When the debate is Moz vs SEMrush vs Ahrefs, it can be very difficult to find which one is the clear winner.
However, one thing is for sure: Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush are the three leaders when it comes to SEO tools.
These tools have dominated the SEO circles for the past several years and are continuously evolving, which means they are coming up with more and more competitive features to help webmasters improve their site’s rankings.
The three tools are incredibly powerful when it comes to:
- Analyzing yours and your competitors’ backlinks
- Finding out what SEO strategies your competitors are using
- Track your rankings on specific keywords
Moz: Features, Pros, and Cons
In 2004, Rand Fishkin, aptly known as the Wizard of Moz, first created Moz and soon gathered a cult following for the SEO tool.
Moz SEO analysis is based on metrics like Domain Authority and Page Authority, which give you insights on keyword rankings, link equity, page optimization, and more. But one of the most value-adding features it offers is its blog, which is perhaps the single most comprehensive resource for people who want to learn SEO.
As far as its tools are concerned, here are some features where Moz reigns supreme.
Previously known as the Open Site Explorer, Moz live link index has 5.4 trillion pages, 579 million domains, and 35.5 trillion links. The amount of data Moz has at its fingertips is just unimaginable. All you need to do is to type in any URL, and Moz will offer you their full SEO profile on a silver plate.
As mentioned above, Moz’s Link Explorer gets us results based on its Domain Authority and Page Authority metrics:
Domain Authority (DA): Developed by Moz, this metrics offers a search engine metric score on how well a website ranks on the SERPs (search engine ranking pages). A DA ranges from 1 to 100; the more SEO-compatible your site is, the higher the score it will have.
Page Authority (PA): Page Authority estimates how well a particular page on your website will rank in the SERPs. The greater the website’s ability to rank, the higher the PA score, which can range from 1 to 100.
When these metrics were developed, they were unanimously hailed as the industry standard when it comes to predicting a website’s ranking power. In the last few years, these metrics have suffered from a lack of trust. However, in 2019, the metrics underwent a huge upgrade, which has gone a long way to make them the leading metrics in the industry once again.
The Link Explorer page also displays a list of backlinks and anchor text. The link index is also quite huge compared to other competing tools, like SEMrush, which is an added bonus for Moz users.
When it comes to keyword exploration, Moz is the cream of the crop. Compared to SEMrush, which shows you a limit of 10 top keywords, Moz displays a much longer list, which ensures deeper insight into your site and the competitor’s.
When you type a URL into the Keyword Explorer tool, you will see the total number of backlinks, the DA/PA, and the top keyword suggestions.
The results also show how much monthly volume your keyword generates; you generally want to rank on keywords with higher volume as those get you the most traffic.
It also displays the keyword difficulty score, which will show you how hard it is to rank that keyword. The Organic CTR chart shows the likelihood of the users clicking on the results for that keyword.
Another great metric is the priority, which gives you a score on how much you should focus your attention on a particular keyword to get better ranking.
As an added bonus, the Keyword Explorer comes with a list of “Mentions”, which displays all the page titles and URLs containing the mention.
For an absolutely free tool, it can’t get much better than this.
Moz Local used to be the cream of the crop when it came to the many tools Moz had to offer. The other tools in the arsenal have evolved and caught up to it, but Moz Local still holds a lot of weight.
This is a wonderful tool for small and large local businesses that need help with their online visibility. The tool’s features include:
- Ensuring your company is listed accurately in online directories
- Ensuring your location data is “cleansed” so search engines and users can accurately find your business.
- Finding and deleting automated duplications to eliminate confusion.
- Review management, which helps you manage your business’s reputation online.
- Providing store locators and individual landing pages.
- Gaining insight into Facebook and Google presence.
- Updating you about your updates and interactions with your online business.
The best part is that the tool offers a free online presence check to get you started.
