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Semrush vs Ahrefs 2024: My Honest Review & Perspective

semrush vs ahrefs

Table of Contents

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. i.e., if you sign up for their paid programs, I will get a commission, at no cost to you. Please rest assured that I only recommend software/ products I genuinely believe in, and trust to be good for you.

Let’s get this straight – Semrush and Ahrefs are both very powerful SEO tools offering very similar features.

You can use either to do keyword research, competition research, backlink analysis, site audit, and all the other SEO functions you need to drive traffic to your website.

So, what’s the deal with Semrush vs Ahrefs?

I have identified the core similarities and differences based on my 9 years of working with both tools. You may have already read some of these before, but many perspectives might be new.

Read on!

Semrush Overview

Semrush is one of the best SEO tools. It has a wide range of features and capabilities that you can leverage as an SEO, business owner, or marketer.

Actually, Semrush started as an SEO tool, but now it is more of an all-in-1 It’s an all-in-one digital marketing suite. Read more about what is Semrush

A key thing to note about Semrush is that it offers only data from Google.

It is sufficient as Google accounts for 99% of the market, but if you want to target other search engines, you have to consider Ahrefs or some other Semrush alternatives.

Semrush offers multiple pricing plans starting at $129.95 for monthly subscriptions, and it also offers a free trial option to try out Semrush and know if it’s suitable for your business.

The regular free trial lasts 7 days, but you can use my affiliate link for a 14-day free trial.

semrush logo

The Most Powerful SEO Tool

FREE Trial Period: 14 Days [Exclusive Deal]*

* The regular trial period is 7 days. You can get a 14-day free trial only with the above link. Enter your credit card to sign up for the trial. 

Pro Tip:

Semrush also lets you use a free account forever, with limited capabilities. So, if you want to do some basic SEO work, you can do that with a free account.

Related: Semrush free account vs free trial

Ahrefs Overview

Ahrefs was launched as a backlink analysis tool but has evolved into a comprehensive SEO tool.

Ahrefs offers data on multiple search engines, including Google, Bing, Baidu, Yahoo, Amazon, and YouTube.

Ahrefs plans start at $99 for monthly subscriptions, and it doesn’t offer a free trial. It used to offer a 7-day trial for $7, but it has stopped that.

Pro Tip:

The fact that Ahrefs doesn’t let you try out the tool before buying (one of the only tools to do so) tells me 2 things:

  • Ahrefs is confident that you will like the tool and get what you need from it, so there is no need to check with the free trial.
  • Ahrefs expects you to learn how to use the tool quickly and understand all its features. In other words, It doesn’t expect you to be a beginner.

So, to use an Ahrefs subscription, you need intermediate-advanced expertise in SEO tools, and you will have to pay $99 monthly.

In that sense, Semrush is much more beginner-friendly.

My honest advice would be not to sign up for an SEO tool, not even Semrush, before you get a free trial.

Most SEO tools offer free trials, so go for one. Even if you are an SEO expert, you don’t always need the best tool; you need the tool that is best for you.

Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Summary

Semrush and Ahrefs provide similar SEO features, but Semrush provides many more advanced features for finding long-tail keywords, search intent analysis, content marketing, social media marketing, link-building, and PPC data. They are all based on Google.

Ahrefs offers data from multiple search engines and is still the best tool for core backlink analysis.

Ahrefs is slightly more affordable than Semrush, but it has fewer features. Semrush offers a free trial to test the tool before buying and a 30-day refund period, but Ahrefs only offers paid plans and usually doesn’t offer refunds. So, Semrush is much more beginner-friendly than Ahrefs.

Another point I can share from experience is this:

Semrush is a smart, intuitive tool that understands what SEOs need and does it automatically without you having to do the hard work. In Ahrefs, you do the analysis and heavy lifting yourself.

I will get into this later in more detail.

Here’s a table that summarizes the comparison between Semrush and Ahrefs.

Features and Data

Semrush

Ahrefs

Uniqueness

Most powerful SEO tool

All-in-1 & sophisticated digital marketing tool

Good SEO tool

Great tool for backlinks and broken link analysis

Best for

Finding long-tail keywords and topic ideas

Site audit

Link building

Value-for-money

PPC Research

Estimating traffic potential  of keywords

Backlink analysis

Broken link building

Multiple search engine data

Search engines

Google

Google, Bing, YouTube, Amazon, Yahoo, Baidu

Website monitoring

Set up any website as a project (max 5 in the starter plan)

Set up only domains you have backend access to (unlimited)

One-click topic clusters

Pricing for annual subscriptions

$108.33 per month

$82.5 per month

Refunds

Within 7 days after purchase

Free account forever

Results per day

3,000

5,000

Keywords you can refresh metrics for

250

1,000

Content Marketing Platform

SEO Content Template
SEO Writing Assistant
Topic Research

Free Trial

14 days (only with my link below, otherwise 7)

User Experience

More beginner-friendly with free trials and accounts

Clean and easy UX, but still has a learning curve, and starts at $99

Review

More powerful + value-for-money

More link-oriented and has some unique features

Get Started

Now, let’s dig into each feature and compare Semrush vs Ahrefs side-by-side to help you decide on the most suitable tool.

Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Keyword research

Semrush and Ahrefs are powerful keyword research tools with extensive keyword databases.

With both tools, you can get:

  • Search volume worldwide and by country
  • Keyword difficulty by country
  • PPC data
  • SERPs results
  • Keyword ideas from competitors
  • Bulk analysis of keywords (100 in Semrush, up to 10,000 in Ahrefs)
  • Keyword trend (keyword popularity over time)

Semrush keyword research

When you enter a seed keyword in Keyword Overview, you immediately get a snapshot of all the important data: 1) volume, 2) difficulty, 3) intent, 4) trend, 5) competition, etc.

Semrush Keyword Research Metrics

When you scroll down further, you see the related keywords and questions, which give you ideas for sub-topics.

Semrush Keyword Variations

I like that you only have to scroll down slightly on the Semrush keyword overview page to see the top 100 results for a particular keyword.

Semrush SERP for keywords

This is a good start, but you need more if you are serious about SEO.

1. Find topics and long-tail keywords

To find topics related to winter shows, simply click on the Keyword Magic Tool on the left menu of your Semrush SEO dashboard.

You immediately get a list of keywords divided into topics and sub-topics.

Semrush Keyword Magic Tool - Find all keywords

By playing around with some filters, you can find less competitive long-tail keywords with high click potential.

For example, by choosing “All” + “Broad Match” in the Keyword Magic Tool, I can see all the keyword ideas for my seed keyword, “winter shoes,” in all variations. This filter returns the largest volume of keywords.

However, choosing “Questions” + “Broad Match” provides me with all question-based keyword ideas that contain my seed keyword.

Semrush Keyword Magic Tool - Find all questions

This is a good way to know the vital questions people are asking about that keyword. With that, you can create rich content that answers these questions effectively and drives business conversions.

You can see the keywords listed here are all in question forms, and as such, only 945 keywords are found.

You can also filter the results by the number of words if you are looking for long-tail keywords. You can see below all the keywords that matched my word count of 3–5 words.

Semrush Filter Word Count

Other filters include search intent, CPC, which keywords you want to exclude, etc.

2. Create topic and keyword clusters in one click

Automatic, one-click keyword clustering is another way Semrush beats Ahrefs on keyword research.

With the Keyword Manager tool, you no longer have to create clusters for your keyword lists manually. Just provide your seed keyword or an existing keyword list, and the Keyword Manager automatically groups them into topically related clusters.

Here is a list of 49 clusters containing 1367 keywords. It was formed with only three seed keywords: pizza recipe, how to cook pizza, and pizza ingredients.

Semrush keyword cluster

You must do this manually with most other tools, including Ahrefs, which can be very time-consuming.

The Semrush automatic keyword cluster also offers a mind-map feature that helps you visualize clusters, noting how they’re related and which cluster has a higher ranking potential.

Semrush Keyword Cluster Mind Map

Know more about doing keyword research with Semrush in full Semrush guide.

3. Get in-depth data for Google ads

Semrush also provides detailed PPC data for every keyword you search for.

This is a valuable feature for discovering keywords your competitors spend money on. You can see how long your competitors have used an ad in the last 12 months and its position in paid results.

Semrush Ads History Overview

To get more insights, click on the position to see the ad copies and their URLs. By assessing the ad copies, you’ll learn more about how your competitors are winning over your target audience.

Ahrefs Ad History Details

Ahrefs keyword research

Ahrefs’ primary keyword research tool is the Keyword Explorer.

To use the Ahrefs keyword explorer, type in the keyword, and you’ll get a snapshot analysis of the keyword with all the usual metrics.

It has a feature similar to Semrush’s keyword variations with questions and ‘having same terms’.

However, it does not break up the keywords by topics and doesn’t provide as many filters to narrow down your search.

Ahrefs Keyword

1. Find keywords with high-potential traffic

Ahrefs stands out because it provides data like Clicks and Traffic Potential that help you determine the CTR and the volume of traffic you can get if you rank for a keyword.

Instead of showing you only the search volume like Semrush, Ahrefs shows you data on how many clicks a keyword gets on organic research. This will help you determine whether it’s worth ranking for that keyword.

The Ahrefs traffic potential feature is another game-changer in keyword research. It allows you to see the volume of traffic the No. 1 ranking page for your target keyword receives from all the keywords it ranks for.

Ahrefs Clicks and Traffic Potential

This shows your potential traffic if you rank for that keyword.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer Traffic Potential

What is the difference between volume, clicks, and traffic potential data in Ahrefs, and why does it matter?

Volume: This metric represents the estimated monthly searches for a particular keyword on search engines. It gives an idea of the keyword’s popularity or demand.

Clicks: This metric estimates the average monthly clicks received by search results for a specific keyword. Volume measures search interest, and clicks provide insight into user engagement with the search results. A keyword could have a high volume, but SERP features like featured snippets, ads, or knowledge panels could already answer the question, affecting the click-through rate. A high click metric indicates that searchers are ‘clicking,’ i.e., actively engaging with the content or ads shown for a keyword.

