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

Disclosure (full version- https://nikolaroza.com/affiliate-disclosure/): Some of the links you’ll encounter are affiliate links. If you click and buy something, I will get a commission. Thank you! 

Jump here: SEMrush vs Ahrefs- Free Trials Compared| SEMrush vs Ahrefs- User Interface| 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|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 for 2023, you will learn how these tools compare when faced head-to-head.

Let’s go!

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

Table of Contents

SEMrush vs Ahrefs- Overview


FeatureWinner
Free TrialTie
Backlink AnalysisTie
Keyword ResearchTie
Position TrackingAhrefs
User Interface/ExperienceAhrefs
Customer SupportSEMrush
PricingSEMrush

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 SEMrush 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 best link index in the industry).
  • etc

Ahrefs dashboard
Ahrefs site analysis for nikolaroza.com

As you can see, SEMrush and Ahrefs overlap in many of their features.

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

Let’s dive in.

SEMrush Free Account vs Ahrefs Free Trial


Before we delve deeper into the paid features of Ahrefs and SEMrush we need to thoroughly review their free offerings.

What value can you extract from these tools without paying anything to them?

SEMrush Free Account Value and Limitations


SEMrush gives you a forever free account you can use to test this tool out. You get 10 actions per day and this applies to all tools available in the dashboard.

The 10-action hard limit resets every 24h.

SEMrush featureLimitation on a free account
Users1
Keywords10 per 24h
Plagiarism checks0
Projects0
Pages to crawl100
SEO ideas units10
Social profile for monitoring50
Owned social profiles10
Basic locations10
Premium locations0
Scheduled PDF reprots1
Trends0
Smart Writer words0

Ahrefs Free Trial Value and Limitations


Ahrefs don’t offer a free account. They only offer paid plans.

However, Ahrefs has a special offer called Ahrefs Webmaster Tools which you can sign up for for free. With AWT you can monitor your site’s performance and do website audits, but you won’t be able to examine your competitor’s websites.

For that, you’ll need a paid Ahrefs account.

Ahrefs Webmaster Tools is free service by Ahrefs

Does SEMrush Free Account Offer More Value Than Ahrefs’s Free Trial?


Semrush’s free account is severely limited. You only get 10 actions per day, and you can do basic auditing of your website (up to 100 pages scanned for free).

It’s definitely good to test out SEMrush and see if it’s your cup of tea. But it’s not good for full-fledged marketing simply because it’s too limited.

Ahrefs Webmaster tool offers a ton of value.

This of it as Ahrefs’s answer to Google Search Console and definitely a wonderful addition to Google’s tool. That said, AWT is useless for examining competitor websites, and that’s a huge drawback.

Overall, both SEMrush and Ahrefs offer value here and I give them a tie here.

Winner- SEMrush and Ahrefs.

SEMrush vs Ahrefs- User Interface and Experience


User interface and experience are how easy and intuitive it is to use the tool or an app, in this case, SEMrush and Ahrefs.

SEMrush Dashboard and User Interface


Take a look at SEMrush’s interface:

SEMrush cluttered interface

I think you already know where I’m going with this…

It’s cluttered!

Yes, you’re right and it’s one of the biggest flaws of SEMrush. And the one they can’t escape from because currently, SEMrush offers more than 55 tools and features. And they keep adding more.

I really like SEMrush, use it daily, don’t get me wrong, but it looks scary the first time you log into it.

While Ahrefs keep the tools in separate dashboards, SEMrush keeps them all under one roof, categorized as:

  • Competitive research;
  • Keyword research;
  • Link building;
  • On-page and tech SEO;
  • Local SEO;
  • Advertising;
  • Social media;
  • Content marketing;
  • Trends;
  • Agency solutions.

And hidden under each accordion are the options to explore and use the SEMrush tools and features.

SEMrush cluttered interface and poor UX
SEMrush offers poor UX to its customers

Overall, it definitely works, but it also definitely feels overcrowded. Don’t forget that SEMrush offers more than 50 tools under their brand name, which means you’re looking at a dashboard with dozens of tools you could potentially use.

But that’s the thing. You probably won’t be using most of these and as such SEMrush has a lot of work in the usability department.

Let’s see what Ahrefs looks like once inside.

Ahrefs Dashboard and User Interface


Compared to SEMrush, Ahref’s dashboard is like a breath of fresh air.

