Who Wins the SEO Battle? A Comprehensive Comparison of Ahrefs and Semrush

Dive into an unbiased Ahrefs vs Semrush comparison as we navigate the pros and cons of each SEO tool. Learn which platform offers better features, ease of use, and overall value.

In this Ahrefs vs Semrush comparison, we’ll put two top-tier SEO tools against each other to help you decide which one best suits your needs.

Online marketing services providers often rely on powerful tools like Ahrefs and Semrush to optimize their clients’ digital presence. These platforms offer comprehensive features for keyword research, backlink analysis, and site audits, making them indispensable for effective SEO and digital marketing strategies.

The Quick Call

Why Choose Ahrefs Over Semrush:

Ahrefs holds a distinct advantage in terms of data collection from various search engines. Unlike Semrush, which focuses solely on Google, Ahrefs allows you to gather data from ten search engines, including key platforms like YouTube, Amazon, and Bing.

Ahrefs is also more flexible regarding project limits. With proof of ownership, you can work with an unlimited number of domains. In comparison to Semrush, its broken link analysis tool is more user-friendly, and features like link intersect, and content gap tools enable you to analyze multiple domains simultaneously.

Why Choose Semrush Over Ahrefs:

Semrush takes the lead with more generous reporting limits, allowing you to run significantly more reports per month across all plans.

Semrush excels in search intent and PPC data, boasting a larger domain database for more comprehensive information. Its site auditing tools are more extensive, and it offers a suite of CRM-style project management tools that Ahrefs lacks.

Furthermore, Semrush’s pricing structure is less complicated than Ahrefs’, and it provides a broader range of customer support channels.

As well-known SEO tools, Ahrefs and Semrush stand out. But which one is more effective in increasing visitors to your website?

The purpose of this post is to provide the answers. We’ll compare domain analysis, keyword research features, backlink analysis, site auditing, broken link analysis, simplicity of use, pricing and value for money, support, and other factors.

Let’s start with a fundamental question.

What Are Semrush And Ahrefs?

Ahrefs and Semrush are indispensable tools for optimizing your website for search engines.

Ahrefs

They provide crucial information that enables you to:

  • Understand User Intent: Gain insights into what people are searching for in your field of work.
  • Content Creation: Create fresh and relevant content to attract organic search traffic.
  • Link Building: Identify opportunities to establish links from other websites to yours.
  • Technical SEO: Improve your website’s performance in search results by implementing necessary technological changes.

For instance, both tools offer keyword ideas based on your input, aiding in the creation of engaging blog posts with higher-ranking potential. They also assess the difficulty of ranking for specific terms and help you identify websites for potential backlinks.

Moreover, these tools facilitate a comprehensive “SEO audit” to pinpoint any technological improvements that could enhance your search rankings.

Semrush

The versatility of Ahrefs and Semrush extends to compatibility with any CMS, including Squarespace, Webflow, Wix, Shopify, and others. Leveraging either tool can enhance your SEO strategy.

To delve deeper into the comparison, let’s focus on a critical feature known as domain analysis.

Domain Analysis

Using Ahrefs and Semrush for basic domain analysis is highly beneficial. They allow you to obtain a comprehensive picture of a website’s SEO performance. You can utilize this research to identify areas for SEO improvement on your own website or examine a competitor’s site to assess the challenge of outranking them in organic search results—and devise tactics to do so.

In both Ahrefs and Semrush, the process of conducting domain analysis is relatively simple. Just enter the domain, and you’ll be presented with vital information in an easy-to-read dashboard style. It’s a useful method for evaluating and enhancing SEO efforts.

Both tools provide critical metrics for evaluating the effectiveness of a website:

  1. Semrush Authority Score or Ahrefs Domain Rating: These rankings offer a quick overview of how well a website is predicted to perform in search results.
  2. Estimated Monthly Visitors: Obtain an estimate of the total monthly visitors to the website.
  3. Backlinks: Count the number of external links (backlinks) pointing to your website. Generally, a higher number is beneficial for SEO.
  4. Keyword Ranking: Discover the overall number of keywords for which the website ranks in search results.
  5. Competing Domains: View a list of major domains that compete directly with the website.

In general, both Ahrefs and Semrush offer a comparable level of quality in domain analysis. However, Semrush stands out by providing additional metrics in its domain overview. These metrics include information about the visibility of rich snippets, levels of branded traffic (referring to searches where a site’s brand name is part of the query), and insights into search intent (which we’ll delve into later).

Ahrefs enables you to estimate a domain’s traffic value rapidly. In other words, it displays the monthly cost of purchasing advertising that generates a similar number of hits for a website. This is critical information.

To analyze this data in Semrush, create a separate report named ‘Organic Research.’ While it’s not a major concern, it would be more convenient if you could view this specific statistic immediately on Semrush’s domain overview page.

What Is The Difference Between Ahrefs’ Domain Rating And Semrush’s Authority Score?

