SEMrush vs Ahrefs – Which Is The Best SEO Tool For You?
Trying to choose between SEMrush and Ahrefs?
SEMrush and Ahrefs are two of the most popular SEO tools available on the internet. If you’re looking for an SEO tool to perform keyword research or backlink analysis, I can guarantee that you’ve come across these two tools.
However, because they are tough competitors to each other and have a huge userbase of their own, it can be difficult to know which option is ideal for you.
That’s what this article is all about. We’ll deep dive into both of these SEO tools and find out how they compare to each other in various aspects that are important to you as a user of one of these tools.
Both of these SEO tools are loaded with a lot of fantastic features, however, there are a few differences that can greatly affect your choice. As a blogger, I’ve used both of them extensively, so I understand the important differences between these two.
Whether you’re a blogger or an agency, I hope this SEMrush vs Ahrefs review will help you understand those differences so you can choose the best SEO tool for your needs.
Here’s your SEMrush and Ahrefs comparison…
Before we thoroughly compare SEMrush vs Ahrefs, here’s a quick summary of each tool:
Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu, Daum, Naver, Seznam
|Backlink Analysis||Very Good||Very Good|
|Pages to crawl (monthly)||100 000||10,000|
|Keywords to track||500||500|
|Free Trial||Yes||No (available for $7)|
|Visit SEMrush for 7 Days Free Trial||Visit Ahrefs 7 Days for $7|
SEMrush vs Ahrefs: Introduction
Before we start comparing SEMrush and Ahrefs, let’s start with a little bit of introduction.
SEMrush is the world’s leading SEO toolkit and competitive research service for online marketing. It is used by over 5 million people worldwide. SEMrush allows you to do keyword research, spying your competitors, backlink analysis, and much more.
Here’re some of the features SEMrush offer:
- Domain analysis
- Keyword Magic Tool for keyword research
- Site Audit
- Backlink audit and analysis
- Content optimization
- Position tracking
- PPC keyword tool
- Social media tracker
- and a lot more…
And coming to Ahrefs…
Ahrefs is also one of the most popular SEO tools used by online marketers. This tool was originally built to analyze backlinks. However, over the years, they have added a bunch of new features making it a true competitor of SEMrush.
Some of the amazing features of Ahrefs are:
- Site Explorer
- Content Explorer
- Rank Tracker
- Keyword Explorer
- Backlink Analysis
- Site Audit
- and much more…
How We’ll Compare Both of Them?
As I earlier mentioned, SEMrush and Ahrefs have a lot of similar features, but there are still some differences that we need to know to decide which one is best for your needs.
To compare both of these SEO tools, we have shortlisted 7 areas of functionality to decide the best tool overall. These parameters are:
Let’s get started…
SEMrush vs Ahrefs: Ease of Use
When we compare their dashboards, I’d say Ahrefs has quite easy to understand interface that makes it a great tool for beginners. You’ll see tons of options in one place so you can easily use it without getting confused.
I’m not saying that SEMrush has a difficult dashboard interface. In fact, SEMrush offers a lot of features and tools than Ahrefs in terms of PPC, lead generation and graphs, etc.
Here’s how SEMrush dashboard looks like:
As you can see in the above image, SEMrush allows you to access almost all the tools that help you improve your website performance in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
From domain overview to keyword analysis and backlink analysis, SEMrush offers you in-depth information to get ahead of your competitors.
Now, let’s have a look at Ahrefs dashboard:
As you can see above, Ahrefs allow you to access various features like Site Explorer, Keyword Explorer and Content Explorer at one place.
Verdict: If you’re a beginner and looking for a simple and easy to use interface, then Ahrefs is a good choice.
Whereas if you’re an intermediate or expert, then I’d recommend you to go for SEMrush. It may take some time to understand all the features and tools that SEMrush offers but you’ll undoubtedly love its approach once you got that.
SEMrush vs Ahrefs: Keyword Research
As a blogger or a digital marketer, you know how important keyword research is for your business or blog to reach relevant people. So, the tool you’re going to invest in should be good in keyword research.
Here’re some basic terminologies, that I think a good keyword research tool must provide:
- Keyword search volume
- Keyword difficulty
- Keyword Competition
- Keyword value (in CPC)
- Long-tail keyword suggestions
- list of question-based keywords
- SERP analysis of top-ranking competitors for the analyzed keyword
Let’s see the ability of both the tools to find out all the above information.
