This Post is detailed comparison of two most popular seo tools out there -
In fact, wherever we talk about best seo tools and these two tools - Semrush & Ahrefs are not mentioned, it’s nearly impossible.
Are you also confused which is better : semrush vs ahrefs in 2020?
If yes, Stay tuned with this post !!
After reading this post you can decide for which tool you should go for - semrush or ahrefs?
We will compare these tools from following various aspects :-
Let’s dive right in ... & find out which seo tools wins the race.
Semrush vs Ahrefs : Quick Intro to two Leading SEO Tools
Before diving into comparison, Let me introduce you to these leading seo tools in brief. In fact, Most of you may already know about them very well so you can skip this part.
Quick Intro to SemRush :- SemRush is an all in one marketing tool recommended by many internet marketing gurus. From search engine optimization to PPC ( pay per click ) this is the only tool that you need.
It’s one of my favourite seo tool that helps me to find golden opportunity keywords , spying on competitors and much more .. it will also help you to boost your organic search traffic, Finding Backlinks opportunities and lot more things...
Quick Intro to Ahrefs :- It’s also an awesome and one of the most popular seo tools like SemRush. The seo tool that helps you to grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche.
Few times back, They were only focused on links but now they have added tons of amazing features to do keyword research, Competition research and other seo tasks that made it a direct main competitor of Semrush as a seo tool.
To be Honest, These both SEO tools comes with super cool Features to help you in doing SEO and make your work a lot easier. So, It's gonna be tough to choose one as winner.
Let's compare them in various terms and Find out which one is better overall?
A detailed Comparison between two Most Popular SEO tools SemRush & Ahrefs
1. Which is Better for Domain Analysis/Competitor Research?
Competitor research is one of the best things you can do in seo.
Ultimately, By analyzing your competitor’s blog/ website, you can find out -
What’s working well for them?
Which Pages are driving them traffic, And Backlinks?
What’s their weak point
And so on…
You can replicate the same. It can help you to keep you ahead of your competitors.
Ahrefs and SEMrush both tools allow you to spy on your competitors.
In Ahrefs Site Explorer features, You need to enter your competitor’s domain name and it will come up with detailed data in no time.
Same in Semrush’s domain overview tool, enter the competitor’s domain name and it will show all the details.
You will see almost similar overview in both of these tools.
With Both of the tools you can find out -
You need to click on a specific section in order to get detailed more detailed data.
Some other Things only SEMrush shows -
Traffic your competitor is getting through Branded searches ( direct searching keyword related website/brand name) and branded traffic trend.
A Visual.Competitive Positioning map that shows how a site performs against a key competitor.
And Lot more deep insights metrics.
Some other important metrics only ahrefs shows for competitor analysis -
Top Pages, Pages best by Links, Top content. However, You can also get a very detailed traffic analytics in semrush including these features too But you need to pay additionally for traffic analytics and market explorer that’s why i put this feature as unique in ahrefs.
Outgoing Links and anchors
The Best Thing I like about Ahrefs while exploring websites is that we can see the serps in one clicking while looking at organic keywords. You can find every information at one place. Super Cool ..!
Url rating distribution
And more useful metrics and filters ...
Verdict - Both of the tools are amazing to analyse your competitor website. But, I will prefer ahrefs over semrush for competitors analysis. However, SEMrush also performs well in this section with its’ deep insights but ahrefs is little bit ahead specially because you can get all information at one place.
2. Ahrefs vs SEMrush : Which is Better For Keyword Research ?
Keyword research is the backbone of seo ! Right ?
Targeting the right keywords with right intent is essential for any seo campaign. First of all, you need to figure out on which keyword you want to rank your webpage? Rest of the things come later.
Profitable keywords are most probably hidden. These SEO tools help you to find these hidden profitable keywords.
Now, Let's take a look at keyword research features of semrush and ahrefs.
Ahrefs Keyword research Feature overview -
Ahrefs Comes with a super cool tool feature named Keyword Explorer for generating countless keyword ideas and finding profitable keywords. Let’s go inside it -
In navigation bar, head over to keyword explorer option -
The cool thing? Here you can also see many other search engines besides google Like youtube, bing, yahoo, yandex and so on …
For instance, My article is about website traffic so that I enter website traffic here (you can add up to 100 keywords) and select usa on below the corner. I will take a few seconds to pull data.
