Semrush Vs Ahrefs – Which Is the Better SEO Keyword Research Tool?

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If you are looking to optimize your website for search engines, you are probably wondering which SEO keyword research tool is better – Semrush vs Ahrefs?

Semrush and Ahrefs are both technical SEO tools that empower users to quickly research and find the best SEO-rich keywords to use in their content. But both Ahrefs and Semrush are so much more than mere keyword research tools – both softwares come with an array of other highly useful tools that give you the ability to carry out detailed site audits, backlink analysis, broken link analysis and more.

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In this article, we are going to be taking a detailed look at Semrush and its closest competiror, Ahrefs. We’ll be comparing them side by site and see how they hold up against each other in terms of keyword research features, content marketing tools, domain analysis tools, backlink and site auditing tools, ease of use, pricing, subscription options and value for money, as well as what level of customer support you can expect to receive as a subscriber to either SEO tool.

Are you ready to dive in? Then let’s get started.

How and why SEO tools are going to transform your business

Why, exactly, do you need to utilize a SEO tool like Ahrefs or Semrush if you want to grow your business?

First of all, you can be sure that more and more of your competitors are waking up to the enormous potential of AI-powered tools ands softwares every single day. Those who adapt early and start using the tools available to them sooner rather than later are going to gain an unmistakable edge over anyone still dragging their feet.

AI is here to stay, and right now we are still only at the beginning of the burgeoning artificial intelligence revolution. It’s always better to be among first than among the last.

With AI-powered SEO tools including Ahrefs and Semrush, you are going to be miles ahead of those who are still trying to carry out manual SEO keyword research – and endeavour that isn’t unlike fumbling through the dark, hoping to find a few golden nuggets. Luck and guesswork are factors that are going to become increasingly obsolete as more and more bloggers, content creators, marketers and entrepreneurs start getting onboard with AI research tools like Semrush and Ahrefs.

Why not be among them and make the most of this unprecedented opportunity to gain an edge? Trust me, you do not want to be left behind in the AI arms race that is about to begin.

If you are a content creator, marketer, blogger or eCommerce business owner, you know that views and clicks are what lead to conversions, and that conversions are what lead to revenue. In other words, search rankings are everything if getting organic search traffic is part of your online business strategy – and trust me, it should be. Because without revenue, you’re not in business. That’s why crafting content that people are searching for in the Google search console is the best way of attracting new potential customers to your website.

An organic content marketing strategy that works

SEO software tools like Ahrefs and Semrush rely on artificial intelligence to gather, crunch and analyze an almost unimaginable data in a matter of seconds. You, as a human being, simply can’t compete. Even if you were to spend hours or even days manually mining every major search engine for SEO-rich keywords, you still wound’t get everything right. The keywords you would turn up would only be qualified guesswork, nothing more.

Armed with the right technical SEO tools, though, everything from gathering the best keywords to carrying out a detailed analysis of the various pages on your website to see how it could be optimized and improved becomes a breeze.

A SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs makes it easy to discover what people are searching for in your niche, so that you can create new content that is likely to attract high volumes of organic traffic from Google. SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush also enable you discover new link building opportunities (Opportunities to build links between other sites and yours) and to change any technical aspects of your website that may be holding your site back from performing better in search engines.

So why spend hours or days when the keyword research you need for each new blog post or article you write can be accomplished in a matter of seconds?

The fact that a SEO software tool is able to do the research for you in such a short amount of time means that you can spend much more of your time creating the content that people want, rather than wasting your time writing something that no one is searching for and wanting to read.

Logging into your Semrush or Ahrefs account for the first time is going to give you the eerie but empowering feeling that you are looking at the internet through x-ray goggles.

With Semrush and Ahrefs, you’re able to see what’s really going on in the search consoles. What are people searching for? How many times a month are people around the world putting any given keyword or question into Google? And when they do, which pages are appearing in the top results? And, very importantly, how many page views do each of these pages get on a monthly basis?

Knowing what people are searching for means that you are going to be much better equipped to give them precisely that. Now, you’re looking at the demand before you start crafting your supply. It’s the opposite of what most people and businesses are still doing – and it’s what works.

Semrush vs Ahrefs – what do both SEO tools do and how do they compare?

