Ahrefs vs SEMrush – Which SEO Tool to Choose?

Ahrefs vs SEMrush – Which SEO Tool to Choose?

If you are working in SEO, whether in an agency or as a freelancer, you have probably heard more than once of Ahrefs and SEMrush. These two tools are, without a doubt, the biggest players in SEO right now. What features do they offer and which of them is a better solution for you? In this article, I will compare the two most popular SEO tools – Ahrefs and SEMrush.

Table of Contents:

Ahrefs and SEMrush Overview

Ahrefs

For years now, Ahrefs has been one of the most popular SEO tools used by marketers all over the world. Although this launched in 2011 tool is most often used as the best backlink analysis tool, it offers much more great features for the analysis of domain, keywords, and content. Currently, Ahrefs has its headquarters in Singapore.

ahrefs SEO tool comparison

The best Ahrefs tools are:

  • site explorer – shows general information about your organic traffic and backlink profiles,
  • keywords explorer – tools to discover ideas for keywords that give the greatest chance to generate massive web traffic,
  • site audit – tools to assess on-page SEO performance and identify what should be optimized,
  • rank tracker – with this tool, you can easily monitor the ranking of your website as well as of your competitors,
  • content explorer – discover the cutting edge content in your industry.

Ahrefs in numbers (as of September 29, 2020):

  • 02 billion pages,
  • 7 billion keywords,
  • 5 million pages crawled every minute,
  • 30 million new pages discovered every 24 hours,
  • 10 search engines (including Google, YouTube, Yahoo, Amazon, Bing, Yandex).

SEMrush

This tool developed in 2008 allows monitoring the effectiveness of SEO and SEM campaigns. Over all these years, SEMrush has gained a massive number of clients from all over the world. No wonder – this SEO tool offers various useful features and, importantly, is constantly expanding its database of domains, keywords and other valuable data needed to facilitate SEO campaigns.

semrush seo tool comparison

The best SEMrush tools are:

  • on-page SEO – crawls the website and conducts a highly detailed technical SEO audit, this function provides a list of things that need to be improved and optimized in order to increase visibility in the search results,
  • keyword research – with the impressive database, you can search through millions of keywords and find the ones that give the greatest potential to increase traffic to your site,
  • link building – a set of tools that will help you determine which domains to get backlinks from in order not to stay behind your competitors,
  • local SEO – tools to manage your local business,
  • rank tracking – tools to track your campaign progress, i.e. Google ranking and visibility in the search engine.

SEMrush in numbers (as of September 29, 2020):

  • 6 million users,
  • 20 billion keywords,
  • 827 million domains (793 million desktop and 33.9 million mobile domains),
  • 190 regions and countries,
  • 5 trillion backlinks.

online visibility increase seo

Domain Analysis

Both Ahrefs and SEMrush offer domain analysis and show how a given domain performs in terms of SEO and what potential it has to succeed in the search results. In both tools, all you have to do is to enter the URL of your website or your competitors and you will see a domain analysis report.

Ahrefs

seo tools for domain analysis ahrefs

Ahrefs immediately shows you some extremely important metrics and even a rough analysis will tell you a lot about website performance. Among them you will find such data as:

  • Domain Rating (DR) and URL Rating (UR) – they value websites on a 100-point scale: the more points, the better; many marketers follow DR and UR to define the quality and value of websites;
  • number of backlinks and referring domains – extremely useful for backlink analysis and conducting the link building campaign;
  • number of organic keywords – all keywords on which a given website is displayed in the top 100 organic search results;
  • organic traffic – estimated organic traffic during one month;
  • top competitors – websites that appear in the search results on the same keywords.

The number of data shown by Ahrefs is impressive and is quite sufficient to evaluate the overall site performance. The interface is very clear, thanks to which finding the necessary information should not be problematic. Especially easy to use is the menu on the left hand side, where you will find quick access to all key stats.

SEMrush

seo tools comparison semrush domain rating

SEMrush shows similar metrics for site performance. Among the most important of them are:

  • authority score – assess the overall quality of domain, takes into account such factors as: the number of backlinks, organic search traffic, referring domains;
  • traffic trend – on the chart you can check both organic and paid traffic of your website in a given period;
  • number of backlinks;
  • keywords trend – you can see how many keywords of your website appear in the search results in top 3, top 10 or top 50;
  • top organic keywords – a list of keywords that increase traffic to the site;
  • top anchors.

What is important, in the general domain analysis in SEMrush you can find functionality that is not present in Ahrefs, i.e. competitive positioning map. This feature will quickly show you how your website looks compared to your key competitors.

I would say that data in Ahrefs is generally more clear than in SEMrush and, what’s more, is located in one place.

Keyword Research

Keywords are a fundamental element of every SEO and SEM campaign. Which seo tool will give you better hints on keywords with the greatest potential? Below, I compare how keyword research looks like in Ahrefs and SEMrush.