Once you log in, you’re met with the metrics of the site you added. In my case it’s nikolaroza.com.

I can see the number of referring domains and backlinks hitting my site. Also monthly traffic, traffic value, and the number of keywords my site ranks for in the first 100 of Google.

In the left sidebar, there are a bunch of links which lead to individual reports Ahrefs generated for the domain.

In the header area, there are further links that lead to additional Ahrefs tools which couldn’t be fitted in the main dashboard. (And that’s a good choice given how SEMrush tries to do theirs).

These links are:

  • Keywords Explorer;
  • Site Audit;
  • Rank Tracker;
  • Content Explorer;
  • Web Explorer.

Ahrefs dashboard and interface

SEMrush vs Ahrefs – Which Tool Has a Better Interface and User Experience


There’s no contest here.

Ahrefs wins by a landslide.

However, to SEMrush’s defense, they’ve done the best they could under the circumstance that they offer 55+ tools under one roof.  If you become their user you will quickly learn to use only the tools you need, and ignore the rest.

I’m speaking from my own experience.

Winner- Ahrefs

SEMrush vs Ahrefs – Keyword Research


Both SEMrush and Ahrefs are excellent keyword research tools.

Let’s see how they compare right below.

SEMrush Keyword Research


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

For example, here are the keywords 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 SEMrush’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 spotting 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.

You can filter keywords based on:

  • positions;
  • Search Volume;
  • Keyword Difficult;
  • Intent;
  • Serp Features.

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.

All this above was examining competitors for their lucrative and best keywords, but SEMrush also offers a traditional keyword research tool called Keyword Magic.

SEMrush Keyword Magic 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”.

You can see:

  • search volume;
  • Global search volume;
  • Keyword difficulty;
  • Keyword variations;
  • Questions;
  • Related keywords

SEMrush keyword report for the phrase "SEMrush alternatives"

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

All you have to do is scroll to the bottom of the report SEMrush generated for that particular keyword.

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.

For my test keyword (SEMrush alternatives) I see the SERP is relatively open for my authoritative website.

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


Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

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 Ahrefs shows you a list of keyword ideas (questions and related keywords).

The remarkable thing about Ahrefs’s 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” (note: in this case traffic potential is 400 clicks):

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 websites of organic 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 beat 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.com and ran it through the Ahrefs Organic Keywords report.

Here’s what Ahrefs showed me:

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

69 keywords where I can pick and choose to sprinkle in my copy and try to rank for them.

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 Ahrefs 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;

Ahrefs keyword metrics filter

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 (see image above).

SEMrush vs Ahrefs- Which is a Better Keyword Research Tool?


Bots SEMrush and Ahrefs are superb keyword research tools, the best in the industry by far (my honest opinion, but tell me if I’m wrong in the comment section).

SEMrush again suffers from a clustered dashboard and interface but offers superior keyword data.

Ahrefs is much simpler to use, especially for newbies.

I give this round a tie.

Both SEMrush and Ahrefs win this one!

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

SEMrush vs Ahrefs – Backlink Analysis


SEMrush and Ahrefs are the most popular and best linkbuildling tools on the market.

But how do they compare when faced head to head?

Let’s find out!

SEMrush Backlink Analysis


Before 2019 I used to use Ahrefs exclusively for link building.

Ahrefs was simply the best and there was no way around it. However, since 2019 I’ve switched over to SEMrush backlink checker and I haven’t looked back.

I mention 2019 because that’s when SEMrush significantly boosted its backlink tool.

They grew their link database dozens of times over plus improved many other aspects of their link checker app (for example SEMrush crawler bot got much faster at crawling the web).

SEMrush backlink database size

Here’s how the SEMrush link building tool works.

First, go to Link Building > Backlink Analytics and enter your target domain.

For example, let’s say I want to check my own site.

So I add it to the SEMrush Backlink Analytics tool and SEMrush gives me an overview of the analyzed domain’s authority score (as calculated by SEMrush’s internal algorithm), the total number of backlinks and referring domains, backlinks, and organic keywords. and monthly visits.

SEMrush Backlink Analytics overview report

This is just the tip of the iceberg, quite literally in fact because you can scroll down the page to get additional info about the backlink profile of the analyzed domain.

First, you can see how your backlink profile is trending. If you see a downward movement, that is a warning sign you need to speed up your link building efforts.