Here, in the overview section it shows you the basic metrics very similar to SEMrush like keyword difficulty, search volume, global volume, CPC etc..
But here you can see an additional awesome metric that is clicks.
It’s super helpful data that will help you to find out if people are clicking on web pages so that you can ensure search traffic in case you rank on that keyword.
For example, if you even rank on keywords like “neil patel age’ yet you will not be able to get much search traffic to your website. Because user don’t need to visit any webpage to get answer for that query
Below here, it shows you keyword ideas by search volume like questions, phrase match and newly discovered.
And Scrolling down, you can see here the SERP position history for that term.
At the bottom, it shows you serp overview with the Domain rating, page rating, backlinks, referring domains, traffic they are generating, total keywords on which that web page ranks ( in fact, you access to all by clicking ) and the top traffic generating keyword with it’s search volume.
On the sidebar, you can see the ad history option (currently beta).
And Under Keyword Ideas Section, you can see 7 options -
All Keyword ideas - Here, it shows you many keyword ideas and provides a massive list of keywords including broad match keywords. In fact, it comes with some amazing filters to narrow down the list.
In Fact, You can use these awesome filters in every section to narrow down keyword ideas list and find profitable keywords easily.
2. Phrase Match - In this feature it shows you only phrase match keywords.
3. Having Same Terms - Here, it shows you only keywords that include all those terms. Most Probably I use this for finding keywords. As you can see here it has found over 17k keywords having the same terms. But we can shortlist by using these amazing filters like word count, search volume, serp features, include, exclude and so on…
4. Also rank for - these are the keywords for which top performing pages also ranking for so that there you can also find a good opportunity
5. Search Suggestion - When we type anything in google search bar so we can see many autocomplete suggestions so here it shows those queries.
6. Newly Discovered - these are the queries that ahrefs has found recently and added to their database.
7. Questions - It’s an awesome feature to find out question related ( informational intent ) keywords like starting from where, what, how etc… here you can also easily find out good questions For FAQs Schema.
SEMrush Keyword Research features -
Semrush is an amazing tool to find profitable keywords very easily. It comes with a super awesome feature called keyword magic tool.
Let’s Explore keyword research features in SEMRush -
Under the Keyword Analytics Section you can see 4 options.
Let’s Breakdown them One by one -
Keywords Overview -
Here, you can add up to 100 keywords separated by commas or lines and this tool will run a detailed analysis. For Example, I ‘ve entered “ what is seo” and selected the country India and then just click on the analyze button.
It will take a few seconds and will give you a complete analysis.
As you can see here it has shown me How often that keyword is searched in that country and globally, difficulty of keyword, comp., SERP features like featured snippet, ads .. Looks Simple !
In fact, It will also show you of the trend of that particular keyword so that you can make sure that keyword is evergreen or it’s seasons i.e.- searched in a few specific days/month. Also You can estimate searches are increasing or decreasing.
Pretty Cool ! Right?
Scrolling below, It will show you keyword variations, questions and related keywords. As you can see in the image you can access over 3.5k variations, 3.5k questions and 635 related keywords with total volume.
So, here you can select the best keyword to target along with many lsi keywords to include in blogpost. You can find many questions to use for the faq schema. You to need to click on view more to check out all suggestions.
That’s really awesome !
Scrolling below, it shows you the Serp analysis option. As for this keyword it’s showing there are over 700k results and you can get analysis of top 100 search results. It shows you authority score, referring domains, backlinks, search traffic and on how many keywords that particular web page is ranking.
At the bottom, it shows PLA compies, AD copies and Keyword Ad history widgets. You are also allowed to suggest another widget to make overview even more better.
2. Keyword Magic Tool -
It’s a fantastic feature By SEMrush as I also mentioned above in this article. It will help you to find profitable keywords very easily within a few minutes. So, Let me introduce it to you -
In the keyword magic tool just enter a keyword on which you want to write an article and select the country just click on the search button. it will generate a massive list within a second.
For example, Again I’ve entered “what is seo” and selected india. So you can see here that it found over 3,596 keywords.