Ahrefs

So what does keyword research look like in Ahrefs? Type keywords in the Keywords Explorer tool. What is important here, you can choose a search engine and a country for which you want to get results. This is a great opportunity to better match the results to your target audience and market.

best seo tools for keyword analysis ahrefs

Then Ahrefs generates a report with the analysis of the keywords you want to explore:

ahrefs keyword report

Which metrics does Ahrefs provide?

  • keyword difficulty – shows how difficult it would be for a new website to rank high in the search result for the analyzed keyword,
  • search volume – monthly searches for a given word within one month,
  • global search volume – how many times a given keyword was searched in all countries in the database,
  • clicks – how many times users have clicked in the search results, entering the analyzed keyword,
  • CPC (Cost Per Click) – how much marketers pay for a click on a given ad,
  • RR (Return Rate) – how many times a user searches for a given keyword during a month.

Ahrefs can also be used when looking for keyword ideas. There are several types of keyword searches that you can apply to find the keywords for your site:

keyword analysis seo tool ahrefs

If you have already selected a potential keyword, you also have the opportunity to explore it more deeply and see what search volume it has in different countries, what questions you can ask with this keyword or what different newly discovered similar keywords you have.

ahrefs keyword analysis report

SEMrush

SEMrush has been known for years mainly for its keyword research tools. But is it really that good and gives so many great keyword ideas for SEO campaigns? Let’s check this out!

Let’s take a deeper look at the tools from the SEMrush offer. You’ll find there:

  • Keyword Overview,
  • Keyword Magic Tool,
  • Keyword Manager,
  • Organic Traffic Insights.

The first two are especially useful during keyword research and analysis.

Keyword Overview

Keyword Overview is really helpful when you already have selected keywords for your SEO campaign and want to check if they actually have great potential or if it’s maybe better to keep looking.

Enter keywords you want to check, you can enter up to 100 keywords at once. Note that SEMrush shows results for specific countries, so you can see what keyword performance is for the United States, Canada or France.

seo tools for keyword analysis semrush

Then the tool generates a data report. And what can you find here?

  • search volume,
  • trend – the interest of a given keyword within the last 12 months,
  • keyword difficulty,
  • CPC,
  • competitive density – how competitive the analyzed keyword is,
  • results on SERP – how many pages appear in the search results for the analyzed keyword.

keyword analysis tools semrush

If you want to analyze a keyword more accurately and get even more information, you can do it as well. Simply click on a keyword and SEMrush will generate a detailed report:

keyword overview report semrush

Keyword Magic Tool

Personally, I particularly value SEMrush for Keyword Magic Tool – it’s simply excellent for keyword research. Its keyword database is so impressive – SEMrush provides as many as 20 billion keywords. So basically, if you would like to conduct a well thought-out keyword research, Keyword Magic Tool will give you many great hints and ideas.

How does it work? Type the keyword you want to analyze and the tool will give you various similar keywords. What’s great is that you can also use filters to make your analysis even more accurate and the results more tailored to your needs.

keyword magic tool in semrush

Backlink Analysis

If you want to plan a top-notch off-page SEO strategy, you need to build lots of valuable backlinks from high quality domains. How to find them? Ahrefs and SEMrush will give you some hints!

Ahrefs

Has anyone ever told you how great Ahrefs is for backlink analysis? Certainly that person was telling the very truth! Ahrefs is famous primarily as a great tool to explore potential backlinks to websites.

All you have to do is to enter the address of the site and you will get a list of all backlinks that lead to it. You have many possibilities to adjust the results to your needs, you can choose: link type (dofollow, redirect, sponsored, .gov, .edu, etc.), platform (blogs, ecommerce, CMS, etc.), language, traffic. Personally, I really appreciate the “One linke per domain” option – it gives the true essence!

backlink analysis seo tools ahrefs

I suggest that you always sort the results by Domain Rating – this way, you will find backlinks from domains of the highest quality!

SEMrush

When it comes to backlink analysis, SEmrush doesn’t give as detailed data as Ahrefs, but still you can find some great pieces of information here, such as: backlink type (text, image, form, frame) or link attribute (follow, nofollow, sponsored, UGC). Unfortunately, SEMrush offers a lot less filters, making backlink analysis a bit more time consuming.

backlink analysis seo tool semrush

One thing I like about SEMrush is the possibility to quickly compare backlinks with several competitors. You can easily check if your website stands out and if your competitors’ strategies are similar to yours.

backlink analysis with semrush

Competitor Analysis

If you want your SEO strategy to succeed, you should  monitor your competitors on a daily basis. And these two tools can also help you with that! If you would like to try to find other great SEO tools for competitive analysis as well, on our blog you will find a list of top 16, in my opinion, the best tools. Check them out!

