SEMrush and Ahrefs both are really popular tools. I wrote a comparison post comparing SEMrush vs Moz comparison post where SEMrush was better than Moz.
However here this comparison is around SEmrush and Ahrefs both of which go toe to toe. However what will you do when you don’t have the budget for both the tools?
Tools aren’t easy to come by and can cost $200 or more a month. With the basic plan. The more advanced plans tend to cost more.
So what if you had the budget for just one? Which SEO tool between these two would it be? That’s the question I’ll attempt to answer in this post.
The in-depth comparison between SEMrush and Ahrefs will help you decidewhich tool is best for you.
I will be looking at several things like keyword research, pricing and backlinks analysis.
What is SEMrush and what does it do?
SEMrush launched in 2008
It was first a chrome extension. Afteryears of feedback it has turned to one of the foremost marketing tools.
From keyword research to link building and everything in between, SEMrush is truly an all-purpose SEO tool. Capture rankings and understand what makes your competitors tick.
With SEMrush you are going to get more data on keywords and competition than what you’d ever get from Google keyword planner alone. Plus there’s difficulty scores as well.
SEmrush gives you plenty of insights on the overall industry.
Try SEMrush PRO free for 30 days (worth $99.95)
Ahrefs was launched in 2010 as tool for backlink analysis.
Ahrefs was launched in 2010 primarily as a backlink analysis tool. But it quickly evolved into being like SEMRush, a tool for keyword research and analysis, content marketing research, seo audit and ppc analysis.
The interface is great and is easyto understand the kind of backlinks the competitor has. In addition the backlink data on competitors is pretty accurate. There are only few tools that can offer links data at this level.
Then again, they started with new features and its more than just link analysis. You can generate keywords with the Keywords explorer and use the site audit feature as well.
Keyword Research: SEMrush vs Ahrefs
Keyword research lays the foundation of SEO. Your target audience, what they want and seek are all hidden inside keyword research. Once you do this right, create the website content in a manner that proves satisfying to both people and search engines.
Both SEMrush and Ahrefs has great keyword research abilities. SEMrush is great at both competitor analysis and offers varying levels of keyword discovery and research.
SEMrush provides you with accurate keyword research features.
The search volumes are highly targeted for seo and ppc. Keyword research is easy to do with the tool.
As you enter the keyword, there comes a keyword overview report that shares the metrics around the keyword: search volume keyword difficulty, cpc scores and so on.
You also get a list of top ranking pages for that particular keyword. However the best tools in the list are the topic research tool and the keyword magic tool.
Here are the details on the topic research tool.
With the topic research tool, you generate lots of content ideas on any given topic you want to search about. You get questions, headlines, quotations, questions and more.
Go to Topic research from the dashboard. Enter the keywords and hit the content ideas option to get a list of subtopics on the main topics.
The content ideas are displayed as cards with subtopics. The trending subtopics have a marking that shows they are hot. These happen to be the most trending topics in the last 60 days.
Sort topic cards by their search volume, by difficulty or other metrics.
Clicking on the cards gets more info like headlines, questions and related keywords around the main topic.
The topic research tool works great at generating a list of trending ideas. If you want to create blog posts, the topic research tool should be the first choice.
Next, is the Keyword Magic tool.
The tool currently supports 118 databases with over 18.9 billion keywords in total. With the Keyword Magic tool, you can find the right keywords to use in your articles and optimize them in a way that not just helps you rank high in organic results, but also in the coveted featured snippets section.
To launch the tool go to SEMrush dasboard followed by Keyword analytics and then the Keyword magic tool.
Enter seed keywords and click on search. With the seed keyword you get a list of keywords to use on the post or page to rank it better. Use modifiers like broad match. Phrase match or exact match to get more relevant results.
If there are keywords not relevant to what you do, exlude them from the list of word.s You can also group keywords by seed keywords.
narrow down the keywords you’re targeting. You can choose to have dates in the keywords you chose or have them have a certain number of words in them. Once these keywords are selected, add them to the Keyword Manager to formulate insights on the keywords.
The keyword magic tool is your one stop destination to create content that ranks well.
On Ahrefs you are going to use the Keywords explorer tool for conducting keyword research. With this tool generate as many keyword suggestions around parent topics with volume keyword difficulty and cpc.
Get more data like questions, similar keywords and new keywords.
Go to the keywords explorer tab from the dashboard. Here type the keywords into the search box and choose your location. Next hit search.