Traffic Potential: This metric estimates the maximum monthly traffic a webpage ranking first for a given keyword could receive. It considers not just the search volume and clicks but also factors like the distribution of clicks across different search results and the presence of SERP features.

Traffic potential helps gauge the true value of ranking for a keyword, highlighting not just the popularity of the keyword but how much actual traffic the top-ranking page might realistically obtain.

Ahrefs Clicks and Traffic Potential

You can effectively target keywords and optimize their content strategies by analyzing these metrics together.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool does SERP analysis uniquely and simply. It shows the top-ranking results on SERPs, along with their SEO metrics, such as backlinks, organic traffic, organic keywords, and search volumes.

Ahrefs SERP Data

2. Analyze top-ranking pages from the SERP

What I appreciate about the Ahrefs SERP analysis is that it provides you the DR and the URL Rating (UR) for each website in the SERP. That gives clues as to why the page may rank high.

Semrush only gives you the Page authority score, which makes it difficult to understand if it’s a page from a high-ranking domain or just a good page in a low DR domain.

Just as you can create keyword clusters on Semrush with the keyword manager, you can use the keyword explorer to create, save, and segment keywords into lists.

However, unlike Semrush, it does not create clusters for you.

Ahrefs Keyword Cluster

Winner of keyword research: Semrush

While I am a big fan of Ahrefs’ clicks and traffic potential metrics, Sermrush beats Ahrefs hands down in keyword research.

Semrush has the biggest keyword database, making it easy to find many long-tail keywords. Besides, from personal experience, I have seen that keyword research is much faster as it also gives you search intent, topic clusters, long-tail keywords, and even detailed PPC data in a few clicks.

Keyword research is a lot of digging to find the perfect keywords. In Ahrefs, it’s possible to do it, but you have to do all the analysis and keyword management manually, and it takes a lot of time.

Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Position Tracking

Semrush and Ahrefs provide powerful tools you can use to track your position on SERPs.

The Position Tracking tool on Semrush lets you track your keywords to know their current rankings. Semrush provides information on their visibility, estimated traffic, and average position.

The visibility score is a unique feature on Semrush that shows the website’s progress in Google’s top 100 results for the tracked keywords.

Semrush Position Tracking Visibility Average Position Estimated Traffic

Semrush also shows the distribution of the rankings on SERPs, indicating the keywords that appear in the top 3, top 10, top 20, and top 100.

Semrush tracks the position of your keywords daily, unlike Ahrefs, which tracks them weekly.

With this, you can check the changes in your rankings daily and take action when necessary.

Ahrefs Rank Tracker tool is as effective as Semrush in helping you track the position of your keywords on SERPs. Once you type in the keywords you want to track, you’ll get information on their share of voice, average position, traffic, SERP features, and individual positions.

The share of voice feature is similar to Semrush’s visibility metric. It lets you see the percentage of clicks your website gets from a keyword’s organic search traffic.

Ahrefs Share of Voice

I love that you can visualize the ranking progress of your keywords by grouping them by tags. In Semrush, you can do it, too, but only with the Guru plan. You also don’t get as much data at a glance.

Ahrefs Rank Tracking with Tags

Winner of position tracking: Tie

I like that in Semrush, you can track the rankings of your keywords daily, unlike in Ahrefs, where you can only do so weekly.

But when you have many keywords to track, like I do, by categories, for example, it’s very helpful to track by tags (for instance, a category). And I like that Ahrefs lets you do that in its basic plan.

Semrush vs Ahrefs: Competitor research and analysis

Semrush and Ahrefs offer valuable competitor research tools to help you monitor competitors’ SEO activities effectively.

Both tools enable you to:

  • See competitors’ organic search performance
  • Discover their top traffic sources
  • See your competitors’ top-ranking pages
  • See their paid search traffic
  • Assess their backlink profiles

Semrush competitor research and analysis

There are several features you can use to conduct competitor research on Semrush. You have:

  • Domain Overview
  • Organic Research
  • Keyword Gap
  • Advertising Research
  • Social Media Tracker

Domain Overview

To analyze your competitor on Semrush, input their website into the Domain Overview tool, and you’ll get key metrics like:

  • Authority score
  • Organic search traffic
  • Paid search traffic
  • Backlinks
  • Engagement metrics

These metrics give you a summarized view of how the website performs organically and in paid ads.

Semrush Domain Analysis

One of the first metrics you see is the Authority Score, calculated based on the number of backlinks, spam score, and site traffic estimates.

Pro Tip:

Ahrefs also has a similar score called Domain Rating (DR), primarily based on backlinks. The Ahrefs DR metric is an industry-standard, so I refer to it in my competitor research.

But if you don’t have a paid Ahrefs plan, don’t worry. You can access Ahrefs’s free domain checker tool.

You can also see from the image above how Semrush shows the website’s organic traffic distribution. With an idea of where your competitor’s major traffic is coming from, you can prioritize some countries in your content strategy.

You can see the number of organic keywords your competitor has on SERPs. Semrush categorizes these keywords by search intent, showing you the keywords your competitors are targeting.

semrush search intent for competitor domains

You’ll see the volume of informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional keywords they have, plus the traffic each set brings.

