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Comparing Ahrefs to SEMRush for business SEO. Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

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.

Choosing the right SEO tool isn't only about price, it's about understanding which platform provides the best SEO data and analysis to power the best possible marketing strategy and decisions for optimal growth.

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 is the world's leading SEO & digital marketing platform
  • 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 - better data means faster growth
  2. Features - better features deliver better insights
  3. Pricing - get the best value for money
  4. Results - choose the best platform

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.

SEO tools are only as useful as their underlying data.

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.

Feature Ahrefs SEMrush Description
Engines Google, Bing, Yahoo, Amazon, Yandex & more Google 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.

Mobile search rankings are arguably more important than traditional desktop rankings because mobile traffic accounts for more than half of all traffic on the Internet.

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.

2. Features

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.

Feature Ahrefs SEMrush Description
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.

Ahrefs is a dedicated SEO tool, while SEMrush is a comprehensive digital marketing platform with SEO as a core focus.

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.

SEMrush position tracking tool

SEMrush's position tracking tool monitors fluctuations in keyword rankings.

Offering a wide range of SEO tools like this is probably a foundational reason SEMrush offers daily updated data on all plans.

3. Pricing

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,

It doesn't matter what business you are in; the business you are in is marketing.

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 Pricing

Ahrefs offers discount pricing on all their plans using annual billing, as shown here.

Ahrefs pricing plans

Ahrefs' annual billing plans and pricing table

For monthly billed plans, Ahrefs offers four separate plans.

Plan Pricing (Monthly)
Lite $99
Standard $179
Advanced $399
Agency $899

SEMrush Pricing

SEMrush also offers discounted prices based on annual billing, as shown here.

SEMrush pricing plans

SEMrush's annual billing plans and pricing table

For monthly billed plans, SEMrush offers three separate plans with the option to get a custom fit enterprise solution for larger companies and agencies.

Plan Pricing (Monthly)
Pro $99.95
Guru $199.95
Business $399.95

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.

Results

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 is the best SEO tool for digital marketers

SEMrush wins our head-to-head comparison of the best SEO tools for digital marketing

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.

Use SEMrush if SEO forms part of your business' larger digital marketing campaign. It is especially effective as a tool for competitor analysis. In addition, it offers unbeatable analytics for paid advertising on Google (as well as paid listings) and has a wide range of value-added tools and features to help dominate virtually every aspect of online business - from content marketing to social media marketing.
SEMrush offers excellent overall value for money.

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

Ahrefs is a great SEO tool focused on search engine optimization across many search engines

Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO tool focused on search, across a range of platforms - from Amazon to Yandex
Use Ahrefs if you want a simper, cleaner interface that is focused solely on search across a wide range of search engines. This is especially useful for niche or international businesses that rely more heavily on smaller search engines, or have a specific focus on a niche platform other than Google.

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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