SEMrush vs Ahrefs: Which SEO Tool is Truly Better in 2023?

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Jump here: SEMrush vs Ahrefs – Keyword Research| SEMrush vs Ahrefs – Backlink Analysis| SEMrush vs Ahrefs – Technical SEO Auditing Capabilities|SEMrush vs Ahrefs- Rank Tracking| SEMrush vs Ahrefs – Customer Support| SEMrush vs Ahrefs Pricing- Which Tool is More Affordable in 2023||SEMrush vs Ahrefs 2023 FAQ|SEMrush vs Ahrefs 2023 (Conclusion)|

SEMrush and Ahrefs are both awesome SEO platforms. While many of their features overlap, both have unique features that stand out. So if you’re having trouble making a choice, read on.

Because in my SEMrush vs Ahrefs guide, you will learn how these tools compare when faced head-to-head.

Let’s go!

SEMrush vs Ahrefs 2022
SEMrush vs Ahrefs in 2023- which SEO tool is truly better?

SEMrush vs Ahrefs in 2023- Overview

In the beginning, SEMrush was best known as an SEO tool and Ahrefs as a backlink analysis tool.

Over the years, both have added several useful new features making SEMrush an all-in-one digital marketing platform and Ahrefs becoming a direct competitor to SEMrush.

Even though SEMrush is now a fully-fledged marketing software, SEO is still its main focus.

With SEMrush you are able to;

  • Build links;
  • Do detailed keyword research
  • Re-engineer a site’s traffic sources;
  • Create a competitive analysis for PPC campaigns;
  • Do log file analysis;
  • So much more (SEMrush is a suite of 55+ digital marketing tools).

SEMrush dashboard

On the other side, Ahrefs features that make it a direct competitor to SEMruh include:

  • Comprehensive site audit feature;
  • Keyword research tool powered by a large keyword database;
  • Rank tracker;
  • Competitor keyword and domain analysis;
  • Link building tool (powered by the latest link index in the industry).
  • etc
Ahrefs dashboard
Ahrefs site analysis for

As you can see, SEMrush and Ahrefs pretty much offer similar functionalities.

So how do they compare against each other, and which platform is better?

Let’s dive in.

SEMrush vs Ahrefs – Keyword Research

To start, let’s find out which tool is the best to find new keywords.

SEMrush Keyword Research

SEMrush shows you all the keywords a competitor is currently ranking for.

For example, here are the keyword bringing in traffic to one of my competitor’s sites (SEMrush Competitive Research>Organic Research).

SEMrush keyword overview research

Compared to Ahrefs, it’s pretty similar but SEMrush and Ahrefs have different algorithms for estimating the amount of traffic a site gets from its keyword rankings.

What makes SEMrush stand out here is the in-depth keyword data they provide in their report.

SEMrush gives you these keyword metrics:

  • Search intent- this tells you whether a web searcher wants to buy what they need or learn something new;
  • SERP features- this tells you how crowded the SERPS are;
  • Position- where you rank;
  • Position difference- did your rank improve or decline;
  • Traffic- how much traffic your page is getting
  • Search volume- how many times per month is the query searched;
  • Keyword difficulty- as measured by SEMruh’s proprietary algorithm;
  • CPC (in USD)- how much will you have to pay when bidding for a keyword
  • Ranking URL- which of your pages rank (good for potting keyword cannibalization);
  • SERP snapshot- see the SEPRS live within SEMrush;
  • Update time- the last time keyword metrics within SEMruh were updated;

There’s also a set of basic and elaborate filters you can use to really drill down into keyword reporting.

SEMrush keyword filters and metrics

Depending on your needs, this can be either an advantage or a disadvantage.

If you’re just looking to use the key metrics, the SEMrush report may feel a bit cluttered. But for someone who needs to do in-depth keyword analysis for hundreds of keywords, this can be really helpful.

On the other, SEMrush also offers a traditional keyword research tool. Here you get to enter your keyword, then see search volume and competition based on the keyword or phrase that you typed.

You can also delve deeper into the reporting to uncover questions, related phrases, and keywords about the topic.