Organic Research

You will be led to the Organic Research overview if you click on Organic Search Traffic.

Organic research is a powerful way to find the keywords ranking for your competitor’s domain, the traffic volume the domain gets from each keyword, top performing pages, changing positions, and other important metrics.

You can also see the estimated ranking cost for those organic keywords in Google Ads.

Semrush Branded Traffic

I like how Semrush also shows you the traffic coming to your competitor’s domain from branded and non-branded keywords, giving you insights into their strengths.

The image above shows that worldwildlife.org has a high volume of branded and non-branded traffic. This is a good indicator of their strong brand recognition and effective SEO efforts.

Keyword Gap

With Semrush’s Keyword Gap tool, you directly compare your keyword strategy against up to five competitors to find where you might be missing key opportunities.

Semrush Keyword Gap Analysis

It allows you to analyze organic, paid, and PLA keywords across desktop and mobile searches. You can find shared, unique, missing, and untapped keywords.

  • Shared keywords are those for which both you and your competitors rank.
  • Unique keywords are those only you rank for, setting you apart.
  • Missing keywords are those your competitors rank for, but you don’t.
  • Untapped keywords are potential opportunities you and your competitors haven’t capitalized on yet.

You can dig further to discover hidden opportunities with detailed smart filters. This method lets you fine-tune your strategies and stay ahead in the game.

Advertising Research

Advertising research on Semrush enables you to track your competitors’ paid campaigns. If your competitors are running campaigns on Google, it’s an indicator you don’t have to rely on SEO alone for all your traffic.

With Advertising Research, you’ll get insights into the number of keywords your competitors are paying for, the volume of traffic they’re bringing, and the estimated cost of ranking for them.

Semrush Organic Research

Social Media Tracker

The Semrush Social Media Tool lets you track and analyze your competitors’ social media activities. It provides insights into their strategies across major platforms, helping you understand their engagement, content performance, and audience growth.

This could help you to refine your social media approach based on competitive analysis, aiming to enhance your online presence and effectiveness.

As mentioned before, Semrush is not just an SEO tool; it’s an all-around tool for digital marketing.

The only caveat? You need to have a separate subscription for the Semrush Social Media Toolkit, it is not included in the regular SEO subscriptions.

Ahrefs competitor research

The Ahrefs competitor research tool — Site Explorer — is as comprehensive as the Semrush Domain Overview tool. It enables you to study the key aspects of your competitors’ websites across:

  • Organic traffic performance
  • Backlink profile
  • Paid traffic performance

Input your competitor’s website, and you’ll see, at a glance, their domain rating, backlinks, referring domains, organic keywords, organic traffic, and traffic value.

Pro Tip:

One additional metric that Ahrefs provides in the domain overview is the website’s traffic value, which refers to the amount you would have to spend monthly on ads to get the same volume of paid traffic as organic traffic.

In Semrush, this value is visible only in the Organic Research Tool.

Site Explorer

Like Semrush, the Ahrefs Site Explorer gives you insights into your competitors’ traffic by location, both paid and organic. You’ll also see a trend of how their traffic increased over time and the keywords added to gain that volume.

Ahrefs Site

The Content Gap Tool can also help you find keyword opportunities from your competitors, but it works differently from Semrush.

Unline Semrush, where you can find different types of keyword opportunities based on your comparison with your competition, but in Ahrefs, you have only one way: Find keywords that your competition ranks for but you don’t.

Ahrefs Content Gap

For example, you don’t find keywords unique to you or ones you are ‘weak’ in. It’s a little black-and-white for me.

Competitor backlink profile

Competitor research isn’t complete without analyzing your competitors’ backlink profiles. This gives Ahrefs an edge over Semrush.

While Semrush gives you basic information about your competitors’ backlinks, such as the referring pages, backlink type, anchor text, and URL, Ahrefs further shows you their trends over time.

You can track the growth of your competitors’ backlink profiles in the past month, six months, one year, or two years.

Ahrefs Site Explorer Backlink Details

Advertising

You can use the Ahrefs Site Explorer tool to analyze your competitors’ websites and determine their bidding keywords. Semrush offers you this feature in its advertising research tool.

Ahrefs paid keywords

Ahrefs gives you access to your competitors’ ad copy and landing page URLs. This helps you to understand your audience better and know what resonates more with them. This way, you can create better content and write better web copy to convert your site visitors into customers.

Winner of competitor research: Semrush

Choosing a clear winner between Semrush and Ahrefs for competitor research is challenging, as both tools offer unique strengths, but Semrush beats Ahrefs here by a slight margin.

Semrush enables you to identify detailed keyword gaps and opportunities, summarize competitors’ keyword strategies by intent, and provide a holistic view of competitors’ strategies across various channels. It provides additional features for advertising research and social media insights.

semrush logo

The Most Powerful SEO Tool

FREE Trial Period: 14 Days [Exclusive Deal]*

* The regular trial period is 7 days. You can get a 14-day free trial only with the above link. Enter your credit card to sign up for the trial. 

Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Backlink analysis

Semrush and Ahrefs provide backlink analysis tools that can help you analyze and understand your competitors’ backlink profiles.

