Semrush vs Ahrefs (2024): I Tried & Tested Both

Here’s an ultimate comaprison between two leading SEO tools – Semrush and Ahrefs.

Semrush and Ahrefs are the superheroes of the SEO world. When it comes to features and functionality, no other SEO tool comes even close to them. But what happens when they pit against each other? In the Epic battle of Semrush Vs. Ahrefs which tool reigns supreme?

I know that’s a tough call, so let me answer it for you. As a curious marketer with a knack for quality SEO tools, I have tried both. I am going to share  my first-hand experience regarding Semrush and Ahrefs.

I will compare both platforms and measure their performances in areas including;

·    Keyword research

·    Backlink Analysis

·    Site Auditing

·    Reporting 

·    Customer Support

·    Pricing

·    Usability

Read on the comparison between Semrush and Ahrefs and gain all the insights about the two platforms you could wish for.

Semrush vs Ahrefs: Understanding the Key Differences

Although several features and functionalities of Smerush and Ahrefs overall, there are significant differences between the two tools.

Let’s understand how Semrush and Ahrefs are different;

Working – Semrush uses advanced, cutting-edge machine learning algorithms and third-party data providers to create its database. Similarly, Semrush also pulls data directly from Google SERP, primarily from the top 100 websites for any given keyword.

Ahrefs, on the other hand, has a different way of working – it’s a crawler and crawls a website more or less in the same way as Search Engines. Likewise, Ahrefs also collects data from over ten different search engines giving its database more depth and variation.

Comprehensiveness – Semrush is a more comprehensive tool that offers features for a wide range of marketing activities. Therefore, Semrush’s functionality is not limited to SEO; it also provides complete toolkits for social media marketing, content marketing and paid advertising. On the other hand, Ahrefs is a more specialized tool, and its primary focus is SEO.

Data – Semrush maintains a significantly larger database of keywords and backlinks. Therefore it boasts unparalleled capabilities for keyword research. On the other hand, Ahrefs was conceived as a link analysis tool. Therefore, despite a smaller backlink database than Semrush, it offers a complete backlink profile of a domain.

Usability – Semrush’s comprehensive features and functionality is a hindrance to its usability. Its interface is a bit rugged and complex. On the other hand, Ahrefs keeps its interface simpler and more streamlined, enhancing its usability and ease of use.

Price – Semrush is a more affordable SEO tool suite than Ahrefs. Its Guru and Business Plans are far more affordable than the corresponding Standard and Advanced Plans in Ahrefs.

Semrush vs Ahrefs – Comparison Table 

If you need a concise overview of Semrush and Ahrefs and how both tools fare against each other, here’s a comprehensive comparison table to help you:

Semrush Ahrefs 
Keyword Database 24.8 billion keywords, 140 Databases7 billion Keywords.
Backlink Database 800 million domains200 million domains
Search Engines Pulls data from Google alone.Pulls data from 10 search engines including, Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu, Daum, Naver, Seznam etc. 
PPC FeaturesDedicated PPC ToolkitLimited Features
Social Media FeaturesStandalone Social Media Marketing Kit No Functionality for Social Media Marketing
ProsMassive keywords databaseWealth of addons like  advertising toolkits etc.Top-notch keyword research and auditsSimple interfaceExcellent link analysis capabilitiesAllow keyword tracking at local levels (city or region wise)
ConsCluttered User-InterfaceSteep learning curveFetch Data only From Google

Not cost-effectiveLacks reporting toolsLimited Support
Free Trial 7-day Free Trial AvailableNo Free Trial
PricingStarts at $119.95 per monthStarts at $99 per month

Why Choose Semrush – Quick Verdict

  • Free trial available 
  • Affordable pricing structure.
  • Better keyword research capabilities.
  • Generous reporting limits.
  • Provide more data for both SEO and PPC
  • Comprehensive site auditing feature.
  • Better Customer support – Live chat available.
  • Social Media marketing tools are available at no extra cost. 

Why Choose Ahrefs – Quick Reply 

  • Better backlink analysis capabilities.
  • Easier to use than Semrush.
  • Fetch data from multiple sources compared to Semrush which only retrieves data from Google. 
  • The broken link analysis feature is a real gem.
  • More flexible in terms of project limits.
  • Additional user accounts are much cheaper to add than Semrush.
  • Extensive rank-tracking capabilities

Semrush Vs. Ahrefs – Features and Functionality

Comparing Semrush and Ahrefs involves evaluating their features and functionality as leading SEO tools. From comprehensive keyword research and backlink analysis to unrivaled competitor insights and advanced rank tracking and reporting, I will dissect these industry-leading tools to determine the true champion of SEO supremacy.

1. Keyword Research

In terms of Keyword research, both Semrush and Ahrefs bring formidable tools to the table. Let’s take a closer look at what they offer.