But you can narrow it down by using it’s amazing filters to find profitable keywords in a few minutes.
It also comes with super awesome filters like ahrefs (even better).
You can checkout this insider video to kw magic tool by semrush itself-
3. Keyword Manager - It allows you to add your favourite/desired keyword to the a list. you can add keywords from across semrush or importing file.
you will get fresh metrics( update frequency depends on plan) of those keywords and can export list.
Which Tool has a big keyword Database ?
It’s very simple that the bigger database they have, the more keyword ideas you can generate for your seo or ppc campaign .
Currently, SEMrush has over 18.8 billion keywords in their keyword magic tool, claiming the largest keyword database on the market.
Ahrefs has currently over 10.2 billion keywords indexed in their database across 10 search engines and 171 countries. And if we talk about only google, there are over 8.8 billion keywords.
Therefore, SEMrush has a really much bigger keyword database than ahrefs.
Which Tool Provides more accurate keyword difficulty ?
Keyword difficulty is one of the most important metrics that seos look at. It gives you an estimate of how hard it will be to outrank already ranking web pages.
So, Both of them SMErush and Ahrefs provide their keyword difficulty metrics.
In some cases, One tool claims to be easy to rank and on the other hand, the second shows it harder. That’s really most confusing for beginners … Which gives you more accurate data ?
Most Newbies blindly rely on the tools to check the competition. To be Honest, I (you should also) don’t rely much on tools to analyse the competition of a particular keyword.
You can assume a keyword as easy to rank if -
- Top ranking sites have poor content.
- Low domain authority and new websites are ranking
- Forums/social media sites are ranking with week content
- Pages are ranking with little to no backlinks
Ahrefs use to look at the numbers of referring domains & backlinks in order to calculate the keyword difficulty as content relevancy and backlinks are the top ranking factors. While SEMrush considers the authority of top ranking domains to estimate how hard it will be to outrank already ranking web pages.
Who Wins : - As we find out that both of these tools are awesome to generate countless keyword ideas and finding profitable keywords But SEMrush is relatively better than ahrefs in keyword research section.
3. Which Tools comes with Better Rank Tracker ?
You Put lots of efforts in doing seo of your website like optimizing speed, outreach for links etc..
But how do you keep track of the impact of your efforts ? You need to track the change on SERPs Position.
Well, Both Semrush and ahrefs come with a tool to keep track of your keyword position. In SEMrush, it’s named “Position Tracking” whereas in ahrefs it’s named "rank tracker".
Both do the good work that is supposed to do from a rank tracking tool.
Rank Tracker tool by Ahrefs -
Ahrefs Provides you a super visual rank tracking tool along with awesome features that’s also improving consistently.
To Get started, you need to create a project by entering your domain.
Then You’ve to add keywords separated by comma or import file that you want to track. In fact, it also suggests keywords itself that you rank for.
You can also add a tag to stay organized and specific locations ( It allows you currently over 170 countries) similar to SEMrush.
On the Next Screen, you can add a competitor's url as well as it also gives you some competitors list that have common keywords.
That’s it to set up for your project. Now you are ready to track all keywords you added with super cool filters and features.
Almost Same Like SEMrush, It shows you all important data as -
Keywords distribution by 1-3, 4-10 , 11-50, and so on..
Also You can keep an eye at your competitors
And many other cool filters that may be very helpful if you know how to use them effectively
SEMrush’s Position Tracking tool -
On the left sidebar in the semrush dashboard, you will find Position Tracking tool, a super accurate rank tracking tool that allows you to monitor your and your competitor’s serps position.
Here, you need to set it up by entering your domain.
On the next page, you can select root domain, subdomain or url if you want to track for a specific webpage. And other information like search engine, device e.g. - desktop or mobile, location.
And then just choose keywords for tracking.
You can add manually, receive suggestions based on semrush analytical organic or paid position reports, get suggestions from analytics or you can also import them from a file.
It takes some time to collect the data for your project depending on how many keywords you wish to track.
Once it gathers the data, you can show a detailed report in which you can see various widgets showing every important data.
It will show you -
Visibility Percentage that indicates how visible your domain/subdomain/url is in SERPs for the keyword you’ve set up. 100% visibility means that you’re ranking on #1 Position for all those terms and zero visibility means that you don't even rank in top 100.