Both Ahrefs and Semrush assign ratings to websites to indicate their ‘authority,’ which can be expressed as a ‘Domain Rating’ or an ‘Authority Score.’ They use a 0 to 100 scale, and these ratings help you gauge the likelihood of content from a particular website ranking high and the potential value of a backlink from that site.

However, Ahrefs and Semrush employ significantly different methods to calculate these scores. Semrush takes into account backlinks, site traffic estimates, and ‘spam factors’ in its evaluation, while Ahrefs primarily focuses on backlinks.

Semrush’s ‘spam factors’ encompass issues such as an imbalance between links and organic traffic, an unusually high proportion of dofollow sites, and an excess of referring domains sharing the same IP address.

In simpler terms, Semrush’s Authority Score is currently regarded as more precise than Ahrefs’ Domain Rating. Nevertheless, the industry commonly adopts Ahrefs’ domain rating score as the standard for assessing the ‘quality’ of domains.

When you explore domain analysis overviews on Ahrefs and Semrush, you’ll come across reports that break down a domain’s monthly traffic. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the figures provided are estimates.

Through testing and analysis on websites with accessible visitor data, it was observed that the accuracy of estimations from both platforms is higher for larger websites. In this context, “larger” refers to sites with 50,000 or more organic visits per month.

Ahrefs and Semrush, however, have their own unique approaches. Semrush rates its estimates as high, medium, or low, indicating their likely accuracy. It’s important to note that this information is available in a separate section called “traffic analytics” rather than being displayed on the domain overview.

On the other hand, Ahrefs offers more immediate insight into traffic by plotting visitor counts against a list of all known Google changes. This method provides insights into how these alterations have impacted a site’s organic traffic over time.

When dealing with traffic statistics, it’s essential to understand that they’re more about identifying trends than providing exact figures. For example, rather than taking site A’s traffic at face value, it’s more insightful to compare it to sites B and C to detect patterns.

Now, one particularly intriguing aspect of Semrush’s domain research stands out: its ‘competitive positioning map.’ Ahrefs does not have a direct equivalent to this tool. This feature is valuable for competitive analysis as it offers a quick snapshot of how a site stacks up against significant competitors based on keywords and monthly traffic.

Regarding graphics, Ahrefs is consistently adding more graphs, while Semrush focuses on data visualization. Domain analysis metrics are often graphically presented in Semrush, offering a visual representation. In Ahrefs, you may find yourself delving deeper into complex data and tables, which can be advantageous or disadvantageous depending on the context.

Both tools offer straightforward options for examining nation-level data on domain overview pages, with ‘global’ and ‘country’ display choices. However, Semrush takes the lead in historical statistics. If you have the ‘Guru’ subscription or higher, you can access a dropdown menu in Semrush that displays a domain overview for every month from January 2012 to the current day.

Ahrefs also provides historical data, although it doesn’t go as far back. With Ahrefs, you can obtain backlink data from 2013 and keyword ranking data from 2015. Notably, access to this data requires a $999 ‘Enterprise’ package, which may be less accessible to most users.

In summary, both tools excel in domain analysis, with Ahrefs offering quicker access to financial data and Semrush excelling in data visualization and historical data access.

Now, let’s delve into the essential keyword research features of both Ahrefs and Semrush.

Keyword Research Features

Keyword research consists of four primary elements:

  1. Understanding Search Volume: Assess the active search volume for a specific keyword.
  2. Ranking Difficulty Assessment: Evaluate the level of difficulty associated with ranking for the chosen keyword.
  3. Analyzing Current Rankings: Identify the current top-ranked pages for the target keyword.
  4. Investigating Alternative Keywords: Gather ideas for other relevant and potentially impactful keywords.

Both Ahrefs and Semrush make this procedure easier for you. Simply enter your term into their specialized tools — ‘Keywords Explorer’ in Ahrefs and ‘Keyword Overview’ in Semrush. You’ll receive vital information like search volume, keyword difficulty score, current ranking sites, and a list of similar keywords in an instant. It’s a simple technique to obtain the information you need for effective keyword optimization.

Both platforms use percentage scores to represent keyword difficulty, with a higher percentage indicating greater difficulty.

How Are Keyword Difficulty Scores Calculated In Ahrefs And Semrush?

Semrush and Ahrefs employ different methods to determine keyword difficulty.

In its assessment, Semrush takes into account several criteria, including the number of backlinks pointing to top-ranking sites, the target country, the phrase’s word count, whether it’s a branded keyword, and its search volume.

On the other hand, Ahrefs solely focuses on the number of backlinks leading to highly rated sites for specific keywords.

Semrush claims that its approach produces more accurate difficulty scores; however, Ahrefs asserts that “backlinks are probably the only easily measurable confirmed ranking factor.”

In our experience, Ahrefs often categorizes more keywords as easy to rank for compared to Semrush. An “easy” score in Ahrefs sometimes corresponds to a “medium difficulty” score in Semrush.

SERP Analysis

When it comes to providing a comprehensive list of sites dominating the search results for a particular term, Ahrefs outperforms the competition. This is because it offers a more extensive dataset rather than merely listing the top-ranking sites.