Ahrefs

Ahrefs offers a possibility to analyze several competitors (up to 5 at the same time) and shows metrics such as: common keywords, Domain Rating, URL Rating, the number of backlinks and referring domains as well as estimated organic traffic.

competitor analysis tools ahrefs

SEMrush

As for competitor analysis, personally I definitely prefer SEMrush, mainly for the accuracy and transparency of the data presented. Analyzing your website, you will also find the “Competitors” option there – it offers plenty of data about your most powerful competitors. This tool is also great when you don’t know who your competitor at Google is yet and you wish to discover it!

competitor analysis tools semrush

Pay attention to Competitive Positioning Map – this tool shows the strengths and weaknesses of your websites compared to your competitors, taking into account such factors as: organic search traffic and number of keywords.

Rank Tracking

High positions in the search results – that’s what we all want to achieve with well-planned SEO strategies. Both Ahrefs and SEMrush are able to show you the visibility of your website in search engines. However, I must stress that all data related to web traffic and ranking positions are estimated (if you want more accurate data, use Google Search Console and Google Analytics), but they give an overall view on the visibility of your website and your competitors. And which tool is doing it better? Let’s check!

Ahrefs

To analyze the rank tracking of a given website, you need to create a project in the Rank Tracker tool. Then Ahrefs will generate such a report:

ahrefs rank tracking seo tool

And what useful data will you find there?

  • visibility – Click Through Rate (CTR) in percentage,
  • average position – average position of all keywords generating impressions,
  • traffic – average monthly web traffic from organic searches,
  • positions – keywords that had an increase or decrease in the search results in a given period,
  • keywords – all keywords that generate organic traffic.

What’s important is that you can use numerous filters that will allow you to better match the results to your needs. Among them are: choice of device type – mobile or desktop (not available in the basic version), period, location, keyword positions or their search volume, web traffic, keyword difficulty. Personally, I value Rank Tracker for the fact that all the most important data is gathered in one place – this really makes the analysis faster!

SEMrush

SEMrush has a really great tool, Position Tracking, which shows the necessary data in a very organized way. First you need to create a project in which you specify a custom set of target keywords. Importantly, SEMrush also gives you the option to specify geographic location and device type.

And which great features Position Tracking offers?

  • possibility to easily generate a PDF report,
  • adaptation to local SEO,
  • multiple location tracking,
  • tracking any keyword and domain, including those which SEMrush doesn’t have in its database.
position tracking in semrush
source: codeinwp.com

Pricing (September 2020)

Both tools are paid for and, let’s face it, they are not super cheap  – for this reason, many people, especially freelancers, choose only one of these SEO tools. So what are the prices for both tools? Keep in mind that those prices may change in the course of time.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs offers 4 types of plans. You can subscribe to them in a monthly or annual plan (in this case, two months are free). How do these plans differ and how much do they cost? In the table below you will find all the essential information:

Lite Standard Advanced Agency
monthly price (in monthly billing) $99 $179 $399 $999
monthly price (in annual billing) $82 $149 $332 $832
Tracked keywords 500 1 500 5 000 10 000
Domains per week 175 700 1 750 7 000
URLs per week 700 3 500 14 000 35 000
Keyword report per week 175 700 1 400 7 000

SEMrush

SEMrush offers 3 plans billed monthly or annually – the annual plan is cheaper by 16%. Basically, you have 3 plans to choose from:

  Pro Guru Business
Billed monthly (price per month) $99.95 $199.95 $399.95
Billed annually (price per month) $83.28 $166.62 $333.28
For whom? freelancers, start-ups, in-house SEO growing marketing agencies big agencies and businesses
Reports per day 3 000 5 000 10 000
Projects 3 15 25
Keywords to track 500 1 500 5 000
Pages to crawl per month 100 000 300 000 1 000 000

Ahrefs vs SEMrush – Which Tool Wins the Battle?

Not without a reason, Ahrefs and SEMrush are the top leaders in SEO, and are widely chosen by marketers from all over the world! These two tools offer really powerful features – the number of all the data you can check in Ahrefs and SEMrush is just overwhelming!

And which seo tool would I choose? This is a tough question. I think some features are better in Ahrefs, others in SEMrush. When it comes to backlink analysis, Ahrefs is the unquestionable winner, while for keyword research I prefer SEMrush. Both tools are a bit expensive, however, they can really help you to plan great SEO strategies to increase your website’s visibility in the search results and, as a result, boost web traffic.

And what do you prefer – Ahrefs or SEMrush? Or maybe you recommend other SEO tools? Let me know in your comments!

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Author
Managing Partner - Matt Calik

Managing Partner

Technical SEO specialist experienced in creating scalable processes based on agile methodologies. Responsible for international SEO strategies. He has strongly analytical approach to online marketing supported by over 12 years of experience. Previously associated with IT, motorsport, tobacco and financial markets. He has been building Delante for 5 years where he is Head of SEO and SEM department.
Comments (2)
  1. Nice comparison. Personally, I prefer Ahrefs – I feel like every data I’d need for the analysis of my website is there. All in one place 🙂 Bet someone would say the same about SEMrush tho 😅

  2. Really handy piece – do you maybe plan writing about other SEO tools? Would love to read more & compare my experiences 🙂

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