Both tools enable you to identify:

  • The backlink sources of a domain or page
  • The link attributes, that is, whether it’s do or no follow
  • The link type
  • The anchor text, etc.

Semrush backlink analysis

Semrush gives you access to a massive backlink database. This is very helpful as the larger the link index, the more accurate your backlink analysis will be, and the more opportunities for link-building you will find.

It provides four tools for extensive backlink analysis:

  • Backlink Analytics
  • Backlink Audit tool
  • Bulk Backlink Analysis
  • Link Building Tool

These tools enable you to streamline your backlink analysis and link-building workflows.

Backlink Analytics

When you input a website address into the Backlink Analytics tool, Semrush analyzes it and provides detailed information on the website’s backlink profile. At a glance, you’ll see the number of backlinks, referring domains, organic traffic, outbound domains, and unique visits to the site.

You’ll also see the domain’s backlink network in a graphical form and an insight into whether the backlink profile is reputable.

Semrush Backlik Analytics

Semrush provides information on new and lost referring domains and backlinks. It presents this in a trend chart, which is great for visualizing the state of your backlink profile over the past six months.

Semrush New and Lost Backlinks

If your chart shows a continuous downward trend, something is obviously wrong to trigger your rapid loss of backlinks.

You can then dig into the backlink report for more summaries and details.

Semrush Backlink Overview

You can filter by link placement, page platform, follow, sponsored, and UGC to get the data you need for your SEO strategies.
Semrush Backlik Reporting

Backlink Audit

Semrush has a toxicity score feature that enables you to track the backlinks on your website to discover the toxic ones affecting your ranking. With this information, you can always sieve links with high toxicity scores from your backlink profile.

Here’s an image that explains this better.

Semrush Toxicity Score

Here’s a result of a backlink audit on worldwildlife.org. You can see the percentage of toxic, potentially toxic, and non-toxic links.

Semrush Backlnk Audit with Toxicity Report

I like that Semrush also shows the domain from which each link comes and its toxicity score. With this, it’s easier for you to disavow these links and reject future links from the domains.

Toxicity score of linking domains

Link-Building Tool

The link-building tool is one of the most unique tools of Semrush. It is an all-in-1 tool for link building with which you can:

  • Find link-building opportunities
  • Get contact names and addresses of prospects
  • Send them outreach emails directly from within Semrush
  • Manage outreach status by moving prospects between stages like In Progress and Monitor
  • Track and follow up on their replies

Semrush Link Building Tool

You can even select the type of link you are aiming for.

Semrush Find Link Prospects

Ahrefs backlink analysis

Ahrefs backlink analysis tool, Site Explorer, doesn’t provide as much data as Semrush’s. However, it boasts data accuracy, updating its database daily with live backlinks.

Site Explorer gives you access to an extensive database of backlinks crawled from 7+ years of historical data.

You can easily track the backlink profile of any domain to discover the referring page or domain, its traffic, backlinks, anchor texts, broken links, and more.

Here’s a sample backlink report on Ahrefs.

Ahrefs Backlink Analysis

From the image above, you can see how Ahrefs provides detailed data on each backlink.

One aspect I really like about this report is that it immediately shows you the DR of the domain linking to the website you are analyzing. This is important because the higher the DR of the linking website, the more weight the link has.

I also like that it shows you when the backlink was lost, so you can inspect it to know why and take necessary actions to get it back or get a better one.

Broken link analysis

Broken link analysis is one of Ahrefs core features.

You can easily analyze a website’s backlink profile to identify broken links or 404 errors. Once you identify a broken link, you can see all the URLs pointing to the page, along with the anchor texts used.

Ahrefs Broken Links

This information is valuable in helping you find high-quality link-building prospects. You can contact the site with the outgoing broken link and ask them to link to you instead.

You can also use this data to rid your site of broken links affecting its authority.

Best by links

Ahrefs has a best-by-links feature, which helps you see which pages of a website have the maximum links and from which domain.

Ahrefs Best by links analysis

You can use this information to work on your internal linking and link outreach strategies.

Winner of backlink analysis: Ahrefs for backlink analysis, Semrush for link-building

Both tools are awesome in their own way, frankly. Both tools also have backlink gap analysis tools. Like Keyword Gap, you can enter the domains of up to 5 competitors to find link-building opportunities: domains that are not linking to you but to your competitors.

Ahrefs is still one of the best tools for core backlink data analysis, including details on outgoing links, broken link analysis, and best-by-links.

Semrush’s backlink report makes it very easy to filter through different types of links to help you get the data you need. It also provides additional tools unavailable on Ahrefs, like link building, bulk backlink analysis, and toxicity score features.

Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Site Audit

Semrush and Ahrefs provide comprehensive website audit tools to help you analyze, find, and fix your site’s technical and on-page SEO issues.

Both Ahrefs and Semrush categorize these issues based on their severity level, with “Errors” being the highest. “Warnings” and “Notices” are less threatening, but if not fixed, they could cause bigger issues in the future.

Once you input your domain into Semrush’s Site Audit tool, you’ll get a detailed report on its crawlability, HTTPS, international SEO, Core Web Vitals, site performance, internal linking, and markup.

