The importance of SEO cannot be understated in this age and time. If you have a website that you want to get traffic and rankings that means you need to optimize it. That means both on-page and off page SEO optimization.
You need to create content, add keywords, build links and engage in several such activities to properly maintain the growth of your site.
When you think of Ahrefs, what comes to your mind first? I will venture a guess—backlinks. Unsurprisingly, backlinks remain Ahrefs’ strongest forte. But Ahrefs is also a tool that helps you conduct competitor research, find their keywords, find their strongest pages, do topic research, conduct site audits and build out your site in a better way compared to competitors.
So when looking at Ahrefs alternatives you need to look at tools that do all of the above and not just analyze backlinks. Here are 5 that count. But the first place obviously goes to SEMrush.
Once you hit enter, you observe a number of metrics:
SEMrush is a true all-purpose SEO tool that you can do a number of things with. From competitor research, to analyzing backlinks of the competitor, to conducting a full site audit, finding out all the keywords competitors rank for, their top pages, and so on, SEMRush is every bit as advanced as Ahrefs. In some areas, SEMrush is way better than Ahrefs as I discuss in this comparison post.
There are several things you are going to love about SEMrush.
Let’s start with domain analysis
With the domain analysis feature you get a quick hold of the quality of the domain. Next, you understand in which areas the site is lacking and can improve on those areas. Enter a domain and select the domain overview option from the left drop-down.
Hit enter to get a number of useful metrics
You get an authority score that shows the quality of links to the site
You see the number of external links to the site
The number of keywords the site ranks for
The estimated traffic of the site
A brief preview of the highest traffic keywords.
The most common anchors
The list of competitor websites and so on.
The traffic estimates aren’t always 100% accurate since it’s based on the domain’s position in the SERPs and the probable clicks it lands as a result. The same goes true for any other competitor tool.
Clicking on each section leads to another page with more information. One particular section particularly rich in insights is the competitor positioning map where you can see how your domain fares against other competitors. The map gives a quick overview of your site as against other competitors and lets you know where you stand.
SEMrush keyword research features
Just like powerful domain analysis that gives you a good look at the health of your own domain and that of competitors, keyword research on SEMrush is also a big feature.
With keyword research, the obvious goal is to figure out the number of searches happening around that particular keyword on Google. With that you know if you want to target that keyword or not.
Next you get the difficulty score based on how many other sites are ranking for the said keyword and how strong their link profile actually is.
You can sort this by geo-locations as well. But, what I liked most about SEMrush is its competitor research feature. You plug in a competitor domain and you see all the keywords they rank for.
That’s not to say that these keywords are the ones that bring them traffic and that’s it. That’s far from true. However, you get the bigger picture with SEMrush. You get the list of pages and the keywords that are bringing them most traffic.
This is something you can emulate and a strategy that has brought me many wins throughout the past 9 years I’ve been a blogger and freelance writer.
Backlink analysis with SEMrush
Backlinks never used to be “one” thing that SEMrush couldn’t quite figure out right. But in the last years after over $40 million in fresh funding that has changed for the better.
SEMrush is nearly as good as finding all the backlinks of your competitor as Ahrefs is. The backlinks analytics gives you a list of all the links your site or a competitor site has.
In addition, you can:
- See each individual link
- The anchor used with that link
- The top level domain distribution aka .com, .net, .org and so on.
Scroll a tad bit below to see when if the domain acquired and lost links. The accuracy of the links database is directly relevant to the size of the database.
Currently there are over 31 trillion links in the database. Compared to Ahrefs which only has 26 trillion links in its database.
I compared both Ahrefs and SEMrush and I found very little difference in the backlinks they found. More so on some domains, SEMrush found more number of links.
Site auditing with SEMrush
Yet another extremely useful feature with SEMrush is its site audit feature.
The site audit uncovers issues that have a bad impact on ranking. Most site audits especially by Ahrefs reveal only cosmetic faults and there’s nothing you can really do with them. SEMrush’s site audits are way more comprehensive.
- The audit reveals all slow loading pages
- Gives you a list of duplicate content
- Reveals ssl issues
- Shows crawl errors
- Gives a list of missing tags and headers
The real beauty is the on-page checker. Because similar to Surfer SEO it gives page level improvements on a particular page to help with its improvements.