SEMrush’s keyword research capabilities

SEMrush's keyword research capabilities

Smerush has a Keyword Overview Tool to help your research keywords. Its usage is simple – entering a term displays the monthly volume, difficulty, CPC, related keywords, rankings site, etc.

Then there’s the Keyword Magic Tool – a true gem in Semrush’s toolkit. You enter a seed phrase, set up a country, and spit out hundreds of related keywords based on its 140 databases.

Keyword database size and accuracy

In terms of the keyword database, Semrush has no competition. It boasts a humongous 24.8 billion keywords strong database. Besides, its search intent feature, detailed keyword analysis based on 100 top Google results, etc., provides a more accurate picture of any given keyword.

Keyword difficulty analysis

The interesting thing here is the keyword difficulty calculation. I have found, Semrush is able to provide a more accurate Keyword difficulty score than Ahrefs.

It’s because, for determining keyword difficulty, Smerush relies on multiple factors like search volume, number of terms in the keywords, branded or not, authority of the pages ranking for that keyword, quality of backlink profile etc. 

Ahrefs’ keyword research capabilities

For keyword research, Ahrefs has Keyword Explorer. Its simplicity matches Semrush – you enter a term, and Ahrefs provide its details.

But, the keyword research capabilities of Ahrefs are limited compared to Semrush primarily due to its smaller keyword database and less accurate keyword difficulty calculation algorithm. 

Ahrefs' keyword research capabilities

There’s no search intent feature – you have workarounds, but they are too troublesome, like gauging the intent via modifiers – how, what, review comparisons, etc.

Keyword database size and accuracy

Ahrefs’ keyword database is extensive, too (7 billion keywords). But above all, what’s impressive is that it pulls data from 10 different search engines. Besides it also includes unique click metrics, which indicate the estimated number of clicks on that keyword.

Keyword difficulty analysis

Ahrefs relies solely on the number of backlinks pointing to that keyword in top-ranking sites to evaluate its difficulty. In my opinion, it offers a bit less accurate keyword difficulty picture than Smerush.

Interestingly, I have found that what Ahrefs calls easy or medium to rank keywords (Low Keyword Difficulty Value) often comes out as a high difficulty keyword in Semrush.

WinnerSemrush is best for keyword research, primarily for its extensive keyword database and accuracy.

2. Backlink Analysis

Backlink analysis is another crucial part of SEO. Let’s explore how Smerush and Ahrefs handle backlink analysis;

Semrush’s backlink analysis features

Semrush boasts a powerful backlink analysis tool that offers invaluable insights about backlink profiles for a given domain. Similarly it also lets you effectively hunt linking opportunities, disavow toxic links, and evaluate competitors’ link-building strategies.

Semrush's backlink analysis features

Backlink database size and freshness

Semrush database size is huge – it includes data from over 800 million domains. In theory, that’s too extensive, but in practice, I have found that Ahrefs still beats Semrush when revealing backlink data.

Competitor backlink analysis

Semrush backlink analysis enables you to identify competitors, uncover their most powerful links, and compare your own backlinks profile with that of competitors. I found its link-building tool to be pretty neat. It provides you with a complete list of links prospecting domains unique to Semrush.

Ahrefs’ backlink analysis features

Backlink analysis is the stronghold of Ahrefs. It was originally crafted to retrieve accurate backlink data and still does the job way better than any other tool.

Ahrefs' backlink analysis features

Ahrefs backlinks reports include matrices like dofollow and nofollow links, country of origins, anchor text, new vs. lost domains, linking domain type, etc.

Backlink database size and freshness

As per Ahrefs, it maintains a backlink database from over 200 million domains. That’s much lower than Smerush, but it doesn’t hamper Ahrefs from providing a detailed overview of a domain’s backlinks.

Competitor backlink analysis

Although Ahrefs has a much smaller backlink database compared to Semrush, I have found that it reveals way more backlink details.

It uncovers more referring domains than Semrush giving accurate insights into links profiles of a particular domain.

Likewise, Ahrefs also includes ‘Link Intersect’ tools which allow you to compare your website’s domain with competitors’ for link-building opportunities.

Winner – Ahrefs manages to outshine Semrush in this segment on the strength of its hyper exhaustive backlinks details. Likewise its segmentation of backlinks data based on “New”, “Lost” and “Broken” incoming links, Referring Domains and Anchors, paints in my opinion a better picture of the overall link profile of a given domain. 

3. Site Auditing and On-Page SEO

Both Semrush and Ahrefs pack powerful site auditing tools. Let’s see how they fare against each other in this segment;

Semrush’s site auditing capabilities

Semrush audits sites on around 130 parameters to provide a detailed overview of site health. It helps gauge the possible gaps in your SEO strategy.

Semrush's site auditing capabilities

But to me, what appeals more is not the functionality but the UI. Semrush neatly presents the errors in red, which instantly draws attention.

