Best SEO Software 2020

SEMrush vs. Google Analytics: What's the Difference?

What's the difference between SEMrush and Google Analytics? Below, we break down the use cases and data sources for both solutions to help you decide if you need both to manage your website.

SEMrush and Google Analytics are two of the most popular software tools used by digital marketers. It's important to understand the difference between the two solutions so you can determine if you should be using both to manage your website.

However, if you don't have experience using both tools, it's difficult to know the difference between them. Below, we break down the top use cases for both solutions, explain where each tool gets its data, share pricing information, and give our recommendation of who should be using a solution like SEMrush in addition to Google Analytics.

SEMrush vs. Google Analytics Comparison Summary

When comparing SEMrush vs. Google Analytics, it's important to understand the use cases and data sources for each tool. SEMrush uses external data to help online marketers capture more traffic, while Google Analytics uses internal data to help website owners understand their actual performance.

SEMrushGoogle Analytics
Use Cases
  • Keyword research for content marketing and paid search campaigns
  • Tracking your keyword rankings on Google
  • Running website SEO audits
  • Doing competitor analysis
  • Tracking your website performance
  • Understanding your website visitor behavior
  • Measuring the ROI of your marketing campaigns
  • Understanding your audience's demographic information
Data Sources
  • Google's API
  • Google search results
  • Consumer panel
  • Your website
  • Demographic information about your website visitors
Pricing
  • Starts at $99.95 per month
  • Free for most websites
Best For
  • Website owners who invest in online marketing
  • Search marketing managers
  • Marketing agencies
  • All website owners
Try SEMrush for FreeSign up for Google Analytics

Table of Contents

SEMrush & Google Analytics Use Cases

The best way to understand the difference between Google Analytics and SEMrush is to understand what each tool does best. We've outlined the top use cases for each solution below.

SEMrush Use Cases

SEMrush is a broad platform with over 30 tools. However, there are four primary use cases for SEMrush that are the most valuable and important to understand. These four use cases are listed below, along with images of the software to give you a better sense of the application.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is one of the top use cases for SEMrush. You can use the tool to identify high-value keywords that you can target through content marketing and paid search campaigns.

As you can see in the image below, SEMrush provides detailed information about each keyword. This includes search volume, keyword difficulty, an estimated cost-per-click, and paid ad competition.

SEMrush Keyword Research

For a detailed guide on using SEMrush for keyword research, read the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool Tutorial.

Keyword Rank Tracking

Another top use case for SEMrush is keyword rank tracking. Keyword rank tracking allows you to monitor how well your website is performing for a specific group of keywords. This is quite valuable for understanding how a Google search algorithm change has impacted your website.

To get started, you upload a list of keywords in SEMrush. Then, SEMrush checks Google's search results each day and records your website's ranking for each keyword. It displays this information in charts similar to the one below.

SEMrush keyword tracking tool

Much of this data is also available in Google Search Console. However, the data is much harder to analyze in Search Console, and Search Console does not offer alerts on material position changes.

For more information, read this guide to keyword rank tracking.

Website SEO Audits

SEMrush is also commonly used to perform website SEO audits. These audits simulate Googlebot to identify the issues that are hurting the SEO performance of your website. Google Analytics cannot be used for SEO audits.

As you can see below, SEMrush synthesizes its findings in an easy-to-digest report. This report gives you an overall website health score, and a prioritized list of SEO issues.

SEMrush Site Audit

For a full breakdown on how to use SEMrush for website audits, read How to Use the SEMrush Site Audit Tool.

Competitor Analysis

The last major use case of SEMrush is competitor analysis. Competitor traffic analysis is a digital marketing best practice that companies use to investigate competitors and improve their websites' performance.

Analyzing your competitors' online performance is an easy way to help grow your own website. By understanding what is working well for your competitors, you can identify valuable traffic opportunities that you're currently missing. Competitor traffic analysis can also help you evaluate new business opportunities.

SEMrush has tools that allow you to quickly identify your top online competitors, and the online marketing tactics they are using to capture traffic. For example, you can see how much they are investing in online advertising, which channels drive the most traffic to their websites, and the actual search and display advertisements that they are using.

SEMrush Competitive Analysis

Google Analytics Use Cases

Google Analytics has dozens of reports with innumerable data points and insights. Becoming a Google Analytics expert takes years. However, there are a few key Google Analytics use cases that are most important. We've outlined them below, so you can understand how Google Analytics can add value to your website.

Tracking Website Performance

One of the most valuable benefits of Google Analytics is the ability to track your website performance in great detail. Using Google Analytics, you can monitor how many sessions and users your website receives each day. In addition, you can use the tool to compare performance from two different periods of time.

