Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Which Is Better?

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SEO tool

Are you on the hunt for a search engine optimization (SEO) tool and confused between Semrush vs. Ahrefs? 

This detailed comparison of the two SEO suites will give you all the information you need to make the right choice. 

SEO is an integral marketing component for businesses, especially startups trying to enter the market. And a reliable tool can make all the difference. 

Semrush and Ahrefs are among the top SEO and marketing tools online, with plenty of comparable features. 

But as with any tool, they both have pros and cons. Let’s dive right in and see which one comes out on top!

Semrush Overview 

Semrush is a suite of marketing tools that includes SEO, social media, and content marketing. 

It can be considered a complete digital marketing solution with robust tools that can deliver everything from keyword analysis to monitoring traffic. 

However, it wasn’t always a multi-faceted marketing suite, as it originally started off as a keyword analysis tool. 

However, Semrush has incorporated many features small business owners need to promote business, drive traffic, and stay competitive online. 

It’s a data-oriented tool that empowers users with lots of insights on marketing that can help businesses stand out. 

Many big names worldwide use Semrush for marketing purposes, such as GE, FedEx, Samsung, and Tesla. 

It’s a paid SaaS with a free trial available on two of its pricing tiers. 

Ahrefs Overview

Ahrefs is primarily an SEO tool, which started off as a backlink management tool. 

Today, it offers various SEO tools, from keyword research to competitor analysis. 

As an SEO-focused suite, Ahrefs offers features to help websites rank higher on search engines and build authority. 

Like Semrush, it’s a paid suite with multiple plans on offer to suit the needs of small, medium, and enterprise businesses. 

It provides various analytical tools for marketers and business owners to optimize their websites and content. 

It’s the go-to SEO tool for market leaders in different industries, such as Shopify, Expedia, Accenture, and Adobe. 

You can also find insightful competitor analysis features to keep tabs on the competition and learn what they do to stand out. 

Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Differences

There are more similarities between Ahrefs and Semrush than there are differences. 

For instance, both tools can integrate with various content management systems (CMSs) like WordPress, Webflow, Squarespace, and Shopify. 

Both tools offer keyword research, domain analysis, backlink analysis, rank tracking, and competitor analysis. 

The main difference between Semrush and Ahrefs is that the former is a more all-rounder marketing suite with several other tools and features for marketing that you won’t find on Ahrefs. 

Semrush has paid advertising, social media management, and content creation features. 

Ahrefs, in comparison, offers all the features to help with SEO. 

Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Features Comparison 

When choosing between two SaaS offerings, comparing features one-on-one is best, as that will show you exactly where one tool may perform better than the other. 

So, to better understand Ahrefs vs. Semrush, let’s compare the standard features found on both suites. 

Keyword Research

The keyword research tools are a quintessential part of any SEO and marketing suite. 

Keywords guide your SEO strategy and are important for ranking higher on search engines. 

Both Semrush and Ahrefs provide a rigorous keyword research tool that thoroughly lists relevant keywords for your business, both short and long-tail. 

Both also indicate the difficulty of each keyword, indicating which keywords will present a challenge to rank for. 

The keyword ranking and difficulty are determined based on several factors and are largely reliable. 

While you get all the necessary keyword information from both tools, Ahrefs takes things further. 

For instance, it will tell you how many clicks and impressions you may get from a certain keyword. 

This information is highly valuable, especially for landing pages. 

Ahrefs also provides information on the backlink you’ll need for a page to rank for a certain keyword. 

On the other hand, Semrush provides data on pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. 

In other words, you can also check for PPC ranking difficulty as Semrush explores organic and paid results displayed on search engine result pages (SERPs). 

This information can come in handy if you’re looking to pay to appear on searches. 

Backlink Analysis

Backlink management is a critical component of any solid SEO strategy. 

Thankfully, both Ahrefs and Semrush have stellar capabilities regarding backlink analysis. 

Ahrefs was initially designed for backlink analysis and management, so you’d expect it to be the best. 

It does shine in this particular feature, but Semrush beats it only because of its extensive backlink database. 

While Ahrefs boasts a user-friendly interface on its backlink management dashboard and offers extensive analytical data, Semrush has a database of over 43 trillion links. 

As a result, Semrush has climbed the ranks with its backlink reporting, auditing, and building. 

However, if you don’t care about the backlink database size that much, Ahrefs is still a desirable option for effective backlink management. 

Ahrefs’ data on backlinks is easy to read and understand, which makes it a good choice for novice business owners and marketers. 