This is because gradually losing links and not replacing them with new ones is a negative sign to Google that the domain is losing popularity and in response, Google lowers the website’s rankings.

Beneath that, you see the new/lost backlinks and referring domains reports. This is valuable and useful to you because SEMrush has an extremely fast crawler that can discover links almost as soon as they go live on the internet.

SEMrush link building trends graph and new/lost links and referring domains report

Next, when you scroll down you see categories of referring domains that signal relevance of the entire backlink profile, anchor text sample report (with the button to dive deeper) referring domains by authority scores, backlink types, and link attributes (follow, nofollow, sponsored, UGC).

SEMrush additional link reports

Next, you can see where the links are coming from, extension distribution, and referring ip’s distribution compared to referring domain numbers.

You want to have many referring ip’s as it’s a sign your links are not coming from PBNs and one network.

You can also see a domain’s strongest pages in terms of equity.

In my site’s case, my guide to power words and how to use them is clearly the strongest page on my site.

SEMrush tld and ip's report

Finally, the top pages report is worth taking an even closer look at.

top pages overview in SEMrush backlink analytics report

By clicking on the button and delving deeper you can see the pages on a domain that get the most links which either means they’re highly linkable or a lot of link building has been done on them.

Either way, it’s a clear direction for your link-building efforts.

Note: to truly measure the strength of any page you need to consider the number and power of incoming links (PageRank) and the number of outgoing links (CheiRank).

More PageRank and less CheiRank is a powerful combination.

SEMrush helps you with that as well because it shows you (see in the image below) the number of external links taking authority away from any single page of the analyzed domain.

top linked pages on a domain as per SEMrush Backlink Analytics

SEMrush Backlink tool is not just for giving an overview of the link profiles for entire websites.

You can also examine the link profiles of individual pages and that’s where the real juice lies.

Here’s how.

First, pick a page you want to inspect (I chose my “what is SEMrush” page):

Second, paste it into the search bar of SEMrush Backlink Analytics and hit go:

Inspect a URL in SEMrush backlink tool

Third, you will be presented with a top bar with various filters to turn on or off.

On the left, there’s:

  • all links– all backlinks in the SEMrush database for this specific URL;
  • active– currently active links pointing to the URL;
  • new– new backlinks that hit the page in the last week (you can also set it for a month and three months timeframe);
  • lost– lost backlinks that hit the page in the last week (you can also set it for a month and three months timeframe).

On the right, there’s:

  • all– all links regardless of meta tag designation;
  • follow– only show dofollow links;
  • nofollow– only show nofollow links;
  • UGC– only show links with UGC tag;
  • sponsored– only show links with sponsored tag

SEMrush backlink analytics important metrics shown

Below you see the links with important metrics to pay attention to.

  • AS– authority score based on SEMrush internal algorithm calculation;
  • The source page title and URL;
  • External links– number of external links on the page;
  • Internal links– number of internal links on the page;
  • Anchor and target URL;
  • First seen– when was the backlink first spotted;
  • Last seen– is the link lost, and when?

SEMrush backlink metrics

Pro tip: One excellent feature is that you can check the checkbox and export them into a list of backlinks you want to replicate.

You can export backlinks from SEMrush to a spreadsheet

Overall, SEMrush can be your backlink tool of choice and you won’t ever need to try another one.

But before you decide let’s see how Ahrefs can help you get more links to your site.

Ahrefs Backlink Analysis


Ahrefs link building tool

Ahrefs started its journey as a link building tool, many SEO professionals swear by it and it’s no wonder why.

The tool is excellent!

Here’s how to use it.

First, let’s say I wanted to check the link profile of my competitor.

I’d take their domain URL and paste it into Ahrefs.

Add domain to Ahrefs link building toolThen after a few seconds Ahrefs would show me the results.

In the center, I see the site’s UR and DR, the total number of links and referring domains the site has.

On the left there’s a section dedicated to links ad each option leads to a different report generated by Ahrefs.

The options are:

  • Backlinks– all links Ahrefs knows about;
  • Broken backlinks– lost links;
  • Referring domains– total count of referring domains;
  • Anchors– anchor text distribution;
  • Internal backlinks– internal link and site architecture visualization;
  • Referring IPs referring IP’s distribution;
  • Link intersect– tool for discovering easy link building opportunities.