On the other hand, Semrush provides five additional pieces of information for each top-ranking page. Examples of these include:

  1. The site’s authority score to which the page belongs.
  2. The number of domains pointing to the URL.
  3. The number of backlinks pointing to the page.
  4. The expected organic traffic to the page.
  5. The number of keywords for which the page ranks.

Ahrefs, with ten data points accompanying each search result, provides a wealth of information. In addition to the basics, you’ll also receive information such as the domain’s authority score (referred to as ‘DR’), the anticipated monthly organic traffic value of the page, the primary keyword it ranks for, the monthly search volume for that term, and the word count of the ranking page.

Among these, the word count metric stands out as particularly noteworthy. Although Google states that word count isn’t a direct ranking factor, it’s still valuable to monitor the word count in the top-ranked posts for your target query.

Understanding this metric can be beneficial because it indicates that Google’s user base perceives a specific word count as providing sufficient depth for a particular query. This knowledge can then serve as a guide for creating your own content.

In practical terms, if a top-ranking page has 5,000 words, a 500-word post may struggle to effectively compete.

Identifying Search Intent

Thanks to its useful ‘search intent’ feature, Semrush outperforms Ahrefs in providing deeper insights into why consumers conduct certain searches. When you examine the metrics for a specific term, Semrush presents an ‘intent’ box that offers information about the context of that search.

What distinguishes Semrush is its automated detection of search intent types, including ‘transactional,’ ‘navigational,’ and ‘commercial.’ Semrush defines these categories as follows:

  1. Informational: The user seeks an answer to a specific query.
  2. Commercial: The consumer is keen on discovering more about specific brands or services.
  3. Navigational: The user aims to locate a particular page or website.
  4. Transactional: The user intends to complete an activity, such as making a purchase or converting.

In this context, it’s evident that Semrush outperforms Ahrefs due to its superior functionality, which Ahrefs lacks in comparison.

Semrush’s keyword intent feature proves valuable when sifting through term recommendations. Semrush’s ‘Keyword Magic’ feature often provides an extensive list of suggested phrases when you input a keyword, which can be overwhelming. However, the ‘search intent’ dropdown menu comes to your rescue, simplifying the process of weeding out irrelevant ideas and focusing on words likely to generate revenue for your company.

For instance, you can narrow down term recommendations by selecting the ‘commercial’ intent, streamlining your choices to those more likely to drive sales.

Search Intent In Ahrefs — A Workaround

As for determining keyword intent in Ahrefs, there is a workaround. It’s a bit more complex, involving the analysis of a search query’s modifiers, such as terms like “how,” “what,” “comparison,” or “review.” For example, the term “what” typically indicates a quest for knowledge, while “review” suggests an inclination toward business assessment.

To refine your keyword research findings in Ahrefs, you need to employ specific modifiers like ‘what,’ ‘how,’ ‘why,’ and so on. While effective, this method is more labor-intensive and time-consuming compared to Semrush’s approach.

Also Read: The 8 Best SEO Keyword Research Tools

Keyword Lists

Both Semrush and Ahrefs offer the ability to create keyword lists using their “Keyword Manager” and “Keyword List” features. These lists are accessible at any time, allowing you to monitor changes in keyword difficulty scores.

While the functionality of both platforms used to be quite similar, Semrush has introduced a new feature called ‘topic clustering’ to its keyword management tool. This tool aims to assist you in identifying keywords that can establish your authority on a particular topic. Search engines favor websites that comprehensively cover various aspects of a given subject.

This feature proves advantageous, suggesting topics to cover, keywords to include, and web pages that are currently performing well within a specific cluster.

However, despite its usefulness, this feature doesn’t completely eliminate the human effort required to construct topic clusters. Not all suggested subjects or keywords are always suitable, necessitating a careful evaluation to ensure their relevance to your chosen topic.

Using Backlink Data In Keyword Research

What we appreciate most about Ahrefs’ approach to keyword difficulty scores is its dual functionality. It not only reveals the difficulty of ranking for a particular term but also estimates the number of backlinks required to secure a position within the top 10 search results.

Semrush adopted a similar approach, but it did so considerably later than Ahrefs. Nevertheless, there is a distinction. While Ahrefs consistently provides data on the necessary backlinks for a specific term, Semrush now selectively offers this information, leaving some phrases with a more generic message, such as “significant on-page SEO and link building efforts required for ranking.”

This feature worked effectively in Semrush by providing backlink estimates for the majority of queries. However, Ahrefs offers several advantages in the realm of keyword research.

To begin with, Ahrefs not only displays search volumes but also assesses the likelihood of clicks. In contrast to Semrush, Ahrefs provides valuable statistics on traffic potential, estimating the total organic visits that can be expected by ranking first for a specific term.

For us, Ahrefs’ traffic potential feature stands out as a compelling reason to prefer it over Semrush.