There is no straightforward answer to this question. Which SEO tool you ultimately decide to go with should depend on your individual business model and content strategy.

Ahrefs and Semrush have more than a few features in common. For example, both SEO tools provide you with keyword suggestions based on the search phrases you enter into the search bar that can be used as the basis for blog posts, articles or other forms of content that are all but guaranteed to perform extremely well in search engines like Google.

Another similarity between these two highly technical SEO tools is that they both reveal how easy or difficult it is going to be to rank for any one specific phrase. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll know what your odds are before you’ve even started putting any words on the page. This is an extremely useful feature, as it can save you unspeakable amounts of time and effort that you might otherwise be wasting, trying to compete for a search phrase that is simply out of reach from where your website is right now.

Another cool feature that both Ahrefs and Semrush have is that they help you find websites that would be good prospects to approach for backlinks.

Yet another commonality worth mentioning is that Semrush and Ahrefs both give you the ability to perform a SEO audit of your website. The audit highlights any technical aspects of your site that could do with some improvement.

But this is really just scratching the very surface of what keyword research tools like Ahrefs and Semrush enable you to do. There is so much more to either tool than what is mentioned here. Keep reading to learn much more about each SEO software tool, including what makes each tool unique and what the pros and cons are of using either.

Domain analysis

Both Semrush and Ahrefs let you carry out a basic domain analysis using competitive analysis tools. Doing so is going to tell you a few things about how and why your website (Or a competitor’s) is or isn’t performing well in search engines.

A domain analysis simply shows you how well any given website is doing from a SEO perspective. You can either choose to analyse your own website, or a competitor’s. The benefits of analysing your own site are that you will learn where technical tweaks and improvements might quickly lead to a boost in search engines. Analysing a competitor site, on the other hand, helps you understand what your competition is doing right that you might want to emulate. Seeing how well any given competitor is doing in terms of SEO also shows you what it would take to beat them in the search results.

Carrying out a basic domain analysis is equally easy to do whether you are using Semrush or Ahrefs. All you need to do is enter the domain link you want to analyse into the domain search bar, hit enter, and let the SEO tool dig up the information you need within seconds.

The metrics that come up are going to include:

  • An authority score (Also called a domain rating, or DR for short). The authority score gives you an immediate indication of how well any given website is likely to perform in Google
  • The estimated number of monthly visitors to the page
  • The grand total number of external links linking to the page (The more backlinks a page has the better)
  • The grand total number of keywords that the page is currently ranking for
  • Anchor text
  • Competing domains

While carrying out a domain analysis is pretty straightforward regardless of which SEO tool you are using, some might find Ahrefs to be slightly more user-friendly and intuitive. This is particularly true if you are a beginner without a lot of pre-existing experience operating complex software or analysis tools. With Ahrefs, the key stats that you want are a little easier to access and view, plus you are able to view more of them at once, which means you can take in more of the information at a glance.

With Semrush, by contrast, you are going to have to click around a little more in order to find the information you need. With Ahrefs it is also easier to switch between viewing global and per-country search volume data – if you are using Semrush, you are only able to view per country data.

Ahrefs and Semrush both provide you with an estimate of the traffic volume that each site you are auditing is receiving on a monthly basis. It is important to note that the figures provided by either SEO tool are estimates rather than actual and precise numbers.

When it comes to looking at the estimated search volume, Semrush has an edge, in that its estimates tend to be ever so slightly closer to the actual search volume numbers than the estimates given by Ahrefs. Even though the difference is minor, it can still potentially have an impact on your SEO strategy and ability to estimate whether you are able to beat any particular competitor site in Google.

Another upside to choosing Semrush for domain analysis is that Semrush presents you with a competitive posting map, which lets you see how the site you are looking at is currently performing against important competitors.

Overall, both Ahrefs and Semrush do a great job at carrying out domain analysis. Ahrefs wins in terms of ease of use, but Semrush wins by contextualizing the data a little better.

Keyword research

Keyword research is the primary reason to use a SEO tool like Ahrefs or Semrush. Keyword research is what lets you discover and identify the best, most SEO-rich keywords that can help your content skyrocket in Google and other engines.

Keyword research is primarily focused on these four metrics: The number of people searching for any given keyword, the difficulty of ranking of the keyword, identifying the competitor pages that are already ranking for the keyword, and finding suggestions for other, similar keywords.

