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Semrush vs. Ahrefs [2023]: Which Is The Better Tool?

Explore our comprehensive comparison of SEO tools Semrush and Ahrefs, with Semrush emerging as a top choice due to its expansive database, diverse features, and cost-effective pricing model.
Last Updated November 8, 2023

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) tools, Semrush and Ahrefs are some of the most popular, offering users an A-Z toolkit for optimizing their site’s SEO. If you’re like most businesses, purchasing both doesn’t make sense. That’s why we’re breaking down Semrush vs. Ahrefs.

Is Semrush or Ahrefs better?

Semrush and Ahrefs are effective and reliable SEO tools, but which is better depends on your business’s unique needs. Typically, Semrush is considered the better tool because of its larger database, broader features (like for advertising, content creation, and social media marketing), and pricing model.

Learn the basics of Semrush and Ahrefs

Learn more about Semrush and Ahrefs before diving into our comparison:

What is Semrush?

Semrush is a paid marketing software that includes toolkits for SEO, social media, paid advertising, and content marketing. Businesses use Semrush for keyword research, competitor analysis, content creation, and more.

What is Ahrefs?

Ahrefs is a paid SEO tool (though verified site owners can access a free version of Ahrefs) focusing on on-page, off-page, and technical SEO. Businesses use Ahrefs for keyword research, competitor analysis, website maintenance, content optimization, and more.

What is the difference between Semrush and Ahrefs?

The main difference between Semrush and Ahrefs is Semrush is a marketing software while Ahrefs is an SEO tool. Additional differences include their pricing model (Ahrefs uses a paid subscription plus credits while Semrush pricing uses a paid subscription plan with optional add-ons.) and databases (Semrush has a larger database than Ahrefs).

Compare Ahrefs and Semrush

Compare Ahrefs and Semrush below:

Area Ahrefs Semrush
Cost Paid subscription, plus credit system Paid subscription, plus optional add-ons
Toolkits SEO SEO
Local SEO
Social media
Paid advertising
Content marketing
Customer support Help center
Online chat
Help center
Online chat
Usability Easier to learn Harder to learn
Reviews Pros
User-friendly interface
Active community
Educational resources
Pricing model
Limited local SEO data
Data refresh times
Comprehensive toolkit
Regular updates
Large database
Learning curve
Plan limitations
Website audit Site health score
Prioritized issues
Issue descriptions
Custom segments
Audit history
Site health score
Prioritized issues
Crawl comparison
Multiple export options
Rank tracking Keyword tags
Competitor comparison
Google Search Console integration
Keyword tags
Competitor comparison Cannibalization health score Featured snippet tracking
Mobile app
Algorithm update position tracking
Competitor analysis Backlinks
Paid keywords
Changes over time
Traffic Keywords
Paid keywords
Changes over time
Competitor lists
Backlink analysis Referring domains
Referring IPs
Backlink gap
Top anchor text
URL rating (Ahrefs metric)
Referring domains
Referring domain categories Backlink gap
Top anchor text
Authority Score (Semrush metric)
Keyword research Keyword metrics (volume, competition, and cost per click)
Keyword gaps
Keyword lists
Custom keyword metrics (Ahrefs value, Ahrefs traffic potential)
Keyword metrics (volume, competition, and cost per click) Keyword gaps Keyword lists

How to choose between Ahrefs vs. Semrush

Now that you’ve viewed our Ahrefs and Semrush comparison, you can start thinking about which is right for you. When choosing a paid SEO tool, there are a few considerations — especially if you’re selecting a tool for your team vs. yourself.

Here are our tips for choosing between Ahrefs vs. Semrush:

1.      Outline your requirements

Start by outlining your requirements, like the following:

  • Budget
  • Capabilities, like keyword research and SEO audits
  • Access, like if multiple users will use the same account or one account per user

Reference your requirements against Semrush’s and Ahrefs’ pricing plans. Depending on your budget and required capabilities, one tool might be the only option. For example, if you want a tool that can assist with content, you’ll likely lean towards Semrush since Ahrefs doesn’t have a content toolkit.

2.      Build your score sheet

Next, create a score sheet based on your needed capabilities, like keyword research.

The purpose of this sheet is to provide you and your team a place to store your thoughts on each tool’s features, like keyword research or SEO audits. This sheet can also keep you accountable for explaining why you liked or disliked a feature vs. saying you “just didn’t like it.”

3.      Test your options

Finally, you can start testing your options.

With Semrush, you’ll have access to a free seven-day trial. In comparison, Ahrefs provides a freemium version of its software for verified site owners. You’ll need to review each tool’s pricing plans to determine the package you need to evaluate.

You may need to sign up for a paid plan depending on your needs.

4.      Choose your SEO tool

Once you and your team have some hands-on experience with Semrush and Ahrefs, you can rate your experiences. Based on your reviews, you can decide whether to purchase a full-time subscription to either of these tools or rethink your options.

Which will you choose — Semrush or Ahrefs?

When it comes to Semrush or Ahrefs there is no correct answer. Even our team has different preferences for these SEO tools! Luckily, both offer the option to preview them for free, which you can use to familiarize yourself with their offerings.

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