Ever been stuck between deciding which SEO tool you should get?
Ahrefs and Semrush are two of the best SEO tools, but their features and pricing can make it hard to know which one is right for your business.
Fortunately, this Ahrefs vs Semrush article will save you time by comparing these powerful tools side-by-side.
Keep reading to get started…
The Role of SEO Tools in Businesses and Companies
SEO tools are indispensable for brands, businesses and companies operating in the digital landscape. They play a critical role in helping businesses to understand their online presence and optimise for better visibility in search engine results.
So, exactly in what ways do these tools help?
Firstly, SEO tools can provide businesses with crucial insights into their online visibility. By analysing search engine rankings, website traffic and keywords, businesses can identify areas for improvement and optimise their online presence accordingly. This not only boosts their rankings and visibility but also helps them identify gaps in their strategy.
Secondly, SEO tools can help businesses understand the competition. Companies are able to examine the online presence of their competitors, allowing businesses to further identify gaps in their own strategy and make informed decisions on how to outperform the competition.
Thirdly, SEO tools can help businesses improve their website performance. From being able to check website speed, review user experience, and go over technical SEO factors, businesses can identify issues that may be affecting website performance and take the necessary steps to address these issues.
Lastly, SEO tools can provide businesses with valuable insights into their audience. By analysing user behaviour and search trends, businesses can gain insights into what their customers are searching for and tailor their content and marketing strategies accordingly.
In short, SEO tools are a must-have for any business looking to succeed in the digital age. They provide invaluable insights into online visibility, competition, website performance, audience behaviour and preferences and more.
Let’s now move on to what our main SEO tools offer, starting with Ahrefs.
Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO toolset that offers a wide range of features and functionalities to help improve a website’s search engine optimisation. Many would argue that Ahrefs provides a fantastic suite of tools and resources to help businesses and marketers manage their SEO campaigns effectively.
Furthermore, Ahrefs’ extensive database of backlinks and keywords allows businesses to gain deeper insights into their competitors’ strategies. By analysing a competitor’s backlinks and keywords, businesses can gain a better understanding of what is working in their industry and adjust their own SEO strategies accordingly.
Semrush is also a comprehensive SEO tool that provides much-needed support across areas of digital marketing apart from SEO. It’s the ideal tool for digital marketers who want a one-stop solution to their SEO needs alongside PPC or social media marketing needs.
With Semrush’s SEO capabilities, you can generate insightful reports, track progress, and track your competitor’s organic search and ranking results. Semrush’s SEO toolkit extends to monitoring your backlink profile, keyword research, and on-page optimization.
In addition to the SEO solutions that Semrush offers, Semrush’s PPC toolkit is quite impressive, which includes helpful tools such as the Keyword Magic Tool which helps you find keywords for your next PPC campaign.
Semrush vs Ahrefs: Capabilities and Features
Below we’ve grouped the key features that both Ahrefs and Semrush share, and you’ll notice that either one of the tools may slightly be different compared to the other.
Keyword Research Tools
Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer
According to Ahrefs, Traffic Potential “…shows the sum of organic traffic that the #1 ranking page for your target keyword receives from all the keywords that it ranks for.”
Click Count For a Keyword
Discover the click count for a specific keyword on the search results page with the clicks metric, which displays “…the average number of clicks that happen on the search results page.”
With Aherfs, you get to view the “Parent Topic” of your keyword of choice.
According to Ahrefs, the Parent Topic plays a crucial role in letting you know whether you can rank for your targeted keyword while targeting a broader subject or topic instead. The way Ahrefs determines the parent topic is by taking the top ranking page for your chosen keyword and then identify the query that sends the highest amount of search traffic to that top ranking page.
The Keywords Explorer operates on a huge keyword database of 9.5 billion keywords specifically tailored for Google. And this is something that any SEO professional should leverage if they were to use Ahrefs.
Upon entering a keyword, Ahrefs will present the top five keywords from its comprehensive keyword ideas reports. However, you’re not limited to just these five keywords since Ahrefs allows you to select from three distinct keyword ideas reports which are Matching Terms, Related Terms and Search Suggestions.
SERP position history
The SERP position history feature provides a graph showcasing the past rankings of the current pages that are ranking on the top. This feature proves valuable in assessing the volatility of SERP, capturing the fluctuations and variations when it comes to ranking positions among the top-ranking pages. Click here to learn more about it.
Semrush’s SEO Keyword Research Tools
The Keyword Overview offers essential metrics for any keyword in Semrush’s extensive database. It provides a comprehensive range of insights, from global and regional search volume to understanding your audience’s inquiries regarding your brand.
