Fintech Marketing Tools: Ahrefs vs. Semrush

Fintech Marketing Tools: Ahrefs vs. Semrush

Every generation has its iconic matchups. 

Pepsi vs. Coke. 
Yankees vs. Red Sox.
McDonald’s vs. Burger King.

Even the digital marketing world has heated rivalries. 

In 2023, the battle of the digital marketing titans pits two SEO tools against each other: Ahrefs vs. Semrush.

While both tools are powerful (and popular), one question dominates the discourse: which software suite drives more visibility and engagement for fintech marketing?

In this article, we’ll compare and contrast Ahrefs vs. Semrush in six essential categories. While pursuing objectivity as best we can, we will conclude the piece with our official recommendation.

Let’s get into the ring. 

A Quick Word on Content Marketing and SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is fuel to the digital marketing fire. 

Much more than an acronym, SEO is the intricate process of optimizing your website to rank as high as possible on Google (and other search engines). 

When used strategically, SEO increases traffic quality and drives brand awareness. Over time, it empowers companies to gain notoriety, to surge past competitors, and to become industry leaders.

While SEO may sound somewhat risky, it’s purely strategic. It’s less like gambling and more like counting cards. 

Or, as our very own SEO wizard Mark Perna says in our comprehensive SEO guide:

 When SEO is done right, it always works.”
Of course, the opposite is also true. Shoddy SEO can bury websites deep in the annals of the world wide web. 

After all, SEO is both art and science. While it’s a technical process, it’s equal parts creative.  

To that end, an effective SEO strategy thrives on high-quality (and original) content, dynamic website performance, and a superior UX. 

Unfortunately, many companies overlook SEO in their rush to increase brand awareness. They pump out content and increase ad spend without having the proper foundation under their feet.

As a result, they waste money and miss valuable opportunities to win new clients.

But here’s the good news: with SEO tools like Semrush and Ahrefs, you can optimize your web pages in an efficient (and affordable) way. 

What Is Ahrefs?

Ahrefs is an SEO software suite designed for fintech marketing teams of all sizes. As such, it’s utilized by boutique marketing teams and large agencies alike. 

While Ahrefs provides a range of non-SEO features, Search Engine Optimization remains their specialty.  

To help businesses achieve higher SEO rankings, Ahrefs provides advanced tools for keyword research, link building, competitor analysis, site audits and more.

What Is Semrush?

Semrush is an all-in-one digital marketing software suite. 

Though it began as an SEO tool, Semrush has recently expanded its focus into other arenas. For example, Semrush now offers robust toolkits for PPC advertising and social media marketing.

Like Ahrefs, Semrush tools can help you identify target keywords, analyze your competitor’s backlink profiles, and promote your overall SEO health.

Ahrefs vs. Semrush: Keyword Research

Keywords form the bedrock of any successful campaign. 

The question is, how can you choose the “right” ones?

With SEO tools, you can easily identify what keywords are working, how many people are searching for them, and who ranks highest for them. 

In fact, Ahrefs and Semrush not only reveal what keywords are working today – they’ll even show you what could work even better tomorrow.

Just like in professional sports, keyword power rankings are constantly shifting. While Ahrefs and Semrush both make it easy to capitalize on keywords, they have some important differences worth discussing.

For example, Ahrefs uses a proprietary tool called Keyword Explorer, which has a database of nearly 20 billion keywords across 10 search engines (including Bing, Amazon, and YouTube). 

While Ahrefs empowers you to research up to 10,000 keywords at a time, it does something even better: it generates thousands of new keyword suggestions based on your original seed keyword. 

From there, Keyword Explorer will provide specific metrics to help you choose the most effective keywords and achieve the highest possible ROI—every single time. 

While these processes may sound complex, the Ahrefs user interface makes it a breeze to use. 

How Does Semrush Stack Up?

For starters, Semrush unlocks access to an even broader index of keywords—nearly 21 billion keywords across 141 countries. 

While Semrush provides keyword metrics similar to Ahrefs— like their Search Volume and Ranking Difficulty tools—it also delivers custom tools like Keyword Magic and Keyword Manager. 

When used in sequence, these tools unlock granular keyword data and accompanying graphs to help you determine which keywords are worth targeting. 

Plus, Semrush also provides “estimated traffic” on keyword use, so you can get an advance preview of your potential engagement. 

Ultimately, Semrush delivers an expansive suite of tools and features for SEO professionals, making it ideal for large agencies and enterprise use. 

In our experience, however, Ahrefs delivers a more intuitive platform that in-house fintech marketing teams will love.

