Ahrefs vs SEMrush vs Moz: The Best Research Tool

Chicago entrepreneurs have a lot on their plate when searching for the right SEO research tools. The right tool matters because SEO is an important part of realizing the entrepreneurial dream.

You’ve got the next big idea, and you need to maximize its reach. In Chicago, SEO is one way to reach your local market. Alas, the research must go on.

So, with all the tools available at your fingertips, how do you choose?

The differences between Ahrefs vs SEMrush vs Moz can seem small, but the advantages you gain from one over the other may be significant.

This guide will take the work out of making your choice.

SEO Research Tools Snapshot

As mentioned, there are many tools available for people who need to do some major SEO research. This is everything from Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest to Spyfu, but there are three that are likely to be recommended by a professional SEO Consultant Chicago.

These are:


Ahrefs vs SEMRush vs Moz

Ahrefs is a widely used suite of SEO research tools. The blue-chip client list for Ahrefs includes Uber, Facebook, and other recognizable names in digital media.

The main tools include:

  • Site Explorer: this dashboard provides an in-depth analysis of URLs including organic traffic and backlinks
  • Keywords Explorer: a dashboard to determine keyword difficulty, search volume and other important factors in deciding on which words to use
  • Content Explorer: this tool helps you find content that performs well and offers social share statistics
  • Rank Tracker: a tool for keeping track of keyword rankings, which vary based on search volume and other factors
  • Site Audit: an important tool because it audits your site for possible SEO pitfalls
  • Alerts: set up alerts to monitor SEO performance
  • SEO Toolbar: a download for your browser that serves up site health and authority stats for the websites you frequent

The over-arching goal of Ahrefs is to provide users with an easy way to see what their competitors are doing in terms of content and SEO so that they can do it even better.


Ahrefs offers a 7-day trial that costs only $7. But after that the price ranges based on use-case, starting at $99 / month.

Ahrefs Plans and Pricing Monthly

Or get two (2) months free by signing up for their annual plan.

Ahrefs Plans and Pricing Annual


The loftiest features of Ahrefs include:

  • Backlink Checker
  • SERP Checker
  • Keyword Generator
  • Broken Link Checker
  • Keyword Difficulty Insights

These features and tools offer a number of benefits for any Chicago SEO Expert, as described below.

More Ahrefs perks


Summed up in a few key points, the benefits of Ahrefs, include:

  • Transparency: Ahrefs makes the internet a lot more transparent, especially for business owners who seek to gain insights on their competitors
  • Optimization: through tools like Site Audit, business owners can optimize their SEO without having to investigate a number of sources
  • Ease of Use: Ahrefs provides dashboards that make it easy to check out a URLs health through numbers, stats, and graphical interpretations
  • Keywords: these are served up on a silver platter without much heavy lifting from entrepreneurs and business owners

Ahrefs FAQs

That’s Ahrefs, in a nutshell.


semrush vs ahrefs vs moz

SEMrush touts it’s status as an all-in-one digital marketing toolkit. But does it live up to the hype? Clients like eBay, Quora and Booking.com would agree that it does.


Prices start at $99.95 / month

semrush monthly plans and prices

Or get two (2) months free by signing up for their annual plan.  This is highly recommended if you select SEMRush as your primary SEO research tool as it is normally used on a daily basis.

semrush annual plans and prices


SEMrush comes with 28 different tools, many of which are accessible for the lowest price point. These include suites of tools for:

  • Domain and Keyword Analytics: a suite that includes things like keyword reports, historical data and product listings
  • Traffic Analytics: these tools provide location data and a robust set of reporting tools
  • Projects: these allow you to get all data about a website so you can make smart SEO decisions, including keyword tracking and analysis, URL crawling and more
  • Reporting: Schedule branded or white-label reports on important SEO analytics

Each of these tool-sets results in a number of benefits for the SEMrush client.

