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Choosing the Best Business SEO Tools: Ahrefs vs SEMrush
Check out two of the best business SEO tools (Ahrefs vs. SEMrush) and compare a range of vital search optimization features to help your company (or clients) become search engine juggernauts.
Your company wants to grow using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Great. The next step is to decide on the right suite of tools that will deliver the best possible return on investment to help deliver online growth and profits.
With so many SEO services, tools, agencies and companies vying for your business, this choice can be a bit daunting. To narrow things down quickly, I've chosen to compare two of the most popular and widely used SEO tools on the market - Ahrefs and SEMrush.
Overall Winner - SEMrush
SEMrush is our winner because of its wide range of SEO & digital marketing features, backed by the world's largest database of keywords.
SEMrush serves over 6 million users and provides competitive insights into 810 million domains and over 20 billion search keywords.
Research the traffic analytics of your nearest business competitor right now.
You are able to use SEMRush for free by signing up. However, the free plan is limited to 10 requests per day - thereafter a paid plan is required.
Compare Ahrefs vs. SEMrush
Click on a link to quickly dive into a specific area of comparison of our two top SEO tools.
1. SEO Data
I've chosen to cover data first because it is arguably the most fundamental aspect of SEO. While a affordability, value for money, an intuitive user interface and a whole range of features are also important, they are only as effective as the underlying data upon which they are based.
Business SEO and marketing strategy decisions need to be taken based on the data available to you. The better the data, the better your decisions and, ultimately, the more successful your SEO will be.
|Engines||Google, Bing, Yahoo, Amazon, Yandex & more||Google accounts for 91% of all search globally. 88% in the U.S.|
|Mobile Rankings||Upgrade Only||Yes||Mobile Web traffic accounts for more than half of all traffic|
|PPC||No||Yes||Important if your business competes for paid clicks in search|
|PLA||No||Yes||Important for eCommerce companies competing with Google Paid Listing Ads|
|Updates||Every 3 - 7 days||Daily||Faster updates means better responsiveness|
In terms of data, SEMrush gives you nearly twice the bang for your buck by offering the largest keyword database of any search tool on the market. SEMrush data is also updated on a daily basis, making it more responsive. This enables you to react faster to sudden swings, changes and fluctuations and get out in front of competitors when Google starts acting up.
While Google is by some margin the most important search engine to track, niche companies might find that Ahrefs offers better insight into their local markets by offering keyword data across a wide range of search engines. Russian companies, for examples, might benefit from access to Yandex keyword data.
Data is only as useful as your ability to interpret and understand it in order to make better search marketing decisions. The suite of reports and tools available for you to chop up, rearrange and present that data plays a big role in the value and benefits you can derive from it.
Here's a head to head comparison of the SEO features I use frequently. This is by no means and exhaustive list of everything both platforms have to offer.
|Scheduled Reports||No||Yes||Automated reports save time on repetitive SEO tasks. Useful for SEO agencies needing white-labelled SEO reports.|
|Domain Comparison||10||5||Head to head comparison are useful for understanding competition|
|Backlink Audit||Yes||Yes||Required to understand your company's overall performance in search.|
|Toxic Links||No||Yes||Monitor low quality (toxic) backlinks that may be harming performance.|
|Brand Monitoring||No||Yes||Tracking brand mentions can be useful for measuring campaign success, plus outreach and relationship building|
|Free Trial||No||Yes. Training session included.||Get a feel for value, insights and SEO analysis on offer|
|Site Audit||Yes||Yes||Monitor the ongoing health of your website|
|Social Media||Limited||Yes||Social media can be an important channel for growth|
|Content Marketing||No||Yes||Quality content underpins virtually all online marketing campaigns|
Ahrefs has a nice clean interface and is intuitive and easy to understand. I would say it wins in this regard.
By contrast, SEMrush offers a much wider range of tools and features that make it seem more complex. It takes a lot longer to learn your way around SEMRush precisely because of this. For companies and agencies that want an SEO platform they can grow into, SEMRush has more on offer. It's an all-in-one marketing tool based on the largest DB of SEO data on the market.
It may not be immediately obvious from the above features table, but certain types of SEO tools require fine-grained data that is updated frequently - in order to be responsive enough to allow you to proactively monitor and respond to changes. A good example is SEMrush's Position Tracking Tool. It can help with everything from competitor discovery to analyzing keywords activating specific SERP features (i.e. Featured Snippets) to head-to-head ranking distribution comparisons with existing competitors.
Offering a wide range of SEO tools like this is probably a foundational reason SEMrush offers daily updated data on all plans.
The sheer amount of work required to implement great SEO for even a small business, let alone and large company or marketing agency, is way beyond what can reasonably be achieved working manually. The days of using Excel and Google search as your go-to SEO tools are gone.
If search optimization and marketing are important to your company, using one of the leading tools is non-negotiable. The online business world evolves and changes quickly. Without being able to track, monitor and analyze just as quickly, your business is going to get left behind.
As I like to say,
All you need to decide is which platform offers the best value for money in terms of the SEO features weighed against their cost.
Ahrefs offers discount pricing on all their plans using annual billing, as shown here.
For monthly billed plans, Ahrefs offers four separate plans.
SEMrush also offers discounted prices based on annual billing, as shown here.
For monthly billed plans, SEMrush offers three separate plans with the option to get a custom fit enterprise solution for larger companies and agencies.
There is very little to distinguish the two platforms in terms of pricing. Your choice will come down to which features you value the most and whether or not your company want to grow its SEO and SEM campaigns going forward.
SEMrush wins our head-to-head comparison because of its incredible array of value-added features and functionality that offers unique insights across a wide range of digital marketing disciplines. A well rounded tool that has something to offer for any company interested in growth from digital marketing - including SEO.
Winner - SEMrush
SEMrush has evolved into an all-in-one marketing platform based on more than SEO keywords. It tracks the largest number of search keywords and offers exceptional accuracy with fast, daily updates to keep you apprised of important events in search as and when they happen.
SEMrush offers excellent overall value for money because it has more tools, analysis and insights across nearly all digital marketing niches in the same price range (more or less) as Ahrefs.
Runner Up - Ahrefs
In addition, Ahrefs offers some uniquely useful analysis and insights, such as the ability to find the most popular content on any topic.
Hopefully this whirlwind comparison of two of the industry's leading tools has given you a bit of insight into the right platform to choose. Without doubt, both will add significant value to your search optimization efforts.
Check out my complete guide to SEO if you need a primer on the most important aspects of search optimization before making a decision.
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