Ahrefs site metrics

As mentioned each link is actually a report you can delve deeper in to glean valuable insights.

For example, let’s see what are the strongest domains that link to Adam Enfroy’s blog (I’ll arrange the domains to be ordered by DR).

Ahrefs referring domain report

As with SEMrush, you can also check link profiles of individual pages, and that’s where the most value you’re going to get.

First, take the URL you want to check.

I’ll take my competitor’s URL to see which links they’ve built.

Ahrefs check the individual URL

Ahrefs shows me the UR of the page, the number of links, and referring domains.

Next, I can click on the domain metric and see the domains linking to them.

Ahrefs check referring domains to individual URL

On the right, I can see the link anchor text and the context of the link. This is very important when deciding on whether the link is natural or not.

Ahrefs see anchor and link context

SEMrush Vs Ahrefs- Which Tool is a Better Backlink Checker?


SEMrush’s backlink checker used to be the least developed tool in the SEMrush toolset. For a while, it seemed like SEMrush have given up and allowed Ahrefs to completely take over the link building game.

Moreover, having made significant upgrades and improvements in 20219  (expanded link index, faster crawler bot, more accurate data…) nowadays SEMrush is, alongside Ahrefs, the best backlink checker on the market.

Before I tell you which tool is better, let’s quickly compare the two in raw numbers (I analyzed my site and HubSpot with both SEMrush and Ahrefs).

SEO ToolWebsite AnalyzedBacklink CountReffering Domains Count
SEMrushnikolaroza.com13.3K2.6K
Ahrefsnikolaroza.com13.2K2.59K
SEMrushHubSpot146M384K
AhrefsHubSpot.com65.6M493K

As you can see from the table above, SEMrush found more links for both my site and HubSpot, while Ahrefs found more referring domains for both my site and HubSpot.

Overall, both tools are an excellent help to you when building links and I give them a tie on this round.

Winner- SEMrush and Ahrefs

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.

Why?

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 Audit Tool


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, mobile compatibility errors, robots.txt issues and so much more.

Additionally, you get a list of top issues to start fixing straight away.

Website problems are divided by prioritization buckets:

  • 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 can fix them for overall higher SEO scores for your website, and of course potentially higher rankings in search engines.

Here I took my site and audited it with SEMrush.

I keep a close eye on it and try to be proactive about potential errors but still, you can see SEMrush found almost thirty errors and hundreds of possible improvements across my site.

This is all actionable, valuable stuff for me.

Site Audit with SEMrush

SEMrush also offers thematic reports.

These are SEO areas where problems are listed and where you can make improvements.

For example, I can see that my site in the crawlability department is doing very well with a score of 88%, while for Core Web Vitals I have a large 0% score.

That’s to be expected as Google Search Console also reports I don’t pass CWV on any of the pages. Good to get a confirmation from SEMrush as well.

SEMrush website audit thematic reports

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.

Note: I just showed you a part of what SEMrush as an auditing tool can do. There’s really no room here but you can consider SEMrush as an excellent replacement for premium website crawlers and auditing tools like Audisto, Screaming Frog, Deep Crawl, and others.

Here are the quotas according to different SEMrush plans.

Each month, free users can crawl up to 100 pages per audit (and 100 per month overall); Pro users 20,000 pages per audit (100,000 overall); Guru users 20,000 pages per audit (300,000 overall); and Business users 100,000 per audit (1m overall).

SEMrush PlanUsage Quotas
SEMrush Free100 pages/mo
SEMrush Pro100 000 pages/mo
SEMrush Guru300 000 pages/mo
SEMrush Business1 000 000 pages/mo

Ahrefs Site Audit


Once you add your site to Ahrefs, it will automatically audit your website and deliver the report in the Site Audit tab within the Ahrefs dashboard.

Ahrefs website audit tool

Once you click on your project (website, in my case nikolaroza.com) you get a nice overview of how your site is performing in the technical SEO department.

You can see the number of URL’s Ahrefs crawled, website health, and the number of total issues plaguing the site.

Ahrefs technical SEO overview

When you scroll down you can see Ahrefs’ report for each individual scan over time. And you can drill down into each report.

Of course, I will examine the latest report for my site, right at the top.