Moreover, it allows you to explore related keywords to help you generate keyword ideas for paid advertisements, and examine the ad history of any keyword to identify frequently top-ranked ads in the SERP. Additionally, it provides valuable information on estimated traffic directed towards your competitors’ URLs and much more.
Semrush’s Organic Research tool empowers you to gain insights from your competitors’ most valuable organic keywords and content, enabling you to devise a strategic plan to surpass them on the SERPs.
With this tool, you can obtain a comprehensive overview of the keywords and traffic of a particular domain, encompassing both mobile and desktop devices. From keyword trends, top position shifts, estimated traffic, SERP features, and other additional insights, there is a lot that you can discover. You can also uncover additional domains that your website competes against in the top 20 Google search results, according to factors such as organic traffic and keywords.
You can learn more about the Organic Research tool via this link.
Keyword Magic Tool
Using the Keyword Magic Tool, you can delve deep into any keyword that you would like to gain insights and data on. It not only showcases Keyword Difficulty and keyword Intent, but also provides insights into the search volume of a keyword, the level of interest in a search query over the past 12 months and more.
Click here to get started with how to use the Keyword Magic Tool.
Semrush’s Keyword Gap Tool enables users to:
- Uncover keywords that your competitors are using that your team isn’t leveraging
- Conduct a thorough analysis of desktop and mobile keywords of your competitors for specific domains, subdomains, subfolders, or URLs
- Identify gaps and opportunities to enhance and strengthen the overall effectiveness of your SEO efforts when it comes to keywords
With the Keyword Manager, Semrush can automatically gather keyword clusters by simply inputting a few seed keywords. Whether you want to create lists and clusters from scratch or build upon existing ones, it’s all at your fingertips. Furthermore, you can seamlessly integrate each of your lists with other tools of Semrush or export them to share with your SEO team.
Organic Traffic Insights
As mentioned by Semrush, you can obtain “…a detailed list of the keywords your website’s pages are ranked for, including hidden “not provided” ones from Google Analytics, with a range of key metrics.”which of course is extremely helpful in improving your SEO rankings.
Coming in second place after Google as the industry’s second most active web crawler, it’s safe to say that Ahrefs offers an incredible backlink database that digital marketers and SEO specialists can maximise to their advantage.
What’s more, Ahrefs’ “backlink index is updated with fresh data every 15 minutes“ ensuring the data is consistently fresh.
Domain and Page-level Metrics
With Ahrefs, you can analyse websites, URLs or subsections that you choose. You’ll be provided with valuable SEO metrics that are actionable which include the number of referring domains and backlinks, domain rating (DR) and Ahrefs Rank (AR).
Gain a comprehensive analysis of the backlink profile of your target. Explore every page that links to your target in the Backlinks report. Delve deeper with the help of useful filters, such as link type (“dofollow” / “nofollow”), platform, Domain Rating (DR), URL Rating (UR), referring domains, and more. Enhance your understanding and make informed decisions with this valuable information.
Referring Domains Report
With the Referring Domains report, you get to discover the websites that link to your target, which are accompanied by domain-wide metrics such as Domain Rating (DR), Referring domains (followed), Linked domains (followed), Estimated organic traffic and Links to target (total & followed).
Best By Links Report
Simply put, the Best By Links report allows you and your SEO team to discover “linkworthy” pages based on the most highly linked-to pages of your competitors.
Linked Domains Report
The Linked domains report offers a thorough breakdown of each and every outbound link, with each having an accompanied SEO metric which are: Domain Rating (DR), Ahrefs Rank (AR), Total followed referring domains, Total followed linked domains, Estimated organic traffic and Number of links from the target (total & followed).
Ahrefs offers lots of other features that your marketing team can leverage which you can view here.
Renowned for having the fastest backlink crawler in the market, Semrush boasts an impressive count of more than 43 trillion backlinks. In addition, Semrush eliminates duplicate links to guarantee data accuracy.
Assess your SEO performance and stay on top of the campaigns of your competitors. With Semrush regularly updating its database, you can quickly discover backlinks, improving efficiency.
With the Authority Score metric, you and your SEO team are able to assess the quality of backlinks, since it relies on the most authoritative data sources, including links and traffic. Because of this, the team is empowered to make informed decisions with confidence.
Additionally, in the backlink analytics section, you can uncover every intricate detail about your backlinks as well as those of your competitors. Easily track the progress of link-building in any domain, and stay up to date when backlinks are removed or deleted.
From being able to identify backlink types, incoming links as well as linking domains, to discovering the pages with the most number of backlinks, to keeping a close eye on your competitors’ link-building strategies and more, there’s a lot you can do with Semrush.
