As an SEO agency, we use numerous SEO tools because each offers unique insights.
So, to create a solid plan for our clients, we need that mix of knowledge.
Plus, our SEO experts come from different backgrounds and have tried various tools.
Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest, are all among the best.
Ubersuggest has a good interface and features for average users, while Ahrefs and SEMrush have slightly higher learning curves.
That said, this article compares these SEO tools in terms of:
- Keyword research
- Competitive analysis
- Backlink analysis
- SEO audit
- Pricing plans
- And more
We’ll use our experience as an SEO agency to give you plenty of insider tips along the way, so keep reading.
TL;DR: Ahrefs vs. SEMrush vs. Ubersuggest
- Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest are top SEO tools with unique features.
- Ahrefs and SEMrush have a steeper learning curve compared to Ubersuggest.
- Best for backlink analysis.
- Offers comprehensive SEO features.
- Scalable but expensive and may be challenging for beginners.
- Excels in keyword analysis and suggestions.
- Includes a Social Media Toolkit.
- Scalable, expensive, and slightly more complex for beginners.
- Ideal for beginners, providing clear SEO opportunities.
- Simpler user experience and affordable.
- Less in-depth analysis than Ahrefs and SEMrush.
Ease of Use:
- Ubersuggest: User-friendly with a clean interface.
- Ahrefs: Organized, with courses and resources for learning.
- SEMrush: Best for experienced SEOs, complex interface.
Keyword Research Features:
- Ahrefs: AI keyword finder, clean design.
- SEMrush: Extensive search filters and metrics.
- Ubersuggest: Features Neil Patel’s insights, mobile/desktop search volumes.
- Ahrefs: Advanced backlink analysis, content gap, and link intersect tools.
- SEMrush: Comprehensive analysis including domain overview and keyword gap.
- Ubersuggest: Focuses on keyword and backlink analysis.
- Ahrefs: Extensive site structure analysis.
- SEMrush: Detailed site audit and on-page SEO checker.
- Ubersuggest: Basic but fundamental technical SEO audit.
- Ahrefs: Renowned for its detailed analysis of various link aspects.
- SEMrush: Broad range of tools for backlink analytics and audit.
- Ubersuggest: Offers a modest but useful backlink overview.
- Ahrefs: Paid search insights, AI keyword generator.
- Ubersuggest: AI content writing, social media share assessment.
- SEMrush: Local SEO, advertising, social media, and content marketing tools.
Pricing and Free Tools:
- Ahrefs: Mid-range pricing, free tools available separately.
- SEMrush: Free trial available, most expensive.
- Ubersuggest: Most affordable, free keyword research tool.
- Ubersuggest suits beginners and budget-conscious users.
- Ahrefs and SEMrush are better for in-depth analysis, with Ahrefs leading in backlink building and SEMrush in comprehensive online management.
Ahrefs vs. SEMrush vs. Ubersuggest: The Overview
Let’s dive into each tool’s pros and cons:
Ahrefs: Best for Backlink Analysis
Ahrefs is a comprehensive tool with a wide range of features for SEO projects. You can use it for target keyword research to identify profitable keywords, link-building, and SEO audits.
- Best backlink analysis tool
- A slew of SEO features
- May be difficult for beginners
SEMrush: Best for Keyword Analysis
SEMrush takes the cake for keyword suggestions and analysis, though it’s also good for competitive analysis, off-page SEO, on-page site audits, and more. I like their Social Media Toolkit, especially because social media signals help optimize your content strategy, too.
- Social Media Toolkit
- Plenty of features for SEO
- More difficult for beginners
Ubersuggest: Best for Beginners
Ubersuggest fills the gap left by Ahrefs and SEMrush in that it’s the easiest tool for beginners.
Insider tip: Ubersuggest specifically tells you whether a page has the potential to rank for a keyword or not. So, beginners are shown these SEO opportunities very clearly.
But even we, as an experienced SEO agency, find this feature useful.