Ahrefs’ ‘Content Gap’ tool appears to be slightly superior to Semrush’s ‘Keyword Gap’ tool. Both tools allow you to input your domain and the domains of your competitors, resulting in a list of keywords that your competitors rank for but you do not. However, Ahrefs’ ‘Content Gap’ feature permits you to analyze against a larger number of competitor domains (10 compared to Semrush’s four).

Search Engines You Can Perform Research For

When it comes to keyword research, Ahrefs outperforms Semrush due to the variety of search engines it supports. While Semrush is limited to Google data, Ahrefs allows you to conduct research across nine search engines, including giants like YouTube and Amazon.

Considering Google’s substantial 92% market share (source: Statcounter), it’s fair to say that Semrush’s focus on Google makes sense. However, Ahrefs takes a more flexible approach, appealing to consumers who value diversity. Here is a list of search engines that Ahrefs supports:

  1. Google
  2. Youtube
  3. Amazon
  4. Bing
  5. Yahoo
  6. Baidu
  7. Daum
  8. Naver
  9. Seznam

It’s worth mentioning that Ahrefs’ utilization of Bing data may become more important as AI becomes more prevalent and Microsoft integrates ChatGPT into the search engine.

However, it’s important to note that while Ahrefs covers numerous search engines, the comprehensive data it provides for Google is more detailed than for the others. Many of Ahrefs’ most important metrics and tools for keyword analysis are exclusive to Google data.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Research

If you need a solution that encompasses both organic search results and PPC data, Semrush is the way to go. It excels with a broader collection of Google Ads data, including keywords, ad placements, competitors, displayed ads, ad campaign history, destination URLs, and subdomains used in ad campaigns. When you input a domain into Semrush’s ‘Advertising Research’ tool, you can access all this information and more.

While Ahrefs does provide some PPC-related information, it is more limited. In the ‘Site Explorer’ tool, under the ‘Paid search’ section, you’ll get insights on ‘paid keywords,’ ad headlines, and landing pages used in PPC campaigns.

Ahrefs has a slight advantage in keyword research since it allows research for a wider range of search engines. Its ‘traffic potential’ feature, absent in Semrush, is significant. However, Semrush’s keyword intent tool, which lacks an Ahrefs equivalent, is quite useful. If PPC data is a priority, Semrush is the better tool.

Content Marketing In Semrush And Ahrefs

Turning to content marketing, both Semrush and Ahrefs offer tools. Semrush’s ‘content marketing platform’ includes tools for discovering new topics, an ‘SEO writing helper’ for creating search-friendly content, and an SEO-focused content audit. Access to these features, however, requires a subscription to the ‘Guru’ plan or higher, priced at $249.95.

Although Ahrefs’ content marketing tools are limited, they are still valuable. The ‘Content Explorer’ feature allows you to enter a topic and explore data on its popularity, top sites, and top writers.

Currently, Ahrefs does not offer any AI-powered authoring tools, whereas Semrush introduces ‘Ask AI,’ an integrated AI copywriting capability. It performs well, especially for generating factual content based on prompts or titles. There is, however, a monthly word count limit ranging from 800 to 2,000 words. If you desire unrestricted access, Semrush provides ‘ContentShake,’ a $60-per-month AI add-on that removes word count restrictions.

Backlink Analysis

A website’s success in search results is strongly influenced by the number of backlinks it has, which are essentially external sites linking to it.

Both Ahrefs and Semrush allow you to input a domain name to retrieve a list of all the backlinks associated with it.

Also Read: Top 10 Backlink Monitor Tools to Use in 2024

Backlink Database Size

Semrush surpasses Ahrefs in terms of the size of their backlink databases. At the time of this investigation, Semrush’s database contains 808 million domains, whereas Ahrefs has 211.4 million.

This means that Semrush can provide more comprehensive backlink data.

To put this theory into practice, we conducted experiments to see how effectively these tools could reveal referring domains. We analyzed websites related to e-commerce and design tools using both Ahrefs and Semrush, noting the number of referring domains detected by each tool for each site.

WebsiteAhrefsSemrush
Wix1.3m1.4m
Canva377k385k
Jimdo359k706k
Amazon3.7m3.8m
Webflow289k235k
Squarespace718k214k
Godaddy1.4m2.3m
BigCommerce386k320k
Shopify2.2m2.6m
Ecwid61k63k

Let’s review the data from our recent website analytics testing. In a head-to-head comparison between Ahrefs and Semrush, Semrush emerged as the winner in 7 out of 10 matches, notably excelling with its backlink analysis tool.

It’s important to keep in mind that this was a relatively small-scale test, so we’re not making any sweeping claims here. However, it did reveal a noticeable trend: Semrush consistently outperformed in exposing referring domains. This suggests that Semrush may have an edge due to its larger database. It’s something worth considering as you explore your alternatives.

Backlink Reports And Tools

Both Ahrefs and Semrush provide a wealth of information when it comes to analyzing backlinks. They delve into aspects such as the quantity of ‘dofollow’ and ‘nofollow’ links, the countries of origin for backlinks, anchor text usage, new and lost domains, and the types of connecting sites (e.g., government, education, and more).