Semrush Site Audit

One of my most valuable metrics is the overall health score, which shows how well your website performs SEO-wise.

You’ll see the number of issues your website has on the same page.

Of course, everyone would want to sort out the more threatening issues first. I’m even more impressed with Semrush, as it outlines the issues, explains why they’re a problem, and shows how you can fix them.

Another fantastic tool included in the Semrush Site Audit is the On-page SEO Checker, which gives you ideas for improving your content, technical SEO, and even backlinks to improve your page’s total SEO.

Semrush On Page SEO Checker

Ahrefs, however, also crawls your website and provides its health score and detailed reports on its performance, HTML tags, social tags, incoming links, and other resources.

Ahrefs Site Audit

As you can see above, Ahrefs shows you the number of URLs crawled and the ones with issues. This information is valuable for determining where to start fixing your technical issues.

An in-depth study of the reports shows you your site’s issues and how you can fix them.

Ahrefs Site Audit Details

You can start sorting out the issues based on their order of importance to you. You determine whether you want to fix broken links first or your slow pages.

Winner of site audit: Semrush

Semrush has a slight edge over Ahrefs for the level of detail and guidance it provides to help you make informed decisions to improve your site. It’s On-page SEO checker is quite unique.

Besides, Semrush offers you in-depth analysis of issues, explaining their impact on SEO and providing clear, actionable recommendations to fix them. It also enhances your crawl budget management, ensuring search engines prioritize your most important pages.

Semrush vs Ahrefs: User experience and interface

The user interface and reporting styles of Semrush and Ahrefs each have their unique flair.

You can easily locate any feature or tool on Semrush. Once you log in, you will find the features neatly arranged as toolkits on the left-hand side of the page.

Semrush Toolkits

Semrush has a more visually engaging way of presenting data. Its reports are rich with graphics and charts that make it easy for you to grasp the information at a glance and make the reports more appealing to clients.

This visual method proves invaluable when dissecting SEO data. It allows you to quickly spot trends and pinpoint areas that require your attention.

Moreover, Semrush’s dashboard and tools offer actionable insights that are visually represented, helping you prioritize tasks through clear visual cues.

On the other hand, Ahrefs, while visual in its own right, tends to offer a cleaner, more streamlined user interface that you might find more intuitive.

It delivers data in a clear format, though not as heavily graphically loaded as Semrush’s outputs.

Ahrefs’ data may look simpler as it doesn’t provide as many details as Semrush, such as charts and other forms of data.

Winner of user experience and interface: Semrush

Semrush might edge with its richer graphical representations and visual elements, making it a standout choice for presentations and quick data assessments.

However, if you prefer a simpler, less cluttered interface, Ahrefs could be more to your liking.

I prefer Semrush reporting more, but the ideal tool for you ultimately hinges on your personal tastes and the specific requirements you have for reporting.

Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Support

Semrush provides extensive customer support through emails, phone calls, and live chats. You can also make support requests through an online form on the platform. However, Semrush customer support is only available during working hours.

Ahrefs, on the other hand, only provide customer support via email and live chat. There’s no phone support. But the good thing is, you can reach the customer service anytime from Monday to Friday.

Winner of support: Semrush

Semrush is the obvious winner here, as it not only offers live chat and email support but also offers phone support. Both platforms offer blogs, FAQs, video resources, and other valuable resources to help yourself out of any issues.

What makes Semrush special: A super-smart, intuitive tool

Semrush focuses not just on providing data but also on streamlining your SEO and content strategy efforts.

These features are not just about raw data; they provide actionable insights, simplify complex tasks, and guide users toward more effective strategies. Here’s how specific functionalities contribute to its prowess:

1. Smart Filters

Semrush’s smart filters enable users to effortlessly sift through vast amounts of data. Whether you’re analyzing keywords, backlinks, or competitor data, these filters allow you to narrow down results based on specific criteria.

For keyword research, there are keyword difficulty, search volume, word count, SERP features, and more. For backlinks, there are filters by type of website, type of page, type of link (including sponsored and UGC), etc. No other SEO tool has so many intuitive filters.

This makes finding your data a breeze. I can start with a topic and get a 100 long-tail keywords in less than 5 minutes. There’s a reason I adore this tool, hehe.

In most other tools, including Ahrefs, you have to download the data and filter it yourself in Excel, which takes more time and effort.

2. On-Page SEO Ideas

Semrush goes beyond basic SEO analysis by providing suggestions for on-page SEO improvements.

Semrush On page SEO Ideas

The tool scans your pages and compares them against best practices and competitor performances to offer specific recommendations, such as content enhancements, technical issues fixes, and user experience improvements. This targeted advice can significantly boost a page’s search engine rankings.

3. Featured snippet optimization

Featured snippets are a coveted position in Google’s search results, and Semrush offers specialized tools to help you optimize your content for these spots.

It analyzes the keywords (amongst the ones you are tracking) that offer featured snippets and suggests which keywords you can win this snippet for.

Semrush Featured Snippet Optimization

4. Quick topic cluster creation

Topic clusters are vital for a strong SEO strategy. They help establish your site’s authority on specific subjects.

