Semrush vs. Ahrefs: Which Is Better? – Complete Guide

Ahrefs and Semrush are both pioneers of the SEO industry, packing in a comprehensive suite that is used by the biggest organizations in the world. The reality of this competition is so close that it’s very difficult to deduce which is the better solution for you. From SMEs to NASDAQ businesses, you’ll always find them to be relying on either of the software.

This article is an in-depth comparison of Semrush and Ahrefs that will help you compare the features of both Ahrefs and Semrush on a technical level to decide which one is suitable for you.

This begs the question- which is really the best SEO tool for you?

Well, to answer that, we need to consider many more variables and factors. In essence, both software features robust tools that are more than enough to handle the SEO needs of any business. If you’re just looking for a fundamental approach, feel free to invest in either.

However, if you want to be careful and cost-effective with your decision, you need to first understand the differences between both SEO software and then tally them with the needs of your business.

Let’s get started.

Key Features Of Semrush And Ahrefs That Set Them Apart

If Semrush and Ahrefs are similar and powerful enough to conduct all SEO deeds in the most professional way, let’s start by pointing out the main differences that these both have. These are probably the features that you will consider the most to reach a decision.

As a good base, I will first list out all the key features that Ahrefs and Semrush are both fully equipped to perform. These are:

  • Website Analysis
  • Keyword Research
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Backlink Analysis
  • Rank Tracking
  • Site Audit
  • Content Analysis
  • PPC Analysis
  • Social Media Analysis

Now let’s list out the main differences between Ahrefs and Semrush that can significantly influence your decision. These are:

30 Day Free TrialGenerally, more accurate data for most SEO benchmarks.
Takes more of a complete and all-rounder approach rather than a focused approachProvides a more in-depth and detailed approach to most features
Offers the most features in almost all modulesLeverages its competitive advantage in backlink and keyword research in almost all modules
Provides 50+ marketing tools that can boost your digital marketing campaigns Offers Ahrefs Academy along with many unique features such as Batch Analysis and Content Gap that significantly boosts SEO
Cheaper Business PlanCheaper Starter Plan (Lite)

Semrush vs. Ahrefs – In-depth Analysis

Since Semrush and Ahrefs are both comprehensive tools, we can’t have just a simple comparison guide to deduce who the real winner is. In my opinion, the best way to do this is by following two steps:

  1. Compare both software for each of their functions and decide which is better
  2. Then, when we have an overall winner, compare both software for each of their plans. For example, as a complete solution, Ahrefs may be the better SEO tool, but does it really provide more benefit than Semrush in its basic plan?

If you just want a quick look at how each software performs at different benchmarks in just one glance, the table below might help.

DashboardCan seem overwhelming and crammedNeat and clean
Keyword ResearchBiggest keyword databaseMore accurate keyword data
Backlink AnalysisFundamentally powerful enoughComprehensive analysis with state-of-the-art features
Competitor AnalysisEmphasizes an all-round and complete approachEmphasizes backlink analysis
Site AuditsFoundational and all-round approachTechnical SEO Audit
Rank TrackingLocal search analysis includedPaid search analysis included
Content AnalysisEmphasizes On-Page SEOEmphasizes Backlink Analysis and Content Gaps
Additional Tools50+ marketing toolsAhrefs Academy, Content Gap, Batch Analysis, and more
Ease of useNavigation can seem complex Clean UI ensures seamless navigation
PricingFree trial + Cheaper pricesExpensive but more value of money

For the in-depth analysis now, let’s get started!


The dashboard of both applications is important to consider because this is where digital marketers spend most of their time, and you need your SEO software dashboard to be showing you the most important information at the first impression, saving you valuable time.


Semrush’s dashboard is comprehensive, offering valuable insights into a plethora of functionalities at first glance. As you scroll down, you can find even more details on a project’s dashboard. 

Screenshot 2023 09 04 at 6.43.58 PM

On the first impression, Semrush offers the key metrics of a website’s On-Page SEO. Here’s everything you can directly view:

  • Referring domains
  • Organic traffic & keywords
  • Visibility
  • Top Keywords

However, Semrush is often criticized for having an overwhelming dashboard that is too full of information that doesn’t really need to be on the first page.

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On the other hand, Ahrefs has a very clean and intuitive user interface when it comes to the dashboard. It doesn’t scatter useless information all over your screen but instead focuses on only showing key metrics at first glance. 

Screenshot 2023 09 04 at 6.45.09 PM

On a single page, you can view the following metrics for at least 2 websites at once:

  • Health score
  • Domain rating
  • Referring domains & backlinks
  • Organic traffic & keywords

Just one click away, you can view your website’s Google Search Console performance graph showing the trend of your website’s overall clicks and impressions.

And all the other functions of the SEO tool are available in the menu bar available at the top.