Our preferred tool for delivering this information is Semrush. Their straightforward graphs effectively convey essential information in an easy-to-digest format.

Additionally, both Semrush and Ahrefs offer ‘link intersect’ tools. Semrush calls it a ‘Backlink Gap,’ while Ahrefs refers to it as ‘Link Intersect.’ These tools enable you to compare a URL from your website to one from a competitor’s website, providing a list of websites that are currently linking to your competitors but not to you.

Semrush’s link intersect tool provides more detailed information compared to Ahrefs. Ahrefs, like its ‘Content Gap’ tool, allows you to compare a URL to ten others, while Semrush limits the comparison to four websites.

During our testing, we found Ahrefs’ link intersect tool to be more user-friendly and easier to navigate.

Backlink Auditing And Building

Semrush offers several critical backlink-related capabilities that Ahrefs does not provide.

Firstly, Semrush has a ‘backlink auditing’ tool, which helps in identifying potentially harmful connections, such as spammy links, that might lead to search result penalties. Users can compile a list of these links and submit it to Google as a ‘disavow’ file, requesting that Google ignore them.

However, not all SEO experts believe these link spam detection techniques are highly effective. Some prefer a more hands-on approach to identifying low-quality connections, a viewpoint shared by the Ahrefs team. Interestingly, Google’s John Mueller also opposes the concept of harmful connections and the methods used to detect them. He has explicitly stated that disavowing connections based on third-party data is not a recommended approach.

While some users may find Semrush’s toxic link tool useful for identifying particularly bad backlinks, Ahrefs’ lack of a similar feature should not be the sole deciding factor when choosing between the two.

On the other hand, Semrush’s ‘link building’ tool stands out. It analyzes your domain or URL and recommends websites for fresh backlinks. This feature is notable for its CRM-style interface, which categorizes each domain as a ‘domain prospect.’ By connecting your mailbox, you can easily move each prospect through different stages of a link-building pipeline and even send outreach emails directly from the Semrush interface. This functionality is impressive and is not available in Ahrefs.

Lastly, both Ahrefs and Semrush offer strong backlink analysis capabilities. However, in our opinion, Semrush takes the lead in this category due to its exceptional CRM-style backlink creation tool.

Site Auditing

Both Ahrefs and Semrush offer ‘site audit’ tools that enable you to assess your site’s performance from both technical and on-page SEO perspectives. During a site audit, both tools identify issues that could negatively impact your search ranking, such as:

  1. Slow-loading content
  2. Duplicate content
  3. SSL problems
  4. Crawl errors
  5. Missing headers
  6. Keyword overuse
  7. Broken links

Both tools provide an overall SEO health score and a range of practical technical SEO recommendations. They also offer detailed explanations for each issue and solutions for identified problems.

Semrush stands out with its on-page SEO checker, which offers actionable advice for improving each page in a prioritized manner. Suggestions include adding keywords, optimizing for Google ‘featured snippets,’ enhancing body text and meta descriptions, implementing backlink strategies, adjusting content length, and optimizing internal linking.

Ahrefs, on the other hand, focuses primarily on technical elements when providing recommendations to enhance pages and lacks a similar feature for improving content and link profiles.

An interesting feature of Semrush’s site audit tool is its ability to send SEO tasks to Trello, a popular project management platform. For users not on Trello, a Zapier connection can be used to integrate with other project management tools, or they can utilize a basic CRM tool included with Semrush.

Both Ahrefs and Semrush have now included Core Web Vitals assessments in their site audit reports. Core Web Vitals encompass goals for website performance, responsiveness, and visual stability, which can impact Google search results. Both tools gather data for these metrics from Google’s Lighthouse service.

Ahrefs provides two types of Core Web Vitals data: ‘field data,’ based on real user experience, and ‘lab data,’ which is performance data obtained in a controlled environment. In contrast, Semrush only provides access to lab data, giving Ahrefs a slight advantage in this aspect. However, it’s worth noting that to access Core Web Vitals data in Ahrefs, you must first locate and input your Google API key.

In summary, while both Ahrefs and Semrush offer valuable insights for improving technical SEO, Semrush stands out due to its more comprehensive content enhancement recommendations and options for integrating site audit findings with project management applications. Despite minor differences, the overall distinction between the two is negligible.

Broken Link Analysis

Broken link building is an important SEO strategy that can significantly improve your website’s search results. Here’s how it works:

  1. Finding Broken Links: The first step is to identify broken links, which are links that no longer lead anywhere.
  2. Recreating Dead Content: Once you’ve identified a dead link, you need to recreate the content that it used to point to.
  3. Outreach for Replacement: Contact the individuals or websites that used to link to the defunct material and ask them to link to your content instead.

By using this approach, you can enhance the visibility of your content in search results. The more backlinks you have, the better your article may perform.

To effectively implement this strategy, you’ll require tools that can detect broken links. Ahrefs and Semrush both provide this functionality.

Ahrefs Approach: Ahrefs streamlines the process. Enter a website name in the ‘Site Explorer’ section, then select ‘Broken Backlinks’ to obtain a list of all broken inbound links for that domain.

