Best SEMRush alternatives in 2020: Paid and Free Tools
by Mike Khorev
In the world of SEO, and digital marketing in general, SEMRush is one of the most prominent tools available with a well-rounded set of features for all your SEO needs.
It has a powerful keyword research and keyword suggestion tool, in-depth domain analytics with versatile (and real-time) reporting, and a very useful backlinks analytics feature, among others.
However, SEMRush certainly isn’t perfect by any means. There are plenty of SEMRush alternatives with lower price tags (or even totally free), and there are tools that are better in certain aspects.
Here, we will discuss those SEMRush alternatives, both paid and free ones. Let us start with some of the best free alternatives available today.
Free SEMRush Alternatives
We all like free things, and these free options are great for small bloggers just starting out, small businesses with a tight budget, and some of them are even good enough for big companies that don’t really need the advanced features of SEMRush, Ahrefs, or other premium keyword research tools.
1. Google Keyword Planner
Since most of us are aiming our SEO efforts to rank on Google, it would only make sense that Google’s own Keyword Planner is one of the best keyword research tools available.
The best part is, if you have a Google account (which is also free), you can Google Keyword Planner without any limitations.
Pros of Google Keyword Planner:
For being a free tool, Keyword Planner is especially good at what it does. There are two core features here: finding new keywords and getting search volume and forecasts.
Using it is simple: enter your seed keyword(s) and then Keyword Planner will show suggestions for keywords, along with important metrics like average search volume, PPC (Pay Per Click) costs, etc.
As a keyword suggestion tool, Google Keyword Planner is probably the best today, especially considering it’s free.
Cons of Google Keyword Planner:
Some of the metrics displayed by Google Keyword Planner are only rough estimates. For example, Keyword Planner will only show “Low”, “Medium” or “High” on the Competition tab.
2. Ubersuggest by Neil Patel
Ubersuggest is another free tool with similar core features to Google Keyword Planner. Coming from Neil Patel, one of the most prominent thought leaders in the world of digital marketing, and it’s absolutely free.
Pros of UberSuggests:
Contrary to Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggests is pretty accurate with its metrics. It only displays 3 metrics: search volume, PPC cost (CPC), and SEO difficulty, but all 3 are pretty accurate, comparable to SEMRush.
Also, it recently launched a new “Content Ideas” feature, where it will suggest topic ideas, along with useful metrics like number of backlinks generated by similar content and estimated monthly visits.
Cons of UberSuggests:
Doesn’t give too many keyword suggestions compared to SEMRush and even Google Keyword Planner. A good approach is to get your keyword suggestion from Google Keyword Planner, and copy it to UberSuggests for more accurate metrics (and content idea suggestions).
SEMRush is not only about keyword research and keyword suggestion, but also a great analytics tool to analyze your site’s performance from backlinks profile to organic traffic to referring domains. Searchmetrics is a relatively unknown, but a great SEMRush alternative for this role.
You will need to create a free account, but besides that, Searchmetrics is totally free. Simply enter your domain URL (or your competitor’s), and Searchmetrics will generate a report of the domain’s performance on SEO, all in a single page.
Pros of Searchmetrics:
One-page, streamlined analytics report that is totally free.
Cons of Searchmetrics:
Obviously the generated report is less complete compared to SEMRush’s, and only offers basic analytics tools.
Paid SEMRush alternatives
While as mentioned, the most common issue people have with SEMRush is its hefty price tag, some of us are probably looking for SEMRush alternatives due to other reasons. Below are some paid alternatives for SEMRush, along with a brief discussion for each on how they’ll compare to SEMRush.
Probably the closest competitor to SEMRush, Ahrefs is very similar to SEMRush in terms of features and overall functionality. Price-wise, Ahrefs also offers similar package plans to SEMRush. All Ahrefs’ packages are $0.95 cheaper than SEMRush’s offers. In the long run, you still spend less, saving almost a dollar monthly.
Pros of Ahrefs:
As mentioned, Ahrefs offer similar set of features to SEMRush for almost a dollar cheaper each month.
Ahrefs is also stronger than SEMRush in the link analytics department: reporting more metrics and each more accurately than SEMRush. In the past, its keyword research function is significantly below that of SEMRush’s, but nowadays it’s catching up.