Ahrefs all audits listed

Once I logged into the late report Ahrefs shows me the health score of my site, resource crawled and on the right, I can see the breakdown of things to do:

  • Errors– clear mistakes I need to fix to improve my site’s rankings;
  • Warnings– things I need to fix before disaster strikes
  • Notices– things I’ll need to look into when I have some spare time, not urgent though.

Ahrefs website audit overview

Below the overview lies the most actionable part of the website audit.

Ahrefs shows:

  • 3xx redirect in sitemap;
  • the page has links to broken pages;
  • HTTPS page has an internal link to HTTP;
  • Orphan pages;
  • 404 pages;
  • 4xx pages;
  • Missing alt text;
  • noindex page;
  • 3xx page;
  • nofollow page.

Top errors as shown by Ahrefs auditing tool

You can drill down into each of these reports to find the exact URL with the issuer to address them.

For example, let’s see what my site’s orphaned pages are and which I need to fix ASAP if I want to rank them in Google.

Ahrefs discovered orphaned pages on my site

Note: I just showed you a part of what  Ahrefs as an auditing tool can do. There’s really no room here but you can look at Ahrefs as an excellent replacement for professional website crawlers and auditing tools like Audisto, Screaming Frog, Deep Crawl, and others.

Here are the quotas according to different Ahrefs plans.

SEMrush vs Ahrefs- Which SEO Auditing Tool is Better?


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 a pro site audit tool, go with Ahrefs.

Winner- 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 pages and where they rank.

But how do they compare?

SEMrush Rank Tracker


Semrush Rank Tracker lets you monitor both your desktop and mobile rankings for a group of keywords.

To start tracking your keywords, first, you must have an active project running in Semrush.

You can set up a project in SEMrush even with a free SEMrush account.

I already added my website as an example.

SEMrush set up project

Once you’ve set up your project, go to Project > Position Tracking > Set up.

Add your location, select the device (desktop, mobile, or tablet), and add your competitors’ domains.

nikolaroza.com set up project in SEMrush Position Tracking

Next, add a list of phrases you want to rank your website for.

add keywords to SEMrush Position Tracking app

Hit the “Start tracking” button to generate your position tracking report.

The report will take time to populate but once it does it’ll display three graphs showing:

  • estimated traffic;
  • visibility;
  • keyword position trending.

SEMrush Rank Tracker tracked metrics

Next, you can drill down into keyword rankings to see how specific keywords are ranking.

SEMrush shows you:

  • Intent– search intent of the keyword
  • SERP features– Google SERP features presence;
  • Position– current position of your URL;
  • Difficulty– keyword difficulty as judged by SEMrush;
  • Visibility– visibility score;
  • Difference– the difference between your rankings day by day;
  • Volume– the amount of traffic your URL is getting;
  • CPC– Cost Per Click;
  • URL– your URL ranking.

Above these keyword metrics, there’s a header menu where you can filter keywords by:

  • keyword;
  • top positions and changes;
  • SERP Features;
  • Tags;
  • Intent;
  • Volume;
  • Advanced Filters

SEMrush Rank Tracker keyword tracked metrics and filtering system

SEMrush Rank Tracker is available on all paid SEMrush plans, but depending in the plan you have different keywords tracked quotas.

  • SEMrush Pro– 500 keywords;
  • SEMrush Guru– 1500 keywords;
  • SEMrush Business– 5 000 keywords.

SEMrush also allows you to buy additional keywords to track. The price is $60 per 500 new keywords added to Rank Tracker.

For all plans, the keyword ranking updates are every 24-48 hours.

SEMrush PlanTracked Keyword QuotasKeyword Tracking Update Frequency
SEMrush Pro50024-48 hours
SEMrush Guru150024-48 hours
SEMrush Business5 00024-48 hours

Now let’s see what Ahrefs Rank Tracker can do.

Ahrefs Rank Tracker


Ahrefs also has an excellent rank tracker which you can access within your Ahrefs dashboard.

Access Ahrefs Rank Tracker via dashboard

Similar to SEMrush, you can add keywords to track within the dashboard. You can add them manually or via spreadsheet from the Ahrefs keyword tool or any other kw tool that lets you download their report.

You can also select the language and geographic area (market). In my example that will be the US market of course as that’s the people I’m targeting the most.

Add keywords to Ahrefs Rank Tracker

Once you add your keywords it’ll take a little while (1h-2h) for Ahrefs to check your current rankings and populate the data.