Understand the significance of each and every link you’ve got, whether it be a beneficial link or a bad link. Conduct a thorough examination using more than 50+ parameters on any given link, gather custom insights, and eliminate or disavow any links that may be harmful.
One significant advantage of Semrush is the ability to link Google Search Console with your Semrush account, enabling you to identify a larger volume of backlinks. Apart from this, you can also link Google Analytics to gain insights into “…which of your pages with links attract the most attention. This tells you what worked and what didn’t bring success from your outreach efforts.”
Utilise the Backlink Gap section to analyse and compare your domain with competitors’. Identify valuable backlink opportunities to pursue by applying filters such as traffic, category, and Authority Score. This allows you to focus on the most relevant prospects for your outreach efforts, ensuring optimal results.
The Bulk Analysis Tool helps you avoid wasting time on outreach to unresponsive link prospects. By utilising this tool, you can analyse the backlinks of your competitors in large quantities or bulk. Simply input 200 URLs or sites, then click “Compare” to view the results.
Link Building Tool
Discover potential prospects on the basis of competitor analysis, target keywords, brand mentions, etc. Evaluate domains that align with your campaign for link-building and identify those that share similar backlinks to your competitors. What’s great is that you can streamline your email outreach and monitor your progress seamlessly, all under the Link Building Tool.
Site Audit thoroughly crawls each and every page it discovers on your site. It then generates an SEO health score, presents key data in visual charts, as well as identifies any potential SEO issues and offers actionable recommendations to address them effectively.
160+ pre-defined SEO issues
Site Audit allows you to thoroughly examine your website for over 160 predefined SEO problems. With Site Audit, it automatically categorizes issues and generates printable reports, all presented with visually appealing coloured charts. You can detect problems concerning HTML tags, inbound links, content quality, and more.
With Data Explorer, you have the power to delve beyond pre-defined issues and take control of more than a hundred different data points on every page of your site. You can further leverage the data generated by Ahrefs’ crawler to execute a wide range of possibilities according to your preferences such as the creation of custom filters or incorporating custom issues. This empowers you to extract valuable insights and make the most out of the available information.
With Ahrefs’ Site Audit, you can crawl your website’s mobile version via choosing any of the pre-configured mobile user agents of Ahrefs.
Semrush has several Site Audit Thematic Reports and the first on the list is the Crawlability report. This report provides an analysis of the elements on your site that impact how search engines crawl your website. It’s safe to say that the Crawlability report offers valuable insights into the factors that may hinder or optimise the crawlability of your site.
Within the Crawlability report, you’ll find graphs where most of them are clickable, allowing you to view and access a filtered Crawled Pages report, showcasing the pages with crawlability issues that have been identified.
By leveraging the Crawlability report, you can proactively identify and resolve issues that may hinder search engine crawlers from properly indexing your web pages. This optimisation effort can lead to improved visibility and higher rankings in search engine results.
Core Web Vitals
Consisting of a range of metrics that gauge a site’s interactivity, loading performance and visual stability, Core Web Vitals present valuable insights and data that assist digital marketers with the optimisation of their websites. These metrics carry significant importance, as they directly influence the ranking of a website on Google’s search engine results. You can click here to learn more about Core Web Vitals.
The HTTPS Implementation report offers a comprehensive overview of potential issues related to certificate registration, server support and website architecture. By simply clicking on each block, you can access a detailed explanation of the problem and learn how to address it effectively.
For global websites, it’s crucial to ensure that the website loads in the appropriate language of the visitors by using the Hreflang attribute (rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x”). The attribute can be used on a site’s HTML, XML sitemap, or HTTP to indicate the language and regional URL of a web document.
Currently, Semrush exclusively examines the HTML of your website to identify these tags. Using this tag properly enables visitors from different parts of the world to view your site in their desired language and geographic tone.
The Internal Linking report will display the web pages that have a high click depth and are difficult to locate, along with any broken links and the pages that have the most Internal LinkRank.
To view a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the internal links of your site, you need to click on the internal linking widget. Having done this, you will notice that the analysis will be divided into 5 key sections which are:
- Pages Crawl Depth
- Internal Links
- Internal Link Distribution
- Internal Link Issues
- Pages passing most Internal LinkRank
You can view each one here.
As Semrush describes it, “Markups are how you add structured data items to your website’s code. In turn, structured data can help Google understand your content on a deeper level and give you rich snippets and special SERP features based on the info your markups provide.”
The report provides you with a grade based on the ratio of invalid to valid structured data items discovered by Site Audit on your website. It will present a detailed breakdown of the total number of pages that include markups, the markup type, and a list of the actual structured data items seen on the site.
