When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), business owners have a lot of choices to make.
What tool should you use?
SEMrush or Ahrefs?
Both tools are popular among SEO professionals, but which one is the best for your business?
As you’ll discover, it depends on your needs for content marketing, conducting a technical SEO audit, using social media ads, or running a Google ad.
This article will compare SEMrush and Ahrefs and help you decide which tool is right for you.
What Is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization improves the visibility and organic search results of a website to increase web traffic.
SEO is essential because it can help you reach more potential customers.
How Does SEO Work?
SEO works by improving the probability of getting your website found in search engine results pages (SERPs).
You can accomplish this goal by optimizing website content, structure, and on-page elements like titles, metatags, and anchor text.
What Is an SEO Example?
An example is creating a title tag that includes the keyword you want to rank for.
Optimizing your title tag properly can help your website rank higher in the SERP for that keyword.
Another example is using long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are specific and descriptive phrases.
They are less competitive than short, general keywords.
They’re also more likely to convert because they show that the searcher is further on their buying journey.
Top Two Tools for SEO
Let’s take a look at SEMrush vs Ahrefs, shall we?
The SEMrush SEO tool is one of the most well-known search engine optimization tools.
What Is SEMrush and How Does It Work?
SEMrush is a comprehensive SEO toolkit that helps businesses improve their online visibility by capturing a larger piece of their market’s search volume.
The SEO tool provides insights and tools for essential SEO practices like keyword research and site audits.
SEMrush works by providing you with data and insights about your website and competitor websites.
The toolkit allows you to track your rankings, research keywords, analyze your website and competitor websites, etc.
Advantages of SEMrush
There are many advantages of SEMrush for businesses needing to improve their SEO results.
Some of the top advantages include the following.
- Competitor research
- Track search results to improve keyword ranking results
- Gain detailed insights about your website
- Obtain data about competitor websites
- Use a comprehensive set of tools to improve SEO results
Disadvantages of SEMrush
There are also some disadvantages of SEMrush that marketers should be aware of.
Some of the top disadvantages include the following.
- The tool can be expensive for businesses on a tight budget
- There is a learning curve associated with SEMrush
- It limits data to Google as opposed to pulling from other search engines
- SEMrush may not provide as much data for small websites
Like SEMrush, using the Ahrefs tool means using one of the most recognizable tools for search engine optimization purposes.
What Is Ahrefs and How Does It Work?
Ahrefs is a web-based platform that provides users with data and search engine optimization (SEO) tools.
Ahrefs works by crawling the web to collect backlink analytics and data.
The Ahrefs database provides users with information on how to improve their SEO auditing results.
Advantages of Ahrefs
The main advantage is the Ahrefs Site Explorer feature.
It gives you the ability to see detailed information about your website.
It includes data about the following factors.
- Organic keywords
- Referring domains
Additionally, the Site Explorer dashboard allows users to see this information in a more user-friendly interface than the SEMrush dashboard does.
Other advantages of Ahrefs include the following.
- See detailed information on backlinks, including the anchor text and target URL
- Use a comprehensive keyword research tool to find long-tail keywords
- Explore detailed information about any website, including traffic data and top pages
Disadvantages of Ahrefs
One of the disadvantages to Ahrefs is the expense.
Like SEMrush, some small business owners will find the pricing steep.
The marketing tool doesn’t offer a free trial or discounts.
Here are a few more Ahrefs disadvantages.
- Ahrefs doesn’t offer a mobile app for working “on the go”
- It doesn’t provide project management tools when working on backlinks
- It doesn’t integrate with Google Search Console or Google Analytics
SEMrush vs Ahrefs Comparison
Now that you know each SEO tool’s basic pros and cons let’s look at how they compare when looking at basic features.
Which Tool Is Best for SEO Keyword Research?
Both SEMrush and Ahrefs offer comprehensive keyword research features.
However, SEMrush’s “Keyword Magic Tool” is more user-friendly and provides more features than Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer.
You can pull down more daily reports with SEMrush than with Ahrefs.
You’ll find additional value using SEMrush if you think you need to look up keyword ideas daily.
Using the “keyword intent” feature, SEMrush also works best if you need to uncover the most effective “bottom of the funnel” keywords.
One drawback of SEMrush is that it only pulls from Google’s search engine to find your next target keyword.
Even though the Ahrefs SEO tool pulls data from other search engines, SEMrush still wins out overall for keyword research.
Which Tool Is Best for Analyzing Backlinks?
Ahrefs started primarily as a backlink analysis tool.
It provides users with more detailed information for improving domain authority than SEMrush does.
SEMrush’s backlink analysis feature is more basic.
Ahrefs allows you to see the link strength, target URL, and anchor text for each backlink.
You can improve domain rating by using Ahrefs to find unlinked mentions and unlinked brand mentions.
SEMrush’s backlink analysis feature is basic, but it does offer some unique features that Ahrefs doesn’t have.
For example, SEMrush allows you to see the percentage of nofollow vs dofollow links.
It also shows you the top pages on your competitor’s website that link to them.
SEMrush also offers a “Link Building Tool” to help you find opportunities to build backlinks.
Overall, Ahrefs is the better tool for analyzing backlinks.
Which Tool Has the Best Technical SEO Site Audit Feature?
Both SEMrush and Ahrefs offer technical domain analysis features.
However, we believe that SEMrush’s site audit feature is better.
SEMrush’s site audit feature is more user-friendly and provides more detailed information than Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool.
SEMrush’s site audit tool will crawl your website and provide you with a comprehensive report.
The report includes data on the following factors.
- Site structure
- Page speed
- Meta tags
- Duplicate content
- Robots.txt file
Additionally, SEMrush offers a “Site Health” widget that you can add to your Google Analytics dashboard.
The widget allows you to track the health of your website over time.
Which Tool Is Best for Rank Tracking?
You’ll discover rank tracking features when using either SEMrush or Ahrefs.
Each software tool does an excellent job in this area.
However, we believe that SEMrush’s rank tracking feature is better.
SEMrush’s rank tracking feature allows you to track the organic search rankings of your website for specific keywords.
You can also track the progress of your SEO campaigns over time.
SEMrush helps you to set up custom alerts so that you’re notified when your rankings change.
Ahrefs’ rank tracking feature is also a quality SEO tool.
SEMrush simply offers a few more features in this area.
For instance, it offers a “visibility” score that Ahrefs doesn’t offer.
Ahrefs updates keyword and rank tracking every seven or 14 days, depending on which plan you pay for.
With SEMrush, this data gets updated daily.
You won’t go wrong using rank tracking with Ahrefs.
SEMrush’s rank tracking feature does come out ahead due to the extra features.
Which Tool Has the Best Support?
Ahrefs offers better support than SEMrush.
Ahrefs includes robust training materials, including video tutorials, webinars, and a knowledge base.
SEMrush’s training materials are more basic in comparison.
Ahrefs also offers email and live chat support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
SEMrush only offers email support.
From a speed standpoint, using the chat feature on the Ahrefs website wins out.
You can find a chat feature at the bottom right of each page.
Click on it and ask your question. It’s not a “live chat” feature.
However, the Ahrefs customer support team responds through its chat feature in a matter of minutes.
It’s more difficult to find the support link on the SEMrush website.
You won’t find the link to the support team directly inside your dashboard.
Instead, you’ll need to look in the footer for the “contact us” link.
SEMrush asks you to fill in more information than Ahrefs does to ask your questions.
To be fair, SEMrush does respond relatively quickly to email questions.
For its ease of use and fast response times, Ahrefs wins this category.
Which Tool Has Cool Unique Features?
SEMrush includes a few unique features that Ahrefs doesn’t offer.
SEMrush’s “Ideas” feature is one of them.
The “Ideas” feature allows you to generate ideas for new content based on the keywords you enter.
The “Content Analyzer” is another unique SEMrush feature.
The Content Analyzer tool improves the quality of your existing content.
It does this by analyzing your content for things like word count, readability, and keyword density.
Pay-per-click data is one area that SEMrush dominates compared to Ahrefs.
You can find plenty of competitor analysis information when running PPC ads.
Ahrefs offers nothing in this area.
The Site Explorer is one feature that you will probably use often.
The Site Explorer tool allows you to see detailed information about any website.
The information includes things like the website’s organic traffic, backlinks, and top pages.
The “Content Explorer” is another excellent Ahrefs feature.
The “Content Explorer” helps you find popular pieces of content on any topic.
You can use the “Content Explorer” to come up with ideas for new blog posts or articles.
It’s tempting to call SEMrush the winner here due to the PPC competitor analysis feature.
However, most marketers focus mainly on SEO when using these tools.
Ahrefs wins out for its “Content Explorer” feature.
Which Tool Is the Best Overall Value?
The winner in the area of overall value will depend on your specific search engine optimization needs.
If you need to run SEO and PPC data for clients, for instance, then you’ll most likely find more value with SEMrush.
SEMrush also offers more overall features.
Ahrefs gives you better value when you need to invest time with link building.
You can more easily conduct broken link analysis, for example.
Its dashboard is more intuitive than SEMrush’s dashboard view.
Ahrefs also provides more generous project limits than SEMrush does.
It’s a tough call here.
We do rate Ahrefs as the winner in the overall value category.
Even though you get more features with SEMrush, these features aren’t used as much by the average marketer or business owner.
Ahrefs costs a little less and gives you everything you need for keyword research and backlink analysis.
Semrush vs Ahrefs: Which SEO Tool Is Better?
As we conclude our SEMrush vs Ahrefs comparison, it’s hard to make the call on which SEO tool rates out as the clear winner.
Again, the answer here depends on your situation and needs.
If you’re a solopreneur, affiliate marketer, blogger, or small business owner conducting local SEO, we rate Ahrefs as the best SEO tool.
You’ll pay slightly less for the smallest plan.
It gives you Site Explorer, Keywords Explorer, Site Audit, and Rank Tracker.
These tools are effective for running SEO campaigns.
We call SEMrush the winner for eCommerce companies and digital marketing agencies.
You’ll appreciate the PPC campaign features that you can’t get from Ahrefs.
The bottom line is that you can’t go wrong choosing either one of these SEO tools.
Take the next step by analyzing your needs.
Then, choose either SEMrush or Ahrefs to start improving your SEO rankings.