Ahrefs Rank Tracker shows you:

  • Position– current kw position;
  • Volume– search volume;
  • Traffic– traffic your URL is getting;
  • KD– keyword difficulty as judged by Ahrefs;
  • SERP features– see which SERP features are on the SERPS;
  • URL– your URL that’s currently ranking;
  • Location– market your monitoring;
  • Update– last update date.

Ahrefs Rank Tracker metrics tracked

When you have thousands of keywords to track it becomes cumbersome to monitor them effectively. It’s a challenge just to find them.

Luckily, Ahrefs Rank Tracker allows you to tag the keywords and create groups of keywords you can track instead of individual phrases.

Ahrefs Rank Tracker allows you to tag keywords and make groups of phrases.

Speaking of a number of keywords you can track, as you might imagine the limit changes based on the plan you bought.

  • Ahrefs Lite– 750 kw limit;
  • Ahrefs Standard– 2 000 kw limit;
  • Ahrefs Advanced– 5 000 kw limit;
  • Ahrefs Enterprise– 10 000 kw limit.

Ahrefs PlanKW LimitUpdate ScheduleDaily Updates Pricing
Lite750Weekly$100 /mo
Standard2 000Weekly$150 /mo
Advanced5 000Weekly$200 /mo
Enterprise10 000Weekly$250 /mo

Finally, and I should have put this first in this mini review of Ahrefs Rank Tracker, at the top of the dashboard you can see an overview of how your tracked keywords are performing, alongside many other filters available to really drill down into specific reports.

The filters available for tracked keywords are:

  • desktop/mobile;
  • locations;
  • positions;
  • volume;
  • traffic;
  • KD;
  • SERP features;

Ahrefs Rank Tracker overview of tracked keywords.=

SEMrush vs Ahrefs- Which Tool is a Better Rank Tracker?

Both SEMrush and Ahrefs have excellent keyword rank trackers.

It’s tough the pick between them based on quality.

However, I’ll pick based on pricing and usage quota.

SEMrush gives you:

  • SEMrush Pro ($119.95 /mo)– 500 keywords;
  • SEMrush Guru ($229.95 /mo)– 1500 keywords;
  • SEMrush Business ($449.95 /mo)– 5 000 keywords.

While Ahrefs gives you:

  • Ahrefs Lite ($99/mo) – 750 kw limit;
  • Ahrefs Standard ($199/mo) – 2 000 kw limit;
  • Ahrefs Advanced ($399/mo) – 5 000 kw limit;
  • Ahrefs Enterprise ($999/mo) – 10 000 kw limit.

As you can see, Ahrefs Lite and Ahrefs Standard are plans suitable for most online businesses and are comparable to SEMrush Pro and SEMrush Guru in pricing and usage quota.

However, in both cases, Ahrefs offers you more for less money.

On the other hand, SEMrush updates its keywords 24-48 hours while Ahrefs update every week.

SEMrush/Ahrefs PlanUsage QuotaKeyword Update FrequencyPrice
SEMrush Pro50024-48 hours$119.95 /mo
SEMrush Guru150024-48 hours$229.95 /mo
SEMrush Business500024-48 hours$449.95 /mo
Ahrefs Lite750weekly$99/mo
Ahrefs Standard2 000weekly$199/mo
Ahrefs Advanced5 000weekly$399/mo
Advanced Enterprise10 000weekly$999/mo

Winner– Ahrefs

But SEMrush is also an excellent rank tracker.

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 is an important part of a platform, especially if you’re just starting out.

SEMrush Customer Support


Note: check out my full guide to contacting SEMrush for help to learn more about this topic.

SEMrush offers 4 levels of support:

#1- SEMrush live chatSEMrush knowledge base where you can find answers to most of your questions;

SEMrush Knowledge Base

#2- SEMrush contact page for serious queries and problems that can’t be helped with simple advice.

Note: to access the SEMrush contact page you will need to have a free account under your name.

SEMrush contact support via user dashboard

#3- SEMrush live chat for basic problems that can be solved quickly.

SEMrush live chat

#4- SEMrush social media channels (mainly Twitter) where you can ask the SEMrush team what you need to know about the tool.

Now let’s see how Ahrefs fares.

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 Has a Better Customer Support?

Both SEMrush and Ahrefs have excellent knowledge bases where you can get the answers to 99% of your queries.

