The Best Paid SEO Software: SEMRush vs. Moz vs. Ahrefs -

The Best Paid SEO Software: SEMRush vs. Moz vs. Ahrefs

When it comes to SEO tools, there are a lot of choices; if you Google “best tools for SEO”, you’ll see a lot of posts with names like “The 10 best tools for SEO” and “The Complete List of SEO Tools”.  One thing you might notice about these lists, though, is that there are 3 tools that show up on every one: SEMRush, Moz Pro, and Ahrefs. After completing extensive research and hands-on trails, industry experts consider these the top 3 tools for SEO research and reporting. So which one is right for your business? None of them come cheap, so you best do your research before you hand over your credit card. Below we’ve listed the pros, cons, and main features of each tool so you can easily decide which one is the best investment for your growing business.

SEMRush - Great for Competitor Research

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  • 7 day Free trial
  • Free version gets you 10 requests per day
    • Perfect if you’re just starting out with some light SEO work
  • This tool is GREAT for researching your competition.
    • You can see their best keywords, their ad strategies, and their budget.
    • You can also discover any new organic competitors.
  • You can see where your links are coming from, ie from text, images, forms, etc.
  • They have an on-page SEO checker and a content analyzer.
  • They offer bulk social media posting.


  • This tool is not for beginners- it’s not very user-friendly, and while it offers a ton of great features, you have to know what you’re doing to use them.
    • It’s not even that easy to access the free trial- I had to go hunting for it!
  • Their backlink analysis tool is not as accurate as some of the others.
  • Sometimes their data is inaccurate as well.


  • Pro $99.95 per month (for beginners)
  • Guru $199.95 (for small business owners)
  • Business $399.95 (for larger businesses and marketing agencies)

*It’s important to note that these prices are reduced when you opt to pay annually instead of monthly

If your focus is on keyword research and investigating your competition, this is the tool for you.

Moz Pro - Great for Keyword Research

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  • 30 day free trial
  • Site crawl/audit feature so you can quickly and easily determine what issues your website has
  • Great customer support
  • Their blog is awesome for anyone wanting to learn about SEO
  • They offer a Chrome extension so you can analyze any website
  • Offers more backlinks than SEMRush
  • Their keyword explorer is one of the best out there
    • Their competition and search volume data is more accurate than Google Keyword Planner, and they give you more keyword suggestions than SEMRush


  • Sometimes their backlink data isn’t accurate
  • No social media posting features


  • Standard $99 per month (for bloggers)
  • Medium $179 per month (for bloggers and small business owners)
  • Large $249 per month (for SEO agencies)
  • Premium $599 per month (for large SEO and marketing agencies)

If your focus is on keyword research and/or you’re wanting to learn more about SEO, this is the tool for you.

Ahrefs - Great for Backlink Analysis

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  • Ahrefs is great for analyzing backlinks
    • Their backlink analysis tool is considered some of the best in the industry, whether you’re building your own links or researching your competition’s links.
    • Their backlink index is the largest, with 15 trillion links
  • They also offer a rank tracker so you can track your website’s desktop or mobile ranking, and you can opt to get daily, monthly, or weekly reports so it’s easy to see your progress.


  • No free trial
  • The only thing that’s free is their toolbar
  • In order to use ALL their features, you have to subscribe to the most expensive version of the tool (Agency) which costs more than the highest level of SEMRush or Moz
  • Essentially the same features as the other 2 tools, but for more money


  • Lite $99 per month (for beginners)
  • Standard $179/mo (for experienced bloggers)
  • Advanced $399/mo (for SEO agencies)
  • Agency $999/mo (for large marketing agencies)

If your focus is on backlink analysis, this is the tool for you.

The Verdict

After completing this research and going through the 30 day free trial of Moz and the 7 day free trial of SEMRush, I chose to go with Moz. Moz had the user-friendly design that I needed to get started. It’s simple to do keyword research, which is the bulk of what I do, and Moz Keyword Explorer puts together comprehensive analysis reports of any website you enter into their search bar. I often screenshot these reports and either save them to compare in a month, or I share them with current and prospective clients so they can get a general idea of how their website is ranking.

That being said, a large part of why I chose this tool was because it fit well with my business needs. That’s what you need to keep in mind when choosing a tool for your own company. If you’re not an SEO beginner (or even if you are, but maybe have a little more confidence than I do!), SEMRush or Ahrefs might be a better fit for you. SEMRush is great for anyone who does a lot of in depth keyword research, and Ahrefs has the best backlink analysis tool of them all. But review all their features, compare their pricing and plans, and then make a decision. If all you’re wanting to do is compare keyword research tools, check out this article from No Risk SEO. I always recommend using the free trials (when available) as well, because reading about a tool and actually using it are 2 very different things.

The good news is, if you opt to pay monthly you’re not stuck in any kind of contract, so you can always switch to a different tool if you’re not satisfied at the end of your month! Still not sure which tool to go with? Read more about all 3 in this article by No Risk SEO.

Do you use a paid tool for your business? Which one? Are there any we should add to this list? Comment in the section below!

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By Amanda Disilvestro on March 6, 2019

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Value = $249.95