SEMrush Keyword Research
With SEMrush, you can simply start doing keyword research by entering your keyword in the search box under Keyword Analytics section and you will see a brief keyword overview for your entered keyword something like this:
SEMrush basically offers the same keyword research feature as Ahrefs but one thing that makes SEMrush unique is that it provides more detailed data for the keyword you search for.
As you can see, for the above example keyword “best 4k projector”, SEMrush tool generates a lot of data including:
- Keyword difficulty
- CPC distribution
- Characteristics of the SERP
- Related keywords and more.
SEMrush also gives you a list of keyword variations based on your seed keyword, including question-based keywords and related keywords.
These kinds of keywords will help you find a ton of keyword ideas that are relevant to your primary keyword.
After scrolling down, you’ll see a section called SERP analysis that will give you the list of top-ranking URLs for the keyword you search for.
This SERP analysis let you easily find in-depth insights like Page authority score, Ref. domains, Backlinks, Search traffic, and URL keywords of top ranking websites for that particular keyword.
One thing that actually outrank other tools like Ahrefs is that it shows data from Google PPC ad research.
For our example keyword i.e “best 4k projector”, here are the ad copies:
Therefore, if you’re planning to invest in PPC and Google Ads campaigns, then SEMrush is an effective tool to give you tons of ideas to write your ad copy.
Furthermore, SEMrush offers you Keyword Magic Tool where you can find the best keywords to optimize your blog post.
The Keyword Magic Tool helps you find semantically related long-tail keywords to write your content on to get organic traffic.
Now, let’s see how the Ahrefs keyword research tool works.
Ahrefs Keyword Research
Ahrefs keyword research tool is often called as “Keyword Explorer”.
The Ahrefs Keyword Explorer is similar to most other keyword research tools in the industry. Using it, you can get thousands of related keyword ideas with their monthly search volume, keyword difficulty, and other advance metrics like clicks, return rate, and more.
All you need to do is just enter your keywords in the search bar and you will instantly get a ton of useful keyword data.
Once you hit the search button, you’ll get to see the visualized report for your searched keyword.
One of the best things of Ahrefs Keyword Explorer is that it shows you the estimated number of backlinks you’ll need to rank in top 10 results for that particular keyword.
Moreover, Ahrefs Keyword Explorer also shows you the average number of clicks on search results that people make while searching for that particular keyword.
When you scroll down, you’ll see a list of keyword ideas including having the same terms, question keywords, and other related keywords.
Like SEMrush, Ahrefs also provide you SERP overview of the keyword you searched which include details like DR, UR, backlinks, traffic, keywords, volume, etc.
These results show you the front page of top-ranking websites for your keyword along with the important SEO metrics.
Verdict: Both tools offer almost the same features when it comes to keyword research. Ahrefs is a great tool for organic traffic analysis, but SEMrush offers you more data for both SEO and PPC ad research.
So, if you’re looking for a keyword research tool for organic and PPC ad research, SEMrush would be a better choice.
SEMrush vs Ahrefs: Rank Tracker
Both tools come with a rank tracking feature that helps you track your search rankings for specific keywords.
Let’s find out which tool is best for rank tracking.
Ahrefs Rank Tracker
Ahrefs Rank Tracker tool allows you to add “Projects” with your specific keywords to monitor your Google rankings regularly.
Ahrefs will show you visibility, average position, traffic, and average positions for your domain.
I often use this feature to see how well my websites are performing and to warn me about the Google penalty or a competitor stealing the ranking.
Though it’s not 100% accurate, you’ll see that the rankings somewhat match what the tool reported.
SEMrush’s data is almost the same. Let’s take a look at the SEMrush Rank Tracker tool.
SEMrush Rank Tracker
To set up rank tracking on SEMrush, add your domain as the project and enter your domain settings and the keyword you want to track.
SEMrush provides you Visibility Score along with Estimated Traffic and Average Position graph that Ahrefs doesn’t offer in terms of ranking.
Another great thing about SEMrush is that they update their data daily, whereas Ahrefs updated their data once or twice per week only, based on the plan you choose.