Semrush Approach: Semrush’s method is slightly more intricate. Conduct a backlink analytics analysis, then navigate to the ‘Indexed Pages’ section and click on ‘Broken Pages.’ You can export the findings to Excel or CSV. Despite the method being somewhat cumbersome, you can reimport the data into Semrush for immediate broken link outreach within the platform.

While Semrush offers a comprehensive approach, we prefer the simplicity of Ahrefs for broken link building.

Using Ahrefs And Semrush To Find Broken Outbound Links

Ensure there are no broken links on your webpages leading to other websites. Broken links are seen as indicators of low-quality content by Google and other search engines, and they could negatively impact your rankings.

Both Ahrefs and Semrush offer tools to help you identify broken outbound links. However, Ahrefs streamlines this process.

In Ahrefs, input a domain into the ‘Site Explorer,’ then navigate to the ‘outgoing links’ section and select ‘broken links’ to view the results.

To locate broken links on your website, you will need to conduct a site audit using Semrush. After completing the audit, check the ‘warnings’ section of your site audit report to obtain a comprehensive list of problematic outbound links.

It’s important to note, though, that using this method to uncover broken external connections will consume one of your ‘project slots,’ which may not be ideal.

Interface And Ease Of Use

When it comes down to it, Ahrefs appears to be more user-friendly than Semrush. The interface is sleeker, options are more logically organized, and dashboards present data in a more coherent manner.

During our testing, we discovered that Semrush’s data loads faster, giving it a performance advantage. On the other hand, Ahrefs can be a little slow at times, especially during domain analysis on large sites. This may not be ideal for users in a rush or those looking for an efficient workflow.

Ahrefs allows you to quickly grasp SEO information, whereas Semrush may require a bit more navigation or scrolling to access the necessary data. Semrush, however, offers more comprehensive information than Ahrefs, including graphs, search intent data, PPC statistics, and sales pipelines.

If you enjoy data visualization, Semrush’s approach may be more appealing. However, when it comes to outreach tools, Semrush takes the lead in terms of usability. Its CRM-style link-building feature enables you to locate and contact prospects directly within the application. In contrast, Ahrefs requires you to export data to Excel and then reimport it into other programs for outreach, such as contact finders and email marketing tools.

Ultimately, if you prefer easily consumable data, Ahrefs may be the preferable option.

Pricing And Value For Money

When it comes to SaaS applications, Ahrefs and Semrush are on the more expensive side when compared to others.

However, it makes sense because you’re not just purchasing functionality; you’re also gaining access to a lot of data, including some real competition information.

Semrush has three main pricing plans:

  1. Pro: $129.95 per month
  2. Guru: $249.95 per month
  3. Business: $499.95 per month
Pricing And Value For Money

If these plans don’t work for you, you have the flexibility to create your own plan, with pricing and features tailored to your needs. Additionally, opting for annual payments can save you up to 17%, and there is a free trial period available.

Ahrefs, on the other hand, is available in four plans:

  1. Lite: $99 per month
  2. Standard: $179 per month
  3. Advanced: $399 per month
  4. Enterprise: $999 per month
Pricing And Value For Money

If you choose to pay yearly, you will receive an additional two months free. While Ahrefs does not provide a free trial, there is a limited version called Ahrefs Webmaster Tools that allows for limited domain analysis and site audits.

The choice between the two depends on your company’s specific demands and budget. Focus on a few key features that best suit your company’s needs to determine which one offers the most value for your money.

Access To Key Features

With the entry-level plan, you can access all of Semrush’s primary features. However, its most affordable version has significant limitations, notably in terms of the number of projects you can manage and the amount of data you can retrieve monthly.

Ahrefs, on the other hand, is somewhat less generous. The entry-level ‘Lite’ plan lacks critical capabilities such as content gap analysis, link intersect, and broken link-building tools.

If you’re serious about SEO, this might push you toward Ahrefs’ more expensive ‘Standard’ service. It’s worth noting that this package costs roughly twice as much as Semrush’s entry-level option.

Number Of Users

By default, each Semrush and Ahrefs plan includes a single user account.

If you need to add more users to a Semrush subscription, there is an additional monthly cost. A ‘Pro’ user pays $45 per month, a ‘Guru’ user pays $80 per month, and a ‘Business’ user pays $100 per month.

Ahrefs provides two types of additional user accounts. You have the option of upgrading to a ‘power user’ account for an extra $50 per month. For an additional $20 per month, a ‘casual user’ account is offered.

To get a better understanding, let’s break down the different account types. It all boils down to how many reports you can generate each month. Generating a report consumes a ‘credit,’ and the number of credits you receive depends on your user type (whether you are a ‘power’ or a ‘casual’ user) and your plan. Power users receive 500, 600, or 750 credits on the Lite, Standard, and Advanced Ahrefs plans, respectively.

Now, let’s add another layer of complexity. You can also add ‘inactive’ Ahrefs members to your account for free. Users who generate five or fewer reports each month fall into this category.

