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May 21, 2021

Ahrefs vs SEMrush: What’s The Difference?

by Colleen Romero
Do you see your competitors getting new customers and growing their businesses? Are you struggling to achieve the same results? Consider your current SEO strategy and if it could use some work.

Then, compare Ahrefs vs. SEMrush to decide which SEO tool can help you improve your rankings and get more customers. That way, you can grow your business.

A battle has broken out between two of the best SEO tools in the business: Semrush and Ahrefs. But which tool is better for businesses?

If you are an entrepreneur looking for tools to help you increase your search traffic, keep reading to learn more.

We will compare multiple factors of each tool side by side so that you can decide which tool is best for you.

  • Keyword research
  • Backlink analysis
  • Technical SEO audit
  • Position tracking
  • Additional features
  • Pricing plans

Backlinks

When working on your SEO strategy, you should consider the backlinks you have on and for your website. Getting backlinks from reputable websites can do wonders for your search engine rankings without having to create more content.

Whether you use Ahrefs or SEMrush, you can analyze your existing backlinks. You can also research how to get new backlinks. Consider the features of each platform.

This indicates that Ahrefs has a larger link index.

But as many have found, in some cases SEMrush returned more referring domains and backlinks than it did for Ahrefs. This matters more for an agency user and those who need backlink analysis.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs features a live index of backlinks that you can use to find links and brand mentions. The tool shows you links to your competitors, referring IP addresses, and the most popular link sources.

It also offers a graph to help find negative sources for backlinks since those can damage your SEO. And you can figure out if other websites mention your brand without linking to your site.

SEMrush

SEMrush has made fantastic changes to its link-building tool in the past year or so. You can use the massive backlink database for a few things, such as analyzing competitor links and finding negative backlinks.

You'll need to create a project in SEMrush to access backlink analysis, but you can delete an old project if you don't have the ability to create a new one. Once you create the project, the tool lets you check for backlinks and 404 errors so that you can correct them.

SEMrush may have a larger link index, but we must remember that it is just one of the parameters to be judged on.

SEMrush provides a plethora of tools to use. Not only do they have an extensive link database, but they provide in-depth analyses on the internal backlinks on your pages. Other features include backlink opportunities, link toxicity scores and many other features to make the most of of your backlink process.

Keyword Rankings

As you start using keywords, you can use SEMrush or Ahrefs to keep an eye on how your keywords are doing. As you compare Ahrefes vs. SEMrush, you should consider how each tool works when tracking keywords. Market research tools are extremely vital for SEO, so keyword research is usually a number one priority.

That way, you can review the performance of different keywords on various devices. While both options are some of the best tools in the industry, you should know the differences.

Ahrefs

When you use Ahrefs, you will need a higher-tier plan to access mobile ranking data daily. However, the program lets users of any tier access data on keywords.

You can limit your keyword search using parameters such as:

  • Competitors
  • Device
  • Location
  • Position
  • Search Volume
  • Tags
  • Traffic

The tool also shows which keywords your website ranks for and how well you rank. Then, you can adjust your strategy to rank higher for more keywords.

SEMrush

All SEMrush plans provide mobile tracking data each day, so you can stay up to date on rankings more often. Then, you can more quickly adjust your strategy if you find certain keywords aren't doing as well as you'd like.

With SEMrush, you can track keyword changes and compare how your keywords perform against your competition. The tool also shows how keywords have ranked over the past week, month, and quarter.

Keyword Research

word game letters on board

When working on your e-commerce business, you need to choose the right keywords to start. While keyword analysis is important, you can't get there without having some keywords.

As you do keyword research, you should consider how many keywords you can consider. Both Ahrefs and SEMrush have large keyword libraries, so you can use them no matter your industry or niche.

Semrush has always been a leader in the keyword research tool industry. Keyword ideas are really easy to generate using their platform, and they also provide tons of keyword metrics

However, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer is quickly catching up as it was just recently released to near-universal acclaim. This tool allows users to perform extensive deep dives into search engine traffic and user behavior data by looking at keywords from various angles.

Ahrefs and Semrush have vastly different approaches to keyword data. Ahref's output is informative, with search volume for your seed keywords as well as their difficulty index and CPC pricing. On the other hand, Semrush goes beyond that by providing a more in-depth look at metrics like competitive density trends or SERP features.

Additionally, this tool has double the database size of its competitor (10 billion vs 20 billion). So which one should you go with?