On-page SEO recommendations

One thing that is unique to Semrush is the On-Page optimization function. Any on-page issues are presented as suggestions and not an error. It lets you prioritize things and address the most impactful on-page SEO suggestions first.

Ahrefs’ site auditing capabilities

Ahrefs site audits are exhaustive too. The Site Audit Tool analyzes the website for several parameters including site structure, URL Info, redirect chain issues etc. The site structure is a recently added feature but it provides valuable data about HTTP status codes, estimated organic traffic, link depth, referring domains etc. 

The site structure insights have helped me identify areas on the website that have broken and redirected pages, underperforming in terms of traffic, attract the most backlinks or have the least indexable content. 

In my opinion the segmentation is another nifty feature that allows you to isolate irrelevant issues related to specific sections of the website. If you manage a large website, this will come handy to focus on the most relevant issues with greatest impact on websites’ SEO

On Page SEO recommendations

Like Semrush, Ahrefs also presents a comprehensive on-page SEO report. But it doesn’t only reveal issues related to On-Page factors like title, description, content length indexability etc. The Ahrefs site audit also reveals the status of URL’s inlinks – page’s internal links. Similarly it also uncovers issues related to hreflang tags, duplicates etc. 

WinnerSemrush and Ahrefs are equally robust regarding site auditing capabilities. However, I give a strong verdict and backup Semrush more on account of the neat interface.

4. Reporting Capabilities

Reporting is crucial to gauge the performance of SEO strategies. This segment will cover the reporting capabilities of both Semrush and Ahrefs;

Reporting Capabilities of Semrush

  •  Enable creating custom branded and white-label PDF reports.
  •  Allow data integration via Google Search Console, Google Business Profile, and Google Analytics.
  •  Integration with Google Data Studio is available for Guru and the above plans.

Reporting Capabilities of Ahrefs

  •  A dedicated reporting tool is missing.
  •   Integration with Google Data Studio is available with Advanced and Enterprise.
  • Allow users to generate pdf reports.

WinnerSemrush clearly has better reporting capabilities than ahrefs. It has a dedicated reporting tool as well as more exhaustive limits. Likewise, as you move up in the pricing structure, reporting limits increase too. On the other hand, missing reporting tool is certainly a big downside of Ahrefs 

5. User Interface and Ease of Use

Ease of use is a critical point while evaluating an SEO tool. Let’s say the user interface is too cluttered – in that case, you may miss key data. So, between Semrush and Ahrefs, which tools offer a better user experience?

Let’s find out;

Semrush’s user interface and ease of use

I think Semrush offers a simple interface – a bit dated by present-day standards. Likewise, too many things are packed into the interface, making it somewhat overwhelming.

Navigation and dashboard

Semrush's user interface and ease of use

Navigation on Semrush is not as smooth as on Ahrefs. There’s a lot of clicking and shifting from one menu to another to get what you want.

. Can we add screenshots so users can relate to it?

Learning curve

Semrush undoubtedly involves a steep learning curve. It’s because of the extensive range of features that Semrush offers. It takes a while to understand how things work on Semrush. 

For example the backlink analysis alone involves too many matrices – there’s anchor text, referring domains, outbound domains, link type, link attribute etc. Extracting meaningful insights from so many attributes takes practice, thereby extending the learning curve. 

User experience

Navigation and dashboard

Semrush interface is certainly a bit rugged – it could be because Semrush tries to cram all the functions along with drop-down menus on the interface. 

Likewise, Smerush tries to present more info in one go, cluttering the interface. Consequently, the user experience downgrades a bit. However, things become smooth once you get hold of the Semrush interface.

Ahrefs’ user interface and ease of use

Ahrefs dashboard is intuitive and clean, which makes it easy to navigate.

Navigation and dashboard

The Ahrefs dashboard is more open and coherent – its menus are neatly laid out. Likewise, features are easily accessible – the top includes the primary tools like Site Explorer, etc. 

Ahrefs' user interface and ease of use

At the same time, the left panel packs all the additional attributes you can adjust to refine the results.

Ahrefs' user interface and ease of use

Learning curve

In terms of the learning curve, Ahrefs is no better than Sermsush – the reason is again the extent of functionality that Ahrefs includes. It’s bound to take time. But again, once you get the grip of the platform, it becomes a smooth ride.

User experience

I noticed that data loads slow on Ahrefs, compared to Semrush, particularly during domain analysis. It might impact the user experience for many. 

Other than that, Ahrefs is far smoother  than Smerush. Likewise, Ahrefs follow an at-a-glance approach to present everything, which does not overwhelm. It certainly improves the user experience.

User experience

Winner – Ahrefs perform a shade better regarding user experience. Semrush needs to streamline its interface and simplify navigation to boost user experience. 