Ahrefs Rank Tracker
One of the best features of Ahrefs is its Rank Tracker tool. This tool allows you to easily monitor your website’s Google rankings on both desktop and mobile devices across a whopping 190 countries.
Simply input your list of keywords or import them, add several countries for each keyword and add the URLs of your competitors. Ahrefs will then begin tracking the relevant data as well as send you updates so you can stay on top of your website’s search engine performance ranking.
Additionally, you can also identify if your site has any SERP features via the Rank Tracker which will show data on 15 features including Knowledge Panel, Video Preview, People Also Ask and more. Click here to see all of those features.
Filters, Tags, and Pages
Customise your data segmentation according to your preferences and easily view valuable insights into your ranking progress when you group keywords with tags. Rank Tracker consolidates your data, providing a comprehensive performance overview by tag, as seen in the image above.
Moreover, you are also able to view the pages that are ranking for the keywords you are tracking. Additionally, you can discover other relevant keywords by clicking on the “Organic keywords” button, which you may consider adding to your rank tracker project.
Ahrefs’ Competitors Overview compares your data with up to ten competitors and provides reports on three crucial aspects: Positions, Traffic, and SERP features.
Discover the competitors who are climbing up your rankings and uncover the websites and pages vying for search traffic from the tracked keywords list with the Competitors Traffic Share report. This powerful feature “…uses data from the top 100 search results for each of your tracked keywords to show the “Share of Voice” across all pages and websites that were found.”
Key Metrics For Tracked Keywords
Gain comprehensive insights by accessing a list of key metrics for each tracked keyword you have and leverage the data on ranking progress, CPC, estimated search volume, clicks, return rate, etc.
Apart from the features mentioned above, you get to keep track of your ranking fluctuations effortlessly as you can receive monthly and weekly email reports that provide information about the significant shifts in your keyword rankings. Additionally, you’ll also receive a “…sample of gained and lost SERP features and performance data based on your tags.”
Semrush’s Position Tracking
Position Tracking is an invaluable tool for monitoring the positions of your keywords, enabling you to stay informed about any changes in your website’s ranking on search engines. Through this tool, you gain the opportunity to conduct a comprehensive “…analysis of your competitors that are driving traffic away from your website”.
This report offers you a valuable opportunity to compare your website’s rankings with those of your competitors in Google’s organic search results, showing the rankings in the Top 3, Top 10, Top 20 and Top 100 positions, giving you a clear picture of your website’s performance in relation to your competitors.
By examining these rankings, you can identify how to proceed with your next steps to improve your setup and efforts.
In addition to the rankings, this report also provides insights into the top paid results from Google Ads.
The Tags report in Position Tracking offers a seamless and efficient way to categorise and segment a large number of search terms. With this feature, you can easily organise and manage keywords according to different criteria, themes or groups that are relevant to your business or SEO strategy. When you assign tags to keywords, you can create customised groups and clusters based on various attributes or characteristics.
Take note that each keyword has a maximum limit of five tags, which is great, to avoid overcrowding of keywords in one group. This capability enables you to gain a deeper understanding of your keyword landscape and easily track and analyse specific subsets of keywords.
Whether you want to categorise keywords based on competitors as seen above, or target audience segments, geographic locations, or any other relevant criteria, you are able to do so. In summary, the Tags report in Position Tracking empowers you to effortlessly segment and organise thousands of search terms, facilitating a more structured and focused approach to a quick keyword analysis and monitoring.
This tab provides valuable insights into your competitor’s top-performing landing page and allows you to examine the metrics associated with the high-performing keywords of the landing page. Apart from this, you can also track the progress of individual pages, seeing which ones have shown improvement or declined in relation to a specific query.
By leveraging this tab, you can gauge the direction that your competitors are going for and identify opportunities for improvement in your own SEO efforts.
Competitor Discovery is a powerful tool that allows you to see the domains vying for traffic against your own. You can monitor the performance of these domains via the dedicated Competition Map.
This section also reveals the extent to which domains are ranking within Google’s top 100 results for keywords and traffic that are relevant to (or compete against) your business. This insight helps you gauge the level of competition you face from each domain and provides a picture of the traffic they may be diverting away from your website, ultimately helping you stay informed about the players you need to keep an eye on.
Devices and Locations
Track the performance of a website across various locations and devices, including desktops, smartphones, and tablets. Additionally, you can compare search volume across different regions.
Uncover the opportunities to secure a position at the top of Google’s search engine results page (SERP) via the Featured Snippets report. This powerful feature allows you to identify “…which keywords are triggering SERP Features with search trends.”. With this, you and your team can capitalise on the different ways to enhance your online visibility and drive organic traffic to your website.