You get a bunch of insights on what to do
- You understand which keywords to add on the page
- You understand what to do to make the page a featured snippet
- How to improve copy and descriptions
- Also a list of sites that you can outreach to for backlink building to name a few.
More SEMrush features
I’m digressing more and more. I will quicken my pace here. There are few more great features on SEMrush. WIth backlink analysis there’s also a backlink audit tool where you can also copy paste links from other sources. SEMrush returns a list of the most toxic links to the domain. It will prepare you a disavow file you can submit to Google as well.
There’s also a full-fledged prospecting tool that outlines domains you can reach out to for links and will help you automate the process.
For content marketing, there’s the topic research tool. Enter a topic and you get a list of ideas you can write. A boon for any content marketer stumped for ideas.
SEMrush pricing plans
SEMRush offers 3 pricing plans:
The pro version sets you back by: $99.95 per month
The Guru: $199.95 per month
The Business: $399.95 per month
A free trial is also available — the standard version is 7 days, but here’s an extended trial for 14 days.
Overall, the interface is primed to make the most of backlink, keyword research and site auditing. It’s easy to use.
The next tool in line is SERPstat. SERPstat is a great tool for finding new keywords, discovering backlink opportunities, analyzing the site, and doing PPC research.
Let’s start the first feature
With website analysis you can both the domain analysis and the URL analysis.
With domain analysis you can do the following things:
Do seo research
With seo research do a number of domain specific things like position tracking, domains vs domain comparison, listing out top pages of competitor site, getting top organic pages and similar things.
In addition you also get a good look at the PPC ads driving traffic and conversions to competitor sites.
Keyword research with SERPstat
With Serpstat it becomes to easy to run your domain against competitor domains to find a list of all the keywords that are common in between the two, while also listing out and unlocking plenty of new keywords they rank for. That means there’s a lot to learn.
SEO Research –This section includes reports on matched keywords, gives you a bunch of search suggestions, lists top pages and also competitors when you enter a keyword.
With the content marketing section if you enter a keyword you get a list of questions around that keyword. This is useful when you are thinking of all the parallel ways a topic can branch out, flesh out FAQ sections in blog posts and create really useful content.
With serpstat its easy to analyze competitor backlinks. You can understand competitor link building strategies and get a bunch of sources that you can use to build backlinks to your own site.
The dashboard is an overview of the site’s domains, total pages indexed and other metrics.
You also see the page and trust rank which gives you an idea of the site’s authority.
The referring domains section gives you an idea of all the linking domains. You can view and sort them by Alexa rank.
You get to see a list of all the new and lost backlinks to the site too. You see which links are do follow and which ones are no follow.
You can understand how the anchors are distributed to the backlink profile. The list of keywords competitors are using is a good measure to frame your own anchoring strategy. In addition, you get to view all the top pages on the site based on the number of links.
Export keyword and backlink data in different formats. There are a number of tools that makes domain and competitor research possible. The website audit tool is quick and gives you a quick overshoot of the backlink profile and health of the site.
What does SERPstat lack?
I heard from a few quarters that the keyword volume data from SERPstat is not up to the mark and is way lower compared to SEMrush or Ahrefs. So you might want to take the keyword volumes with a grain of salt.
Two, serpstat offers much of the same features like SEMRush and Ahrefs albeit for a much lower price. There’s no real differentiating feature other than lower search volumes and missing backlink and ppc data that would go in its favor.
SERPstat is a really affordable tool with basic pricing starting at a low of $29 per month.
SpyFu came as a competitive intelligence tool that can help identify that most profitable keywords for competitors. There are several tools that offer similar search functionality.
And it is one of the strongest suites with Spyfy.
With the tool you can see the rank of the keyword, its cost per click, its keyword difficulty, the number of searches per month, and the seo clicks as a result.
Sort keywords by the following categories:
Most valuable keywords
Newly ranked keywords
Keyword rank gains
Keyword rank losses
Page one keywords
Almost there keywords
For ppc keywords here’s the sorting to use.
- Ad timeline
- Monthly cost
- Monthly searches
- Ad position
- Total ads
SpyFu offers three plans all of which come with a full free 3-0 day trial
- Basic Plan: $39 per month This is great for individual use that doesn’t require API access
- Professional Plan: $78 per month. For companies who track 15000 or more keywords a month
- Team Plan: $299 per month. For teams that have 5 user accounts
That wraps up the list of tools similar to Ahrefs. What do you think of the Ahrefs alternatives I shared above?