Scanning competitors backlinks? Looking for juicy keywords? Well, there’s no shortage of SEO tools to help you. But with so many choices, it can be difficult to make a decision. If you want to master SEO, you’ll need assistance from tools like Moz, SEMrush or Ahrefs. They enable you to dig deeper into your website, competitors and search engines for valuable data. Today we’ll be breaking down the pros and cons of all three previously mentioned tools–then you can decide which is right for you.
Moz vs SEMrush vs Ahrefs
I’ve been practicing and learning about SEO for 6 years at this point. It’s safe to say I’ve tried out my fair share of SEO related tools and services. From keyword research, backlink auditing to position tracking, there’s lots to pay attention to as a marketer. I’m sure you know. We need a tool that does it all, does it fast and is easy to navigate. Moz, SEMrush and Ahrefs are some of the many tools I’ve been impressed with. They’re all great. So, lets get into the nitty gritty on each of them.
SEMrush has been one of my favorite SEO tools since the first time I gave it a go. With the free version, you will get 10 requests per day. As you can see from the dashboard above, there’s endless data to absorb. I find their keyword analytics, backlink report and traffic overview the most useful.
The free version can be more than enough if you’re doing some light work. As your business grows and your demands increase, you’ll need more than that.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see which keywords are bringing in the most traffic? Well, SEMrush does exactly that. They display exactly how many keywords you’re ranking for, their positions and which ones drive the most users.
I love this because it has allowed me to double down and optimize specific content. I’ll be honest though, I’ve found their data to some times be a tad inaccurate. For example, it has said that certain keywords are bringing in the most traffic when they weren’t. For the most part though, it tends to be right but always double check.
You can also use this for competitive analysis. Plug in another website’s URL and you can see which keywords they rank for and how they’re SEO is performing. Use this knowledge to better your own business.
Straight to the point and easy to digest. That’s how I would describe SEMrush’s charts. I ran SEMrush.com through their own software, Inception much? We can see where their backlinks come from, if they are do-follow or no-follow, anchor text and more. This is useful for snooping on competitors and judging your own backlink profile.
I think you can agree that backlinks are the backbone of any website. Without them, you’ll have difficulty performing well in the SERPs. SEMrush will help you improve your backlinking strategy and ultimately your traffic and revenue. Other things you can do with their tool include:
- Check how many external links any page has.
- Check if EDU or Gov links are pointing to your website.
- See if your links are mostly coming in from images, text, forms or frames.
- Geolocation backlink data.
If there is one thing that stands out about Moz, it’s their blog. I can’t think of a single better resource for learning SEO. If you ever need to sharpen your skills, give it a read. What about tools? Well, they have a lot of those as well. Moz offers a free:
- Keyword explorer
- Site explorer
- Chrome extension to analyze any web page
- Business listing analysis
Open Site Explorer
As of February 5th, 2018, the Moz OSE has includes 145 billion URLs, 258 million root domains and 1 trillion links. Needless to say, you’ll have a lot of data at your fingertips. Just type in any domain and you’ll see a complete SEO profile on them.
Displayed first are DA, PA and total links. If you’re searching for backlink opportunities, these are important metrics to consider. For example, if you wanted to guest post on a website, it’d be wise for it to have high DA/PA. This also lets you understand what level of authority your own website is at.
Just under this, a clear list of backlinks, anchor text and PA/DA is displayed. Compared to SEMrush, I’d say they both have equal transparency but Moz is a little dull looking. Obviously not a make or break feature but it’s worth mentioning.
Moz shows you more backlinks than SEMrush which is a huge plus. I’ve found it very useful to scouting out where my competitors are getting their links from.
Another area where Moz reigns supreme. SEMrush only allows you to see upwards to 10 keywords but with Moz? Way more. This is great for gaining a deeper insight on your website and competitors. At the top, you see the total number of links, top positions and the PA/DA if you type in a URL. You can type in keywords which I’ll show in a bit.
Below are the top ranking keywords, a distribution chart and the ability to see all of their keyword rankings. For a free tool, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Now if you search a keyword, you’ll get a lot of useful metrics. First we can see that a monthly search volume is displayed. You want to typically rank for keywords for higher searches so you can get more traffic. Next, the difficulty level will let you know how hard it is to rank for that specific search term. Organic CTR determines how likely users are to click on results with that keyword. Finally, priority is a untie metric developed by Moz to inform you if a keyword should be a focus of yours.
Overall, the keyword explorer is an awesome tool I still find myself using to this day. It’s definitely more detailed than what SEMrush offers.
Moz claims that their pro tool will get you higher rankings, quality traffic and measurable results. There’s a 30 day free trial which is a nice touch too. It’s a complete SEO suite to help you manage everything from:
- Understanding user behaviour
- Tracking all of your rankings
- Auditing sites
- Optimizing pages
- Finding backlink opportunities
- Custom reports
- And more
Last but not least, Ahrefs. One immediate downside compared to SEMrush and Moz is that nothing is free besides their toolbar. That’s great and all but you’ll be spending $7 for a 7 day trial of anything else. Just like the others though, they do offer a site explorer, keyword explorer, rank tracker and very similar tools. Is it worth the money? Lets find out.
Okay, lots going on here. Ahrefs takes all of the important information and puts it on one screen. I like it personally. You don’t need to be wondering all over the platform to find the main data. We can see backlinks, keywords, traffic level and more right off the bat. On the side bar, everything else you need from checking anchor text to competing domains is accessible.
Ahrefs boasts the world’s largest backlink index too with a total of 15 trillion. This makes their site explorer tool stand out from the crowd. You can also check exactly which keywords and pages are bringing in the most traffic, for yourself or competitors. It’s very detailed overall but doesn’t do much more than the other tools we’ve covered today.
A very impressive tool for:
- Rounding up endless keyword suggestions
- Finding accurate search volume for keywords
- Determine how difficult a keyword is to rank for
The charts and graphs are very organized. It has everything you need for doing your traditional keyword research so I decided to keep this section brief.
SEMrush vs Moz vs Ahrefs Verdict
Looking at all three of these tools, it’s clear they all have their ups and downs. You should definitely be taking advantage of the free tools that SEMrush and Moz have to offer. These will get you far with SEO and you won’t spend a dime. When you need to upgrade, it looks like Moz has the best pricing. The best course of action is to test them all out and see which you enjoy the most. You may prefer a certain dashboard/display for example over another.