SEMRush All Plans Include


These include:

  • The Big Reveal: uncover competitor SEO and ad strategy in a few clicks
  • Analysis: robust analytics tools help you see paths to optimization
  • Find: top content publishers and who are purchasing display ads and keywords
  • Easy Fixes: this tool reveals easy fixes like broken links and onsite SEO enhancements
  • Discover: who is backlinking to your content
  • Generate: keywords, strategies, marketing ideas and more

SEMrush gives clients access to incredible insights, innovative strategies, attractive keywords and more bonuses to Chicago SEO.

SEMRush Questions and Answers

For a complete SEMRush review, please check out:
SEMrush Review: an SEM Tool To Research Competitors’ Keywords


moz vs ahrefs vs semrush

Moz claims to have more than 37,000 customers, tracking over 141,000 links. So what’s their story? Keep reading.


Moz has a number of tools that range from $0 to $600 per month and hit just about every price point in between. Moz Pro has a monthly fee of $149, Moz Local is $99 / month.

Moz Pro Pricing

Save 20% when paying yearly with Moz Pro.

Moz Pro Pricing Annually


The multi-tool suite from Moz includes the following features:

  • Keyword Research: discover the best keywords to give you traffic
  • SEO Audit and Crawl: audit your website for optimization
  • Backlink Research: find out who is backlinking to your URL and competitor URLs
  • Rank Tracking: track keyword rankings
  • SEO Toolbar: the free SEO toolbar offers insight as to page authority and domain authority

These tools come with a number of benefits that mirror the competitors described above.

Every Moz Pro plan includes


Using MOZ offers business owners:

  • Transparency: unlock the SEO secrets of the web at your fingertips
  • Variable Pricing Model: Moz offers its suite of tools at a number of price-points
  • Convenient toolbar: the free toolbar is convenient for SEO consultants and business owners
  • Discover: top backlinks and SEO optimization strategies
  • Generate: keywords, anchor text and more

The Scoop on Ahrefs vs SEMrush vs Moz

These products, while similar, all have pros, cons and unique things to offer. Here’s the full scoop on using Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz.

Moz Pros and Cons

With a Pro suite, Local suite and free tools, Moz services have the most options for affordability.

The Pro version comes with a 30-day free trial that is considered a pretty lengthy test period compared to other services of the same vein. But using Moz has both its pros and cons.


  • Supports integrations like Cyfe, Klipfolio, Bitium, LinkTrust and more
  • Offers advanced tools, including a free toolbar
  • Competitive pricing and free trial
  • A limited free version is available
  • Easy to gain every insight needed to create keywords and link building
  • Audit tools help you make your site better
  • Top notch customer service
  • Great for small to mid-sized business owners, bloggers, and multimedia pros


  • Fewer features than Ahrefs and SEMrush
  • Backlink analysis isn’t always up-to-date and accurate
  • This is not a tool for beginners

Moz is an awesome tool for bloggers, SEO consultants and knowledgeable business owners who want to jump-start link building and keyword research processes.

Ahrefs Pros and Cons

Ahrefs is a powerful tool for the savvy Chicago SEO Expert to keep in their back pocket. It’s extremely versatile and offers impressive tools for creating an endless supply of relevant keywords while determining both search volume and difficulty.


  • Popular integrations include Klipfolio, Reportz, and RankRanger
  • Offers an inexpensive 7-day trial
  • Free and convenient toolbar for assessing URL info
  • Includes all essential keyword tools a business owner would need
  • Robust and accurate backlink index for sizing up the competition and building your own links
  • Easily serves up information like tracking your site’s rankings and URL audits in a convenient, easy-to-read dashboard
  • Reliable rank tracking
  • Convenient email alerts on metrics that matter to you
  • Works well when used in tandem with other necessary tools-of-the-trade BuzzSumo or Mailshake


  • Not the cheapest tool on the market
  • Critics scrutinize the lack of freebies available when compared to tools like Moz (although both offer a free toolbar)
  • The $7 trial period is rather short and may not offer enough time to vet the tool and make a decision about its use-case

While we don’t have anything negative to say about Ahrefs — it’s accurate, robust and a head above the rest when it comes to backlinks — the company doesn’t offer much in the way of inexpensive tools for clients to get their feet wet.

