The internet has come a long way from its initial barebone state. That progress came with a lot of websites being created and consistently improving. While competing for viewership and clicks was a much simpler process many years ago, getting noticed can be very hard in today’s landscape. When you look at the current state of things, it’s hard to imagine that there ever was a time when your webpage could do great numbers without any investment in or attention to SEO.
Imagine if you tried to do something like that today. It’s likely that there are websites around that display a complete lack of regard for SEO principles. However, those websites likely fall into one of two categories. There’s the extremely rare case of those in such a unique niche that there aren’t many search results anyway. The more likely scenario is that people probably don’t even see the websites because of how far down in the search results they are.
Of course, you don’t want your website to fall into that obscure category, so it’s important to do all you can two get the traffic you want. Going that route likely involves finding an SEO tool that can help you organically grow your search traffic. Imagine being able to properly optimize keywords without stuffing them in a way that allows you to soar past your competition.
SEMrush is one option you could investigate for your optimization needs. It’s arguably the most popular SEO tool on the internet, and it’s billed as a leading online marketing competitive research service. The platform is known for its plethora of features, which seem to come in handy in various situations. A lot of experience and development has gone into SEMrush, as it was released in its initial form back in 2007. Back then, it was no more than a Firefox extension named SeoQuake.
Another solid option is Ahrefs. With a 2011 release date, it’s not as old as SEMrush, but it has established itself as a top player. It does great backlink analysis, which has translated into success for numerous users. If you want a platform with a targeted focus on SEO operations, Ahrefs does it with a very accurate link database.
Below is a comparison of SEMrush vs Ahrefs in four different key areas, which should be more than you need to help you choose which platform you want to grow with.
Pricing and Free Plan
SEMrush is not one of those services that offer a free plan. You can try its different plans for free, but those are traditional trials that come to an end at some point. If you’re going the route of SEMrush, you get to choose between one of three plans. All the prices listed below are for monthly billing. There is also an annual billing option for each subscription, which saves you a whole 16%.
The first plan is called the pro subscription, which may come off to some as a weird naming choice for the lowest tier offering. Most other subscription-based offerings associated with the word “pro” tend to be on the more advanced side. Still, it doesn’t take away from what the plan has to offer. SEMrush describes this plan as being for in-house marketers, startups, and freelancers who have a limited budget.
Under the pro plan, you get a most domain and keyword analytic features, some project-based features, limited reporting, limited user management, and traffic analytics API access upon request. The gist of the pro plans feature set is to give you the fundamental tools you need, such as rankings, competitor traffic sources, and social media results. This is combined with the tools you need to run SCO, PPC, and SMM projects. The cost of this plan is $119.95 monthly.
The guru plan is next in line, and it costs $229.95 monthly. It is designed for growing marketing agencies and small to medium businesses. As you would expect, all the features in the pro plan make a return here. The difference is that the guru plan includes additional features in content marketing, historical data, and extended limits. Under the guru plan, there are greater domain and keyword analytics, more project-based features, greater reporting, and the ability to import your rankings from third-party tools.
The final plan is known as the business subscription, and it’s available for $449.95 monthly. This plan is designed for e-commerce projects, businesses, and agencies that have and depend on an extensive web presence. All the features of the guru subscription are available here. Additionally, there is API access, extended limits and sharing options, and Google Data Studio integration. You get even more domain and keyword analytics, all project-based features, even more reporting potential and better content marketing platform options.
Regardless of which subscription you have, you can access competitive intelligence, the agency growth kit, additional users, and listing management. However, all these features attract separate monthly charges in addition to your subscription cost.
Like SEMrush, Ahrefs does not have a consistent free plan. You can access a free trial of the first two plans below for $7. Bear in mind that the trial only lasts for a week. All the prices below are monthly subscription costs. Ahrefs allows you to pay annually, and doing so gives you a discount equal to the total cost of subscribing for two months.
The first plan is known as the lite subscription. This gives one user access to limited site audit features, limited rank tracker features, limited site explorer features, limited backlink index features, limited ranking index features, limited content explorer features, limited keyword explorer features, a few alerts, and a few extra tools. The cost of this subscription is $99 monthly.