Verdict: Ahrefs and SEMrush both perform the same task in terms of rank tracking and their data is almost the same. The only difference is that the SEMrush tool updates its data frequently and has more advanced features.
SEMrush vs Ahrefs: Backlink Analysis
Now, let’s discuss another important aspect i.e. backlink analysis.
Backlink analysis is an important step to find link building opportunities and to spy on your competitor’s ranking. Both tools are excellent for backlink analysis and provide almost accurate data. Let’s dive in details to know which tool performs better in backlink analysis.
SEMrush Backlink Analysis
To get started with SEMrush, just enter a domain in the Backlink Analysis tool (from the left side menu under the Domain Analysis).
SEMrush will provide you a detailed overview of that particular website.
Here’s how it looks:
Here, you can find a lot of backlink data like Authority Score, Referring domains, backlinks, monthly visits, and so on.
When you click on the “Backlinks” tab, you’ll see the list of all your competitor’s backlinks.
You can filter out the list to find dofollow links for the domain you’re analyzing for. You can also filter “New” or “Lost” backlinks to use in link building strategies.
Ahrefs Backlink Analysis
For backlink analysis, Ahrefs offer a tool called “Site Explorer” to find backlink sources of your competitors.
As you can see, Ahrefs picked up 169K backlinks and only 866 referring domains, whereas SEMrush returns 175K backlinks and 3K referring domains for the Blogging.com website.
From these details, what I can say that SEMrush has a large backlink index data. However, the results may differ from other domains.
Personally, I find Ahrefs backlink analysis feature more reliable and easy to use. It provides you pretty clever tools to find out backlink information like new, lost and broken links. Moreover, you can filter links of any website based on different categories such as:
- Dofollow and Nofollow
- .gov/.edu links
- Links with “Sponsored” attribute
- Links based on page traffic
- Links based on language and website platform
These filters let you deep dive in the backlink profile and find out profitable link building opportunities.
Verdict: Both tools perform well for backlink analysis. SEMrush has a large backlink data whereas Ahrefs has simple and easy to use interface. But Ahrefs wins here with a slight edge because, the link filters offered by Ahrefs provide more options than SEMrush to find link building opportunities.
SEMrush vs Ahrefs: Content Explorer & Topic Research
Normally, this feature is not what I look for in an SEO tool. Because I prefer to do keyword research first, topic research second.
However, when I pay $99 per month, I expect a little more features just than backlink and keyword analysis. This feature is also quickly become essential when you need to create content strictly for link-building purposes or as social media fodder.
For this, Ahrefs and SEMrush both offer the possibility to perform topic research or exploring your content, but in different ways.
So let’s see which of them is better in that regard.
SEMrush Topic Research Tool
You can easily access the topic research tool from the left side menu. Just enter your topic or keyword to find ideas for your next. You can also enter a domain to find tons of information and ideas regarding your topic.
By default, SEMrush will show you results in card view. Apart from this, you can also choose from explorer, overview, and mind-map view options as per your convenience.
On the table, you can also prioritize the topics according to Volume, Difficulty, and Topic Efficiency. This will give you a great idea of topics to create a compelling article.
Ahrefs Content Explorer
Ahrefs offers an excellent content explorer feature that helps you discover best-performing pages with useful SEO and social metrics.
Moreover, you can use this tool to find:
- Trends data
- Data-driven content research
- Broken link building
The broken link-building feature is unique in Ahrefs which makes it awesome to explore new content ideas as well as link building opportunities for it.
Verdict: Ahrefs Content Explorer is loaded with few more features than SEMrush, but it just barely edges them out. Overall, both tools are worth using.
SEMrush vs Ahrefs: Site Audit
Site Audit is a crucial step towards maintaining a healthy website from an SEO point of view. Ahrefs and SEMrush both tools come with Site Audit functionality and let you regularly perform website audit in different areas:
- Broken external/internal links
- Crawl errors
- Duplicate Content
- Robots.txt file errors
- HTTPS redirects
- SSL problems
- 404 errors and more…
Ahrefs Site Audit
The Site Audit Tool is a new addition to the Ahrefs platform. This tool crawls all pages of your website and creates a log of all the issues which might be affecting your site SEO and the health score.
Once you scroll down, you’ll see the different issues according to importance.
If you click on expanding your errors, you can see the explanation of what the problem is about and how you can fix it.