One of the most value-adding tools that Moz provides is the free MozBar, which is compatible with Google Chrome. This incomparably useful tool allows you to view real-time, instant metrics of any web page you are viewing, which includes:
- The DA/PA
- Spam score
- The number of root domains and links
- Link differentiation by followed, no-followed, external, and internal types
- Reveal general attributes, page elements, markups, and HTTP status.
This little tool is totally free but gives you extra features when you sign up for Moz.
Key Features of Moz
In short, the Moz suite offers you these key features:
- Keyword Research: Helps you find the best keywords and prioritize them to generate more website traffic.
- Link Analysis: Evaluate the most important links with Moz metrics.
- Backlink Research: Displays where yours and your competitors’ backlinks are located.
- Rank Tracking: Weekly tracking of keywords for Google, Yahoo, and Bing and segmenting them by location, keyword label, and campaign.
- SEO Audit: Crawls your entire website, identifies problem areas, and recommend fixes to improve website performance and expedite content efforts.
Pros of Moz
Moz offers a host of benefits to businesses:
- It affords transparency by unlocking the SEO strategies of your competitors.
- Offers more in-depth analysis than other competing tools.
- The free MozBar is very convenient for small and mid-sized business owners
- Offer page optimization features that allow you to make on-page fixes and improve your ranking.
- A limited free version with lots of value-adding features
- Easy insight on keywords and link building
- Top-notch customer support and communication
Cons of Moz
The tool also has a few weaknesses:
- Moz Pro can be quite expensive
- Because of the wide variety of features and options, Moz has a steep learning curve, so beginners will need some time getting used to it.
- Overall, it offers fewer features than SEMrush and Ahrefs.
- Lost market share in the past few years so are rushing to evolve.
Moz Pricing Plans
Moz offers a free version and four different pricing plans:
- Standard Plan: $99 per month
- Medium Plan: $179 per month (most popular plan, also offers a free trial)
- Large Plan: $249 per month
- Premium Plan: $599 per month
SEMrush: Features, Pros, and Cons
SEMrush is one of the best and most competitive online research tools in the market. The tool is great for businesses that want to see where they rank organically when starting a new online project. It allows you to spy on your competitors’ organic and paid marketing strategies, carry out link analysis, and much, much more.
The great part of the tool is that it comes with a free version that offers you ten requests every day, which is more than enough if you run a small company and only need to do some light work. However, once you start scaling up, you will need SEMrush’s full suite.
The Domain Overview feature of SEMrush provides you with a whole host of charts and lists that show you exactly where your site stands. The feature is free, and all you need to do is to place your URL on the field, and it will give you all the keywords your site is currently ranking on.
It also offers you a summary of your “Organic Search” and “Paid Search,” which shows the number of keywords you are ranking on and the cost of your traffic. Additionally, the tool also gives you the total number of backlinks the domain has, along with its referring domains and referring IPs.
It also gives you a colorful chart of organic keywords broken down by location and device. Moreover, it provides you with a list of your main organic competitors.
The backlinks are also segmented based on follow, no-follow, text, frame, form, and image links.
This tool is great for businesses that want to identify which keywords are missing and need to be used. Once the keywords are identified, they can be used to optimize specific content to improve your current rankings.
Position Changes Report
If you want to track your rank, you can always pay for its rank tracker tool. However, if you don’t want to pay the expensive fee, you can go to the “Position Changes” report, which allows you to do the same thing; however, you will need to do a bit of manual digging.
As the name of the report indicates, it shows the user the position changes of its keywords over the last month. It is broken down into four categories: new, lost, improved, or declined.
This report is great if you want to check whether your competitor has lost a keyword position and analyze the cause behind it. This can give you an opportunity to take away some of the web traffic from them.
It also shows which new keywords you acquired in the top 100 organic results, which of your keywords are showing improvements, and which of your keywords have declined in ranking, but still remain in the top 10 organic result pages.
For example, if you type in the domain of ebay.com, you will see how the keyword “ebay store” slid from position three to position one and how the site acquired a new keyword “ebay coupon.”