Ahrefs vs. Semrush: Backlink Analysis

While keyword research is important, backlink analysis is paramount. And what is a backlink, exactly?

It’s simply a link on one website that points to another website. For example, if a New York 

Times article linked to your company’s webpage, that would be considered a backlink.

When it comes to SEO and fintech marketing, the quality (and quantity) of backlinks are vital.

Fortunately, Ahrefs and Semrush make it easy to build and track your backlink profile.
Plus, they also provide the tools needed to monitor the backlinks of your competition. 

The question is, which tool is superior in the backlink arena?

The answer depends on several factors, including the size of each tool’s backlink database, their specific auditing features, and their UI (user interface). 

For years, Ahrefs has boasted the second largest index of live backlinks. Only Google has more. 

Indeed, Ahrefs database contains trillions of internal and external backlinks, so you can fully trust their authority metrics. 

Nevertheless, Ahrefs isn’t alone at the top.

Semrush has invested significant time and capital into their software, and today, their database claims over 43 trillion backlinks.

Though that number eclipses Ahrefs, appearances can be deceiving.

Here’s why: Semrush doesn’t distinguish between live” and “historicbacklinks, which were active in the past but may be dormant today. 

Conversely, Ahrefs has confirmed over 14 trillion “live” backlinks, which makes them #1 in backlink analysis. 

We’re not detracting from Semrush in any regard. Instead, we’re simply pointing out that the actual sizes of the Ahrefs and Semrush databases are probably in the same ballpark.

Then again, backlink analysis tells only half the story. 

What about backlink tools

Ahrefs and Semrush both provide a slew of powerful features to help you analyze backlinks, complete backlink audits, and even identify new link-building opportunities.

These formerly tedious processes have been thoroughly streamlined by Ahrefs and Semrush. What used to require hours of painstaking work can now be completed in minutes. 

Ultimately, while Semrush may have slightly more extensive backlink analysis, Ahrefs’ ease of use is unbeatable.

Ahrefs vs. Semrush: Competitor Analysis

In the digital economy, fintech marketing needs a strong offense and a fortified defense. 

Fortunately, Ahrefs and Semrush do more than power your SEO strategy. They also conduct in-depth competitor analysis, so you can see exactly how you compare.

From a high-level perspective, Ahrefs and Semrush provide similar tools and metrics, including:

  • Domain rating (or “authority score” for Semrush), both of which provide a summary of how well your website performs in search results 
  • Traffic estimate, to assess your approximate number of monthly visitors 
  • Keyword totals, which identify the number of keywords on your website

Better yet, Ahrefs can quickly estimate the “traffic value” of a particular domain. In other words, it can tell you how much you’d need to spend on ads to deliver an equivalent level of engagement. 

This invaluable asset delivers countless hours of research with the click of a button. 

Similarly, Semrush provides a “competitive positioning map,” which shows you exactly how your site ranks against the competition.

As we’ve seen in other categories, Ahrefs makes dense data tangible, while Semrush generates impressive levels of analysis. 

In the battle between Semrush vs. Ahrefs, competitor analysis is a toss-up. 

Ahrefs vs. Semrush: Rank Tracking

“Where does your website rank on Google?”

That’s an essential question that SEO tools are built to answer. 

For example, Semrush and Ahrefs both have “visibility” scores for a custom set of target keywords. These figures fluctuate like the stock market, with statistical improvements shown in green and declines in red. 

While Semrush and Ahrefs approach rank trackers in a similar way, they have two notable differences. 

For one thing, Ahrefs lets you track 750 target keywords, while Semrush provides up to 500. 

Secondly, while Ahrefs provides weekly updates, Semrush’s position tracking tool makes them available on a daily basis. 

Note: If you want to receive more regular updates from Ahrefs, you can pay an additional monthly fee. As we’ll discuss below, Ahrefs has adopted a usage-based pricing model with a spectrum of available add-ons. 

Ahrefs vs. Semrush: Site Audit

Thus far, we’ve explored four essential components of a thriving SEO strategy.

Keyword research, backlink analysis, competitor analysis, and rank tracking are all essential applications. 

However, there are more nuanced features available to help you strengthen your fintech marketing.

With a “site audit,” you can identify technical SEO problems and opportunities that are often overlooked.

In fact, Ahrefs and Semrush both have advanced site audit features that tell you if your site suffers from things like crawl errors, HTTP status code errors, broken links, slow-loading pages, missing meta descriptions and more.

These items are typically slotted into three categories: Errors, Warnings, and Notices

While diagnosing potential issues, these tools will also provide a complete list of things to fix.