Whether you are using Ahrefs or Semrush to do your keywords research, the SEO tool makes the process smooth and lightning fast. When it comes to their keyword research tools, Semrush and Ahrefs function very similarly.

If you are using Ahrefs, you need to go to the Keyword Explorer tab, and if you are using Semrush, the tab to look for is called Keyword overview. Put in your seed keyword or keyphrase and hit enter. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the SEO tool turns up the technical SEO information you are looking for – if your WiFi connection is good, the data will usually come up instantaneously.

The keyword research data that comes up is going to contain both the estimated search volume for that keyword, as well as keyword difficulty scores and a list of related keywords that might inspire you to try for an easier but related keyword if the one you put into the search field initially turns out to be all but impossible to try competing for.

Semrush and Ahrefs both make use of percentage score to indicate how easy or difficult it is going ot be to rank for the seed keyword or phrase you put into the search field. Semrush and Ahrefs both let you curate found keywords in keywords lists using their respective keyword manager tools. Creating keyword lists is a great way to ensure that you will always have a fresh crop of new keywords ready to be turned into SEO-rich content for your sites and platforms.

One thing that really distinguishes Ahrefs in terms of keyword research, is that Ahref shows you more than just keyword rankings and difficulty scores – it also shows you how many backlinks you are going to need if you want to rank in the top ten for the keyword in question. Now, that’s some powerful data right there.

Unfortunately, Semrush lacks an equally sophisticated keyword data function. Whereas Ahrefs always indicates the number of backlinks you would need to rank in the top ten, Semrush only gives you backlink information for some keywords and not for others. What’s more, the backlink information that Semrush gives you is sometimes vague. Semrush might, for example, inform you that ‘It will take a lot of on-page SEO and link building efforts to rank for this,’ without specifying further.

And backlinks is not the only area of keyword research where Ahrefs has a noticeable edge over Semrush. Not only does Ahrefs show you the estimated search volume but also the number of clicks that any given keyword is likely to generate – information that is beyond useful when you are determined not to waste any time writing content that isn’t getting any views. Semrush lacks this feature or its equivalent.

There is yet another tool that sets Ahrefs apart from Semrush in a positive way, and that is Ahref’s content gap tool. The content gap tool lets you enter your page name as well as the names of a number of competitor pages. When you hit enter, the content gap tool shows you a list of keywords that your competitors are currently using and ranking for and that you aren’t. Armed with this knowledge you can then begin working on closing the gap between your site and the competitor sites you are choosing to measure up to.

Although Semrush has an equivalent tool that works in a similar way and is called the keyword gap tool, Semrush’s offering simply doesn’t give you as much data as Ahref’s equivalent. Whereas Ahref’s content gap tool lets you compare up to ten sites, Semrush’s keyword gap tool only lets you compare four.

As if this wasn’t enough, there is still another keyword research area that Ahrefs does better than Semrush, and that is your ability to research the different search consoles you are interested in ranking in.

The research you are able to carry out using Semrush is rather limited, as it only shows you Google search results. Ahref, on the other hand, lets you do keyword research on ten different search engines, resulting in a much more comprehensive overview than what Semrush is able to give you.

On the other hand, if what you are looking for is a keyword research tool that lets you view both PPC data and organic search data, then you might find Semrush to be the superior tool. Semrush returns data on both CPC competition, distribution and live ads whereas Ahrefs doesn’t. If you want to, you can even use Semrush to put together effective PPC campaigns.

All of this is not to say that Ahrefs doesn’t turn up any PPC data whatsoever – but what it turns up is limited to PPC info.

Content marketing tools

Both the tools we are looking at here come with a number of incredibly content marketing features. If you are a SEO consultant or are running a digital marketing agency you are going to find these features particularly useful, as they will help you understand what actionable steps you can take to generate the content marketing results you or your clients are after.

Semrush’s content marketing features let you identify new topics to write about that are relevant to or trending within your niche, audit your existing content with the aim of improving its current SEO, identify effective keywords that your competitors are using in their blog posts and on their websites, monitor mentions of your site as well as monitor plagiarism of any written content on any page you own.

