Semrush vs. Ahrefs – Which one should you choose?

May 13, 2024

Companies that want to succeed in the world of new technologies must invest in their visibility to be seen. One of the vital ways to do so is by investing in a marketing agency that can carry out SEO strategies with specialized tools to provide good results.

In addition, there are famous tools on the market that will be of great help. The two most famous ones are undoubtedly Semrush and Ahrefs. Both compete hand in hand with valuable features for SEO, and deciding which one to choose may be what defines your success.

Main Differences Between Semrush and Ahrefs

Semrush and Ahrefs are leading SEO tools that help specialists guide you into higher organic rank searches and get more traffic. They offer a suite of SEO features such as keyword planners, rank and link trackers, competitor analysis, etc.

Tools Ahrefs Semrush
Features Ahrefs offers almost every SEO feature a specialist would expect: site explorer, keyword explorer, site audit, rank tracker and content explorer. Semrush provides almost the same features, as well as additional marketing features (local SEO, PPC, and social media management) that are acquired as separate add-ons.
Cost Ahrefs is a cheaper option with three plans that go from $83 to $333 per month paid annually. There’s also an enterprise version for $833 yearly, which includes a limited suite of SEO tools for its users. Being a bit pricier, Semrush has plans ranging from $108,33 to $416,66, per month and paid annually. Unlike its counterpart, Semrush offers a free seven-day trial to test the full features for a limited time.
Reputation  

It has gained an average reputation of 4.5 stars in G2 reviews, making it one of the highest scores available. However, it only has 2 stars in Trustpilot, with complaints about opaque pricing plans.

 

This tool also has a very high rated opinion in G2, with 4.5 stars. It’s also relatively well-scored in Trustpilot, with a 3.3 star average. Most of its complaints are regarding high prices and billing issues.

 

Addressing these comparisons can be vital for knowing the most suitable tool for your business needs.

How to Choose Between Both?

After checking some of the main distinctions between both tools, it’s important to know which one to use. Many factors can help you choose the better tool, which will benefit your work.

Best SEO Keyword Research Tool

Keyword research is paramount when it comes to SEO, and picking the right tool can help you improve your rankings properly. Proper keyword research must detect how many people search for a word, how hard it is to rank it and provide suggestions.

Comparing Semrush vs. Ahrefs in this case can be difficult, especially since both make it easier for specialists to get keyword information. Semrush immediately provides the needed data, with metrics like search volume, keyword difficulty score and a list of related keywords.

Both platforms also use percentage scores to indicate keyword difficulty, with higher numbers indicating a higher difficulty.

Semrush’s keyword difficulty scores have many parameters: number of backlinks, country, word count, branded and search volume. On the other hand, Ahrefs focuses solely on the number of backlinks pointing to other websites.

Better SERP Analysis

Providing an overview of the sites to know what’s currently ranking higher is very important. Comparing both tools, Ahrefs has a slight advantage over its competitors. When it lists top-ranking sites, it also provides even more relevant data that can be really handy.

Semrush provides a range of data covering the authority score of the belonging site, the number of referred domains, backlinks, estimated organic traffic and the number of keywords. Ahrefs also gives authority score, estimated value, word count and top keywords.

Identifying Search Intent

Semrush is known for providing more context about why users perform certain searches thanks to its categorization of search intent. This metric highlights whether the search intent is transactional, navigational, informational or commercial, which is great for filtering words.

Ahrefs, on the other hand, takes a more skeptical approach to search intent. It doesn’t split keywords into what its CMO called ambiguous buckets. Instead, it uses an AI-powered feature that spells out the searcher’s precise intent when they write a phrase in Google.

Such skepticism comes from the labels that can be misleading, according to the CMO. This can be considered vague, so that’s why Semrush tries to opt for less potential oversimplifying search intent. 

Best Analyzing Backlink Tool

A site’s performance in site results depends on its number of backlinks (external links connected to it). Both Ahrefs and Semrush tools allow users to enter a domain name to see a full list of backlinks.

Semrush’s database of backlinks is considerably higher than Ahrefs’, containing around 808 million domains, meanwhile its competitor has more than 207 million. In theory, Semrush can provide a more comprehensive data analysis for its backlinks.

This makes Semrush a clear victor on this point, providing a more consistent edge when it comes to domains surfaced thanks to a bigger database.

When it comes to analyzing backlinks themselves, both tools are perfect. They give a lot of handy information about links to point to domains, as well as breakdowns of “dofollow” and “nofollow” links, anchor texts, new and lost domains and domain types.