Both SEMrush and Ahrefs also offer direct contact with their staff via the live chat feature.

However, SEMrusuh also has a “contact us” page + which allows you to contact them via social.

As such, I’ll have to give this round to SEMrush.

SEO ToolSocial MediaContact PageLive ChatKnowledge Base
SEMrushYesYesYesYes
AhrefsNoNoYesYes

Winner- SEMrush

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

SEMrush vs Ahrefs Pricing- Which Tool is More Affordable?


SEMrush Pricing in 2023

SEMrush Plans and Pricing
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 14-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
Pro$119.95/mo$99.95/mo
Guru$229.95/mo$191.62/mo
Business$449.95/mo$374.95/mo
CustomPrice determined upon agreement with SEMrushPrice determined upon agreement with SEMrush

Ahrefs Pricing in 2023

Ahrefs plans and pricing
Ahrefs plans and 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
Lite$99/mo$83/mo
($990 per annum)
Standard$199/mo
$166/mo
($1990 per annum)
Advanced$399/mo$333/mo
($3990 per annum)
Enterprise$999/mo$833/mo
($9990 per annum)

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

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.

SEO ToolCheapest PlanMost Expensive PlanDiscount
SEMrush$119.95/mo20% discount on yearly plans
Ahrefs$99/moEnterprise ($999/mo)2 months free on a yearly plan.

Winner- SEMrush.

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

SEMrush vs Ahrefs FAQ- Your Questions Answered!


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

My SEMrush vs Ahrefs guide for 2023 would be incomplete without a thorough FAQ section, agree?

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

Ahrefs don’t offer a free account. They only offer paid plans.

However, Ahrefs has a special offer called Ahrefs Webmaster Tools which you can sign up for for free. With AWT you can monitor your site’s performance and do website audits, but you’re not able to examine your competitor’s websites.

For that, you need a paid Ahrefs account.

Ahrefs Webmaster Tools is free service by Ahrefs

As for SEMrush, you can read my SEMrush free account guide to learn more about it.

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

Ahrefs doesn’t offer a free trial. They used to offer a 7-day free trial for $7, but that offer is long discounted.

So no, Ahrefs free trial doesn’t exist.

Ahrefs doesn't offer a free trial in 2023
Ahrefs doesn’t offer a free trial in 2023

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

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

Ahrefs doesn’t offer a classic lifetime deal you can take advantage of.

Similar to SEMrush (read my SEMrush lifetime deal guide here), Ahref’s lifetime deal is actually taking advantage of its yearly pricing, getting a discount, and having that discount preserved through subsequent renewals for the lifetime of your purchase.

If you search in Google and Bing for the term “Ahrefs lifetime deal”, you will see some affiliates trying to rank for the term, but you will not see the official Ahrefs lifetime offer.

Google has no relevant results for the query "Ahrefs lifetime deal"
Google has no relevant results for the query “Ahrefs lifetime deal”
Microsoft Bing shows no results for "Ahrefs lifetime deal" query in Bing
Microsoft Bing shows no results for the “Ahrefs lifetime deal” query in Bing

#4- Does Ahrefs Offer an Appsumo Deal? What About SEMrush?

Ahrefs doesn’t offer an AppSumo deal you can use to get this premium tool cheaper.

If you go to AppSumo and search for Ahrefs, you will see a bunch of other SEO tools and services, but no Ahrefs.

No Ahrefs AppSumo deal in 2023
No Ahrefs AppSumo deal in 2023

SEMrush also doesn’t have an AppSumo deal.

#5- 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 SEMrush and Ahrefs 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.

"Ahrefs cracked" in Google search
“Ahrefs cracked” in Google search

#6- Is the Bin Method Available for Ahrefs and SEMrush?

The “SEMrush BIN method” and “Ahrefs BIN method” are ineffective and potentially illegal ways of getting SEMrush and Ahrefs premium accounts.

It consists of you using a BIN generator to generate random BIN’s (Bank Identification Numbers) hoping one of them is not expired and will work for you.

This method doesn’t work, it never worked and it is almost certainly illegal.

I suggest you avoid this at all costs.

There are better ways to get both Ahrefs and SEMrush.

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

SEMrush premium cookies are 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, and your money is lost.

Likewise, there are no Ahrefs premium cookies.