When you conduct a keyword or on-page analysis with another SEO tool and oscillate between similar opportunities, Ubersuggest can help you decide faster between keyword ideas.
- Mines Google search results for hidden SEO keywords
- Helps you find new traffic sources
- Simple user experience
- Less in-depth analysis compared to Ahrefs and SEMrush, so not excellent for advanced users or agencies
1. Ease of Use
Tl;dr: If you’re a beginner, Ubersuggest takes the cake. But even if you’re an advanced SEO, you still need an intuitive, user-friendly tool. Both Ahrefs and SEMrush fit in this category.
That said, read along for our insights.
We like that Ubersuggest has a clean interface.
You can easily find what you need in the dashboard from the first step.
And since we were all new to SEO at some point, we remember how hard it was to navigate between numbers, charts, and categories.
Ubersuggest simplifies all that.
Just look at the keyword research tool they developed.
All you need to do is type your keyword and then look at the metrics. From search volume to CPC and paid difficulty, Ubersuggest has it all.
Remember: This keyword research tool also shows the opportunities to get indexed for a specific keyword.
That means you can get valuable content ideas in minutes.
But more on that below.
Ahrefs is a data haven for both paid and organic keywords.
If you’re a professional SEO, you can slash through this data fast, comparing different ideas and finding hidden gems.
But, like we said before, we were once beginners, too.
And newbies may find it more difficult to spot these solid content ideas in seconds.
Insider tip: Ahrefs has plenty of courses and free resources that help you learn how to use their tool strategically.
That said, you can notice that Ahrefs has organized its tools and services neatly. The left-hand bar has neat categories, from SEO audit to keyword research and backlink analysis.
Then, another horizontal bar helps you with other categories depending on your goal.
In the example below, I’ve opened the keyword research tool, and you can see how easy it is to look at factors like keyword difficulty, anchor text, and more.
Insider tip: The issue lies in setting the correct variables, looking at the right navigational boxes, and knowing which factors to analyze. So, I encourage you to go through Ahref’s literature; it will be worth it to optimize your SEO efforts.
SEMrush is also best for experienced SEOs.
Or at least newbies who aren’t afraid to learn.
Insider tip: I’ve actually taken many of their courses in the SEMrush Academy. They’ll help you understand how to use their tool to spot keyword opportunities and peek at your competition. But you can also incorporate their useful tips in your day-to-day SEO strategy, regardless of the tools you’re using.
The first thing that comes to mind when I look at SEMrush is buttons and browsing.
You must make your way through a lot of data, organized just as Ahrefs does in top and left-hand-side categories.
Insider tip: If you’re a visual person with a high sensory overload, SEMrush’s color and organization are arguably a bit worse:
That’s probably because the category titles for each keyword analysis factor have smaller font sizes. So it’s more difficult to focus.
By comparison, Ahrefs looks clearer:
Yes, it hasn’t escaped us that the same keyword has a different difficulty on these two platforms.
But we’ll touch on that in the keyword research section.
So, just by looking at these two screenshots, I immediately notice that:
- Ahrefs is easier to read.
- SEMrush gives me more information on the keyword, such as search intent, CPC, and trend.
- Ahrefs gives me more keyword options to hunt for in the left-hand corner, including a keyword overview, ads, and more keyword ideas.
- Although SEMrush is more text-heavy with condensed information, it also has better color codes.
After reviewing the ease of use, let’s jump straight into functionality.
2. Keyword Research Features
Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest all work the same regarding basic keyword research capabilities. You add one or a list of seed keywords. The three tools will analyze those key search terms and help you find long-tail keyword ideas to power up your content marketing strategy.
But there are also differences.
- Ahrefs: 10 search engines and AI keyword finder, plus the cleanest design
- SEMrush: With the Keyword Magic tool, it shows more search filters, options, and search engine optimization metrics than the other two tools
- Ubersuggest: Shows Neil Patel’s face, search volume for mobile and desktop, audience analysis, and keyword ideas using prepositions and comparisons. It also has a “generate content with AI” button.