So, it’s fair to say that Ahrefs takes the lead in ease of use for backlink management, but as far as the backlink database goes, Semrush is now leaps ahead. 

Competitor Analysis

Another common feature of Ahrefs and Semrush is competitor analysis, which can be helpful for businesses operating in highly saturated industries (for example, ecommerce). 

The data you find with this feature can help you build a solid marketing strategy for your business. 

On Ahrefs, you can find competitor data with the Content Explorer tool. This tool allows you to look for data on high-performing content/pages for a particular keyword. 

It will show you data such as meta tags, domain, authority, and online shares. 

This data can help you understand how your specific competitors perform for targeted keywords. 

Semrush also offers several tools for competitor analysis, including traffic analytics, organic research, advertising research, and social media tracker. 

All these tools are more keyword-centric, which is very helpful for identifying the keywords competitors target. 

Traffic analytics are particularly useful for comparing the traffic you’re getting with estimates for your competitors. 

Similarly, you can discover ranking opportunities for paid keywords. 

The social media tracking tools round off the competitor tracking capabilities, enhancing your findings. 

So overall, Semrush has more comprehensive competitor analysis tools than Ahrefs, which focuses more on top-performing content for targeted keywords and helps search for link-building opportunities.  

Rank Tracking

For many business owners, marketing ultimately comes down to ranking. 

Both Ahrefs and Semrush provide rank tracking with pretty accurate data. Both refresh data on rank tracking frequently, although Semrush claims to do it in real-time. 

With Ahrefs, you can chart your ranking separately for desktop and mobile to track your progress on SERPs. 

Data can be filtered by country to get the exact information for your targeted markets.

You can even set alerts on your website and your competitors to receive regular ranking updates. 

With plenty of data points (15 points), you can get a clear SEO picture of your website and its ranking on SERPs. 

On the other hand, Semrush also offers similar features. You can keep tabs on your ranking around-the-clock. 

You can see for which keywords your ranking improved or declined. 

Similarly, you can also track the ranking of your competitors and market leaders in your niche. 

It ranks and gives you websites that are getting the most organic traffic. 

Site Audits

Site audits help you find technical SEO issues that may hamper your website. 

You can run these audits frequently to discover problems like missing meta tags or bad backlinks. 

Semrush and Ahrefs offer comprehensive site auditing tools to provide helpful information, especially for those who may be new to SEO and lack technical know-how. 

While both suites have similarities in this feature, Semrush can be considered more user-friendly. 

It not only points out the problem but also provides suggestions for solving it, which can speed up the process of resolving SEO mistakes. 

Entrepreneurs new to marketing may find such detailed reports very helpful and educational. 

Semrush and Ahrefs site audit tools are available for free. 

Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Pros and Cons

Here are the advantages and drawbacks of each of these suites:

Semrush Pros and Cons


  • Powerful link-building: The link-building capabilities of Semrush are pretty strong, whether it’s through competitor analysis or its massive backlink database. New businesses can discover opportunities to create links with their content. 
  • Comprehensive marketing tools: Semrush is packaged as an all-in-one marketing tool, so it’s not just SEO (although that’s a big part). You also get extra features like social media management to have everything marketing-related in one place. 
  • Insightful data: Whether for backlinks or ranking on Google, Semrush provides granular data on SEO, which helps craft a solid content strategy and spend money on marketing wisely. 


  • No keyword click data: Unlike Ahrefs, Semrush doesn’t provide data on keyword click possibilities, which is not a significant drawback but still gives Ahrefs keyword research a bit of an edge. 
  • Limited content explorer capabilities: Compared to Ahrefs, Semrush doesn’t provide as many content exploration opportunities.

Ahrefs Pros and Cons


  • Comprehensive keyword research and analysis: Ahrefs provides slightly more metrics on keywords than Semrush, which gives its keyword research the top spot. For SEO specialists and novices alike, this is a remarkable capability that can help discover extremely targeted keywords. 
  • User-friendly dashboard: The central dashboard and all of the tools on Ahrefs are designed to be intuitive and user-friendly. You can navigate between different tools and understand the findings easily. There’s a bit of a learning curve initially, but overall, it’s much easier to use. 
  • Great for managing backlinks: Ahrefs is particularly impressive at backlinks, especially finding broken or bad backlinks. For websites that emphasize backlinks for SEO, this can be highly useful. 


  • Limited backlink database: Although reliable as a backlink management tool, Ahrefs doesn’t match the extensive database of backlinks that Semrush offers. 
  • No free trial: Ahrefs offers no free trial, whereas Semrush offers a 7-day free subscription to test drive all the features. However, it offers limited access to Site Explorer and Site Audit tools for free. 

Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Pricing

Both Semrush and Ahrefs are paid SEO tools with multiple pricing tiers. 

Semrush Pricing

Semrush offers three subscription tiers:

Name Pro Guru Business
Price $129.95 per month $249.95 per month $499.95 per month
Key Offerings 5 projects

500 keywords to track

10,000 results per report

15 projects

1,500 keywords to track

30,000 results per report

40 projects

5,000 keywords to track

50,000 results per report

Semrush offers a seven-day trial on its Pro and Guru subscriptions. 

Ahrefs Pricing

Ahrefs offers four tiers for subscription:

Name Lite Standard Advanced Enterprise
Price $99 per month $199 per month $399 per month $999 per month
Key Offerings SEO Dashboard

Site Explorer

Keyword Explorer

Competitive Analysis and more

All Lite features, Portfolios, Alerts, SERP Updates, and more All Standard features, Web Explorer, and more All Advanced features, API, SSO, Audit log, and access management. 

Ahrefs vs. Semrush: Quick Comparison Table 

Feature Semrush Ahrefs
Keyword research Yes Yes
Keyword click analysis No Yes
PPC keyword analysis Yes Yes
Backlink analysis Yes Yes
Site audits Yes Yes
Competitor analysis Yes Yes
Content explorer No Yes
Social media management Yes No
Domain tracking Yes Yes
Ranking tracking Yes Yes

How to Choose the Right SEO Tool?

Still confused between Ahrefs and Semrush? If yes, consider the following points when making your decision.

Features and Capabilities

Look for a tool that offers robust keyword research and competitor analysis tools, as that’s what pretty much SEO comes down to for most businesses. 

It should help with both on-page and off-page SEO. For the latter, backlink management is crucial, so pay attention to those features.  

Assess whether the tool offers features to analyze and improve technical aspects of SEO, such as site speed, mobile-friendliness, and crawl errors.

User Experience

Is the tool too complicated? Is the dashboard navigable? These seemingly little things matter a lot, especially for new business owners juggling different roles. 

You don’t want to get stuck with mastering a too-complex tool. 


If there’s a free trial, you can try the product and get a taste before finalizing and paying. 

However, besides a free trial, look for a plan that’s affordable for you, at least for the foreseeable future. 


Consider the integrations the suite offers, especially for critical systems like CMS. It should integrate with your CMS seamlessly.

Reporting and Analytics

Check the reporting features to ensure the tool provides clear and actionable insights. Look for customizable reports that align with your specific goals.

Customer Support

An often-overlooked aspect is customer support, which is quite important. If you need help, there should be both an online knowledge base and customer support options. 

Some plans may have better and faster customer support options. 

The Verdict

Overall, both Semrush and Ahrefs are exceptional SEO tools, with plenty of features that can help you take your website and business to the next level. 

In keyword research and backlink management, Ahrefs takes the lead. Yes, Semrush has a better backlink database and reports, but Ahrefs has been a preferred choice in that area for many years. 

Semrush, on the other hand, is great at monitoring the performance of your website and offers an arguably better PPC keyword and campaign analysis tool. 

It can also provide a lot of guidance on how to improve your website’s ranking and content. 

For new business owners, Semrush may just be a better choice as it’s a more comprehensive, all-inclusive marketing suite. 

However, those interested in deep keyword research, especially on click data, may consider Ahrefs. 


Is Ahrefs or Semrush more accurate?

Both Ahrefs and Semrush are popular SEO tools that provide insightful data on keywords, competitors, and content ranking. 

Ahrefs and Semrush conduct deep analysis of search engines to find accurate and latest data. 

They provide detailed metrics on keywords, such as difficulty, volume, global volume, and traffic potential. Ahrefs also provides data on click potential. 

What is the best alternative to Semrush?

Semrush is a terrific SEO and marketing suite, but there are several comparable and affordable alternatives. 

Ahrefs, MOZ, and Ubersuggest are the top alternatives for Semrush. 

Is Semrush free or paid?

Semrush is a paid marketing suite, with several subscription plans. However, it offers a free trial for seven days. 

You can try two of the subscription plans for free. 

Does Ahrefs offer a free trial or discount?

Ahrefs doesn’t offer any free trial on any of its plans. However, it offers some discounts on annual subscriptions. 

On signing up for a year, you can get two months free, which can save you significantly on the upper tiers. 

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