Unfortunately, Semrush’s suite of content marketing and tracking tools are only available if you sign up for the Guru plan or higher.

Ahref’s cotent marketing tools are less in-depth, but still very useful when you are planning your search engine marketing strategy. In Ahrefs, you can enter enter topics and key phrases into the Content Explorer search bar and instantly view data on the overall popularity of the topic or keyword in question, the sites that are currently ranking the highest for that topic, and even the top writers putting out content about the topic.

Backlink analysis

Backlink analysis is an often overlooked but vitally important aspect of a site’s overall performance in search results.

For those that may not be familiar with what backlinks are, they are external links linking into your site. The more backlinks you have leading to your content – particularly if these link are embedded on sites that have high domain authority scores – the better. Backlinks are a way of telling search engines that your site is trustworthy and valuable.

Both Ahrefs and Semrush include a rather impressive backlink analysis tool as part of their SEO toolkit. with both Semrush and Ahrefs you are able to enter any domain name and let the SEO tool generate backlink reports detailing all of the backlinks to the site in question.

Analyzing backlinks can be an important part of your link building strategy, as you will be able to tell how far behind your competitor sits you are, which is also going to tell you exactly what is required if you are to build up your number of backlinks.

Size of backlink database

Presuming that the figures posted by Semrush and Ahrefs respectively are accurate, Semrush presides over a significantly larger database of domains than Ahrefs does. Specifically, Semrush’s domain database contains somewhere in the region of 808 million domains compared to Ahref’s 191 million.

In other words, Semrush is able to provide you with the more detailed backlink analysis reports.

This is true at least in theory. In actuality you are likely to find that the number of backlinks turned up by either SEO tool is going to depend on and differ with each search. In real-life use, you’ll find that sometimes Ahrefs turns up the most detailed results, and at other times Semrush will.

Backlink reports, tools, auditing and building strategy

Both Ahrefs and Semrush equip users with a solid array of tools when it comest to monitoring your backlinks and improving your backlink strategy.

Semrush and Ahrefs are both able to give you detailed data on the number of dofollow links vs non-follow links, the country of origin for any backlinks, new vs old and lost domains, linking domain category (such as entertainment, government or education). All of this data is useful to have, because it tells you who is disseminating your content and where.

The primary difference between the backlinks information you are able to pull from Ahrefs vs from Semrush mainly comes down to different presentation. When it comes to presenting backlinks data, Semrush does the best job at making the detailed information approachable and easy to digest.

Ahrefs and Semrush both come with link intersect tools that allow you to compare any URL from your website against any other URL. This comparison results in a detailed and exportable list of the websites that are linking to your competitors. Knowing which sites are feeding your competitors backlinks is useful, as they might be willing to backlink to your content too, provided that it is similar and of a high enough quality.

It is worth pointing out that Ahref’s link intersect tool lets you compare your URL to up to ten others, whereas Semrush only lets you compare your URL to four others.

Having said that, it is important to be aware of the fact that Semrush comes with a number of additional backlink tools that Ahrefs is simply lacking, the very useful backlink auditing tool being one of them.

Semrush’s backlink auditing tool is capable of identifying backlinks that may be toxic and therefore have a negative impact on your site’s SEO performance.

Semrush also has a link building tool, which carries out an analysis of your domain and gives you a list of suggested websites to approach for backlinks. If you have reached the backlink building stage of your business, this is a vitally important function that can save you lots of time and effort.

Overall, both Semrush and Ahrefs provide users with some incredibly useful backlink tools – but in this area, Semrush outperforms Ahrefs by going up and beyond with the auditing and link building tools that make it easy to begin building high authority backlinks and disavow spammy ones that might currently be getting your domain penalized by search engines without you even being aware of it.

Site audit

Semrush and Ahrefs both provide users with site auditing tool that enable you to see how well your site is performing from a technical SEO perspective.

During the site audit, both Ahrefs and Semrush scan your web domain and make note of a number of anything that might be weakening your site’s performance including broken links, duplicate content, missing headers, slow-loading content, SSL problems and crawl errors.

Carrying out a site audit is a great way of getting actionable insights into how you can improve your site’s ranking by adding the correct headers, deleting duplicate content or rephrasing content where certain keywords have been overused.

Whether you are using Ahrefs or Semrush, the SEO tool is going to give you practical suggestions for how you can improve your site’s SEO performance. Semrush’s SEO-checker function is perhaps particularly user-friendly, as it walks you through your entire website, giving you actionable tips along the way where improvements are needed.

The types of suggestions you get might include suggestions regarding the length of your content, tips on internal linking strategies and which websites to approach for backlinks, and so much more.

Overall impression

All in all, both Ahrefs and Semrush are incredibly solid and powerful SEO tools – really, you cannot go wrong with either. Which of the two software tools you prefer is, to a high degree, going to depend on your personal preferences and the specific needs of your business.

In most cases, Ahrefs yields the mot detailed and fine-grained level of analysis and data. There is one crucial area, though, where Semrush clearly comes out on top, and that is where backlink analysis and strategy tools are concerned.

While both tools are relatively easy to use given their complexity, Ahrefs can boast having the marginally more intuitive and user-friendly interface.

Pricing and subscription options

Ahrefs is the marginally more affordable SEO tools, with plans starting from $99/month for the Lite plan. The other paid options that Ahrefs has to offer are called Standard, Advanced and Agency.

The Standard plan is priced at $179/month, the Advanced plan at $399 and the Agency plan, which gives you access to the full range of tools and features without any caps, is priced at $999/month.

Whichever plan you choose, Ahrefs throws in two months for free when you choose to pay annually.

Semrush prices start at $119.95/month for the Pro plan. The two other options are Guru, which costs $229.95/month, and Business, which unlocks the full suite of features available through Semrush and costs $449.95/month.

With Semrush, you save 17% if you opt for the annual subscription.

For a full overview over which tools and features are included in the respective plans on both Ahrefs and Semrush, head on over to the SEO tool’s respective websites.

Semrush vs Ahrefs Q & A

We have compared Semrush and Ahrefs side by side, but have all of your questions about the two SEO softwares been answered yet? If not, you might find the answers you are looking for here.

Which is better, Ahrefs vs Semrush?

Semrush vs Ahrefs is a good question, but there is no simple answer.

Each SEO tools comes with its own pros and cons, and where Ahrefs and Semrush are concerned, it is all but impossible to pick a clear winner. Some of Ahref’s features are better and yield a more detailed level of analysis than Semrush’s equivalent features – and vice versa.

Overall, Ahrefs is a little more user friendly and intuitive to use, and the research turned up by the SEO tool tends to be a little more fine-grained and comprehensible than what Semrush is going to present you with.

This is not to say that Semrush isn’t a phenomenal SEO keyword research and site audit tool, but rather that most are likely to find Ahrefs to be ever so slightly more approachable.

Is Semrush the best SEO tool – or is there anything better than Semrush?

There is no doubt that Semrush is one of the best and most advanced pieces of SEO software on the market today. However, at least one of its software competitors provide users with just as much – or more – bang for their buck.

The SEO tool in question is Ahrefs, which beckons with powerful and comprehensive analysis tools that are on par with what you can expect from Semrush.

With plans starting at $99/month compared to Samrush’s starting price point of $119.95/month, Ahrefs is undoubtedly better value for money.

Is Ahrefs worth the money?

Ahrefs is 100% worth every penny you spend on it.

If your business – whether it’s the one you’re in or the one you are building – relies on written content, then you absolutely need to start leveraging a powerful SEO software like Ahrefs or Semrush.

In addition to the expected keyword research features, Ahrefs comes with a number of incredibly powerful additional tools, including a site audit tool that lets you carry out technical SEO audits of your existing content, a PPC keyword tool, an on-page SEO checker, a Site Explorer tool that let’s you see spy on the SEO performance of competitor pages, a backlinks report tool, and numerous other SEO tools.

In short, it is little wonder why Ahrefs is such a popular SEO tool. If you could only invest in one tool to grow your online business or marketing agency, Ahrefs should be the default choice.

Semrush vs Ahrefs: Parting words

Semrush vs Ahrefs – which is the better all-round keyword research, backlink analysis and site audit tool for SEO professionals?

All in all, you can’t go wrong with either of these two powerful SEO tools. In fact, why not sign up for both the $7 Ahrefs trial and the free Semrush trial so you can start generating more organic search traffic today?

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