Here’s the bottom line, especially for entry-level plans. Semrush provides better value when more users are added. Why? Because the number of reports available to Semrush users far exceeds Ahrefs’ limits. I’ll delve into this in a moment.

Projects

On their entry-level plans (‘Lite’ and ‘Pro,’ respectively), Ahrefs and Semrush allow you to create five projects.

When you compare Semrush’s ‘Guru’ plan to Ahrefs’ ‘Standard’ plan, Ahrefs takes the lead by allowing you to create 20 projects, while Semrush only permits 15.

Comparing the project limitations of Ahrefs’ ‘Advanced’ plan with Semrush’s pricier ‘Business’ plan reveals that Ahrefs has a project cap of 50, which is ten more than Semrush.

Ahrefs also excels in different areas related to project limits. In Ahrefs, you enjoy unlimited access to verified projects. Verified projects are those for which you can prove ownership through DNS records, HTML files, tags, or Google Search Console. This capability proves to be exceptionally useful for individuals who manage multiple domains and have access to the above verification methods.

While testing these tools, we discovered that a crucial feature, site auditing, is only available within a project in both tools. This might be challenging for users who need to conduct site assessments on several websites. Although the project constraints don’t make it impossible, they do add complexity by requiring you to keep a project slot open for any ‘ad hoc’ work.

Summing it up, when it comes to project limits, Ahrefs emerges as the winner.

Rank Tracking Comparison: Ahrefs vs Semrush

Rank tracking, also known as position tracking or SERP tracking, allows you to monitor how a website ranks daily for a specific set of keywords.

In comparison, Ahrefs’ rank tracker is more generous. With their basic account, you can track up to 750 target keywords, while Semrush’s equivalent package limits you to 500 keywords.

For Ahrefs’ $199 and $399 plans, their rank tracking tools enable you to monitor 2,000 and 5,000 keywords, respectively. Semrush’s $249.95 and $499.95 plans come with similar keyword restrictions of 1,500 and 5,000.

However, there’s a difference in notification frequency. Ahrefs defaults to sending weekly alerts for tracked keywords, while Semrush’s position-tracking tool provides daily updates. If you prefer daily updates with Ahrefs, you’ll need to pay an additional fee, ranging from $100 to $250 each month, depending on your plan.

Semrush Add-Ons

Semrush offers several additional features that require add-on purchases.

The ‘Semrush Trends’ add-on is the first on the list, available at an extra cost of $200 per user every month, regardless of your plan. This add-on provides more detailed insights into your competitors’ traffic and demographics.

Another offered add-on is the local SEO package, which costs $20–$40, depending on the specific services you require. This package provides the ability to:

  1. Provide directories with business information
  2. Manage duplicate listings
  3. Monitor local rankings
  4. Manage Google My Business and Facebook listings
  5. Keep an eye on customer feedback

They’ve also included an ‘Impact Hero’ content analytics service at $200 per user monthly. Semrush bills itself as an AI-powered platform that analyzes your content by customer journey stage, identifies the most influential elements, and recommends adjustments. While it’s similar to Google Analytics, you may not need this add-on if you’re already using Google Analytics.

Finally, there is the ‘Agency Growth Kit’ add-on, designed for companies looking to white-label Semrush data. This package allows you to produce customized PDF reports free of Semrush branding, includes your company in a Semrush authorized agencies database (the best part), and provides access to client management tools. The cost of this package ranges from an extra $69 to $149 per month, depending on your plan and the features you desire.

If you prefer not to use add-ons but still want to enhance your Semrush account, you can explore the Semrush app center to find third-party applications. There are 29 apps/integrations available, with most focusing on analytics and data—prices per user range from $10 to $150 per month.

Notable examples include Buzzguru, which simplifies the process of finding influencer and content creation partners, and AdClarity, which offers a comprehensive view of your competitors’ advertising across various channels (display, social, video, etc.).

And, just so you know, Ahrefs doesn’t have an ‘app store,’ but you can utilize its API to interact with other programs based on your needs.

Reporting

Semrush offers a significantly larger allocation of reporting requests every month. With their basic plan alone, you can generate 3,000 domain analysis reports daily. In contrast, Ahrefs’ credit-based approach limits you to 500 reports per month, which is substantially fewer.

The affordability of Semrush remains consistent as you move up the pricing tiers. For instance, on the Business plan, you can create up to 10,000 reports daily. Meanwhile, Ahrefs’ equivalent ‘Advanced’ plan only allows for 750 monthly reports.

PPC

When balancing both SEO and PPC activities, Semrush emerges as the more cost-effective option. As mentioned earlier, it provides a wealth of information about Google ad campaigns associated with a specific domain or those that were previously active.

Social Media 

Using Semrush, you can gain valuable insights into your brand’s or your competitors’ social media activities. The software seamlessly integrates with various social networks, offering a dashboard with details on followers, post reach, and engagement. These social media tools can also be used for efficient post-scheduling.