If you see your keywords slipping in the rankings though, it means you need to make some improvements like:
- Updating your website’s page title and meta description
- Incorporate specific keywords in your content
- Acquiring relevant backlinks
Based on this report, there are a number of actions that you can take to improve your keyword performance.
Although Moz and Ahrefs also provide API access tools, the SEMrush tool is the most powerful. The API gives you access to the tool’s functionalities even if you don’t have direct access to the tool.
The SEMrush API is great for those who want to build their own software.
SEMrush comes with dozens of different tools, many of which can be accessed free, or with the lowest pricing plan. Listed below are some of the winning features of SEMrush:
- The Keyword Magic Tools allows you to identify the most lucrative keywords in the niche and ideates over 2 million keywords for your seed keyword.
- The “Position Changes” report shows you your keyword movement so that you can take advantage of new and improving keywords, and formulate new strategies for declining or lost keywords.
- Provides traffic analytics, including location data and a plethora of reporting tools.
- Conducts a comprehensive backlink analysis of you and your competitor’s site.
- Finds you the right keywords not just for SEO but for PPC campaigns as well.
- Gathers related keywords and phrase matches.
- Gives you a side-by-side comparison of domains.
- The On-Page SEO Checker gives you a list of things you can do to improve your rankings for specific keywords, including adding LSI keywords, acquiring backlinks, and adjusting content length or readability.
- Site Audit tool detects on-page SEO gaps and warnings on your website, and give suggestions to improve your SEO health.
All of these features enable you to make smart and informed SEO decisions.
Pros of SEMrush
Here are some of the biggest benefits that SEMrush offers you:
- The tool comes with a free version.
- Has probably the best API in the market.
- Uncovers both SEO and PPC strategies.
- Analytics tools help you see how to improve and optimize your website.
- Finds top content publishers and competitors purchasing keywords and display ads.
- Has an easier learning curve than Moz.
- Offers new and improved features regularly.
Cons of SEMrush
Here are some things that SEMrush can do better:
- Because of the fast pace with which data changes, some data reports can be slightly inaccurate.
- The backlink analysis tool needs to be better and lacks the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Ahrefs.
- Pricing can be quite high, especially if you want API access.
- Advanced features require a bit of learning.
SEMrush Pricing Plans
- Pro Plan: $99.95
- Guru Plan: $199.95 per month (most popular)
- Business Plan: $399.95 per month
- Enterprise Plan: Customizable pricing
Ahrefs: Features, Pros, and Cons
Ahrefs has the best link indexing capabilities among all SEO analytic tools. The tool crawls 5 billion pages every day and has an index size of 16 trillion known links and 3 trillion known URLs. So if you are serious about acquiring high-quality backlinks, this is the tool you need.
You pay for quality, so Ahrefs offers nothing for free except for its toolbar. If you want to use even its basic functions like keyword and site explorer, you will need to start a 7-day trial for $7.
Let us see if it is worth it, though.
Its site Explore functionality gives you an in-depth look at organic traffics, keywords, and backlinks of any website on a single page. This means you don’t need to search all over the website to find all your main data.
The sidebar offers a massive list that you can use to analyze everything from backlink profiles, organic search, pages, outgoing links, and paid search. These categories are further divided into several sections that can help you check referring domains and IPs, anchors, top pages, content gaps, competing domains, broken links, PPC ads and keywords, and a whole lot more.
The site Explorer is extremely detailed and is updated frequently with even more features. To ensure you don’t get lost due to the bombardment of too much information, it also conveniently indicates which categories are the hottest with a flame symbol.
Ahrefs first started as a backlink analyzer but soon expanded into the territory of keyword research and competitor analysis. However, when it comes to link exploration, Ahrefs is the king.
The tool allows you to get all the data from when the link went live, whether the links are do-follow, no-follow, anchor text, and more. It also identifies the best pages by link growth, which can help you find which content in your site is the most popular. This is extremely beneficial when you want to build quality links for your website.