Websites offering access to Ahrefs via premium cookies are a scam and you need to be aware of them.

Ahrefs premium cookies don't exist
Ahrefs premium cookies don’t exist

#8- 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 group buy.

Group buy websites that offer Ahrefs are scams where you shouldn’t waste your time.

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

Ahrefs don’t offer a coupon code.

If you see coupon codes offered by other sites, those are fake and will not work at getting you a discount on Ahrefs.

Ahrefs doesn't offer coupons and discount codes in 2023
Ahrefs doesn’t offer coupons and discount codes in 2023- Source

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

#10- Does Ahrefs Offer s Coupon Code for Students? What About SEMrush?

SEMrush offers special coupons and discount codes for students

You can go to this page on SEMrush.com to negotiate a special discount for you.

SEMrush student coupon and discount
SEMrush student coupon and discount

Ahrefs don’t have special coupon codes for teachers.

The best way to save money on Ahrefs is to take advantage of their yearly pricing which gives you a large discount.

#11- Does Ahrefs Offer s Coupon Code for Teachers? What About SEMrush?

SEMrush offers special coupons and discount codes for teachers

You can go to this page on SEMrush.com to negotiate a special discount for you.

SEMrush teacher coupon and discount

Ahrefs don’t have special coupon codes for teachers.

The best way to save money on Ahrefs is to take advantage of their yearly pricing which gives you a large discount.

#12- Does Ahrefs Offer s Coupon Code for Military Personnel? What About SEMrush?

Neither Ahrefs nor SEMrush offer coupon codes for military personnel.

The best way to get Ahrefs is to take advantage of their pricing and get the discount that comes with purchasing a yearly plan.

As for SEMrush you can take advantage of their free trial and try SEMrush paid plan for free.

#13- Does Ahrefs Offer Coupon Codes for Nonprofit Organizations? What About SEMrush?

Ahrefs don’t offer coupon codes and discounts for nonprofit organizations. If you see a website offering you an Ahrefs discount for your NGO, know they’re trying to trick you somehow.

Ahrefs coupon for nonprofits doesn’t exist!

Ahrefs coupon for nonprofits doesn't exist
Ahrefs coupon for nonprofits in 2023 doesn’t exist

SEMrush offers a discount for non-profit organizations (NGO).

As an NGO you’re also exempt from paying taxes on your SEMrush purchase

You can read my guide to SEMrush for non-profits next.

SEMrush for nonprofits official page
Source

#14- Does Ahrefs Offer s Coupon Code for New Business Startups? What About SEMrush?

Ahrefs don’t offer coupon codes and discounts for new business startups. If you see a website offering you an Ahrefs discount for your new business startup, know they’re trying to trick you somehow.

Ahrefs coupon for new business startups doesn’t exist!

As for SEMrush, they also don’t offer special coupons and discounts for new business startups.

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

The main competitors to SEMrush and Mangools are:

#16- Do SEMrush and Ahrefs use the Same Bot to Crawl the Web?

SEMrush and Ahrefs don’t use the same bot to crawl the web.

SEMrush uses SEMrush bot to spider the web, while Ahrefs uses Ahrefs bot

Ahrefs bot official info from Ahrefs
Source

#17- Do SEMrush and Ahrefs Both Have Affiliate Programs I Can Join?

SEMrush has an affiliate program hosted over Impact Radius you can join as an affiliate and make money. You can read my guide to the SEMrush affiliate program to learn more about it.

SEMrush affiliate program on Impact Radius
SEMrush affiliate program on Impact Radius

Ahrefs doesn’t have and operate an affiliate program.

#18- Do SEMrush and Ahrefs Both Have Chrome Extensions I Can use?

Both SEMrush and Ahrefs have Chrome extensions you can use.

You can read my guide to SEOquake to learn more about using this SEO Chrome extension.

As for Ahrefs’s Chrome extension, you can download the extension here.

Ahrefs SEO toolbar Chrome and Mozilla Firefox extensions

Note: Ahrefs has extensions for both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

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

SEMrush vs Ahrefs (Conclusion)


SEMrush or Ahrefs? Which tool is better?

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 a blogger behind Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined. He writes for bloggers who don't have huge marketing budget but still want to succeed. Nikola is passionate about precious metals IRAs and how to invest in gold and silver for a safer financial future. Learn about Nikola here.

Leave a Comment