While these features are predominantly geared towards online marketing rather than SEO, they are a valuable addition for many users. It’s worth noting that Ahrefs doesn’t offer a similar option if you require a social media tracker or post scheduler.

Customer Support

Semrush distinguishes itself in the customer support department by offering three channels: phone, chat, and email. Ahrefs, on the other hand, provides support through email and chat.

Both Semrush and Ahrefs make it easy to reach out for assistance – simply look for the support window icon in the lower right corner of their interfaces. However, Semrush gains an edge over Ahrefs by offering phone support.

Free Trials

Ahrefs does not provide a free trial, but you can access their free webmaster tools, including ‘Site Explorer’ and ‘Site Audit.’

In contrast, Semrush offers a free trial that allows you to test their solution thoroughly. Typically, it lasts for seven days, but they are currently offering a unique extended trial, accessible through this link.

Conclusion: Ahrefs vs Semrush

When it comes to the Ahrefs vs. Semrush debate, both are outstanding choices for SEO endeavors, each excelling in its own right. They both provide valuable SEO data. The choice between these tools depends on your specific needs.

If you require data from multiple search engines, Ahrefs is the way to go. It offers fewer project limitations, user-friendly broken link building tools, and the option to work with an unlimited number of verified domains – a game-changer for some businesses. Ahrefs’ ‘traffic potential’ score is also worth noting as it helps identify keywords that can significantly boost your site’s traffic.

On the other hand, Semrush offers a broader feature set. It surpasses Ahrefs by delivering precise PPC statistics, CRM-style link outreach services, a variety of customer support options, social media tools, and, notably, much higher reporting limits. Furthermore, Semrush’s search intent data is invaluable for discovering keywords that can boost sales and conversions.

Ultimately, your choice should align with your unique requirements. Whether it’s Ahrefs with its diverse search engine data and traffic potential insights or Semrush with its comprehensive features, including PPC statistics, CRM tools, and extensive reporting capabilities, select the tool that best serves your needs.

The Benefits Of Using Ahrefs Instead Of Semrush

  • Unlike Semrush, which primarily focuses on Google, Ahrefs offers keyword analysis across various search engines.
  • In comparison to Semrush, Ahrefs is considered more user-friendly, providing clear and easily understandable insights quickly.
  • Ahrefs simplifies broken link analysis significantly.
  • Ahrefs’ ‘content gap’ and ‘link intersect’ tools cover a wider range of domains compared to their Semrush counterparts.
  • Ahrefs also offers more flexible project restrictions.
  • A unique feature of Ahrefs is its ‘traffic potential’ measure, which effectively identifies overlooked keywords.
  • Semrush does not have Ahrefs’ distinctive word count capability, which allows you to estimate the length of top-ranking websites.
  • Ahrefs allows unlimited website usage through domain ownership verification.
  • Additionally, adding more user accounts in Ahrefs is more cost-effective.
  • Ahrefs also provides more lenient rank tracking restrictions, albeit with weekly updates rather than daily ones.

The Benefits Of Using Semrush Instead Of Ahrefs

  • Semrush offers a straightforward pricing structure.
  • The entry-level plan in Semrush boasts more features compared to Ahrefs.
  • Semrush provides a higher number of daily reports for both backlinks and keyword analysis.
  • Semrush excels by offering both SEO and PPC data, making it a superior choice for those with dual needs.
  • Semrush’s ‘search intent’ tool helps identify relevant keywords for your organization effectively.
  • Semrush provides extensive and user-friendly site auditing capabilities.
  • In contrast to Ahrefs, Semrush’s CRM-style outreach feature streamlines link development within the application.
  • Semrush’s topic clustering technology accelerates the process of establishing subject authority.
  • Semrush provides phone support, which Ahrefs does not.
  • Semrush’s user interface loads data faster.
  • Semrush doesn’t charge extra for daily rank-tracking notifications.
  • Unlike Ahrefs, Semrush includes social media marketing capabilities.
  • Semrush offers a fully functional 30-day free trial, while Ahrefs does not.

Alternatives To Semrush And Ahrefs

Are you looking for SEO tools besides Semrush and Ahrefs? Think about these substitutes:

FAQs

Which tool is better for keyword research?

Both Ahrefs and Semrush offer robust keyword research capabilities. Ahrefs, with its Keyword Explorer tool, is particularly known for this. The choice between the two depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Which tool is better for monitoring organic search rankings?

Both Ahrefs and Semrush provide powerful tools for tracking organic search rankings. Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker tool offers daily updates and detailed historical data, while Semrush’s Position Tracking tool provides insights into your keyword placements and allows you to track your progress over time.

Can I try Ahrefs and Semrush before purchasing?

Both tools typically offer free trials. It’s advisable to use these trials to determine which tool best aligns with your individual requirements.

Can I use Ahrefs and SEMrush simultaneously, or should I pick one?

Marketers often choose to utilize both Ahrefs and SEMrush in their SEO endeavors. Each tool possesses its own set of advantages, and using them in conjunction can provide a more comprehensive understanding of your website’s performance and the competitive landscape.

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