Ahrefs was the first one to come up with internal link analyzing capabilities and can help you create your link building strategy. To do this, you can run your competitors’ top pages by organic traffic and extract their internal and external link data. Then do the same for your top-ranking pages. Compare yours and your competitor’s link data to see if your competitor has high traffic on certain pages. Then check these pages to see if they have fewer internal and external links. If that’s the case, you can use this opportunity to build more internal and external links on your pages to improve your site’s performance.
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer tool has come a long way since its inception, and now even exceeds SEMrush and Moz in certain functionalities.
The tool does not just show you the estimated monthly volume a keyword will generate but also predicts its click-through-rate potential based on clickstream data. This means you can figure out how much traffic you can get for optimizing a keyword for each web page that is ranking in the top 10 results. That’s because your URLs generally rank for multiple keywords, not just one, so it gives you an opportunity to get more traffic by optimizing for those keywords.
Ahrefs will also show you how difficult it is to rank a specific keyword and how many people click when they use that query.
The tool also provides you visually appealing and organized workflow, graphs, and charts that allow you to save relevant keywords easily and make it easy to see SERP features.
Here are some key features which are the highlight of using Ahrefs:
- The site explorer reigns supreme as it offers a comprehensive look at your competitor’s organic traffic search and backlinking profile.
- Its content explorer allows you to find the most popular content based on organic traffic, social shares, and backlinks.
- You can also compare backlink profiles of up to 5 different domains.
- The rank tracker gives you daily, weekly, or monthly reports that track both the desktop and mobile ranking for specific keywords for any location.
- Lets you identify content gap through keywords which you should incorporate in your SEO strategy.
- The keyword explorer functionalities help determine keyword difficulty, search volume, and other factors that help you determine which keywords to use.
- Identifies broken links.
Pros of Ahrefs
Here are some of the benefits that Ahrefs provides businesses:
- The best link index in the industry.
- Superior keyword research and competitor analysis functionalities.
- A free Chrome extension toolbar.
- Very accurate rank tracker.
- Email alerts which keep track of new and lost rankings and backlinks.
- Outreach tool is compatible with major marketing tools like Ninja Outreach, Buzzsumo, and Mailshake.
- Dashboards that make it very easy to check out all major stats and numbers of a domain.
- Includes all essential SEO keyword and backlinking tools.
Cons of Ahrefs
There aren’t many cons related to Ahrefs functionalities, but some other things can be improved.
- Quite expensive
- Comes with no free version but offers 7-day $7 trial, which is a bit expensive
Ahrefs Pricing Plans
The tool comes with four pricing plans:
- Lite Plan: $99
- Standard Plan: $179
- Advanced Plan: $399
- Agency Plan: $999
Moz vs. SemRush vs. Ahrefs: Which Should You Use?
When you take a look at the comparison charts of Moz, SEMrush, and Ahrefs, it clear why these three are industry leaders in SEO tools. All three have their best features, pros, and cons, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. And if you want to bring your SEO A-game, you need at least one of them. Which one works for you depends on what type of functionality you need.
When it comes to backlinking, Ahrefs has no comparison. Despite offering no free features and being quite pricey, the tool is well worth the cost. It has the largest number of links indexed out of all three tools and much more accurate than SEMrush when it comes to link analysis.
If you want to get a tool that offers all-in-one capabilities, SEMrush should be your go-to tool. It is rightly hailed as the most robust tool for SEO and content marketers and allows you more insight into organic marketing as well as PPC tactics.
When Moz was first developed, it had a cult following, and many of its loyal users still use it as they are familiar with it. The tool offers easy ways to check your meta titles and descriptions, as well as no-index information and canonical links. Plus, it has a blog that discusses every topic under the sun related to SEO. When combined with Google Analytics – Moz can provide great results.
Many people have subscriptions for all three tools; however, some may find the cost slightly prohibitive. If you are selecting just one, it depends on the type of website you are working on and which areas you need to focus on the most.