likely to buy. This doesn’t require any integrations, but is only available in the enterprise plans.
A Little Bit of Everything
There’s also a lot Searchmetrics Essentials can do in other areas of SEO. The platform’s backlinks features are fairly comprehensive across link tracking and backlink profiling, and its social link tracking is on par with AWR Cloud when it comes to breaking down how much search traffic and landing page visibility is coming from Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Much of the platform’s strength, as I mentioned, is in ROI and paid advertising breakdowns as well. The PPC Research tab proved adept at position monitoring for paid keywords, with interactive data visualizations mapping ad spend on shared keywords against competitors. A final useful feature I found was a breakdown of how my domain’s search results are faring across different “industries.” So, for PCMag.com, it showed the highest visibility in the consumer electronics and computers industries, which I could compare against up to three competing domains. Again, these features are all covered by Editors’ Choice SpyFu. Searchmetrics also has basic webpage crawling ability, but only at the Searchmetrics Suite enterprise tiers. At those plan levels, the platform includes the ability to crawl 2 million pages at a time and schedule crawls with custom alerts and filters to include or exclude specific URLs and parameters. It’s not as advanced as the website crawling functionality like what you’ll find in DeepCrawl, but overall there’s not much Searchmetrics can’t do.
Ultimately, Searchmetrics is a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. All of its major SEO tooling, from keyword research and PPC metrics to backlinks and rank tracking, is executed better by other tools in this roundup. The platform has a treasure trove of functionality to unlock at higher tiers that will make up the gap so, if you’re an enterprise organization that can spend the money, the Searchmetrics Suite Enterprise package is the recommended choice. For SMBs, though, Searchmetrics Essentials is a reliable platform that has all of your basic SEO needs covered but not much more.
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