Here’s an example for the keyword “SEMrush alternatives“.

SEMrush keyword report for the phrase "SEMrush alternatives"

You can also get a SERP overview for any keyword right within the SEMrush dashboard.

This is an excellent feature that can save you a lot of time as you can easily see if the current SERP for a desired keyword is out of your reach.

SEMrush SERP overview for a keyword within the dashboard


Another unique feature of the SEMrush keyword tool is that it also pulls Google’s PPC data. You can use this to easily gauge the profitability of your chosen keyword. If other sites are waging a bidding war to own that ad real estate, you know getting a free listing through SEO is going to be worth it.

SEMrush ad history feature for keyword research

This can save a ton of time for an in-house SEO team or agency doing SEO and running Google Ads.

Ahrefs Keyword Research

There are two main features in Ahrefs’ keyword toolbox:

  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer;
  • Organic Keywords Report.

The Keyword Explorer is like SEMrush’s traditional keyword research tool and many other keyword tools in the market.

You enter a seed keyword and see a list of keyword ideas (questions and related keywords).

The remarkable thing about Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer is that it doesn’t only show you the search volume.

You also get an estimate of the number of clicks you’ll get should you rank for that keyword. This is called keyword potential and is a unique Ahrefs feature.

Here’s an example for the target phrase “SEMrush vs Ahrefs”:

Ahrefs keyword report for the phrase SEMrush vs Ahrefs"

This is important to know because Google continues to pack SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) with features that rob organic results of clicks.

For example, if you type in “Dwayne Johnson age” a featured snippet will show at the top with the answer.

This means most people won’t click on the organic results because they would have found what they’re looking for without having to click to visit another page.

Google SERP feature for the keyword "Dwayne Johnson age"



Then there’s Ahref’s “Organic keywords” report you can use to reverse engineer competitors’ ranking.

Simply enter the target domain, or better yet a competitor page, and see for which keywords the page is ranking for. Then you can use those to optimize your pages, but also you can measure their rankings against the level of optimization they did.

If they barely mention a keyword on a page, yet they’re ranking highly for it, it means it’s easy to eat them in that area and steal that valuable keyword for them quickly.

Here’s an example for the keyword “SEMrush free account” I put the ranking page from SEMrush and ran it through Ahref’s Organic Keywords report.

Here’s what Ahrefs showed me:

Ahrefs Organic Keywords report for the phrase "SEMrush free account"

Finally, when it comes to keyword reporting, Ahrefs shows similar keyword metrics compared to SEMrush.

  • SERP features- this tells you how crowded the SERPS are;
  • Position- where you rank;
  • Position difference- did your rank improve or decline;
  • Search volume- how many times per month is the query searched;
  • Keyword difficulty- as measured by Ahref’s proprietary algorithm;
  • CPC (in USD)- how much will you have to pay when bidding for a keyword;
  • Traffic- how much traffic your page is getting;
  • Ranking URL- which of your pages rank (good for potting keyword cannibalization);
  • SERP snapshot- see the live SEPRS within Ahrefs;
  • Update time- the last time keyword metrics within Ahrefs were updated;

Similar to SEMrush, Ahrefs also gives you the option of filtering the keyword in the report in almost any way you can imagine. You can apply just one broad filter, or you can combine several specific ones.

You can filter keywords by keyword difficulty, search volume, SERP features, presence of ads, estimated traffic, word count, and search position…

Combining these fields gives you endless possibilities for finding the best, most lucrative keywords.

Ahrefs keyword metrics filter

To wrap this up, SEMrush wins the battle for keyword research but only just. Ahrefs offers a simplified user experience but that can’t be compared to the amount of SEO and PPC data that SEMrush provides.

SEMrush vs Ahrefs- Which Tool is Better at Keyword Research? #seo #digitalmarketing Click To Tweet

SEMrush vs Ahrefs – Backlink Analysis

Next  I used my website to conduct the test.

According to SEMrush there are 2.4K referring domain links and 15.6K backlinks pointing to my site.

Ahrefs found 2.51K referring domain and 14.2K backlinking directed towards my site.