Estimated traffic is the number of visitors that will come from those keywords.
Average Position that shows you the average ranking position of all keywords you added in your campaign.
You can see here a distribution of your top keywords by top 3, top 10, top 20 and top 100 along with improved and declined positions. And on the right side of it, it shows a graph of change in rankings over time.
On Scrolling Below, You can also find out your top keywords, positive & negative impact. Positive impact refers to the keywords that gained the rankings while negative impacts indicated a decline in position.
Top competitors with a detailed visualization.
And few more amazing metrics
You can get very detailed data in overviewtab as above screenshots are from landscape.
Update Frequency -
SEMrush updates tracked keywords very frequently in fact, multiple times a day.
But, When it comes to Ahrefs it only updates every week, 5 days or 3 days depending on the plan you selected. That’s a big downside.
Winner : SEMrush or Ahrefs? - Both tools offer you pretty good rank tracker with awesome features. But SEMRush wins the race because it updates tracked keywords much more frequently than ahrefs.
Backlinks Analysis & Link building features
Whatever anyone says But backlinks still remain one of the the most important ranking factors when it comes to ranking. ( and it will be remain the main off page seo factor)
No doubt, we must consider which is better for backlinks analysis and finding link building opportunities while choosing a seo tool.
Backlink Database -
SEMrush adds a new backlink to its database everyday which is updated publicly after two weeks.
As of now, According to Semrush, they have a database of 1.4 billion referring domains, 29.1 trillion backlinks and crawls over 17 billion pages every day.
Ahrefs update live backlinks index data every 15-30 minutes. Currently, it shows 2.1 trillion external & 18 trillion internal backlinks . It comes with 169 million domains and over 316 billion pages in index.
It was about numbers .. but what about practical?
I personally checked out backlink profile for various domains. For some domains, Ahrefs found more links and for others, SEMrush.
To collect data of any domains's backlinks SEMrush provides you backlink analytical or domain overview tool and In ahrefs, You can use site explorer. SEMrush also allows you bulk anaylsis of up 200 urls at the same time.
Backlinks Gap/Link intersect -
Both tools allow you to check out backlinks Gap that helps you to find out domains linking out to your competitors but not you.
In SEMrush, you can see it as backlink gap tool and in Ahrefs it’s named Links intersect.
Backlink Audit Tool By SEMrush-
Backlinks Helps you to rank higher in search engines. You know it very well, Right?
But, You know what ? irrelevant and toxic backlinks can cause google penalty and also decrease your ranking significantly.
It's a good idea to keep doing a Backlink audit periodically.
SEMRush Comes with a separate tool for doing backlink audits in order to find & disavow toxic links so that it doesn’t impact on your rankings negatively. Whereas There’s no specific tool for backlinks audit but you can do it manually by simply following this guide.
To get started, Just go to the Backlink audit tool in SEMrush.
Then You have to choose domain type, specify categories, Target countries, Brand name ( to find braided anchors).
It requires you to integrate it with search console account in order to get a detailed audit.
That’s it..! It will take you to overview pages where you can see main things like toxic score, referring domain, New & Lost Links and so on…
If your toxic score is Low then probably you don’t need to worry.
You can go to the audit tab for a list of links with their toxic score. Like keyword difficulty, it’s highly recommended to check manually also even if it’s trustworthy.
There are a lot more things you can do in this tool like, exporting list to disavow those links, asking owners to remove them, Keeping track of progress and a lot more …
Link building tool by SEMrush :-
SEMrush Provides you an awesome link building tool specially dedicated to help you acquire new backlinks and expand your backlinks profile.
The tool itself finds the best link building opportunities along with the contact information of target websites.
It also integrated your gmail account for doing backlink outreach.
You just need start a link building campaign an it will make the process super easy for you. you can also monitor link building progress.
Winner : With more exclusive features, SEMrush wins the race also in this section.
User Interface & Ease of Use -
Well, it depends on person to person which tool he finds more comfortable and easy to use. Some may prefer ahrefs and rest may find semrush easier.
But, I think ahrefs is relatively much more simple and easy to understand for beginners. I also created a poll in my private facebook group where more people voted for Ahrefs.