Each service offers something unique; it really depends on what aspects are important to you when deciding how much information about your market niche they need access to before making an informed decision!

Ahrefs

The Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool lets you review existing keywords so that you can rank higher for them. It can also tell you which keywords help a website get the most organic traffic.

The "keyword explorer" tool allows you to enter keywords into the search bar. Ahrefs will analyze the target keyword and provide a variety of metrics. They will also provide suggestions related keywords under the "keyword Ideas" tab on the left. Target keywords are extremely easy to find when doing keyword research by using this feature.

If you want to find new keywords, you can use the tool. All you need is one keyword to start, and you can enter it to get more ideas that relate to that keyword. The tool can also help you make sure the keyword is right for the type of content you post.

It also provides a "parent topic" for your keyword so that you can easily find related topics and content ideas.

SEMrush

SEMrush has almost three times as many keywords available as Ahrefs. It's one of the best keyword research tools available, and it can tell you a lot about a keyword, like the competitiveness and search volume. As with ahrefs, SEMRush keyword explorer is used in your browser.

You can use the tool to see which keywords get the most organic traffic.

The tool also helps you rank higher for keywords you already rank for, and it can help you get the featured snippet spot for a keyword.

They allow you to enter a keyword in the search bar and provide lots of useful metrics like search volume, keyword difficulty, related keywords, and much more. You can use this tool to take your blog content to the next level.

Winner

Personally, we recommend SEMrush over Ahrefs when it comes to keywrod research. In this category, SEMRush is the winner. It has superior keyword research features and provides invaluable keyword opportunities by using their unique keyword magic tool.

If your blog needs constant content, and if a keyword research tool is a priority when looking for an SEO tool, SEMrush is your best bet.

Competitive Analysis

Whether you sell products or services, your e-commerce strategy should include researching your competitors. Competitive research can tell you a lot about what other businesses are doing, so you can learn what you should do.

You can compare SEMrush vs. Ahrefs to learn more about your competitors. Then, you can adjust your SEO and marketing strategy to get more customers and build your business.

Ahrefs

If you want to focus on SEO competitive research, Ahrefs has what you need. The tool can tell you what keywords your competitors are targeting for organic content and ads.

Ahrefs gives you the power to learn about your competitors and see how they are doing. You can also monitor organic search rankings in SERPs, measure effectiveness of SEO campaigns, track keywords for website performance

You can use the Content Explorer tool to see which keywords your competitors interact with the most. And the tool lets you look for keyword gaps that you can fill to bring in more customers.

Many case studies have been done that show how using the "content gap analysis" tool is a great way to dominate your competitors in SEO.

SEMrush

While Ahrefs can be helpful, SEMrush is the better option for competitive analysis. It provides even more tools to review and analyze what your competitors are doing when marketing their businesses.

You can use the SEMrush Traffic Analytics report to view where your competitors get their traffic. Then, you can tell how they're able to monetize their business. And you can use that information to inform your strategy.

group of people auditing and researching

Site Audits

Auditing your website regularly is crucial for helping your business succeed. Performing a website audit can help you detect technical issues, such as slow loading times.

Identifying and fixing these problems can help you improve your SEO. Consider how each tool can help you audit your website.

Ahrefs

You can use Ahrefs to check on SEO issues, including broken links, duplicate content, and missing meta descriptions. Ahrefs offers automatic and on-demand audits, so you can get the most up-to-date information.

If you do find an SEO issue, Ahrefs will tell you how to fix it. Then, you can edit your website and improve your SEO. This is where Ahrefs really shines, because you can use the site audit tool and the site explorer all in your browser.

SEMrush

With SEMrush, you can run technical audits, and the tool can audit your content automatically. The audits include mobile and desktop versions. You're also able to include or exclude specific pages if you want.

SEMrush can prioritize the issues for you, so you know where to start. Then, you can make smaller changes to help your SEO more quickly.

The Site Audit tool from Semrush contains over 130 checks for SEO issues, all of which are categorized into common on-page mistakes such as title tags and h1's to more complex errors like those within the page source code.

To run a site audit with this powerful instrument, simply create a new project in your account by accessing "Site Audit" under Tools at the top of your Project interface. Enter information about your website here before clicking "Start Site Audit."

Within minutes you will receive an overview report that lists any health risks found during testing along with detailed descriptions so you can take necessary action right away!

Content Clusters

Content clusters, content hubs, and topic clusters are all the same thing. Whatever you call them, you can use them to boost organic traffic, which can help tell search engines that your content is good.

Using content clusters helps you create content around one topic, which makes it easier to link to pages within your website. That way, you can increase engagement and help your overall SEO strategy.

Ahrefs

You can use Ahrefs to research ideas for content clusters. First, you'll need a hub page or pillar page, which is an in-depth article on a certain topic. Then, you'll create related posts that you can link to the first page.

Ahrefs lets you research ideas, and you can see if pillar pages on your site or your competitors' sites are doing well. Then, you can get ideas for more pillar pages to create.

SEMrush

SEMrush is also great for creating content clusters. The tool can tell you which keywords you aren't ranking for, so you can decide which keywords to target.

On the other hand, you can also see where you're doing better than the competition. Then, you can create a content cluster that mixes the two keywords to help improve your SEO quickly.

Campaign Reporting

audit tool report on white paper

When comparing Ahrefs vs. SEMrush, you should also think about their reporting features. Reporting can tell you how successful a digital marketing campaign is, so you can recreate it or make changes in the future.

Then, you can make sure you're getting the right traffic and that you can convert that traffic into customers.

Ahrefs

You can use Ahrefs for basic reports, and you can visualize the data using the website. However, you can't use it for white-label reporting.

And when it comes to exporting data, you only have access to basic PDF data. But it can be a good option when you're getting started with reports.

SEMrush

SEMrush offers more built-in reporting options than Ahrefs, plus you can integrate SEMrush with third-party tools. You can start with a reporting template and customize it to fit your needs.

Then, you can access and review over 50 metrics from Google Analytics, Google My Business, and other tools. Then, you can view everything in one place.

PPC Analysis

While organic SEO can be a great way to bring traffic to your website, you may want to use pay-per-click (PPC) ads. That way, your website will show up at the top for certain keywords.

Both SEO and PPC ads can help grow your business. If you decide to use PPC ads, consider how Ahrefs and SEMrush can help.

Ahrefs

With Ahrefs, you can get some basic insights into PPC ads, such as the keywords and ad copy. You can tell which keywords and copy a specific domain is using, so you can check out your competitors.

But Ahrefs doesn't focus on PPC as much as SEO, so the tool doesn't offer a ton of features. However, it can be good if you want to test out PPC ads.

SEMrush

SEMrush features the Advertising Toolkit, which you can use to look at your competitors and what their PPC ad strategies are. It can tell you about:

  • Budgets
  • Copy
  • Landing pages
  • Keywords

You can use the information to create PPC ads that perform better than your competition. That way, you can make the most of your own advertising budget.

API Access

If you want to access Ahrefs or SEMrush functions without using the tool, consider how both offer API access. An API (Application Programming Interface) lets you use the basic features without needing special software.

Consider how API access differs between the two SEO tools so that you can decide which tool is better for you.

Ahrefs

You can use the API from Ahrefs to access backlinks, domain ratings, domain referrals, and URL ratings. The tool lets you integrate that data with your choice of tools and apps.

If you want to look at data reporting, you can use Data Studio to review the information. Ahrefs also offers a more advanced API, but that can be expensive and unnecessary for some businesses.

SEMrush

SEMrush provides two API packages that you can choose from. If you have a Business Plan, you can get the Standard API, which includes the API for accounts, analytics, and projects.

A traffic API is also available separately, so you can get it with or without the other APIs. No matter which API you use, you can extract data quickly, and you can review it in the program of your choice.

What About Google Search Console?

tablet with google search tool

Google Search Console is a great free alternative to Ahrefs and SEMrush. You can use the console to view search analytics, submit sitemaps, and learn about SEO issues.

It also tells you how Google sees your web pages, so you can learn more about your website SEO. While the tool doesn't offer as many features as Ahrefs or SEMrush, it's a great place to start.

You can use the basic features, and you can keep using the sitemap submission feature even when you upgrade to a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs.

Reviewing Ahrefs vs. SEMrush

If you want to improve your SEO, you need to use the right tool. Comparing Ahrefs vs. SEMrush is a great first step, but you'll need to decide between the two.

Overall, SEMrush offers more features and benefits that can help new and existing business owners work on SEO. Then, you don't have to worry about switching to a new platform if you outgrow Ahrefs.

Do you need more help with your SEO strategy? View our services and learn how we can help you and your business.


Colleen Romero


Colleen is an internationally known and respected copywriter who creates engaging and conversion-friendly SEO optimized web copy. She's been a content writer for over 5 years and specializes in content strategy and structured content.

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