SEMrush vs Moz vs Ahrefs

Through search engine optimization (SEO), your small business can realize it’s full online potential. However, many small business owners struggle with it, and understandably so. SEO is challenging, and can be difficult for small business owners to invest time into when they have so many other things going on. That being said, there are a number of tools out there to help you. We will be going over the highest-ranked SEO tools: SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz, and which to effectively utilize for your company.

What are SEMrush, Ahrefs and Moz?

SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz are the three main SEO software tools in the world of SEO. While each of these tools carries unique abilities, there are many overlaps among the three. All three are advertised as all-in-one SEO tools and as a result, target similar audiences. They emphasize features like link analysis, competitive analysis, keyword research, and rank tracking, all of which are designed to help your business gain access to valuable data.

However, technical audits is where these tools fall short. They are not the most reliable for technical SEO and many times are unable to complete advanced auditing. If you are looking to take action on these types of incites, there are a number of other tools and services which are often more beneficial.

An Analysis of SEO Software Competitors

Now that you have a brief overview of the tools, let's dive into each one. In this next section, we'll explore the pros and cons of each software, and how these can benefit your business.


Boasting clients such as eBay and HP, SEMrush stands out in competitive research, content marketing, and keyword research. Their analytic reports access your competitor’s SEO and PPC strategies, using them to your advantage. SEMrush comes equipped with many features. Some tools include:

  • Organic Research: Use this tool to see your competitor’s best keywords, discover new competitors, or observe position changes for domains.
  • Advertising Research: To monitor your business’ ad copy and landing pages and localize your ad campaigns. This also helps your business discover new competitors in Bing Ads and Google AdWords and analyze competitor ad keywords and budgets.
  • Display Advertising Tool: Analyze competitor’s display ads and get an overview of their strategies. Spot new publishers and view display ads from different devices.
  • Backlinks: Conduct deep link analysis and check backlink types. Learn how to get backlinks with SEMrush here!
  • Keyword Research: Keyword research allows you to find the keywords that match your products and content, and which at the same time have high search engine traffic. This can also help your business with long-tail keywords.
  • Product Listing Ads: Define your competitors and gather insight from their feeds.
  • Traffic Analytics: Research other company’s online performance and website traffic to monitor your competitors. Understand your customer’s media consumption and behavior and discover new markets.

In terms of pros, SEMrush is the best competitive intelligence tool on the market. It’s ability to uncover competitor strategies and behavior can be extremely useful for small businesses who are looking to expand their organic search reach. In addition to being easy to navigate and use, it’s On-Page SEO Checker lists ways to optimize your rankings through target keywords. Plus, their site audit tool helps to identify SEO issues and maintain SEO health of your site. Interested in SEMrush? You can experiment first with a free account.

Additionally, SEMrush has arguably the best API. API stands for Application Programming Interface. It allows you to choose certain tools and features without accessing the entire program. Essentially, the platform will do the nitty-gritty work for you by lessening the amount of code developers need to create. While all three of these platforms have an API platform, SEMrush’s API offering is the most robust.

In terms of cons, SEMrush’s costs can be pretty steep, especially for API plans. The largest issue would be with its backlinking analysis, which sometimes lacks accuracy. Overall, SEMrush contains many useful tools that can help take your business’ SEO to the next level.


Ahrefs specializes in backlinks, keywords, and traffic level. In fact, it boasts one of the world’s largest index of live backlinks. Plus, all of the important data is placed on one screen for your convenience. Some of the various tools Ahrefs provides customers with include the following:

  • Competitive Analysis: Organic search report help your business analyze competitor search traffic and the exact keywords they rank for. Their Top Pages Report and Content Gap features show which pages and keywords send the most traffic.
  • Keyword Research: Ahrefs gives businesses thousands of keyword suggestions, and you can begin deciding which keywords to target based on the Keyword Difficulty Score they provide. Their Keyword Explorer shows annual search volume trends and gives insights into behavior.
  • Backlink Research: Advanced reports and filters dig deep into the data Ahrefs provides. Placing any URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer will provide you with access to all of its backlinks and useful SEO metrics.
  • Content Research: Placing keywords into the Content Explorer shows the number of backlinks, which content has the most social buzz, and the organic search traffic.
  • Rank Tracking: Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker tracks keyword rankings from any location and graphs them. These ranking reports are automatically sent to your email.
  • Web Monitoring: Alerts will send notifications to you when you or your competitors win or lose backlinks. Alerts can be set up relating to your products, services, brands, or business.

A benefit of Ahrefs is that their Rank Tracker is very accurate, as is their Keyword Explorer and competitive analysis. Ahrefs also has the best backlinking tools. If your main focus is to build high quality backlinks, then this is likely the tool for you. Compared to SEMrush, Ahrefs has better backlinking, but the technical and competitive audit features of the two platforms, as well as the keyword research functions, are relatively comparable.

However, Ahrefs has a much weaker API platform, especially compared to SEMrush. Like SEMrush, Ahrefs is expensive, so it is something your business may need to consider. However, with strong competitive analysis and backlinking features, Ahfers stands as a strong tool for SEO and a growing competitor in the marketplace.


Equipped with a very useful blog for SEO education, Moz assists businesses with tools like Keyword Difficulty, Spam Score, Page Authority, and Domain Authority. Some tools include:

  • Keyword Research: Track keywords through Moz’s Keyword Explorer. Identify and separate popular phrases into categories to create direction for better optimization.
  • Rank Tracking: Track movement on the SERP of your competitor and yourself to see what is working and what is not.
  • Site Crawl: Manage your site’s health by finding issues and fixing them quickly. MozPro monitors issues like missing title tags and broken redirects.
  • On-Page Optimization: Optimize content to improve customer rankings and experience by finding winning strategies.
  • Link Research: Backlinking to increase high quality links by analyzing your link profile and competitive standing. Plus, check your domain and page authority and compare it to your competitors and their websites' standings.
  • Custom Reports: Easily create and share custom reports.

Moz has a free 30-day free trial which allows you to test things out first. Compared to the aforementioned services, they are stronger in terms of technical audit and they have been implementing a large number of improvements to their system recently. Additionally, Moz is better in backlinking compared to SEMrush and has a much stronger API platform compared to Ahrefs. They also have excellent customer support and their Page Optimization features are great for fixing on-page issues.

However, Moz’ backlink data does not measure up with Ahrefs’ and their competitive data and the API platform does not compare to SEMrush. It is also not the best beginner’s tool as there are many features that users will need to learn and understand in order to use the platform effectively. However, with the recent changes Moz has been making, we'll see if they are able to change this in the future.

SEO Software Conclusion

SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz all have their pros and cons. It all boils down to what you think your website needs most, as well as what you think you will be best at doing.

None of these are bad choices, and if you are looking to improve your website's SEO and drive new organic traffic to your site, you will definitely need at least one. You may even need more than one! Depending on the size of your business, choose a tool and a package that addresses your SEO needs, but which still fits into your budget.

Explore More