Verdict – Which Is Better?

Dashboards aren’t supposed to be clustered and thorough. That’s what deeper features and tools are for. This is why, I personally wouldn’t think anyone would prefer Semrush’s dashboard that flushes out all the information on you at first glance. This is why, I would give Ahrefs the first win.

Score? Semrush 0:1 Ahrefs

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the core of SEO, which is why it’s not really surprising that both SEO tools do a solid job when it comes to keyword analysis.


Semrush offers a robust keyword research tool with reportedly the largest keyword database (24.9 million!). This opens each keyword up to search volume estimates and keyword difficulty scores. 

Additionally, Semrush offers its famous Keyword Magic Tool that provides you with valuable keyword variations you can focus on. 

Detailed metrics for keywords include keyword trends, search volume distribution, and competitive density.


Ahrefs, on the other hand, offers the most accurate keyword research data with its Keyword Explorer feature. This doesn’t only help you get standard metrics for the keyword that you search, but also other keyword ideas, top-ranking pages for different keywords, and an estimated potential traffic for each keyword.

Screenshot 2023 09 04 at 6.45.57 PM

Ahrefs has a notable advantage over Semrush here with the ability to analyze backlinks of the top-ranking pages for the target keywords. This information is very valuable for finding backlink gaps.


While Semrush does offer the biggest keyword database and its Keyword Magic Tool is very popular for being useful in generating many more related keywords than Ahrefs, I think the clear winner here is Ahrefs.

This is because, in my opinion, more accurate keyword data and backlink gaps are much more valuable when it comes to keyword research than a bigger list of keyword ideas.

The score’s now Semrush 0:2 Ahrefs

Backlinking is yet another crucial part of SEO. Your website’s backlinks act as validation and authority for Google which assists in better SERP rankings. For this reason, websites spend a good amount of time and money creating strong backlinks to increase their authority over SERPS.

Here is how Semrush and Ahrefs help you with backlinking.


Semrush provides a robust backlink analysis tool that offers a deep insight into the backlinking structure of any website. Here are some of the most used features:

  • Number of backlinks
  • Referring domains
  • Anchor texts
  • Authority and quality of backlinks
  • Follow and nofollow links segmentation
  • Toxic backlinks

Semrush can identify all of these and create a detailed report for a website in no time, allowing you to not only analyze your own website but also understand your competitors better.


Ahrefs, on the other hand, started out initially as a backlinking tool back in 2010, so it’s no surprise that no matter how powerful Semrush may be at backlink analysis, Ahrefs is definitely a step ahead.

In addition to providing quantitative and qualitative data on backlinks, Ahrefs dives deep into competitors’ backlink profiles and identifies their most valuable backlinks while simultaneously discovering new backlinking opportunities for you.

These advanced features include tracking backlink growth, analyzing historical data, and assessing the impact of backlinks on search rankings.

However, the key selling point of Ahrefs has to be Link Intersect. This feature helps you identify websites that link to your competitors but not to you, providing you ample prospects for backlink outreach opportunities.


Even though Semrush does a pretty solid job with backlink analysis and reports, Ahref’s extensive backlink database, link quality assessment, and Link Intersect features help Ahrefs win this round.

Ahrefs seeps ahead with Semrush 0:3 Ahrefs

Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis enables you to spy on your competition and derive valuable intel from them which could be implemented on your own website for a boost in rankings and SEO improvement. This is a popular technique most SMEs use to jump ahead of their competition by spying on powerful websites of their niche and following their strategies.


Semrush provides an all-around approach to competitor analysis offering detailed insights about your competition in almost every aspect. The key feature which sets Semrush apart is its analysis of competitors’ organic and paid search strategies. 

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In addition to that, here’s everything else Semrush details out from your competition:

  • Organic search traffic
  • Authority score
  • Backlink analysis
  • Paid search traffic
  • Traffic by country
  • Organic traffic
  • SERP features
  • Organic keywords
  • Organic position distribution
  • Detailed traffic analytics
  • Organic research data
  • Keyword gap


On the other hand, Ahrefs also offers a comprehensive competitor analysis, but seems to emphasize too much on backlinks instead of going for an all-round approach like Semrush.

A good metric that is unique to Ahref, however, is Content Gap which helps you identify keywords and content opportunities on which your competitors are ranking on but you’re not. This can open up easily attainable avenues for you to rank higher on this missed content.

Here are some key metrics used in Ahrefs competition analysis:

  • URL rating
  • Domain rating
  • Backlink analysis
  • Organic traffic
  • Traffic value
  • Organic keywords
  • Ahrefs rank
  • Crawled pages


As a whole, I would probably have given Ahrefs the win here just because of its extensive backlink analysis which is significantly valuable in SEO, however, since we’ve already discussed backlink analysis before, I would have to give Semrush the win here for providing a complete competition analysis with a plethora of useful metrics.