Potential problem: All these popular SEO tools show different keyword difficulty scores for the same term.
That’s because they have different data sets and metrics.
Typically, though, the range is similar, so they all suggest if a keyword is difficult or easy to rank for quite accurately.
Insider tip: I may be biased, but I trust Ahrefs’ numbers more.
Insider tip: Ahrefs is my favorite of the three, especially if I have to find topic ideas for a niche I’m not extremely familiar with.
- I get precise keyword phrases for ten search engines:
- Ahrefs just released an AI search tool that helps users with keyword ideas. And there are plenty of categories the AI tool can suggest keyword ideas for. This tool is right below the search bar in Keyword Explorer.
Let’s randomly try it for voice-over artists’ challenges and pain points:
Then click the “search” button to look at the results, analyze their metrics, and group them by parent topic.
You can then click on individual search terms to assess their:
- Keyword difficulty
- Monthly search volume
- Traffic potential
In the left bar, Ahrefs shows you:
- Matching terms
- Related terms
- Search suggestions
Insider tip: These are goldmines for more keyword ideas.
And if you scroll down, you can see who is dominating the SERPs for each keyword:
You can then analyze each result to see their domain rating, ranking position in SERPs, URL rating, traffic, and how many backlinks they’ve built for the potential topic you’re investigating.
Insider tip: A high number of backlinks indicates a profitable keyword.
Here’s what the keyword search looks like in Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest:
Neil Patel’s face randomly pops up almost everywhere inside the tool.
Not creepy at all.
That said, Ubersuggest shows clear metrics for this seed keyword:
- Search volume
- Keyword difficulty
- Paid difficulty
- Cost per click
It also shows you mobile and desktop volumes:
And Google search results:
And while you can’t use AI to generate a list of keyword ideas, this affordable SEO tool allows you to use generative AI for content writing.
You can also analyze:
- Audience data, meaning the number of clicks and age range of people clicking on these results
- Keyword ideas, including related relevant keyword suggestions, questions, prepositions, and comparisons
- SERP data, including backlinks and social shares
SEMrush has the largest keyword database, so you can get a comprehensive list of keywords.
SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool shows you:
- Keyword difficulty
- Search intent
The design is more cluttered, but:
- You have more filtering options than Ubersuggest and Ahrefs
- You can analyze related topics and subtopics
3. Competitor Analysis
Competitor analysis is key in SEO. Analyzing your competitors means understanding their keyword strategies and off-page link-building efforts.
You can then back-engineer and replicate the strategies that work.
Or find missed opportunities.
Here’s how Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest stack up for competitor analysis:
Ahrefs has advanced features in terms of backlink analysis. It also lets you take a deep dive into organic search traffic and keyword rankings.
To use the function, click on competitive analysis and fill in your domain.
Ahrefs will let you introduce your competitors – and if you don’t know your rivals (which you definitely should as an SEO) – the tool will suggest some options.
Now, you have two options:
- Content gap analysis: This shows differences in content. You can find keyword opportunities your rivals are ranking for, but you are not. Adjust by target position, keyword difficulty, volume, and more.
- Link intersect: This option allows you to find backlink opportunities
Insider tip: Use Site Explorer to get an in-depth look at every one of your competitors’ link profiles.
You can analyze a slew of data, such as organic keywords, organic traffic, backlink profiles, paid search, performance, and more.
You can play with different performance metrics, such as domain rating, URL rating, or paid traffic cost. You can also look at each of their own competitors and locations by year.
Insider tip: Some of our clients have complained about being the victims of link farming and Private Blog Networks. To identify potentially toxic links, use the “Referring IPs” section in Ahrefs underneath your backlink profile on the left-hand side:
SEMrush offers a comprehensive competitor analysis feature that allows users to track their competitors’ online strategies. This includes:
- Domain overview
- Traffic analytics
- Organic research
- Keyword gap
- Backlink gap
Basically, SEMrush allows you to understand your domain and its online visibility more thoroughly, analyzing its:
- Growth trend
- Best-performing markets
- Most lucrative keywords that bring the most traffic from organic and paid sources
- Competitor domains
- Key metrics per country or internationally, analyzing organic and paid search traffic, as well as backlinks
Plus, you have a growth report that’s easy to export and analyze.