And maybe they don’t have to.

But instead, they ask clients to trust them by diving right in with a 7-day trial and then a billing cycle. For some, there may not be enough that stands out about Ahrefs to inspire the trust to make such a pricey commitment.

SEMrush Pros and Cons

SEMrush is hailed as a go-to tool for organic research on the health of a website.

This is great for marketers who want to get a good feel for where their clients rank, organically, at the start of a new project. It has a full suite of features that offer unlimited SEO potential to businesses from small to large.


  • Popular integrations include Klipfolio, SEOQuake, Databox, and TapClicks
  • A limited version is available for free
  • Mostly easy-to-use
  • Features are more robust than the competition and include social tools and PPC strategies in addition to SEO
  • Helps users identify and amend onsite errors
  • Great for keyword research
  • Rolling out new features regularly


  • Advanced features have a learning curve
  • Some features operate in BETA mode making them less usable or accurate
  • While free tools are available, pricing on premium tools may be viewed as a little high for some budgets

In the end, SEMrush is widely heralded as the most robust tool for content marketers, SEO consultants and savvy business owners to take control of their site’s SEO.

For a complete SEMRush review, please check out:
SEMrush Review: an SEM Tool To Research Competitors’ Keywords

That’s because it comes to SEMrush vs Moz, the former has all the free offerings of a tool like Moz, and more. But it’s toolkit is even more robust than Ahrefs, offering the best of both worlds.

Where Ahrefs offers one up on SEMrush is in accuracy and backlinks. No other tool offers the link building index of Ahrefs. But you can’t beat variable cost flexibility available from SEMrush when comparing SEMrush vs Ahrefs.

Other Considerations

When considering your options, there are a few other things to think about beyond features, benefits and pros and cons.

Complementary Tools and Integrations

One such consideration is to think about what tools you are already using and whether they complement or integrate with your chosen SEO research provider.

Each of the above-mentioned tools has a number of integrations. But even if applications don’t integrate, per se, it’s also smart to think about which tools complement one another.

For instance, some marketers suggest using both Moz and SEMrush as complementary tools with different use-cases.

Another tool might be BuzzSumo for content research. There are a number of tools like this that make things easier for an SEO Consultant Chicago or beyond.

Time and Accuracy

For most business owners, using these tools is about saving time and receiving the most accurate information.

From an accuracy standpoint, the clear champion is Ahrefs. Ahrefs saves you time as well, with easy to read dashboards. It is probably the most intuitive tool of all the ones we discussed.

But SEMrush also has time-saving features because it includes PPC and social features. Unlike other tools we discussed, you can save time with SEMrush by getting all of your digital marketing research done in one place.

Trial and Error

When it comes down to the cons of these three tools, we are mincing hairs. All of these tools are good.

That makes finding the best one for your business even tougher. Consider which tools allow you to try before you buy via free or cheap trials and limited versions readily-available for general use.

The ones that stick out as being the best for trial and error are Moz and SEMrush due to their free tool suites and trial periods.

The Results Are In!

So, when it comes down to Ahrefs vs SEMrush vs Moz, which one takes the gold medal?

It’s not an exact science, but SEMrush and Ahrefs usually come out on top because they offer more features. For those looking for free options that they can use without diving head first into something new, SEMrush is the clear champion.

Analyzing SEMrush vs Ahrefs, SEMrush also gets points for being more robust and crossing over into other areas of marketing research like PPC and social media.

But if you’re looking for a good SEO research tool, only. And what’s more important to you is saving the time of struggling with a learning curve, Ahrefs might be a superior choice.

While Moz is our runner-up tool, you could make a case for using Moz in conjunction with a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to have the most transparency and access to SEO tools.

At Marketing By Kevin, we encourage entrepreneurs to use this guide in conjunction with considering what’s unique about their business to decide which tool (or tools) is the best fit.

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