Semrush catches up with Semrush 1:3 Ahrefs

Site Auditing

SEO audits are an essential part of your SEO strategy that enables you to analyze your website’s SEO health and helps you solve issues before they break bad. Site audits are a recommendation for all websites to conduct every once in a while.


Semrush’s site auditing tool leaves no stone unturned by providing a comprehensive analysis of your website including the following metrics:

  • Technical issues
  • Broken links
  • Duplicate content
  • Missing metas
  • Slow pages

Once the analysis is complete, Semrush creates a user friendly report to highlight all present issues on the website with respective recommendations on how to solve and improve them.

Additionally, you can also make use of the crawl comparison feature to track changes and improvements over time.


Ahrefs, on the other hand, implements more of a focused approach with its Site Audits. The purpose remains the same, to identify technical and SEO issues on the website that may affect performance negatively. Here are some key metrics Ahrefs uses in Site Audits:

  • Broken links
  • Internal linking issues
  • Crawl errors
  • Slow loading pages

At the end of the site audit, Ahrefs produces a detailed report listing out all the website issues and also offers a visual representation of your site’s structure, with recommendations on how to improve your SEO’s health.


Both Semrush and Ahrefs do an outstanding job in their site audits. As with many other features as well, Semrush again focuses more on an all-round approach here while Ahrefs focuses on technical SEO audits identifying complex issues of the website. 

Both strategies can be equally useful to different companies. Your preference depends entirely on the type of website you operate.

Semrush 2:4 Ahrefs

Rank Tracking and SERP Analysis

Rank tracking and SERP analysis help you understand how well your website is ranking on Google and the keywords it’s ranking on. Since high rankings directly bring organic traffic to a website, rank tracking and analysis are critical parts of SEO.


Semrush offers robust rank tracking tools that monitor keyword rankings and track changes over time. You can identify your performance in organic, local, and mobile searches.

Thorough SERP analysis provides you with keyword rankings, search volumes, and visibility trends. This is used by Semrush to generate detailed reports for SERP performance.


Ahrefs offers similar rank tracking and SERP analysis features, helping you monitor keyword ranking and target their progress. However, where Semrush specializes in offering mobile and local ranking insights, Ahrefs details paid search ads, organic search snippers, and related questions ranking analysis. 


Once again, Semrush and Ahrefs both do a solid fundamental job of rank tracking. Semrush specializes in providing insights on mobile, local searches, and featured snippets, while Ahrefs specializes in providing SERP analysis for organic search snippers, paid search ads, and Google related questions. Both are equally important for different types of business.

The deciding factor is the type of business you operate.

Semrush 3:5 Ahrefs

Content Analysis

Since Google leverages keywords to rank your website it is important to optimize your website’s content to have a good and natural use of keywords and be optimized with SEO.


Semrush evaluates the performance of your content by tracking organic search visibility, analyzing keyword rankings, and identifying content optimization gaps. The Semrush Content Analyzer then provides practical recommendations for better on-page SEO optimization with suggestions such as improving metas or content length.

Semrush additionally also offers insights into social media engagement of your content.


Ahrefs identifies areas of improvement in your content by analyzing organic search traffic and the backlink profiles for your content. Since Ahrefs is robust in backlinks analysis, it can easily deduce which pieces of content drive the most traffic and attract the highest quality of backlinks.

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Another great feature we previously discussed is Content Gap, where Ahrefs identifies topics and keywords your competitors are ranking for that open up potential opportunities for you to rank on them as well.


Once again, both tools conduct a strong Content Analysis but specialize in different areas. Semrush retains the focus on overall assessments, analyzing the whole of On-Page SEO and social media metrics, whereas Ahrefs leverages its backlink analysis and content gap feature to derive valuable results.

Even though I’m leaning towards Ahrefs here because I personally value backlinking more than foundation level on-page SEO recommendations, I do understand there are different cases for websites I’m unfamiliar with. This is why, both tools get a point over here too.

Semrush 4:6 Ahrefs

Additional Tools

Both Semrush and Ahrefs come with additional tools that set them apart as the better SEO tool in the industry. Let’s take a look at some of the best features you get with both of them.


Semrush has over 50 marketing tools that can equip you with enhancing resources for your digital marketing campaigns. Among the best of them are:
Local SEO: Semrush emphasizes local SEO, offering a distinctive module for businesses interested in local campaigns with valuable features like position tracking, listing management, on-page SEO checker, and site audit.

Advertising dashboard: This helps you manage and track your ad campaigns directly from Semrush to keep in touch with its performance and generate analytical reports whenever needed. This is mostly used for PPC campaigns.

Social Media Toolkit: This FREE toolkit helps you manage and schedule social media content, track its performance, and respond to engagements across various social media platforms simultaneously.