SEMrush starts with a domain overview that looks like this:
The keyword gap analysis is also easy to use by simply adding your domain and competitors’ domains:
What I like about the results is the easy-to-read color codes showing the keyword overlap.
Then, you can compare the results by looking at organic, paid, and PLA keywords:
The top missed opportunities are visible right away on the left-hand side, and you can also look at weak opportunities.
You can also scroll down to look at more details for each keyword. The weak, untapped, and unique keyword categories are specifically helpful in this context:
You can then move on to backlink analysis, looking at your prospective link partners. SEMrush helpfully organizes them as best, weak, strong, shared, and all.
You can then click on each referring domain to analyze its stats:
Insider tip: I genuinely appreciate the “Start outreach” button because it simplifies the link-building outreach process tremendously.
Ubersuggest focuses on keyword analysis and SEO backlink analysis. You have three main options in the left-hand bar:
This shows you the organic traffic, common keywords, keyword gap, estimated traffic, and backlinks for websites similar to yours.
Insider tip: You can’t pick your competitors after inputting your domain.
I added Slack, and the tool suggested Microsoft and Apple even before Zapier, which is not great. Still, you can select and check only the websites you’re interested in:
Backlink Discovery Tool
This is where you can look at your competitors’ links:
- Find your competitors’ backlinks and link history
- Analyze which backlinks increase their rankings
- Look at their referring domains – these are your potential link partners, too
This separate tool gives you more information about your potential link partners. You will learn:
- Domain-level opportunities
- URL-specific backlinks
Then, use the Domain Authority metric (DA) to decide on your best opportunities.
4. SEO Audit
All websites offer in-depth SEO audit features, but Ahrefs arguably has the most options to evaluate your website’s performance overall.
The first useful site audit feature in Ahrefs is its Site Structure.
This section analyzes different parts of your website that affect your SEO performance regarding traffic and backlinks data.
You need to prove website ownership first. Ahrefs will then show you specific performance issues, such as duplicate content, mobile friendliness, or indexability.
SEMrush also has a site audit that highlights specific issues:
You can then click on each problem and error to see the intricacies behind it and plan how to solve it.
Bonus: SEMrush has an on-page SEO checker that shows specific SEO suggestions per page in order of priority:
These suggestions can increase your organic traffic considerably.
Ubersuggest offers the most basic type of site audit, but you can assess your SEO health following fundamental technical SEO factors.
And you receive helpful suggestions to make improvements.
5. Backlink Analysis
Ahrefs probably has the best backlink analysis features of the bunch.
Ahrefs is renowned for its backlink analysis features, which include several features related to incoming and outgoing links, linked domains, and various types of anchor text. Here’s an overview of these features:
- Outgoing links: Ahrefs analyzes the links pointing to other websites. This feature helps understand a website’s link-building strategy, including which external pages or domains it frequently links to.
- Linked domains: This feature provides information about the domains that link to a website. It helps you grasp the diversity and quality of the external sites your website associates with.
- Outgoing anchors: This part of Ahrefs’ analysis focuses on the anchor text used in outgoing links. Analyzing outgoing anchor text can provide insights into the topics or keywords a website considers important or relevant.
- Broken links: Ahrefs identifies broken outbound links on a website. This is crucial for website health, as broken links can negatively impact user experience and SEO.
Insider tip: At Breeeze, we use this tool to check broken links on our potential link partners’ websites. And this helps us pitch our content for more linking opportunities.
- Internal links: The tool also examines links between pages within the same website. Understanding the internal linking structure can provide insights into the site architecture and the relative importance of different pages.
