Both give you a huge wealth of data on keywords, backlinks, domain authority and technical SEO. However, there are some specific contexts when one of these tools might be a better fit for your project than the other.
So in this comparison I’m going to share five key reasons to use Ahrefs over Semrush, and five key ways in which Semrush might be the better choice.
Let’s dive in, starting with the reasons to choose Ahrefs.
One — Ahrefs gives you data from more search engines
One of the biggest advantages Ahrefs has over Semrush is that it gives you data from many more search engines.
While Semrush only provides data for Google, Ahrefs lets you perform keyword research for 9 additional search engines, including big hitters like YouTube and Amazon.
Now to be fair, given how Google dominates the search engine market, this won’t be a huge issue for a lot of users. But if you’re interested in optimizing your site for other search engines, Ahrefs offers you more data to help you with this.
Two — Ahrefs’ ‘traffic potential’ feature lets you see the true value of ranking highly for a keyword
A key part of keyword research is finding out how many people are searching for a particular phrase.
Now, while Ahrefs and Semrush both give you easy access to search volumes, Ahrefs goes one further by giving you a ‘traffic potential’ metric for keywords.
This includes traffic generated by searches which involve slight variations of those keywords.
Here’s an example of Ahrefs’ ‘traffic potential’ metric in action. You can see that although the ‘online store builder’ keyword has a search volume of around 3,000 searches per month, when keyword variations are accounted for, it has the potential to generate 18,000 visits per month to a site that ranks number one for it.
This data lets you spot juicy keywords that you might otherwise have overlooked.
Three — Ahrefs lets you work with more domains
If you need to work on multiple SEO projects involving lots of different websites, Ahrefs may be a better fit for you.
This is because Ahrefs lets you work with an unlimited number of verified domains. A verified domain is one that you can prove you have access rights to — you do this by connecting your Ahrefs account to Google Search Console, adding a DNS record to your domain, or adding some HTML to your site.
There isn’t a similar feature available in Semrush, which applies more strict limits to the number of domains you can work with.
Four — it’s easier to do broken link analysis with Ahrefs
Broken link building is an important SEO tactic.
It involves finding a broken link, recreating the ‘dead’ content that it used to point to, then asking anybody who used to link to the dead content to link to yours instead.
This approach allows you to build up new backlinks to your content — and the more backlinks that point to your website, the better your content is likely to perform in search.
Ahrefs makes it extremely easy to find broken links. You simply enter a domain name into its ‘Site Explorer’ section and click the Broken backlinks option. This then gives you a list of all that domain’s broken inbound links (and the sites where these links feature).
Although you can do broken link building with Semrush too, it involves a more convoluted process.
Five — the Ahrefs link intersect tool is more generous
A link intersect tool lets you identify websites that are currently linking to your competitors, but not to you. You can use this information to approach those websites and ask their owners for a backlink.
Ahrefs’ link intersect tool gives you more fine grain information than the Semrush equivalent, because it allows you to compare the link profile of a URL against 10 others, while Semrush limits the comparison to just four.
OK, so that’s five key reasons to use Ahrefs instead of Semrush. But where does Semrush win?
I’ll come to that in just a moment, but before I do, I’d like to invite you to like this video, hit the subscribe button and click the notifications bell. This helps us out and gives you easy access to all our SEO content going forward.
Right, let’s take a look now at the reasons to use Semrush over Ahrefs.
One — the reporting limits in Semrush are much more generous
Semrush is MUCH more generous when it comes to the number of reports you can pull per day.
For example, even on Semrush’s entry-level plan, you can pull 3,000 domain analysis reports per day — this is considerably more generous than Ahrefs’ 500 reports per month limit.
This comparative generosity continues as you go up the pricing ladder — in general, Semrush gives you access to much more data than Ahrefs across all its plans.
Two — Semrush gives you search intent data
Semrush gives you more context about WHY users perform particular searches than Ahrefs, thanks to its useful search intent’ feature.
As part of the metrics returned by Semrush for a particular keyword, you’ll see an ‘intent’ box highlighting the context in which a particular search is made. This lets you know whether a particular search phrase is informational, commercial, navigational or transactional.
This data can be invaluable when working out which keywords are most likely to generate revenue, and Ahrefs doesn’t currently provide it.
Three — Semrush gives you more comprehensive PPC data
If you’re looking for a research tool that gives you data on both organic search results and PPC, you’ll find Semrush to be the more suitable tool.
This is because its comprehensive ‘advertising research’ feature returns a larger amount of Google Ads data, including keywords, ad positions, ad copy, landing page data and more.
Ahrefs does show some PPC related data, but it’s much more limited in scope.
Four — Semrush gives you built-in outreach tools
A key part of SEO involves reaching out to other site owners asking them to create links to your content.
Semrush’s link building tool is superb for this. You give it a URL, and it returns a list of relevant websites to approach about backlinks.
Not only this, but wherever possible, it also surfaces the relevant contact details for those websites.
And on top of that, it gives you a built-in CRM style tool to manage the whole outreach process. You can connect this to your email account and do all your link building directly within Semrush.
Although Ahrefs does provide you with good tools for identifying backlink opportunities, there’s no comparable outreach system included with the product.
Five — Semrush gives you access to a free trial
Although Ahrefs does give you access to some pretty great free tools and resources, there isn’t a proper free trial available for the platform. Trying it out always involves paying for at least one month’s subscription.
By contrast, Semrush gives you access to all its key features and data as part of a free trial. Normally speaking this lasts 7 days, but occasionally you can get your hands on a 30-day trial, which gives you a substantial amount of time to try the platform out.
We’ve put a link to one of these extended trials in the video description, but please note that it may be available for a limited time only.
OK, so that’s our take on the key differences between Ahrefs and Semrush! I hope you found the comparison useful.
And finally, if you have any questions about either Ahrefs or Semrush, do drop them in the comments section. We read them all and will do our best to help.
- Ahrefs review
- Semrush review
- Semrush vs Ahrefs
- Ahrefs vs Moz vs Semrush
- Semrush vs Spyfu comparison on YouTube
- SpyFu vs Semrush comparison (blog post)
- Moz vs Ahrefs
- Ahrefs keyword research tutorial on YouTube
- Semrush keyword research tutorial on YouTube
- YouTube tutorial on making your site more visible
- Semrush Free Trial (30 Days) — All You Need to Know