For example, Semrush provides a “Top Issues” index, so you know which problems are worth your immediate attention.

When it comes to technical SEO features, Semrush and Ahrefs are equally indispensable. 

Ahrefs vs. Semrush: Pricing and Value

It’s clear that Ahrefs and Semrush both have a lot to offer.

But which one offers the most value? Let’s start by looking at pricing.

Semrush offers packages starting at $119.95 a month for small in-house marketing teams. Mid-size businesses are billed at $249.95 per month, while enterprises are priced at $449.95.

The bigger your plan, the broader your access.

For example, the base plan allows companies to track 5 projects and 500 keywords, while the enterprise plan allows up to 40 projects and 5,000 keywords. 

If you want to check it out with no strings attached, Semrush also offers a free trial period. Plus, if you choose to pay annually, you’ll save 17% on each subscription plan.

You can also add products a la carte to your plan, including Semrush .Local, .Trends, Agency GrowthKit, andImpactHero (a custom AI tool). 

Ahrefs provides a similar pricing breakdown, with monthly costs ranging between $99 — $999.

Ahres has four plans: Lite (for small businesses), Standard (for freelance marketing consultants), Advanced (for in-house marketing teams), and Enterprise (for large agencies).

As we mentioned earlier,  Ahrefs’ base package offers 50% more tracked keywords than Semrush’s equivalent package (and at 20% of the cost).

While Ahrefs does not offer a free trial, you’ll earn two months of service free if you pay annually.
As we mentioned earlier, Ahrefs has recently employed a usage-based pricing model, so your bill may change slightly depending on how many “credits” you use each month. 

Ultimately, value is more subjective than pricing.

While Semrush has a lot to offer, Ahrefs remains our preferred SEO suite.

Why CSTMR Prefers Ahrefs 

At CSTMR, we have a very specific focus. 

Our team of digital marketing experts works exclusively with fintech brands determined to better the world in big and small ways. 

We’re not intent on becoming an enterprise agency, and we’re not determined to partner with each and every company. 

Instead, we’re driven to meet and work with the right companies—with those who share our values of promoting financial well-being for every person on the planet.

To that end, Ahrefs has been instrumental in connecting our team with truly amazing brands. 

As a comprehensive suite of SEO tools, Ahrefs has provided us with a number of solutions, including:

  • A huge keyword database that guides our team to rank on the first page of Google
  • A vast backlink database to help build robust and original SEO strategies
  • A powerful “traffic potential” metric to identify the highest possible ROI
  • Rank tracking tools to analyze hundreds of keywords at a time
  • The ability to pull data from multiple search engines (not just from Google)  
  • Tools that make it easy to find (and fix) broken backlinks
  • Site audit features to quickly address issues and consistently make improvements
  • A seamless user interface and dashboard that provides crucial data all in one place

This last point deserves a bit more commentary. 

We love Ahrefs because it’s accessible for everyone on our team. While our Director of SEO can extract the most value from it, the Ahrefs UI is intuitive enough for our entire marketing department to leverage.

Again, Semrush is very popular software, and we have no qualms with companies who use it. 

However, we have benefited from using Ahrefs in every way — both in the hands-on user experience and the competitive advantage it consistently provides. 

The Key(word) to Better Marketing

If you’re weighing the pros and cons of Ahrefs vs. Semrush, breathe easy. The truth is, you can’t go wrong with either tool. 

Rather than aiming to pick the “best” SEO software, help yourself out by setting a more attainable target. Simply try to select the option that works best for what you need and what you hope to accomplish.

As we discussed, Ahrefs and Semrush offer a range of tiered packages tailored to businesses of all sizes. 

You can review Semrush plans here, and Ahrefs packages here

Remember: by investing in your SEO strategy, you’ll win higher quality traffic and enhanced brand awareness. Your investment will absolutely pay dividends, as we’ve seen time and again.

At CSTMR, we’ve had the privilege to work with some inspiring fintech companies.

While they each faced unique challenges, they have all shared a common cause: to empower people to live financially fulfilling, hopeful, and successful lives. 

Many of these companies found us through the SEO tools Ahrefs provided, and we’re excited to continue building on that foundation.

If you’re part of the next generation of fintech innovators, we’d love to meet you.

Feel free to reach out anytime you like. 

Whitney Wingerd
Whitney Wingerd
Whitney is CSTMR's Head of Content & Social Media. She has two decades of experience working as an influencer, in digital and social media marketing, that she utilizes in guiding our Content marketing team.

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