You get the data for the seed keywords as well as new ideas for them, along with their search volumes as well.
Ahrefs shows the search volumes for the keywords. You get the clicks metric that show the average number of clicks that people make. This means how of those searches actually turn to visitors. This helps you target the right queries because there are searches that don’t always result in clicks back to you.
The metric helps you generate clicks.
Which Tool among Ahrefs and SEMrush is ideal Keyword Research?
When using these tools, SEMrush definitely has more capabilities to keyword research. SEMrush is far more refined in terms of what we get for keyword research and other details.
Ahrefs just shows search volume, return rate, KD and CPC. Semrush goes beyond that to show competitive density. Trends and serp features.
SEMrush has the largest keyword database with 20 billion keywords in the database. Ahrefs has 10 billion.
The accuracy of search volumes is another big thing to notice.
Backlink Analysis: Ahrefs vs SEMrush
If keyword research helps you determine the right keywords to base your strategies on, link building helps you move forward those particular keywords.
Backlink building is a challenging andyet one of the most rewarding off-page seo processes there is.
Link building helps you outpace your competitors. It isn’t something you’d want to realistically avoid, considering all the benefits attached to it.
By analysing backlinks of competitor domains you are going to rank higher than them.
Ahrefs remains a a big and the most accurate link checker there is and it has been for a couple of years. That said, SEMrush has caught up in a big way. There are dozens of improvements to the backlink index which is updated everyday.
So it isn’t an easy match between the two.
SEMrush’s backlink analysis features
SEMrush’s backlink analysis feature was a long-running joke. When they did an overhaul of their databases in 2019 that changed completely. This meant the backlink data was fresh and updated.
SEMrush’s backlinks database has now over 6.7 trillion backlinks that provides you with exception data on competitor backlink profiles.
It’s easy to start. Enter your domain to the search box and select backlinks from the drop-down menu. Hit enter. SEMrush will get you an overview of your entire backlink profile including the total number of links and also referring domains.
To obtain deeper insights go to the backlinks report by clicking on the referring domains. This helps you individually see all the individual domains in the link report.
In addition backlinks have type data like in body, image etc. There’s also attributes like follow or nofollow. You see the anchors as well.’
All of this carries through insights on competitor sites and how they build links.
As you enter a competitor domain what you see before you is the total overview regarding the backlink profile on the site. You see the total number of links and referring domains.
With the backlink audit tool you can run your entire backlink list through Google and see which of these links are toxic. It will generate a disavow file that you can submit to the search console.
Toxic backlinks tend to backtrack your efforts at ranking and building a great site. So removing them is essential.
The Ahref’s site explorer tool presents a lot of useful data. You can get a full analysis report on any competitor domain.
You will get an analysis of the domain with their backlink profile as well.
The overview of a domain shows the analysis of the website being analyed. You see the referring domains and their backlinks.
Click on referring domains to get more data on the sites that linking to your site.
The RD report shows all the site and it also gives you a sneak peek at how many times they linked back to you.
Among the filters select on the do follow filter. This onlyshows the do follow links in the report. You can then sort out the report by their DR to show the most authoritative domains first and order them that way.
The site explorer can also analyze links at the sub domain or the url level.This gives you more data on how much traffic and links a single page on the domain as.
Ahrefs seems to have a larger index. But that isn’t true for all sites and domains. In some cases the number of referring domains is larger for SEMRush.
Which Tool is Better for Backlink Analysis?
SEMrush still remains a near second to Ahrefs at backlink tracing and analysis. Ahrefs makes it easy to obtain the right data.
Ahrefs has been providing backlink data for a long period now which is one of the reasons behind the accuracy.
How does SEMrush vs ahrefs fare at technical SEo audits.
Technical seo is understanding all those on page seo factorsthat put your site on the Google map.
So things like site structure, its loading speed, security and xml are all equally important.
Technical issues tend to hold the site back from ranking well.
SEMrush’s site audit tool helps you perform a complete and full seo audit on the site and analyzes overall seo of the site. You see all the on site problems of the site and are given recommendations on how to fix these issues. This helps you rank higher.
With the site audit tool Semrush checks the site for over 130 different issues. All on page issues like title tags, h1 and meta descriptions are also checked for. To do a site audit is simple. First create a new project. Select the set up button in site audit block and enter the details like the domain name and click on start site audit.