Link profile in SEMrush for link profile in Ahrefs

This simple test shows you that SEMrush has more indexed links in its system compared to Ahrefs.

It would be fair to say SEMrush has won this but we can’t judge the backlink analysis feature based on the link index alone.

Next, how do the UI (User Interface) compare?

When it comes to UI, the faster you get what you’re looking for on a page, the better.

For example, both SEMrush and Ahrefs allow you to filter links and referring domains based on follow/nofollow/UGC/Sponsred attribute, new/lost status, authority score, language, anchor text…

However, SEMrush’s setup seems just a little bit cluttered to me. Everything on one page and it takes a little while to get used to, and it can get scary if you’ve never seen the inside of a backlink tool before 🙂  It’s not a big deal, but it’s definitely noticeable.

SEMrush backlink analytics tool cluttered interface

Ahrefs on the other hand has a much more streamlined UI and also a link report that’s divided across several sub-sections (accessed via links in the left sideabr) making it less cluttered and a more seamless experience.

Ahrefs streamlined interface of their backlink tool

Personally, I find Ahrefs’ UI more appealing. With fewer clicks, you can see the pages with the most links, and a page’s best backlinks.

So my verdict here is a tie. SEMrush’s expanded link index is great and on the flip side, Ahrefs’ UI is much more user-friendly.

Pro tip: SEMrush and Ahrefs are nearly equal when it comes to link building. You can’t go wrong with either, but the best option by far is to get both tools.


Because if you use both you will discover the most link opportunities you’d otherwise miss. Because SEMrush and Ahrefs have different link indices and they both catch links the other doesn’t.

SEMrush vs Ahrefs- Which Tool is Better at Backlink Analysis? #seo #digitalmarketing Click To Tweet

SEMrush vs Ahrefs – Technical SEO Auditing Capabilities

When it comes to SEO, it all starts with the technical side of things. Technical SEO is the foundation, then content and links come on top of it. If you don’t have the foundation well set, the two won’t work as expected.

So, between SEMrush and Ahrefs, which platform helps the most in identifying technical SEO problems?

SEMrush Website Audits

First, it is important to note that SEMrush has an awesome site audit feature that gives you a detailed overall health score showing where your technical SEO stands.

You get to know if your site has problems like broken links, crawl errors, HTTP errors, and even robots.txt issues.

Additionally, you get a list of top issues to start fixing straight away. Issues are divided into:

  • Errors- these can hamper your site and need to be fixed ASAP;
  • Warnings- these have the potential to disrupt your rankings in a negative way, but are not as urgent;
  • Notices- these would be great if you ca fix them for overall higher SEO scores for your website, and of course higher rankings in search engines.

Site Audit with SEMrush

SEMrush also offers thematic reports. These are SEO areas where problems are listed and where you can make improvements. 100% of course is the maximum score.

For example, I can see that my site in the crawl ability department is doing very well with a score of 88%, while for Core Web Vitals I have a large 0%. That’s to e expected as Google Search Console also reports I don’t pass CWV on any of the pages. Good to get a confirmation from SEMrush.

SEMrush website audit thematic report

Lastly, SEMrush’s “internal link distribution” report is something you just can’t ignore.

It gives you a breakdown of how your internal links are set up, and whether your website architecture is working as intended. My site’s current score stands at 80%, but I can definitely do better.

SEMrush internal linking report

When building internal links, it’s important to make sure that high-authority pages link to low-authority pages, while preserving relevance.

The internal link distribution report will help make sure you’re on the right track.

Ahrefs Site Audit

Ahrefs website report for

After testing Ahrefs, Once again I notice that Ahref’s UI is much better looking compared to SEMrush’s.

Besides the site health overview (seen in the image above) on the left, there’s a large sidebar (also seen in the image above) filled with links that lead to individual reports on individual SEO issues. I like that a lot.

Because based on the initial crawl and error count Ahrefs found, I can delve deeper into any report I want and need without feeling overwhelmed.

And the reports are actionable and well presented too.

For example, here’s how the internal links report in Ahrefs look Ahrefs even found 3 broken internal links, which SEMrush missed.