Ahrefs comes with a really easy to understand and simple look dashboard dashboard while SEMrush may be a little harder to use for absolute newbies. In Ahrefs, You also get maximum information at only one place.
Ahrefs really no doubt comes with very simple and time- saving views that can help you to save a lot of time doing your seo tasks. I also feel more comfortable using ahrefs over SEMrush.
Also, You get most of the information at the same place.
In a nutshell, Ahrefs is unbeatable when it comes to user interface and experience.
Verdict - In this section, Ahrefs is far better than SEMrush with it’s clean and easy to use & understand interface.
Which comes with better support ?
Support System is essential for many people specially who’re not technically good.
And you must consider it while purchasing a Premium Product.
That’s why I’ve included the support system while doing "semrush vs ahrefs" comparison.
Ahrefs Support System :-
Ahrefs’ support system is pretty simple and very straightforward .
It comes with a live chat support option that you can easily see in the below corner. ( in fact, you don’t get instant live answer. )
Got Any Question ? Just send a message and you will get a response as soon as possible.
Quite Easy !
SEMrush Support System :-
SEMrush is an Extensive tool which comes with many premium features that may be a little harder to understand. So, you may need support from time to time.
In fact, It’s support system isn’t as straightforward as ahrefs.
You will find this option in a coroner in Footer. Then you need to select type of support for example, customer support.
Then you will be asked a few questions before you can send your question.
Also, the response time is also slower than ahrefs.
Winner :- with faster response and straightforward system, Ahrefs clearly wins When it comes to Support.
Ahrefs Content Explorer Vs SEMrush Topic Explorer
Many times when we want to publish a new blog post, we don’t have any idea what to write about ? Have you faced it ever before?
So, Semrush and Ahrefs both come with a feature to find good content ideas.
In semrush, there’s a feature topic research and in ahrefs, you will find content explorer to generate content ideas. ( In fact, You can also use content explorer to find backlinks opportunities )
Let’s find out which one is more better -
SEMrush’ Topic Research Tool -
On semrush dashboard, head over to topic research. Here, you need to enter a broad topic related to your niche on which you want to write about.
For Instance, I enter wordpress and select country us and then click on analyze.
It will take a few seconds to find many subtopics. So, you can see below it has come up with endless content ideas with lots of sub-topics.
This is card views. It also comes with an explorer, overview and mind map along with cards. Personally, I like mind map view.
Ahrefs’ Content Explorer tool -
In ahrefs, Go to content explore in navigation then search for any phrase and it will show you relevant web pages prioritizing by their performance.
For this one, I've entered website traffic and selected everywhere ( infact, you can specify in title, url or content.)
Here You can find some awesome filters too as you can see in the image below. So that you can filter by first published, live or broken etc.
It shows you the graph of all pages over time and in corner top authors who generated most of the traffic. You can check out the top 100 authors by clicking view more.
On Scrolling, you can see it has found over 1 million pages around that particular phrase. ( In fact, I’ve also not used any type of filter.) That’s really Huge .. Basically we don’t need to check them all also can’t most probably.
Here, you can also choose one page per domain and can sort by relevance , newly published, facebook share, twitter share, domain rating, organic traffic and much more …
In the trend section you can choose the last 30 days, 6 months or 3 years.
Winner : Saying one better might not be a good idea. SEMrush is great for finding sub topics around a topic and finding out much more content ideas and on the other ahrefs provide you with some cool filters in case you’re finding broken pages for broken links or anything else . In this section, we have to tie the match.
Which one Peforms better Technical SEO audit ?
If your website’s technical seo is not good (crawlability, indexing, duplicate content etc..), The chances of ranking well SERPs are very less.
Performing an Site- Audit can help you to find & fix issues that are holding your website to climb google Rankings. Doing it manually can be hard and much time consuming so that there are many tools out there including SEMrush vs Ahrefs.
Site Audit Tool By Ahrefs :-
Ahrefs New visual site audit tool monitor 100+ Pre-Defined SEO issues on your website.
To get Project started, First you need to configure few settings.
It will take few time to crawl. You can see your crawl happening in real time or come back later.
Sometimes it takes much time even if your website doesn't have lots of pages.
Once the crawl is complete You can find your website's seo issues and get suggestion to fix them.
