Ironically, the major difference between these two organic marketing suites may have to do with pay-per-click features.
While Ahrefs and Semrush are both excellent all-in-one SEO suites, there’s a reason some top agencies use both. While they have significant overlap, they also have some unique characteristics determined by the original purpose of each tool.
Ahrefs started life primarily as a backlinks tool, which makes sense – Google started out as a backlinks-powered search engine. In the meantime, semrush started out as a keyword research tool – a discovery and competitor analysis tool.
Let’s take a closer look at why you prefer one over the other.
What is Ahrefs?
Originally a backlink builder, Ahrefs has expanded to include keyword research, competitor analysis, link building, rank tracking, and site audits. Through Ahrefs, SEO marketers get the information they need to produce better-optimized content that appears higher in search results. Ahrefs is recognized throughout the industry for its keyword research and technical SEO tools.
What is Semrush?
semrush is a SaaS software suite built for keyword research, online ranking data, and marketing performance analysis. Semrush includes a wide variety of tools, including a site health check, backlink checker, analytics system, and more. Semrush is often used not only for technical analysis of websites and their content, but during the discovery and research process of search marketing.
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Ahref vs. Semrush: a mutual comparison
|Google ranking tracking
|Follow Domain Authority
|Keyword click analysis
Ahrefs is built for backlink analysis. It has an easy-to-navigate user interface and functional reporting. These two features set it apart from many of its competitors, as backlink analysis often yields large amounts of barely human-readable data; Ahrefs makes this data easy to read and access.
That said, Semrush recently expanded its link building data to 43 trillion backlinks. In 2021, it made a huge push to build the largest backlink database in the world. Until then, Ahrefs was firmly in the lead.
It is very likely that Semrush currently has the most accurate and comprehensive backlink database, but Ahrefs still has a slight edge in usability. Most business users of the tools would likely find Ahrefs’ interface more comfortable to use, while SEO professionals, technical marketers, and some data-centric users prefer Semrush’s speed and breadth of knowledge benefits.
You can conduct thorough keyword research in both Ahrefs and Semrush. Type in a keyword and Ahrefs and Semrush will return a dense list of related and long-tail keywords, all scored by traffic and whether your site is in range of a good rank for that keyword based on several factors.
Ahrefs provides click data in addition to search data — it estimates how many clicks you could get for a particular keyword in addition to the number of searches performed. This data is extremely helpful to marketers in determining whether the page you’re building to target that keyword is likely to deliver the desired number of conversions.
semrush does not provide click data, but does provide information for PPC campaigns. During keyword research, you can see both the organic search results and the paid search results. This information is not as directly useful for purely organic campaigns, but it is useful for search engine marketers who want to improve performance through paid search campaigns.
For many companies, rank is the most important measure of performance. Where are you in Google?
Both Ahrefs and Semrush are actually similar in accuracy, but Semrush has a slight advantage in that it is refreshed more often. Ahref and Semrush’s data generally matches and matches, but Semrush gives you insight into near real-time changes.
Ahrefs has an extremely engaging tool called the Content Explorer. After you select a keyword, Ahrefs will show you all the high-performing content targeting that keyword. The information includes domain authority, referring domains, social media shares, and meta tags.
Semrush has a Competitive Analysis section, which provides key insights into what competitors are doing with their keywords. But it’s not as content-based as Ahrefs as it’s primarily designed for keyword discovery.
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Technical SEO and site audit
Both Ahrefs and Semrush have robust site auditing tools, which highlight technical SEO issues such as missing meta tags or missing pages.
Ahrefs provides visually compact information that is extremely helpful, but can be difficult to read for those unfamiliar with technical SEO and the tool itself. Semrush’s platform is designed to be a little more user-friendly. Reports in Semrush will both highlight technical SEO issues and suggest how to solve them, which is ideal for business users just learning SEO or for very small teams involving content marketers and SEO professionals.
Should you use Ahrefs or Semrush?
You really can’t go wrong with Ahrefs or Semrush. They are both excellent suites that are constantly being improved and adding new features. But in the world of marketing, you often need all the benefits.
Use Ahrefs if:
- You’re more interested in keyword click data than keyword volume.
- You need to dig deeper into competitor content and content analysis.
- You don’t need to develop a PPC campaign.
To use semrush if:
- You are interested in rapid delivery of robust performance data.
- You want more advice on how to technically improve your site.
- In addition to an organic campaign, you also want to develop a PPC campaign.
For many businesses, the determining factor will likely be whether they want to manage a PPC campaign. Otherwise, the two products are fairly evenly matched.