It takes only a few minutes. You initially get an overview of site health. The health score of the site is based on ratio of issues found to number of checks. The issues are dubbed as most severeto less severe to very less severe that as notices.
You can see the topmost issues and see them by their level of priority. Click on the buttons right by the issue list on the issues tab.
You as a result get more details.
The site audit tool on Ahrefs is up to no scratch. It checks for only 100 parameters. When you finish, you get a health score with key data is charts, You see all issues and the possible fixes.
Go to site audit new project enter the domain and click on continue.
Ahrefs crawls the site and checks for all seo errors.
It does not take few minutes but 2 to 3 hours for a simple site. You can even return later while Ahrefs plays catch up.
Which Tool is Better for Technical SEO Audit?
SEMrush’s site audit tool is the winner hands down. Ahrefs does a great job and provides a good picture of the errors on the site. However it takes too long to scan the site and enerate the report. The audit report is easy to use and more accurate as well.
Position Tracking: SEMrush vs Ahrefs
How do you measure the impact of all the SEO work you’ve done? By tracking the positions in SERPs of all the keywords you’re targeting for your site. Position tracking or rank tracking allows you to track the overall visibility of your site in search results to determine what’s working and what’s not. Furthermore, you can also track your competitors’ rankings in SERPs to see where you stand in the grand scheme of things.
Both Ahrefs and SEMrush provide position tracking features. Let’s examine which tool does it better.
Position tracking is a must have toon your arsenal that helps you determine how well you aredoing for your target keywords.
SEMrush and Ahrefs have a position tracker built inside them.
The tool lets you insert all the keywords you want to rank for and realistically track their positions on Google for mobile and desktop.
Go to project followed by position tracking and click set up.
Set your desired location, us India or etc. Set the device type and add the competitor domains and add the list of keywords you want to rank. You can edit and alter this list anytime you want.
You see the positions the keywords rank for, their estimated traffic and visibility as well. You see the best performing keywords for the site. The rankings on Google and keywords with decreased ranking as well.
Click on the overview tab of the report to get more accurate tracking.
Ahrefs’ rank tracker can help you see the rankings of the target keywords both for all geo locations and for mobile and desktop. Ther’es also the position history chart that makes it easy to keep track of how the rankings have progressed through in the past.
As you add a new project you can also list out the keywords you want to track for the site. Add up to 5 different competitors to compare their organic search rankings against competitors.
As you enter the details it becomes easy to monitor keyword progress and measure the seo campaign. You can also monitor competitor visibility on the search engines and make the campaigns better.
Use the rank tracker notifications to be alerted whenever the rankings go up or down.
Which Tool is Better for Position Tracking?
Both semrush and ahrefs seem to be ok. But I heard in forums that the rank tracking abilities of Ahrefs isn’t that great and I stick with SEMrush.
Topic Research – topic research analyzes competitor content for you and gives you ideas on how to outrank them.
SEO Content Template –with the template you can create better seo friendly content.
SEO Writing Assistant – the writing assistant keeps track if the seo posts are seofied enough
Brand Monitoring – keeps track of competitor brand mentions
Post Tracking – analyzes the post ranking, its backlinks and also social shares.
You can also create customioze whitelabel reports to have the data all in one place or sell this to agency client.
Also the ppc analysis of competitor domains is spot on for what its worth. You can see insights into Google ads they are running and they can help create and optimize those campaigns for you.
Pricing Plans: SEMrush vs Ahrefs
There’s no significant difference between how the two are priced.
The basic plans at are $99.95 and $99 per month.
SEMrush gets you 3000 analytics reports per day on the basic plan. Ahrefs limits you to 25 reports on keyword explorer and 50 reports onc content explorer.
SEMrush Pricing Plans
billing, you can save 16% on your total billing amount.
Ahrefs Pricing Plans
Ahrefs offers four monthly pricing plans. You can save 20% on your total bill amount by opting for annual billing:
Final Thoughts: SEMrush vs Ahrefs
There’s no doubt that both SEMrush and Ahrefs are the best tools you can buy. However in light of the review, the backlink analysis is the only area where Ahrefs really shines. On all other aspects, SEMrush is better and you can get a full suite of tools you can rely on to further your seo efforts.
With great keyword research, seo site audits, backlink reports and other things SEMrush is definitely the go-to tool of choice.
SEMrush is something I have spent working on and there’s a ton of insights it can generate for your site.