Ahrefs internal links report

And here’s how the “Indexability” report looks.

Ahrefs indexability report

Under the technical SEO features comparison, SEMrush is a usable tool and I definitely know how to use it (but I have 6+ years of experience in SEO) but most people will be initially stuck and will need to overcome quite a  steep learning curve.

Ahrefs emerges as the winner here because they deliver basically the same data as SEMrush but in a much more intuitive fashion.

Both tools are great, but if you just need Site Audits, go with Ahrefs.

SEMrush vs Ahrefs- Which Tool is Better at Doing Website Audits? #seo #digitalmarketing Click To Tweet

SEMrush vs Ahrefs- Rank Tracking

Both SEMrush and Ahrefs regularly check Google to search for your page and where they rank.

But how do they compare?

SEMrush Rank Tracker

SEMrush Position Tracking Rank Tracker

SEMrush’s rank tracking tool comes with a “visibility” score. The visibility score is a performance metric based on the keyword rankings fetched during updates.

Another thing that puts SEMrush ahead of Ahrefs is they update tracked keywords on a daily basis compared to Ahrefs’ once or twice-a-week updates.

Ahrefs Rank Tracker

Ahrefs’ rank tracker is as good as that of SEMrush.

Ahrefs Rank Tracker

Apart from the update frequency, there is not really much difference in their rank tracking.

If you’re active in trying to keep your rankings at the top, Ahrefs’ weekly updates just won’t work for you. And for the same reason, SEMrush comes on top for the rank tracking features.

SEMrush vs Ahrefs- Which Tool is Better at Tracking Keyword Rankings? #seo #digitalmarketing Click To Tweet

SEMrush vs Ahrefs – Customer Support

Having reliable customer support can be an important part of a platform especially if you’re just starting out.

SEMrush Customer Support

SEMrush offer 4 levels of support:

  • SEMrush knowledge base where you can find answers to most of your questions;
  • SEMrush contact page for serious queries and problems that can’t be helped with simple advice;
  • SEMrush live chat for basic problems that can be solved quickly;
  • SEMrush social media channels (mainly Twitter) where you can ask the SEMrush team what you need to know about the tool.

Check out my full guide to contacting SEMrush for help to learn more about this topic.

SEMrush customer support

Ahrefs Customer Support

To contact Ahrefs support all you have to do is click on the chat button at the bottom right corner. The first click will take you to the Ahrefs knowledge base where you can find answers to 99% of your questions. The second click will open a chat window where you can leave a message to the Ahrefs support staff.

Ahrefs offers support via knowledge base and live chat

It’s not a live chat, but you’ll get a quick reply on average within 10 minutes.

SEMrush vs Ahrefs- Which Tool Offer a Better Customer Support? #seo #digitalmarketing Click To Tweet

SEMrush vs Ahrefs Pricing- Which Tool is More Affordable in 2023?

SEMrush Pricing in 2023

SEMrush Plans and Pricing

SEMrush offers four paid plans:

  • SEMrush Pro – $119.95 per month, or
  • SEMrush Guru – $229.95 per month
  • SEMrush Business – $449.95 per month
  • SEMrush Custom – contact sales team

Pro and Guru plans come with a 7-day free trial during which you can test-drive SEMrush to the fullest without paying a cent.

If you’re smart you can also get your hands on a SEMrush lifetime deal granting you a permanent 17% discount for the life of your subscription.

What do I mean?

If you buy a SEMrush yearly plan instead of a monthly subscription SEMrush will give you a 17% discount on any plan you picked. And you will become grandfathered at that discounted price meaning you’ll inherit the discount anytime you renew that particular SEMrush account.

This means SEMrush will always be 17% cheaper for you 🙂

SEMrush PlanMonthly PriceYearly Price
CustomPrice determined upon agreement with SEMrushPrice determined upon agreement with SEMrush

Ahrefs Pricing in 2023

Ahrefs pricing

Ahrefs offers four paid plans:

  • Ahrefs Lite – $99/mo; or $83/mo($990 yearly);
  • Ahrefs Standard – $199/mo; or $166/mo ($1990 yearly);
  • Ahrefs Advanced– $399/mo; or $333/mo ($3990 yearly);
  • Ahrefs Enterprise – $999/mo; or $833/mo ($9990 yearly).