As we saw above, Semrush simplifies the process of quickly creating these clusters by identifying related topics and keywords that should be covered in your content.

5. Integration with Google

Semrush integrates smoothly with Google services like Analytics and Search Console, allowing you to import your site’s data directly into Semrush for a comprehensive analysis.

This integration provides a more holistic view of your site’s performance and identifies additional improvement opportunities.

For instance, you can get information on all the keywords you can’t in GA4, and you can compare Semrush data to GSC through Organic Traffic Insights.

Semrush Organic Traffic Insights

5. Content Marketing Toolkit

The Semrush Content Template and SEO Writing Assistant are designed to help you produce SEO-friendly content immediately.

The content template provides guidelines based on top-performing competitors’ content, including recommended keywords, readability scores, and text length.

The SEO Writing Assistant then offers real-time suggestions as you write, ensuring your content is optimized for search engines and readers.

This is what makes Semrush special and a top-choice SEO tool: Semrush automates complex analyses, provides actionable recommendations, and simplifies content strategy development. It enables you to quickly learn and implement SEO strategies and tactics to optimize your online presence.

What makes Ahrefs special: Best for the core backlink analysis

Ahrefs has always stood out in the digital marketing tool landscape primarily for its exceptional capabilities in hardcore backlink analysis.

1. Freshest backlink data

Ahrefs boasts one of the most extensive backlink databases in the industry, updated with fresh data every 15-30 minutes. This means you always have access to the latest information on backlinks, which is crucial for analyzing the strength and quality of a website’s link profile.

2. Detailed backlink analysis

Ahrefs doesn’t just offer data on backlinks; it provides deep insights into the quality and context of each link, as we saw before. You can see the linking page’s URL, title, anchor text used, the Ahrefs Rank of the linking site, and other metrics like Domain Rating (DR) and URL Rating (UR). This level of detail helps to assess the value of each backlink precisely.

3. Link profile growth tracking

The tool allows users to monitor the growth or decline of a website’s link profile over time. This feature is invaluable for understanding how link-building strategies are performing and how a site’s backlink profile compares to its competitors.

4. Broken link analysis

We also saw how Ahrefs excels in identifying and analyzing broken links pointing to and from a site.

5. Content Explorer for finding linkable assets

You can use the Ahrefs’ Content Explorer tool to identify popular content within a niche that has attracted many backlinks. This feature helps understand what type of content tends to earn backlinks and can inform content strategy decisions.

These features collectively make Ahrefs a powerhouse for anyone serious about backlink analysis.

Pro Tip:

Another winning factor for Ahrefs is that unlike Semrush, whose data is limited to Google, Ahrefs gives you access to data from up to ten search engines, including Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, etc. You probably don’t know that Ahrefs has its own search engine – Yep.

Semrush vs Ahrefs: Pricing

Now, let’s examine the prices of Semrush and Ahrefs to determine which tool is more affordable.

Semrush pricing

Semrush has three pricing levels:

Semrush Lifetime Deal Monthly Prices

Pro: The Semrush Pro plan starts at $108.33 monthly for annual subscriptions and $129.95 for monthly subscriptions. It covers all the basic uses of SEO and gives you limited access to the content marketing template and writing assistant. You can track up to 5 projects with the Semrush Pro plan.

Guru: The Semrush Guru plan starts at $208.33 per month for annual subscriptions and $249.95 for monthly ones. It offers higher limits on the Pro features and full access to the content marketing template.

Business: The Semrush Business plan starts at $416.66 monthly for annual subscriptions. It gives you access to the Guru features, API access and free migration from third-party tools.

Ahrefs Pricing

Ahrefs has four pricing plans.

Ahrefs Pricing

Lite: The Ahrefs Lite plan starts at $99 monthly for monthly subscriptions and $82.5 annually. It gives you limited access to all SEO features, including Site Explorer, Keywords Explorer, Site Audit, Rank Tracker, Competitive Analysis, Page Inspection, Alerts, and more.

Standard: The Ahrefs Standard plan starts at $199 per month. It gives you increased access to all Lite features plus Content Explorer, Batch Analysis, SERP Updates, Reports sharing, and portfolio access.

Advanced: The Ahrefs Advanced plan starts at $399 per month. It gives you increased access to all Standard features plus the Looker studio, Web Explorer, and AI Content Grader.

Enterprise: The Ahrefs Enterprise plan starts at $999 per month. It gives you access to everything in the Advanced plan plus the Pay by Invoice feature, Access Management, Audit log, API, SSO, and Directory listing.

Winner of pricing: Semrush

Here’s my very honest review of the pricing of the 2 tools.

Given that Ahrefs is only $30 cheaper than Semrush monthly, it is not worth the value it provides.

It doesn’t offer the advanced data and intuitive features of Semrush, or the same level of advanced features. The cost per benefit is much higher than Semrush. Semrush is more expensive, but more value for money.

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Semrush vs Ahrefs: Pros and cons

While both tools are exceptional for SEO tasks, they have benefits and drawbacks. Understanding the pros and cons of each tool will prove helpful in choosing an SEO tool for your business.