The next option is the standard subscription, which costs $179 monthly. It includes all the lite features, with a few modifications. There is greater site auditing, better rank tracking, more site explorer features, access to more backlink indices, better ranking index features, better content explorer features, better keyword explorer features, more alerts, and greater access to extra tools.
The third subscription option is the advanced plan, which comes at the cost of $399 per month. All standard features are included with a few modifications. First, three users can use the system. There is much better site auditing, rank tracking, site explorer features, and indices. Additionally, alerts are improved, the keyword and content explorer features are expanded, and the extra tools are even more comprehensive.
The final plan is known as the agency subscription, and it allows for use from up to five different users. The site auditing features are greater, there’s better rank tracking, a better site explorer, the best backlink and ranking, better content and keyword explorer features, all alerts in their most optimal state, and the best offerings of the extra tools. This subscription costs $999 monthly.
Ahrefs allows you to upgrade or downgrade subscriptions at any time with no hidden fees.
Both SEMrush and Ahrefs are web-based utilities. While this may seem a little limiting at first, it does mean any device with a browser that can access the internet is one that you can use either of these platforms on.
Whenever you’re using a platform developed by any company, it’s always good to know that the support is great. Having multiple support channels is a good sign, as it means customers can get the assistance they need, based on what is most convenient to them.
SEMrush offers its support in the form of phone, chat, and email methods. Ahrefs, on the other hand, uses only email and chat for support.
You can create projects under both platforms, and either impose their limits on the number that you can create. At the lower-tier subscriptions, you can create five with Ahrefs and three with SEMrush. By the time you get to the $399 plans across both platforms, you can create up to 25 projects. Even without looking at the Ahrefs agency subscription, the platform has a distinct advantage by allowing you to purchase extra projects for $10 at any subscription level.
Neither platform is the most generous in the world when it comes to allowing multiple users to benefit from them. No matter which SEMrush plan you choose, you are only granted a single user account. You can expand on this, but it requires you to make additional monthly payments to have more users. It costs $70 per month for pro users and $140 monthly for ‘guru’ or ‘business’ users. Additionally, while you can use up to 9 users with the ‘business’ plan, the ‘pro’ and ‘guru’ plans only allow you two additional users.
Ahrefs allows only a single user in its first two plans, while you can use three and five users with the ‘advanced’ and agency ‘subscriptions,’ respectively. Additionally, you can choose to buy more seats for $30 per month.
Neither design makes it feel like rocket science to use the platform. Nevertheless, Ahrefs seems to have managed to put together an interface that is a bit more intuitive. There is emphasis on the word ‘bit’ here, as no one is saying that SEMrush’s interface is a chore to use.
Even with the simplest of subscriptions, there’s quite a bit of information to go through and understand where SEO is concerned. Ahrefs managed to layout its menu in a slightly more efficient way. The menu bar at the top of the screen has the dashboard, as well as the explorer, tracker, and audit main menus. Selecting any of them shows a collection of useful information in text and pictorial form in the center of the screen. To the left, there are submenus that you can use to further make the information more useful. Of course, having the search bar above everything but the main menu bar is also a great design choice.
SEMrush is a more visual platform than Ahrefs. Its interface consists of many graphs and charts of different types, and they help you easily understand information. Truthfully, it presents a lot more data than Ahrefs does, which could be a reason for the slight complexity spike.
Other great features that both sites include are keyword search, domain analysis, backlink analysis, auditing, and reporting. SEMrush tends to do better in the categories that don’t involve backlinks, while Ahrefs does better with the backlink-related areas.
SEMrush has integrations with a collection of other tools that help to keep things organized. These include Google Analytics, Google search console, Gmail, Google Data Studio, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, WordPress, Majestic, and Trello.
The Ahrefs API is available for you to create your custom integrations as needed. Additionally, there are existing integrations with tools that you may use, including Klipfolio, Pitchbox, Rank Ranger, DashThis, Databox, Confection, Stackby, etc.