Ahrefs’s cheapest plan is more affordable than SEMrush’s cheapest plan. However, it also comes with significantly fewer features.

Ahrefs PlanMonthly PricingYearly Pricing
($990 per annum)
($1990 per annum)
($3990 per annum)
($9990 per annum)

Overall, SEMrush is a better choice than Ahrefs as they offer more features at nearly the same price.

And the quality of data is of the same quality or even higher.

SEMrush wins!

SEMrush vs Ahrefs Pricing and Cost- Which Tool is More Affordable in 2023? #seo #digitalmarketing Click To Tweet

SEMrush vs Ahrefs 2023 FAQ- Your Questions Answered!

SEMrush vs Ahrefs 2023 FAQ
SEMrush vs Ahrefs 2023 FAQ- your questions answered!

My SEMrush vs Ahrefs guide would be incomplete without a thorough FAQ section, agree?

#1- Does Ahrefs Offer a Free Trial? What About SEMrush?

Ahrefs offer a 7-day $7 trial. It’s a paid trial and for a nominal fee of $7 you can test drive any of Ahref’s four plans to the fullest.

SEMrush do offer a free trial. Learn about it by clicking on the like you just saw.

#2- Does Ahrefs Offer a Lifetime Deal? What About SEMrush?

Similar to SEMrush, Ahref’s lifetime deal is actually taking advantage of its yearly pricing, getting a discount, and having that discount preserved through subsequent renewals.

#3- Is There a Cracked Version of Ahrefs? What About SEMrush?

There is no cracked version of SEMrush software you can download.

There is also no cracked version of Ahrefs. Cracked versions of these 2 tools do not exist. If you see a website offering something like that, you know they’re trying to get you to download viruses and malware.

#4- Can I use SEMrush Premium Cookies to use SEMush for Free? What About Ahrefs Cookies?

SEMrush premium cookies is not a way to use SEMrush for free. It’s an extremely unstable method that works for a couple of days and then it stops working.

Likewise, there are no Ahrefs premium cookies.

#5- Can I use SEMrush Groupbuy to use SEMush for Free? What About Ahrefs Groupbuy?

SEMrush groupbuy is not a way to use SEMrush for free. It’s an extremely unstable method that works for a couple of days and then it stops working, as these shared SEMrush accounts get banned.

Likewise, there is no Ahrefs groupbuy.

#6- Does Ahrefs Have a Coupon Code? What About SEMrush Coupon?

Ahrefs don’t offer a coupon code.

To learn about SEMrush coupon policy, please read my SEMrush coupon article next.

#7- Who are the Main Competitors to SEMrush and Ahrefs?

The main competitors to SEMrush and Ahrefs are:

Note: the last two are free SEMrush alternatives worth checking out.

#8- SEMrush or Ahrefs: Which Tool is Easier to use?

Both SEMrush and Ahrefs are easy to use once you master them just  a little bit, buy with Ahrefs you’ll get there  easier and faster.

SEMrush vs Ahrefs FAQ- Your Questions Answered! #seo #digitalmarketing Click To Tweet

SEMrush vs Ahrefs 2023 (Conclusion)

SEMrush or Ahrefs? Which tool is best?

In the end, it all comes down to which tool is right for you. The fact is that you can’t really go wrong with either SEMrush or Ahrefs.

The question is what exactly do you need help with? If you’re just doing content marketing and link building, then Ahrefs will be the better choice for you.

But, if you’re doing SEO, content marketing, and PPC campaigns, and want robust performance data, then SEMrush is your best pick.

I hope this post helped you have a better idea of SEMrush vs Ahrefs, and how the tools compare. Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Nikola Roza

Nikola Roza is an affiliate marketer and blogger behind Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined. He writes for bloggers who don't have huge marketing budgets and who still want to carve out a niche online and a better life for themselves. Learn about Nikola here, or read his blog posts and guides here.

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