- Internal anchors: Similar to outgoing anchors, this feature analyzes the anchor text used in internal links. This shows how a website structures and prioritizes content internally. Mistakes here can lead to indexing issues and a lower ranking position.
SEMrush offers many tools specifically designed for link-building and backlink analysis, providing a comprehensive approach to understanding and improving a website’s backlink profile. Here are the key features:
- Backlink analytics: This feature offers a detailed view of a website’s backlink profile. It allows you to analyze the backlinks of any domain, including your organic competitors. You get useful data on the total number of backlinks, referring domains, and referring IPs. Ancho text analysis, geographical distribution, and TLD distribution are also helpful to gauge where your linking domains come from and their status.
- Backlink audit: This tool helps assess your backlink profile’s health. It identifies potentially harmful backlinks that might lead to Google penalties. Key components include toxic link identification, integration with Google Search Console, and removal and disavow options.
- Link-building tool: This feature is designed to assist in the link-building process by identifying link prospects and managing outreach.
- Bulk Analysis: This enables the analysis of multiple URLs or domains simultaneously, saving time and providing a broader view of the link-building landscape.
Ubersuggest has a more modest backlink overview than the other two tools, but you can get a good overview, including:
- New and lost referring domains
- Referring domains by DA
- Anchor text distribution
- Do-follow and no-follow links
- And more
6. Additional Features
After reviewing the main features of these SEO platforms, let’s see what each shines at.
Ahrefs paid search is among the best here. Use it to look at paid keywords, ads, and paid pages.
This will help you understand your paid ad strategy better:
Insider tip: Understanding the keywords your competitors pay the most for helps you unravel important keyword opportunities.
Other incredible features are the AI keyword generator option and the comprehensive backlink analysis.
Ubersuggest AI content writing is one of the standout features of Ubersuggest.
Similarly helpful are the options to:
- Find related terms using propositions or comparisons.
- Assess social media shares.
- Use AI for content writing right from the keyword research tool.
SEMrush takes the cake regarding additional features with several functions:
- Local SEO
- Social media marketing tools
- Content marketing
- Agency solutions
Basically, SEMrush is transitioning from an SEO tool to an all-in-one tool for reputation management and promotion.
7. Pricing and Free Tools
Insider tip: Ubersuggest has a free keyword research tool, which is great for newbies or budget-challenged marketers.
Sign up, and you can benefit from 150 free daily searches.
Ahrefs and SEMrush do not.
Ahrefs has free separate tools, such as a free difficulty checker and volume checker, but it gets time-consuming to alternate between these tools.
And SEMrush only offers a few free searches per day.
You can’t even press backspace to see your previous results if you've gone beyond your free searches.
That’s not very user-friendly.
Ahrefs is in the middle price range, with $99/month.
Besides, paying annually gives you two months free.
There are no other discounts and no free trials. Website owners can sign up for Ahrefs Webmaster Tools and get limited free access to Site Explorer and Site Audit.
And you have the other free tools in their toolkit you can try.
SEMrush allows you to sign in for a 7-day free trial before purchasing any plan.
They probably want to minimize their uninstalls and maximize their active users as much as possible.
On the downside, you still must introduce your card details.
Plus, the cheapest plan is $129.95 per month.
Ubersuggest is the most affordable of the bunch.
You can simply sign in for hundreds of keyword searches and some solid but limited functionality across the board.
And you have a 7-day free trial after signing up.
Besides, the cheapest price plan starts at $12/month for individuals with just one website.
As you can see, Ubersuggest is great for basic SEO purposes, especially if you’re a beginner or have a tight budget.
Ahrefs and SEMrush are best for more in-depth long-tail keyword discovery and analysis. However, Ahrefs excels at backlink building, whereas SEMrush aims to become an all-in-one online management tool.
At Breeeze, we’ve tried all these tools, but Ahrefs stole our hearts.
So, use the lens of your needs to find the best tool for your SEO goals. And you can also read more SEO tool comparisons, such as Majestic vs Moz.