Spy On Your Competitors With SEMRush

I recently wanted to look at what a competitor site was up to regarding their online marketing, and decided to make use of SEMRush from SeoQuake. SEMRush provides both SEO and Adwords analysis of any website.

As Interflora was in the news recently, let’s take a look at their UK site in SEMRush. SEMRush provides a whole host of information on a website, including:

  • SEMRush Rank – a rating of sites by the number of visitors coming from the first 20 search results
  • SE Traffic – Estimated number of visitors coming from the first 20 search results (per month)
  • SE Traffic price – Estimated cost of purchasing the same number of visitors through Ads
  • Ads Traffic – Estimated number of visitors coming from Ads (per month)

  • Ads Traffic price – Estimated expenses the site has for advertising in Ads (per month)


Advertising Research

A brief look at Interflora.co.uk shows that it is paying around £3.92 to appear in the first position in Adwords for “flowers”, and more interesting, is that it pays £0.68 to hold the number one position for “interflora discount code“.

This suggests that Interflora is better off paying for that traffic than paying affiliates who direct them traffic. Shows that they are certainly aware of how their customers search, what they want and how to ensure that they win this search with minimum cost.

Also, Interflora are paying £0.78 per click for searches on Interflora – after Google temporarily penalised Interflora, they would have been spending a small fortune to retain their customers.

Another interesting result is that Interflora pays £4.51 for “flower delivery London” and £4.49 for “london flowers” – these search terms provide around 2,800 searches each month. This is one of their most expensive keywords. However, with their flowers costing from £23 to £60, and the fact that they have an excellent reputation, means that they probably converts a lot of those searches to a sale and make a good profit.

Organic Research

Organic research is the SEO part – it shows where they appear for the major search terms. Unsurpirsing, they are number 1 for www.interflora.co.uk, interflora.co.uk, www.interflora.

They also rank for many misspellings, the most popular (in search volume) are inteflora and intaflora. This data can be used by competitors and affiliates who are trying to muscle in on their market.


SEO is still about backlinks. While content is king, I am still not aware of any website which gets any useful amount of search traffic without having some good backlinks out there.

Backlink research can help you in one main way – you can contact the sites where your competitors have links and get your own. If they are mentioned in a press release, alert the website to your own news. If they got a link from a guest post, ask to write for the site too. If the link looks a little suspect (i.e. a paid link which is passing PageRank) then you can chose to join them in link buying or report them. Neither option is considered fair game though!

The Backlink report unfortunately did not return any results for me – I got a Connection timed out. Please, click here to refresh message. I have been having some issues with my Windows 7 PC and its Internet connection – so I am sure this is a problem here, not there. OK, fixed with a quick ipconfig /flushdns.

The first run of the report showed only 6 backlinks, which cannot be accurate. This was a report for URL Links. A report for backlinks by subdomain returns more, but just 9. Backlinks by domain gives 11,609 found backlinks, and 2094 total backlinks (total number of backlinks shown in report. ). That is more like it!

What does SEMRush tell us about Interflora? Well, they have a lot of links from trustworthy sources, such as Wikipedia, Twitter, Youtube (although these are “no followed”).

The first big SEO link is one on BBC News (from the story “Interflora sues Marks & Spencer over Google ad links“) – N.B. Suing is expensive, so you need to do a thorough cost-benefit analysis before taking somebody to court to get a link! They also have a link the The Telegraph’s article, “Sweethearts lose out in flower power stakes“.

It is interesting to see that The Telegraph links Interflora to the side of the article, under External Links. I still do not understand why so many of the mainstream news sites have an editorial policy of not linking to companies. But also, the same article mentions Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Syngenta and the Flower Council of Holland, but none of them get a link. 

It seems that in the case of Interflora, they have built up many links on the top news sites. But how? Well, a lot of their links are also coming from PRNewswire. Interflora may just be writing a lot of press releases and getting some of these on the mainstream press. Important: Press Release sites vary hugely in quality. Some will get your Press Release on the desks of the world’s top journalists, others will get published to their own site (which few people read) and never get any further. Like all things, you get what you pay for.


Where it gets really interesting is looking at the competitors report. Who are your SEO competitors? If you do not know, you need to find out! If you only rank for a few keywords you may think that your competitors are those sites which rank near you for the same. But, what about all the keywords that they rank for, and you do not?

Well, Interflora.co.uk’s main competitors according to SEMRush are:

  • tescofreshflowers.com
  • flowersleeds.co.uk
  • interflora.com.au
  • myreminders.co.uk
  • flowers.org.uk
  • flowersglobal.com
  • eflorist.co.uk
  • artsandflowersleeds.co.uk
  • leedshouseofflowers.co.uk
  • 1stinflowers.com
  • sendflowersabroad.co.uk

Plus a lot more. What can a company learn from this then? Well, first task is to look at where they are winning in search and advertising. Looking at these companies in SEMRush may then reveal that there are some lucrative Adwords keywords that you had never thought about, or they may have done some simple yet effective SEO, such as getting listed on some industry directories or mentioned in industry blogs.

As Tescoflowers probably get a lot of their strength from the Tesco domain, lets look briefly at flowersleeds.co.uk. The most striking thing is that in Jul 2010 they had almost no SE traffic, but it then shot up throughout 2011, took a dip in October 2012, then rose again. They do not advertise at all on Adwords (according to SEMRush) but work on SEO almost entirely. Their biggest keyword? It is “Interflora leeds”. Of course, this is an Interflora franchise site, operated by Alan Brown Flowers and Interflora British Unit. So, their biggest competitor is essentially a part of their business.

So, where do Flowersleeds.co.uk get their links? Well, here SEMRush seems to fail us. They only have 1 link, on Floristdelivery.co.uk. However, MajesticSEO shows up 33 backlinks from 10 domains, one of which is interflora.ie.

Turn Competitors into Partners

Sometimes Competitors may not know that they are your competitor. In some niches your competitors could become a part of your link building strategy. Contact them to request a guest posting slot – offer to write on a topic which compliments their site, but has not yet been covered. They may be happy to accept.

Position changes

A new report in SEMRush is Position changes. Interflora’s report is not a surprise – they lost a huge number of position (8309 in all) in February 2013. This is useful to see if new competitors have suddenly appeared.

Keyword Research

“In this section you can discover new, valuable keywords, using related and full search reports”

A great way to quickly see the top keywords for you or your competitors for Adwords (CPC scores are given).


SEMrush Rank

The SEMRush Rank report gives a current league table of websites in the US, UK, CA, RU, DE, FR, IT, BR and AU. Did you know that in the UK Tripadvisor is more popular than DailyMail, and Argos ranks at no.21 – pretty good!

Winners & Losers

The Winners & Losers report provides a quick overview of how the top companies change their position and strategy. You can see changes in SE traffic, and advertising costs / ads keywords. If you want to buy the same amount of traffic that Tripadvisor gets through Google you will need to spend around £1.7 million a month.

SEM Rush has a lot of offer webmasters. There is a huge amount of information there and I feel that I am only just getting to grips with the very basics. Of course, the most important thing when using these tools is to have a plan – know what you are looking for and know how you plan to use that information. While it is interesting to know how much a competitor pays for their Adwords, or how they do their SEO, you have to be ready to take action, otherwise the reports are pointless!

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