What to Choose for Auditing Features?

Semrush provides experts with a couple of backlink-related features that are not equivalent to Ahrefs. This backlink auditing tool is used to identify links that could be potentially toxic, such as spam links that tend to be penalized by search engines.

Outputting a list with these links to be ignored by Google is a great way to eliminate them. Still, there are many specialists who think that this isn’t a very useful feature because a more manual approach can help to identify what is useful and what’s not better.

Since this isn’t a very relevant feature that is mandatory, it doesn’t make Semrush the choice to go for it due to Ahrefs omitting this feature. However, the link-building features that Semrush provides are more useful, analyzing domains, URLs, and targets to which to link.

Which Tool Is Best for Rank Tracking?

Also known as SERP tracking or position tracking, this feature helps to track daily website rankings for a custom set of keywords. In this case, the Ahrefs tracker is more generous, allowing specialists to check up to 750 words. Meanwhile, Semrush’s limit is 500 words.

As for higher pricing plans, this also applies. Ahrefs is allowed to reach up to 2000 and 5000 with their respective plans, meanwhile Semrush is limited to 1500 and 5000.

Besides that, Semrush has certain add-on features that must be paid for, such as local SEO and trends, information about businesses, local rankings, GoogleMyBusiness and review monitoring.

Are Domain Metrics Reliable?

Metrics determine the value, ranking and cost of one link site to another. It tells how strong a site is. While these metrics have changed over time and require other metrics to be successfully tested, they’re still a great way to check a site’s authority.

How Semrush Calculates Domain Authority (DA) and Traffic

Semrush Authority Score is a compound metric used by this tool to measure a site’s performance, quality and overall SEO. It proves the website’s trustworthiness and authority. It’s calculated thanks to AI and machine learning measures that consist of three main facets:

  • Link Power: relates to the quality and quantity of backlinks used.
  • Organic Traffic: estimates the monthly average of organic search traffic.
  • Spam Factors: tells which links are considered spammy against natural link profiles.

Each of these facets has a weight on the domain authority score, with link power being the most heavy one. Having an imbalance of links and organic traffic, no organic rankings or SERPs or a not natural high number of “dofollow sites“ DA and traffic will be reduced.

How Ahrefs Calculates Domain Authority (DR) and Traffic

In Ahrefs, domain authority shows the strength of a website backlink compared to the others provided by the database, based on a 100-point scale. To calculate it, Ahrefs considers:

  • When a domain DR is higher, more “link juice” is transferred to linked domains.
  • Source domains are split equally amongst every domain it is linked to, making these sites able to influence DR.

With these calculations, Ahrefs tools are able to get a rating for each domain. This final DR value is scaled by computing, and goes from 0 to 100. The higher, the better the domain is. This metric is relative, but a good DR is considered higher than competitors.

However, keep in mind that these metrics are subjective to each tool. While in one you may have a high score, in another you may have a very low score. Or even see constant fluctuations. The important thing is not to be guided exclusively by them but to take into consideration all the factors in their totality. 

The Role of GSC and Google Analytics?

While the debate of Semrush vs Ahrefs might seem complicated, the truth is that both tools are amazing to use, and great at what they do. Picking one over another won’t have a huge impact, and it’s only a matter of taste and choice for each expert.

What really has an impact on a marketing agency and SEO specialist work is the use of other tools, such as Google Search Console and Google Analytics. These tools provide real data about the website, and must never be neglected.

Google Analytics helps experts understand who’s using the site and how they behave. It provides reports about traffic, referral resources, audience demographics, bounce rate, and many other handy tools. Marketers, sales staff and web teams greatly benefit from it.

As for the Google Search Console, it helps specialists to see how search engines perceive the site, making it easier to troubleshoot problems in pages and SERPs. Reports can also be customized to pull relevant data about queries, impressions, clicks and more.

Conclusion

Ahrefs shines particularly in its depth of keyword research, backlink analysis, and competitor insights, meanwhile Semrush offers a broader suite of features covering not only SEO but also content marketing, PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, and social media management.

It’s vital to consider your business goals, budget, and the specific tools and functionalities that align best with your needs. Both Semrush and Ahrefs are reputable platforms with loyal user bases, so whichever you choose, you’ll have access to powerful tools.

Also keep in mind that hiring the services of a marketing agency like Kala can potentially boost your SEO rankings, attract more users and clicks thanks to their specialized work in both the short and long term.

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