SEMrush Competitive Analysis

Google Analytics provides access to a large data set. You can filter performance by many dimensions including:

  • Device
  • Marketing channel
  • Traffic source
  • Landing page
  • Page
  • Date

Understanding User Behavior

Google Analytics also includes a significant amount of data on user behavior. You can use the tool to answer questions such as:

  • Do my website visitors browse the site on mobile more than desktop?
  • How long do visitors stay on my website?
  • Which pages are the most popular?
  • What other websites send my website the most traffic?
  • Which pages do visitors tend to leave my website from?

Digging into these questions is an effective way to better understand your customers and improve your website performance. As with the performance data in the use case above, SEMrush does not have access to any of this information.

Measuring Marketing Campaign ROI

Any time you decide to invest in marketing, you must measure your return on investment (ROI) to determine if the investment was profitable. More online marketers use Google Analytics to measure the ROI of their campaigns than any other software tool.

To measure ROI using Google Analytics, you must instrument your website so that Google Analytics understands when a conversion occurs. You can do this using events or goals. Once you instruct Google Analytics to begin tracking each conversion, you can compare the conversions that a given campaign generated to your dollar investment in that campaign. The platform also includes several attribution models that you can use to further customize your ROI measurements.

To learn more about how to use Google Analytics to measure ROI, check out this support article from Google.

Understanding Your Audience

Finally, Google Analytics provides a significant amount of data that you can use to better understand your audience. Here is a list of some of the information that Google Analytics provides about your visitors:

  • Geographical location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Topics of interest
  • Language
  • Device type

SEMrush & Google Analytics Data Sources

A fantastic way to understand the difference between SEMrush and Google Analytics is to learn about their data sources. SEMrush combines data from Google, consumers, and third parties to provide insights on any keyword and website. In contrast, Google Analytics uses data from your actual website to help you understand its performance and audience.

SEMrush Data Sources

SEMrush uses several data sources to power its application. The company goes into detail on this topic in its knowledge base.

Data SourceDescriptionUse Cases
Google's APIThe data Google shares about keyword search volume and cost-per-click values
  • Keyword research
Google search resultsSEMrush scrapes Google's actual search results to record each website's position and advertisements used
  • Competitor analysis
Consumer panelSEMrush has a panel of a few hundred million internet users that it tracks anonymously
  • Keyword research
  • Competitor analysis

Google Analytics Data Sources

Google Analytics gets its data using a JavaScript snippet that website owners place on the pages of their website. It uses this JavaScript tag to collect data such as:

  • Time of visit
  • Pages visited
  • Time spent on each page
  • Traffic source
  • Type of web browser
  • Type of operating system (OS)
  • Type of device
  • Network location and IP address

In addition, Google augments this data with demographic information it has on your visitors. All of this data is aggregated and used to power the numerous reports found in Google Analytics. In contrast with SEMrush, Google Analytics data is captured directly from your website, and does not include information about competing websites.

SEMrush & Google Analytics Price Comparison

SEMrush and Google Analytics are priced differently. SEMrush is a typical SaaS product with a monthly subscription based on your number of users. In contrast, Google Analytics is a freemium product that most website owners use for free. The only exception are very large websites, who must pay Google for access to the Google Analytics 360 product.

SEMrush Pricing Details

SEMrush pricing starts at $99.95 per month. Here's how much SEMrush costs for one user:

Google Analytics Pricing Details

Google Analytics is a free tool for most website owners. However, if your website has millions of sessions per month, it's likely worthwhile to sign up for Google Analytics 360.

Google Analytics 360 is very expensive – it can cost millions of dollars per year. The benefits of Google Analytics 360 include:

  • Unlimited data
  • Unsampled reporting
  • Access to raw data
  • Integration with Google BigQuery
  • Access to advanced reports

Bottom Line

SEMrush and Google Analytics are both hugely popular, extremely valuable tools used by millions of online marketers. When comparing SEMrush vs. Google Analytics, the question is not whether you should use one or the other. Rather, you should understand what each tool does, and assume that you're certainly going to use the free version of Google Analytics. Then, you can decide whether or not you should purchase SEMrush to turbocharge your online marketing efforts.

If you decide that you would like to purchase a tool like SEMrush, we recommend evaluating the top SEMrush competitors. The two best tools in this market are Ahrefs and SEMrush. If you're on a budget, you might prefer SE Ranking, Serpstat, or SpyFu.

If you’re interested, visit SEMrush today to sign up for a free trial.

Bruce Hogan

Bruce Hogan is Co-founder & CEO of SoftwarePundit, a technology research firm that provides advice, information, and tools to help businesses thrive. Bruce has experience investing at multi-billion dollar private equity firms, leading teams at venture-backed Internet companies, and launching new businesses.

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