Ranking for keywords is definitely a goal that every business strives to achieve, however, keyword cannibalisation can instead take place. This occurs when a bunch of your pages on your website are targeting the same keywords to cover the same topic or query, leading to these web pages fighting against each other on the SERPs, which isn’t always a great thing.
So make sure to avoid content cannibalisation and maximise your chances of ranking at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) with Semrush’s Keyword Cannibalization tab. When utilising this feature, you can ensure that your content does not compete against itself. Furthermore, this tab provides valuable suggestions on how you can optimise the pages of your site for better search engine rankings.
Ahrefs’ Stand-Out Features and Capabilities
Ahrefs offers a powerful tool called Content Explorer, which is designed to help users discover the best ideas for content as well as link opportunities in Ahrefs’ massive “…database of 14.1 billion web pages”. This tool is extremely useful for marketers and content creators who are looking for successful ideas for their next campaign.
One of the best features of Content Explorer is the ability to maximise filters, making it possible to identify the most successful content ideas. This allows you to create content that has a higher chance of performing well and attracting visitors to your website.
In addition to content ideas, you can also find guest blogging opportunities. With this, you can reach out to these websites to collaborate for a guest post, which can help improve your search engine ranking and drive traffic to your site.
Overall, Ahrefs’ Content Explorer is one of the best content research tools available. Its massive database and fantastic filtering options make it a great resource for finding content ideas as well as link prospects that can help improve a website’s SEO and drive traffic. Whether you’re a solo blogger or a large marketing team, Ahrefs’ Content Explorer is a great tool in your arsenal. Make sure to check out the use cases section on how to maximise the Content Explorer.
Semrush’s Stand Out Features and Capabilities
On page SEO checker
Semrush’s on-page SEO checker gives you practical steps on how to boost your Google rankings. It compares your page against “the top 10 real-time organic competitors for each target keyword”. From strategy ideas to content ideas as well as technical SEO ideas and more, this useful tool provides a comprehensive list of ideas worth considering.
Social Media Toolkit
Semrush offers a remarkable social media toolkit that empowers you to analyse your social media presence. From likes and engagements to competitor insights and the opportunity to streamline your company’s social media calendar and beyond, you can gain valuable insights into your social media progress and make informed decisions.
If you’re a marketer handling various aspects of digital marketing for a company, Semrush presents itself as a superior option. It not only helps you gather search traffic data and assist with SEO keyword research but also takes into account your social media activities, ensuring comprehensive oversight.
Based on the image above, Ahrefs offers 4 plans to choose from, starting at $99 with the Lite plan which is perfect for small businesses and hobby projects as noted above, all the way up to $999 with the Enterprise plan which is for agencies and enterprises. Make sure to thoroughly go through their plans and pricing options in order to determine which one is best for you or your business.
As seen above, Semrush has three plans to choose from. Pro, Guru and Business.
We recommend that if you’re just starting out and have a small team, go with the Pro plan. But if you’re expanding more and more, then the Guru plan might be the right option. And of course, the Business plan is the best choice if you’ve got several teams and members in your business that are working on a variety of your SEO, PPC and marketing tasks.
In summary, the SEO tool that you choose will depend on your needs. For instance, if your company is heavily invested in ads then it might be useful to opt for Semrush due to its PPC features. But if your main priority is on backlinks then Ahrefs is the better option.
But of course, it’s essential to do a thorough audit of what your business really needs. After all, there’s no point in investing in a tool that has features you won’t even use!
Need help with your brand’s SEO and PPC Campaigns?
What’s the difference between On page SEO and Off page SEO?
On page SEO refers to optimising individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. This includes optimising content, titles and meta descriptions, as well as improving the internal link structure of a website.
On the other hand, off page SEO is about improving the authority of a website through external links from other websites. Off page activities include building backlinks from high authority sites, social media promotion and much more. Both on-page and off-page SEO are important for achieving better rankings in search engines.
Do SEO tools guarantee a page-one ranking?
No, using SEO tools cannot guarantee that your website will rank on the first page of search engine results. SEO tools are a means to an end, and a lot of effort is required to get your website on the first page of results.
Can I use SEO tools to spy on my competitors?
Yes, some SEO tools come with competitive analysis features that allow you to monitor your competitors’ websites, including their traffic, ranking, and backlink profiles.
However, don’t get too carried away with spying, you also need to put in some work on your own SEO activities.
How long does it take to see results from SEO?
Good SEO is like a fine wine—it gets better with time. It generally takes 3-6 months to start seeing results, but remember, patience is a virtue!