On the overview Page, It shows you top level information like seo health score, crwaled urls and urls having errors.
On scrolling below, It will show seo issues found on your website. you can also priortize issues by using importance.
Clicking on question mark, you can see issue in detail and how you can fix that.
You can also see super detailed report on common technical categories like performance, html tags, social tag and more..
In each section you will find detailed visual report.
SEMrush Site audit tool :
SEMrush also provides you a comprehensive site audit tool to detect seo issues on your website.
It scans your website for 130+ Technical seo issues and mistakes including broken links, crawl errors etc...
Once you set-up the project, It shows you the super detailed & visualized report of your complete seo site audit.
Similar to SEMrush, It also provide you seo health score that estimated how seo friendly your website is. ( at least in terms of technical seo.)
It also shows you top issues you that you you need to fix immediately. You can check out all issues and how you can fix them.
It also offer an super cool "internal linking distribution report" that indicates how well your internal links are setup for seo. There are lot more helpful features inside the tool.
Verdict :- Ahrefs Site audit tool is quite good But Site audit tool By SEMrush is outstanding to perform a comprehensive audit and wins the race.
Pricing And Value for Money
Pricing is one of the most important factors along with features that one considers before making a purchasing decision so that you make sure that it is worth it?
To be honest, There’s no major difference between semrush and ahrefs when it comes to pricing. Both tools come with reasonable pricing plans and value for money.
Let’s take a look at pricing plans of both tools -
SemRush Pricing Plans :-
SemRush comes with 4 Plans - Pro, Guru, Business & Enterprise. If you can subscribe on a monthly basis or annual basis. If you purchase annually then you can save upto 16%.
Pro Plan - Pro Plan costs you & $99.95 per month but if you purchase it on an annual basis then it will cost you only $83.28 per month at discounted price.
This plan is suitable for you if you’re just starting out, freelancer or you’re a blogger.
In this Plan you can run your seo, smm and ppc projects with 40+ advanced tools. You can steal your competitor’s traffic sources, organic rankings, social media and much more …
In a nutshell, This plan provides you more than enough for one who is starting or you ‘re a blogger. It's sufficient For You.
Guru Plan - SemRush’s guru plan costs you about $199/mo on a monthly basis and $166/mo if you go on an annual basis.
If you’re a growing agency then this plan fits you best. It includes additional these features including all Pro Plan features -
- Content Marketing Platform
- Branded Reports
- Historical data
- Extended Limits compare to Pro Plan
Business Plan - This plan costs you about $333/mo when you purchase on an annual basis and $399/mo if you go for a monthly basis.
This plan is ideal for agencies and businesses which are established and have extensive web presence.
This Plan includes these additional features along with all guru features -
- White Label Reports
- API Access
- Extended limits and sharing options
- Google data studio integration
Enterprise Plans - If all these Plans don't offer enough according to your needs then you can contact the semrush team so that they will create a custom solution for you keeping your needs in mind.
Ahrefs Pricing Plans :-
Similar to Semrush, Ahrefs also comes with 4 Plans -
Lite - $99 monthly
Standard - $179 monthly
Advanced - $399 monthly
Agency - $999 monthly
In all of these Plans, Ahrefs Provides 2 months Free if you purchase annually.
Like SEmrush, In ahrefs you can also upgrade or downgrade your subscription whenever you want.
Let’s quickly Compare the starting Plan(cheapest) of both these tools. : SEMrush Pro vs Ahrefs Lite Plan -
+$70 Per additional use
+30 per additional user seat
Every 7 Day
Maximum rows per Report
Site Audit : Pages to crawl per month
+$50 per additional 500,000
Free Trials -
Verdict :- Tie ! Because The Pricing of both tools is almost similar and both of them Provide Full value for money. ( In fact, ahrefs costs you few bucks less and that's not a considerable difference.)
SEMrush vs Ahrefs (2020) : The overall winner is ...
There's No doubt that Both of these ever improving seo tools are awesome and come up with amazing features . So, it's really hard to announce one as a winner.
But If I had to Pick one of them, I will go for SEMrush because of it's extended features and comprehensive infromation. I think after reading this comparison post, you can decide which tool is best fit for your needs.