Content Marketing: Semrush provides content creators with a mix of writing tools including topic research, SEO writing assistant, SEO content template, post tracking, brand monitoring, and content audit.


Ahrefs offers its users many additional unique features as well, but unlike Semrush, most of these features are technical. The most popular Ahrefs tools are:

Batch analysis: analyzes up to 200 URLs simultaneously.

Ahrefs Academy: Offers access to SEO courses for beginners taught by industry experts. These courses are highly credited in the SEO industry.

Other tools include:

  • Ahrefs apps
  • Ahrefs API
  • SEO toolbar
  • WordPress plugin


Semrush offers a wider variety of tools that have a general purpose, offering value to your SEO tasks on almost day to day basis. This is why, I’d give Semrush a point over here.

Semrush equalizes with Semrush 5:6 Ahrefs

Ease Of Use

Tools like Ahrefs and Semrush are used by whole departments or agencies of digital marketing, which means the slightest learning curve in either SEO tool can accumulate waste of time in the operations of the business.


Since Semrush focuses on a comprehensive and featureful approach, while the interface is still rather user friendly, many users complain Semrush to be a bit complex and overwhelming to use. Even though, at the end of the day, the wide catalog of features does prove its use to the user, in the first few instances, it just leaves you confused and lost with so many tools and menus on your screen.


Ahrefs emphasizes on a clean and straightforward user interface, where users reportedly find it easy to navigate through different features and tools. 

The platform is kept simple, with the most important features and metrics available directly on the dashboard, clearly organized and visible with menus and icons.


Even though Semrush should get the advantage of being more featureful, when we’re talking about ease of use and UI friendliness, Ahrefs clearly takes the win.

Semrush 5:7 Ahrefs


Last, but definitely not the least, pricing. The price of each software is one of the most important variables in making the decision of which software to use. Both of these software aren’t really the easiest to compare with pricing because Semrush offers 3 different plans while Ahrefs offers 4, but I’ll try my best to judge equivocally.

Instead of explaining the differences in a list, I think it is more suitable to compare all the plans together in a table so here goes!

Starts at $119.95/monthStarts at $229.95/monthStarts at $449.95/monthStarts at $99/monthStarts at $199/monthStarts at $399/monthStarts at $999/month
Aimed at freelancers, startups, and small businessesAimed at marketing agencies and growing businessesAimed at larger enterprises and agencies that require all available SEO resources to stay at the top of the industryAimed at beginner freelancers and startupsAimed at established freelancers and marketing consultantsAimed at digital marketing agencies and in-house professional teamsAimed at industry leading agencies and enterprises
Unlocks all core features of the tool, namely keyword research, on-page SEO optimization, and rank tracking.In addition to core features, unlocks professional features such as content marketing tools, branded reports, and historical data.Provides additional Semrush features such as API access, extended limits, and sharing options.Unlocks access to most Ahrefs features with a few data and usage limitationsUnlocks extensive features such as Content Explorer, Content Gap, Link Intersect, and Batch Analysis, with higher data and usage limits Unlocks higher data limits and advanced features such as advanced reporting, multi-user access, Google Data Studio, and Web Explorer Most comprehensive suits with the highest data limits (unlimited in some cases), access to all features, and advanced sharing and collaboration tools


Before jumping onto a conclusion, it is worth noting that only Semrush offers a free trial anymore, which already puts the software at an advantage.

At a standard level, while Semrush does have a more expensive basic plan, Ahrefs Lite does compromise a lot by limiting its key features of Content and Backlink Analysis. This is why, I think a better comparison would be against Ahrefs Standard where Semrush clearly takes the win.

At a professional level, I would compare Ahrefs Standard to Semrush Guru, where Ahrefs would take the win. Wouldn’t consider Ahrefs Advanced here just because it doesn’t really unlock that many useful features.

For the enterprise level, Semrush clearly takes the win with its complete package priced at less than half of what Ahrefs charges for its enterprise solution. However, in my personal opinion, I think enterprises should value the competitive advantage of a superior backlink and competitor analysis tool more than the low price of Semrush.

Still, since we’re just considering the price, Semrush takes the win.

Final score – Semrush 6:7 Ahrefs.


In summary, Semrush focuses on providing its users more of a complete package full of unique features and tools whereas Ahrefs focuses on excellence, quality, and accuracy. That’s exactly why, in my personal scoring, Ahrefs takes the overall win.

For beginners, I would suggest you start with Semrush Pro. This offers you the most features to play around with and get a good grasp of conducting SEO practically.

For intermediate and advanced levels, I would advise agencies and enterprises to stick with Ahrefs- quality over quantity.

Interested in more? Check out 9 Steps To A Technical SEO Audit – All You Need To Know Guide.

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