Now, let’s check the site audit tool offered by SEMrush.
SEMrush SEO Audit
SEMrush allows you to perform an SEO audit by adding your website to the project and analyzes the overall SEO health of your site. Once you’ve completed the SEO audit, you’ll see a total health score of your website based on the issues detected during the last crawl.
As you can see, the dashboard shows you the errors and warnings right away. If you click on the issue, it will take you straight to what it is and how to fix it.
After you fix all of your site issues, you can re-run the site audit to check if errors are fixed for good.
Compared to Ahrefs, SEMrush is easy to understand and use. It provides you enough information to find technical errors and tell how to fix them.
Verdict: Ahrefs Site Audit tool is loaded with a wealth of data and information. But, I found the SEMrush site audit tool better because it is very easy to use and intuitive for identifying critical on-site errors that are hurting your site’s visibility in SERPs.
SEMrush vs Ahrefs: Pricing
When it comes to pricing, there is not much difference between Ahrefs and SEMrush as SEMrush plans start at $119.95 per month whereas Ahrefs plans start from $99 per month. Although not cheap, the features tied into both of the tools should undoubtedly justify the cost.
Each tool has four different plans.
Here are the pricing plans of SEMrush.
And here’s that of Ahrefs:
As you can see, there is not much difference in pricing when comparing Ahrefs vs SEMrush, but in my opinion, the Lite Plan of Ahrefs is not enough. You’ll have data limitations such as you can’t see the recent or historical index and keyword position will be provided up to 20 only with Ahrefs Lite Plan.
However, Ahrefs Standard Plan at $179 is still considered as cheaper than the SEMrush Guru plan.
Moreover, SEMrush also offers you a free trial while Ahrefs charges $7 for seven days trial. So, in that case, SEMrush wins the race.
Verdict: Both tools offer very similar pricing. But if you’re someone who doesn’t want to spend a dime to test the tool, then SEMrush is a great choice for you.
What Makes SEMrush Unique?
Apart from the above-mentioned features, there’re still some unique features that only Ahrefs can do. Let’s see them:
1. SEMrush Advertising Research Tool
SEMrush offers you an effective feature of PPC competitor analysis tool that helps you plan, analyze and improve
your Google Ads campaigns.
SEMrush advertising research tool shows you the keywords your competitors are bidding on, their ad copy, ad history, and a lot more.
With this tool, you can also analyze your competitor’s banners, text ads, their top publishers, targeting audiences based on age and gender.
2. SEMrush Content Marketing Tool
Aside from advertising toolkit, SEMrush also has a content marketing platform that helps you in everything about content writing i.e, finding a topic, article writing, brand monitoring, on-page SEO, and content audit.
Out of these, one of my favorites is SEO writing assistant. It gives you the facility to control the SEO potential taking into account such metrics as readability, plagiarism check, linking, LSI keywords and more.
This tool quickly gives you an overall score based on all metrics such as readability, SEO, originality, tone of voice, etc. So, you don’t need to pay for another content optimizing tool.
What Makes Ahrefs Unique?
Ahrefs also offers a lot of unique things that you can’t find with SEMrush. They are:
1. Content Explorer
Like BuzzSumo, Ahrefs Content Explorer tool let you see which content is performing well in terms of backlinks, social shares and more.
2. See Ranking History of all websites
Ahrefs is the only tool that provides ranking history for the top 5 ranking pages with for analyzed keyword over a specific period of time. Let’s see in example:
It’s a great SEO asset to see how your top 5 pages managed to rank for a given keyword
Conclusion: Which Tool is Best For You?
SEMrush and Ahrefs both have amazing features and both of them are true competitors of each other. If you have not decided which tool will be best for you, then I’d urge you to try both of them and decide which one suits you the best.
However, based on everything I explained in this guide and based on my own experience, here’s my conclusion:
- If you’re an SEO professional who usually focused on niche sites and link building, then Ahrefs is the way to go.
- If you’re the one who needs more functionalities or wants to perform multiple tasks like SEO, SMM, PPC advertising, and content marketing, then SEMrush is made for you. Because of its excellent features, it can save you a lot of money by cutting other tools.
Have you used any of these SEO tools? If so, what did you think of them? Who’s the winner between SEMrush vs Ahrefs for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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