6. Pricing and Plans

Semrush and Ahrefs both come with a hefty price tag. Let’s explore how they compare in terms of pricing;

Semrush pricing and plans

Semrush offers three subscriptions – Pro, Guru, and Business Plan. The difference is the number of features that you receive with each plan.

Semrush pricing and plans

Here are the details;

PlanPrice Features
Pro Plan$119.95 per monthProject Allowed – 5Keyword tracking – 500 keywords only.Results per report – 10,000
Guru Plan $229.95 per monthAll Features of Pro PlanProject Allowed – 1530000 Results per reportContent Marketing Tool – Unlimited
Business Plan$449.95 per monthAll Features of Guru PlanAPI Functionality – AvailableFree Migration from Other Tools.Access to PLA analytics.

You can also pay for an annual subscription. That will entitle you to a 17% discount. Likewise, there’s a free trial available with each plan. 

The best thing is Semrsuh makes available nearly all the features in its basic plan. The primary restriction in its basic plan is the extent of data you can pull and the number of projects allowed. Therefore if you are an entry level SEO professional who doesn’t deal with multiple projects at a time, Semrush Pro plan will be more than enough. Its  Guru and Business Plans are suitable for more experienced SEO professionals and agencies needing larger project limits, extensive crawl credits and keyword tracking capabilities.

Ahrefs pricing and plans

Ahrefs offers four plans – Lite, Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise. Here again, the price difference is based on the number of features you get to enjoy with each plan. Ahrefs also offer a free plan, get to know more here.

Ahrefs pricing and plans

Details are as follows:

Lite Plan$99 per monthSEO DashboardSite ExplorerKeywords Explorer & Site AuditRank Tracker & Alerts
Standard Plan$199 per monthAdditional features in the Site Explorer tool, like Content gap, Broken links, Broken backlinks, etc.Batch Analysis, Content explorer, and Domain Comparison also included
Advanced Plan$399 per monthExtensive Site Audit featuresAllow access to Google Data Studio
Enterprise Plan $999 per monthAll Features of Advanced PlanNo limits on historical dataAPI and audit Logs available.

Give the plan in a table for which is easy to grasp for users

Besides, if you purchase an annual Ahrefs subscription, you receive two months of free usage. Likewise, there’s no free trial which may seem a significant downside. However, Ahrefs recently rolled out a series of free tools – Ahrefs Webmaster Tools. These tools allow valuable insights into the working and dexterity of Ahrefs.

That said, Ahrefs ‘Lite Plan is severely restricted. Several key features like broken link building, link intersect and content gap are missing and to use them you have to move to higher tier subscription.  In any case Ahrefs Standard Plan provides the best value to individual users and small scale agencies. It unlocks nifty features like Content Explore, Batch analysis, Alerts etc and gives you ample limits (20 projects, 500,000 crawl credits etc.) to test multiple SEO strategies. 

WinnerSemrush is a more cost-effective solution between the two tools. The Pro and Guru plan comprise similar functionality as Ahrefs standard and business plan – however, they are much cheaper. Besides, the multiple addons like Semrush .Local, Semrush .Trends, Agency Growth Kit, ImpactHero allows users to significantly expand the functionality of Semrush and extract more value from the tool.

9. Customer Support and Resources

Customer Support is another essential criterion for evaluating the quality of an SEO tool. Let’s see between Semrush and  Ahrefs, which tool comes on top regarding;

Semrush customer support and resources

Accessing customer support information is a breeze on Semrush. Even if you aren’t logged in, you can easily access the contact details of customer support.

Semrush customer support and resources

Support channels available

Semrush performs better in this segment. Regarding availing of customer support, Semrush provides more avenues than Ahrefs. Incidentally, Semrush offers three channels to provide customer support – Phone, Email, and Chat Support.

Ahrefs customer support and resources

I noticed it is not possible to access customer support details unless you logged in to your account. If you click on the support option, you will be directed to the help portal – that’s not convenient.

Support channels available

Support channels on Ahrefs are limited. Users can only reach out to the Ahrefs support team via email. Although Ahrefs promises that all queries will be resolved within 10 minutes, delays do happen.


WinnerSmerush because it provides more platforms to offer customer support.

Conclusion: Which Tool is better, Semrush or Ahrefs?

Based on my experience with Semrush and Ahrefs, Smerush comes out as a better choice. While Ahrefs includes quality features, Semrush exceeds them by a margin.

But again, I will emphasize the context;

If link analysis is your forte, Ahrefs will be more suitable. Likewise, for overall SEO analysis, Smerush will give you the upper hand.

Similarly, Semrush is a more cost-effective solution, including more robust PPC tools, data visualization, and extensive reporting. And to make a more informed choice, take advantage of the 7-day free Semrush trial offer. It will allow you to experience its comprehensive functionality without spending a penny. 

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *