Semrush vs Ahrefs: Which SEO Tool is Better?
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If you’re new to SEO, you probably Googled “what’s the best SEO tool” tens and maybe even hundreds of times. And each time, you get a new answer that recites the pros and cons of whatever solution.
But we can bet that you’ve seen two solutions that come up in each and every post—Semrush and Ahrefs.
No SEO professional goes without tinkering with the two toolkits. But if you don’t have the will or the resources to check out both toolkits—after all, it requires going through a certain learning curve, spending time, and, of course, money—this in-depth Semrush vs. Ahrefs comparison post will walk you through the key differentiation points you need to know.
Semrush vs. Ahrefs: A High-Level View on the Two SEO Solutions
Both toolkits are considered to be the strongest on the market. They do have a lot of similarities:
- Both were born as purely SEO tools but expanded over the years. Semrush, however, went way beyond sheer SEO, helping you to manage the entire scope of your online visibility — from SEO, online, advertising, and market/competitor research to social media, content marketing, and PR.
- Both are constantly working on enhancing their algos and databases. But we will cover this topic a bit later.
But you won’t see how you can choose one solution over another if you look at their similar features. The true comparison comes when you compare the differences, so this is what we’ll be focusing on throughout this post.
Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Comparing the Quality of Their Keyword Tools
As you probably know, keywords are an essential element of any SEO strategy. Everything from content to rankings is closely tied with keywords, so you have to have solid keyword data on hand to build a strong SEO strategy that gives you both the competitive edge and all the possible traffic.
And this is where the two tool’s approaches vary.
Ahrefs has a very classical take on keyword tools—they return your typical metrics like search volume (number of monthly searches per keyword), keyword difficulty (how hard it is to rank for a given keyword), as well as cost-per-click (CPC) estimates. Top this all up with insights into competitors’ keyword strategy and you get a great basic tool for keyword research and analysis.
Image source: Ahrefs
Semrush covers all of this, too. But—and no bias intended—it simply does the job better. And here’s why.
The success of your keyword strategy largely depends on the quality of keyword data. And no tool compares to Semrush here. It does not only have the largest keyword database on the market (21 billion vs. 17 billion in Ahrefs), it has the most accurate search volume data across all major SEO solutions.
Image source: Semrush
Moreover, Semrush has finessed all of its algos to factor in more criteria for calculating various keyword metrics:
- Semrush’s Keyword Difficulty takes into account more parameters than any other tool, making its formula more robust than anything you can see on the market.
- It also has a more advanced take on keyword analysis, including word count, SERP features, branded/non-branded markers, and other characteristics you need to consider.
- It’s also great that Semrush shows both a global view and a local view, dividing the counts of metrics by countries. So if you need location-specific keyword research, this is the it-solution.
But what’s most important is that Semrush has a unique feature across all of its keyword tools—it shows Keyword Intent, a metric no contemporary content marketing can do without.
Because, as you probably know, Google now cares a lot about user intent. So you have to make sure your content meets that user intent, meaning that you need to understand keyword intent before your define your content strategy.
This means that you can use Semrush’s keyword tools to build a smarter strategy for your site and separate pages, choosing keywords that meet your goals—whether you are targeting users at the awareness, consideration, or decision stage.
Image source: Neil Patel
Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Off-Page SEO Features
If keywords make up your content and visibility strategy, you also need to focus on off-page SEO. That’s backlink audit and research.
Once again, both solutions have tools that cover your off-page SEO, and in this case, data quality once again comes as the key differentiation point.
Image source: Semrush
- Semrush’s database also has the fastest update level. This means that you can quickly discover a new backlink and instantly assess its impact. And if it’s toxic—Semrush has 45+ toxicity markers that evaluate if the backlink can hinder your site’s performance—you can take a timely reaction and remove it before it hits your rankings.
But it’s worth noting another unique feature here. Well, a tool really. Semrush allows you to manage your entire backlink outreach from a single place, making it easy to monitor the progress of your link-building efforts.
Semrush vs. Ahrefs: On-Page SEO Features
No SEO job is complete without dealing with technical and on-page issues. But you often cannot detect them without a thorough site audit and a detailed page-by-page analysis.
And if for a site audit, both solutions have a dedicated tool, when it comes to on-page SEO analysis, all you have is Semrush. But let’s take this comparison one step at a time.
When it comes to site audits, it looks like the tools are pretty similar. They both check your site for errors and reflect on them to help you fix anything that might be hindering its performance.
But…once again, Semrush has a competitive edge here. It has advanced checks that are absent in Ahrefs—namely, AMP, HTTPS, Core Web Vitals, structured data, and other in-depth points of analysis.
Source: Semrush Site Audit
But when it comes to enhancing your on-page performance, Semrush has a unique tool—On Page SEO Checker—that analyzes every space of your page performance based on the best practices from top-ranking pages.
We’ve partnered with Semrush to provide you with a free 14-day trial. Use this link to access this exclusive offer.
Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Monitoring Your Rankings
Once you’re done dealing with your keyword strategy, on- and off-page SEO, you can’t simply sit back and savor the results. You have to keep a constant watch on your performance.
Now, both solutions—being SEO-focused—have tools for monitoring your rankings.
From first sight, their position tracking capabilities are pretty comparable. But…when you get into details, you start seeing some differences:
- Semrush allows you to check your positions every single day. Ahrefs only lets you do this once a week unless you are ready to purchase its add-on. So it’s not a default feature. And if you’re serious about SEO, you cannot afford to lose sight of your performance—one week of delay can cost you your rankings, and that’s not something you can opt in for.
- If you’re a local business, you also need data on the 3-pack (local pack and hotels). Only Semrush offers 3-pack monitoring, as well as more SERP features than its counterpart.
- If you operate across countries, you may find a winder coverage in Semrush—it covers more languages than Ahrefs.
If you’re in for some advanced features, Semrush wins in all instances—it reflects any cannibalization issues when your pages compete for ranking for the same keyword, it estimates your share of voice across organic search, and alerts you whenever there is a position drop.
Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Any Help With Content Marketing Efforts?
SEO and content go hand in hand. You need content to implement all the best SEO strategies, but it’s also an art and science of its own. So you cannot simply use purely SEO strategies and implement them throughout your content.
That’s why you need a separate solution for content marketing. And both toolkits promise coverage here.
In Ahref’s case, its take on content is still heavily SEO-focused. It has a Content Explorer tool that unwraps the most popular topics around your selected keyword on a national level. Semrush’s Topic Research goes deeper than that, allowing you to go location-specific—because if something resonates in the US, it might not necessarily be that popular in Australia.
Ahrefs offers another content-related tool called SEO plugin for WordPress—it checks organic traffic and backlinks for your published content. One downside is that it’s restricted to WordPress. Semrush’s Post Tracking tool checks content across any webpage and monitors its performance without restricting you to any particular content management system.
But, as you can see, Ahrefs doesn’t offer anything for actual content creation. Semrush, however, has an SEO Writing Assistant—a tool that looks at the top-performing articles around a certain topic in any given location and checks your copy for compliance with the best practices. It doesn’t just look at SEO factors like keyword usage, it also gives you suggestions on copy improvement—from shortening your sentences and readability to tone of voice and originality.
Image source: Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant
And if you’re using side writers, Semrush’s SEO Content Template tool will help to create an actionable SEO brief for the content in seconds—all you need to do is specify your target keyword and location.
So as you can tell, Semrush pretty much covers the entire content marketing workflow—from topic research to copy finessing—while Ahrefs only gives you fragmented help.
Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Reporting Features
Reporting might not be the biggest part of the deal but if you’re dealing with clients or need to share your progress with colleagues or upper management, you’d want a tool that supports fast and beautiful reporting capabilities.
Ans in this regard, Semrush checks all the boxes.
Ahrefs doesn’t have a dedicated reporting tool—you can only download a few PDFs from some of its tools. But they are only really suitable for internal use.
Semrush, however, has an entire My Reports tool that helps you mix and match data from various tools depending on what kinds of reports you need to make.
From a comparative view to internal tracking, you can build it all and automate your reporting. Moreover, Semrush supports various integrations with external data sources (Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google My Business) and even has a Google Data Studio connector so you can build a holistic view of your performance.
Final Revision of Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Pros & Cons
Now, it may seem like we were deliberately picking points where Semrush would win. But really, all the aspects discussed here are what makes a strong SEO tool—from data quality to the range of coverage of various SEO (and not only) aspects.
So even if you only care about the three pillars of search engine optimization—namely, on-page, off-page, and technical SEO—Semrush is an uncontested leader.
But of course, any comparison should include the pros and cons element. While the pros are pretty thoroughly discussed, let’s look at some of the downsides of Semrush in particular as data quality and converge-wise, it beats Ahrefs.
Let’s take a quick glimpse.
UX & Learning Curve
The biggest con for Semrush would be its sheer size. It’s not always easy to get the gist of the platform on the first try.
It’s big and comprehensive so you might not be able to unleash the full potential of the platform even if you spend months tinkering with all the tools.
But, Semrush’s UX is pretty intuitive and they have a large comprehensive knowledge base that can guide you through, along with an entire Semrush Academy that unwraps how to work with the toolkit.
In turn, Ahrefs might seem like a less complicated solution but it’s actually designed for pros that already know their way around SEO so you won’t find it easier to deal with.
So while you might initially get overwhelmed by Semrush’s size, when it comes to understanding what to do and how to do it, it’s no different from a solution that doesn’t have 50+ tools.
Image source: Ahrefs
Image source: Semrush
Semrush comes at slightly higher pricing. But that’s only if you look at prices in absolute terms.
If you, however, consider data quality—essentially, the most necessary element of any SEO tool worth paying for—and access to various features (unlike Ahrefs, Semrush includes the so-necessary mobile data, for instance) and way more tools, you’ll quickly realize that when it comes to value per dollar, it’s Semrush that leads the way.