Semrush pros and cons

Semrush pros and cons (2)

Pros

  • All-in-one marketing toolkit
  • Comprehensive SEO features
  • Biggest keyword and backlink databases
  • Robust link-building and outreach tool
  • Offers a free forever plan
  • Provides a vast volume of SEO and PPC data, far more than Ahrefs.
  • Phone support is available
  • Offers social media and content marketing tools
  • Offers a 14-day free trial on its paid plans

Cons

  • More expensive than Ahrefs
  • Provides data for only Google

Ahrefs pros and cons

Ahrefs pros and cons (2)

Pros

  • Robust SEO tool
  • Provides data for up to ten search engines
  • Provides special features for determining content size and traffic volume.

Cons

  • No free plan is available
  • No free trial available
  • Doesn’t offer a dedicated content marketing tool
  • Doesn’t offer phone support
  • Doesn’t offer local SEO
  • PPC metrics are minimal
  • Doesn’t offer a link-building tool

Alternatives to Semrush and Ahrefs

For alternatives to SEMrush and Ahrefs, consider these tools, each offering unique features for SEO and digital marketing:

  • Moz Pro: Comprehensive SEO software with keyword research, site audits, and link analysis.
  • SE Ranking: A versatile SEO platform offering keyword rank tracking, competitor analysis, and website audits.
  • SEO PowerSuite: A desktop-based SEO tool suite for keyword research, site auditing, and link management.
  • Mangools: Known for user-friendly tools like KWFinder for keyword research, SERPChecker for SERP analysis, and more.
  • SpyFu: Focuses on competitor keyword research and PPC analytics.
  • Google Keyword Planner: A free tool for keyword research and traffic estimates, ideal for AdWords campaign planning.
  • Serpstat: Offers SEO analysis tools, including keyword research, competitor analysis, and site audits.
  • Ubersuggest: Provides keyword suggestions, content ideas, and site audits. It has free and paid versions.

These tools offer varied functionalities to fit different SEO needs, from keyword research and site audits to competitor analysis and rank tracking.

Who should choose Semrush?

Semrush is a much more powerful SEO tool than Ahrefs. It not only provides more keyword and backlink data and more dedicated tools to handle every SEO task but also analyzes your data and offers insights and recommendations for specific tasks to improve your website performance.

When I first began working on SEO, these tips were extremely helpful. They showed me where my gaps were with the competition and what I could do better.

Plus, it offers a free trial (14 days with this link) or an account to try out the features and see if you’re comfortable signing up.

Semrush is the best tool for intermediate-advanced SEO users, and it is definitely a tool for beginners.

Either you use the free account and get a little bit out of the tool, or be serious about your SEO and get a paid subscription. You don’t need to pay all that money and not take the most out of the tool.

I can promise you, it will be worth it.

Who should use Ahrefs?

Semrush is a mega SEO tool. However, if you don’t need all the features it offers, find them overwhelming, or simply don’t have the budget, then you can get started with Ahrefs, knowing that you might have to work a little bit harder to get all the data, insights, and ideas you need to improve your SEO.

If you are good with SEO already and know exactly what to do with an SEO tool, then Ahrefs is fine to go ahead with.

Besides, it is clear that Ahrefs expects you to know what you’re doing; that’s why it doesn’t offer a free trial, a free account, or even a refund in most cases.

By the way, I used to use Ahrefs. But besides backlink analysis, I wasn’t getting much out of the tool, so I switched to Semrush and have not looked back.

Semrush vs Ahrefs: Conclusion and Overall Winner

Semrush is better for keyword research, on-page SEO, site audit, link-building, and other advanced, intuitive features. It is a smart, value-for-money tool that presents data visually and provides deep insights and recommendations, making your SEO research and monitoring faster and smarter.

For hardcore backlink analysis, Ahrefs may be a little bit better.

So, if your needs are simple and you are comfortable digging through an SEO tool to get the insights you need, Ahrefs may be a good tool.

I suggest you check out Semrush alternatives like SE Ranking, SEO PowerSuite, or Mangools.

Lastly, check out some key FAQs below!

FAQ: Semrush vs Ahrefs

Semrush offers more data and features than Ahrefs, making it the better tool. However, both platforms offer you comprehensive SEO features, and whichever one you choose will serve you extensively.

The three main Ahrefs plans are cheaper than their Semrush equivalents. However, Semrush is more value for money. You get more per penny.

Semrush offers a free forever plan and a14-day free trial on its paid plans. Ahrefs doesn’t have a free plan and has discontinued its free trial that gives you 7-day access to its tools for $7.

The main competitors to Ahrefs and Semrush are Moz, SE Ranking, and SEO PowerSuite.

Both Semrush and Ahrefs are cheaper when you make annual subscriptions instead of monthly.

For example, instead of paying $129.95, $249.5, and $499.95 monthly for Semrush Pro, Guru, and Business plans, you can get them for $108.33, $208.33, and $416.66, respectively, on annual subscriptions.

Similarly, you can get Ahrefs plans at $83, $166, $333, and $833 instead of $99, $199, $399 and $999, respectively.

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