Another unique feature of Ahrefs is the useful SEO Toolbar add-on for Chrome and Firefox. This toolbar will show useful metrics like search volume, backlinks profile, and PPC cost for all search engine results on your browser. A very useful feature.
Cons of Ahrefs:
Only one user can use Ahrefs at any given time, even if you opt for the more expensive packages. This can be an issue if more than one people are working on SEO in your company.
2. Moz Pro
Moz Pro is another famous name in the world of SEO and digital marketing, due to their prominent digital marketing blog and their Domain Authority scoring system. Similar to Ahrefs, all of Moz’s plans are $0.95 cheaper than SEMRush (even cheaper if you subscribe to annual plan), so it’s another cheaper alternative (albeit so slightly).
Pros of Moz
Not related directly to the Moz Pro tool, but Moz offers various useful resources on the SEO and digital marketing topics in general. By subscribing to one of Moz Pro’s plans, you’ll get 1 on 1 session with an actual expert that will help you in achieving your SEO goals.
As mentioned, Page Authority and Domain Authority are devised by Moz, so all their tools will integrate these metrics (which can be very useful).
Moz’s interface is very user-friendly and arguably the best compared to SEMRush and Ahrefs, and even then there are the various resources that can help you learn about the platform.
Also, the very basic plan can be accessed by two different users, which can be useful if you have more than one SEO marketers.
Cons of Moz
It takes a little longer to receive data and reports from Moz compared to SEMRush. Also, most of Moz’s good features are offered for free, while the advanced features included in the pro plans are a little bit lackluster compared to SEMRush.
SpyFu, as the name suggests, is a tool focused in spying on your competitors’ sites. SEMRush does offer similar features, but due to its focused approach, SpyFu’s competitor analytics features are more in-depth and diverse.
With that being said, SpyFu is a little lacking on features to analyze your own domain, but is significantly more affordable than SEMRush at just $33/month, one-third SEMRush’s price.
Pros of SpyFu:
As mentioned, SpyFu costs just a third of SEMRush’s, Ahrefs’, and Moz Pro’s costs, while offering a very advanced set of features for competitive analysis. You can, for example, get a detailed breakdown of your competitor’s traffic sources (so you can target similar sources), their Google Ads spending, their ranking keywords, and their backlinks profile, among others.
In the competitor analysis department, SpyFu is arguably the best in its class. SpyFu is also relatively easy to use, and by being a SpyFu registered customer, you can also get a plethora of learning sources.
Cons of SpyFu:
SpyFu, as mentioned, is focused on competitor analysis, and while you can also use the same tool to analyze your own domain, it won’t be as comprehensive as SEMRush or Ahrefs. There are no dedicated keyword research and keyword suggestion tools as well.
However, considering its cost, there are plenty of workarounds for this issue, for example by combining SpyFu with free keyword research and analytics tools we have discussed above.
4. Monitor Backlinks
Another key feature of SEMRush is the ability to analyze your and your competitor’s backlinks profile. Backlinks analysis is important so that you can avoid Google penalty due to low-quality links, while by analyzing your competitor’s backlinks, you can also gain insights on how to build your own.
Monitor Backlinks starts from $47/month where you can monitor 1 domain and 2 competitors’ domains. However, there is the Free Backlink Checker tool where you can generate free reports for two websites per week, which is a handy free alternative for backlinks analytics.
Pros of Monitor Backlinks
Focusing on—as the name suggests— monitoring backlinks profile, Monitor Backlinks is very powerful in that purpose. Even the free tool can generate reports for 300 backlinks for free, and for the premium plan, you get various advanced features like the ability to monitor important metrics like Citation Flow and Trust Flow, the ability to preview a link and scan for malware, and many more.
If you are solely looking for a backlinks profiling tool, Monitor Backlinks is a good choice.
Cons of Monitor Backlinks
Considering its fairly limited (focused) set of features, the $47/month price tag is quite expensive.
We all have different needs and different SEO goals. For some of us, SEMRush is probably still the best option for most SEO experts even after considering all these alternatives. However, there are tools that are focused on certain features, making it a better alternative to SEMRush in that aspect. There are also a plethora of free tools that might be sufficient for your current needs.
April 30, 2021