SEO is a term thrown around a lot in content marketing and blogging circles. It stands for Search Engine Optimization. At its core it’s just the system used to provide google users with answers to their questions. When someone enters a search in Google, Google wants to provide the best answer. They look at all sorts of various factors to figure out from the millions of articles and videos on the web the best answer to the question.
While SEO can involve lots of technical things that you can adjust to a certain extent. The goal for your SEO optimization should be to try and answer the question asked by the Google user.
But how do you know what they are asking?
Well for starters, having a clear understanding of your audience helps. But so do SEO tools like Ahrefs that help you decipher what people are searching for and how often it’s searched.
What Is Ahrefs?
Ahrefs bills itself as an all in one SEO toolset, and their homepage claims you don’t have to be an SEO pro to use it.
But I’d have to disagree. I have a good grasp on SEO but I still found the Ahref site hard to navigate. And if I can’t figure out how to use the tool to find the information I want, it’s not worth paying the $99/month price tag. So I went looking for Ahref alternatives.
Why SEO Matters In 2021
As the pandemic continues, more and more people rely on the internet for information and connection. There are way more people now working from home than ever before, presenting new challenges.
When someone needs:
- to know how to set up Zoom, or
- realizes their home office chair is not great for sitting in ALL Day,
they look to the internet for answers. They might search, “how to install Zoom” or “best ergonomic office chairs” or “most comfortable cheap office chairs”.
If you want your article to show up, then you not only need to provide the answers the searcher wants but make sure Google knows you have that answer.
Content is king, but the argument could be made that proper technical set up is queen. Headings should be used not for how they look stylistically but to help readers (and Google) navigate the article.
The bottom line is, if you want readers, you need to keep SEO in mind when creating your content.
SEO Factors Tools Can Help You With
There are lots of different benefits SEO tools can offer when it comes to optimizing for search engines like:
What exact phrase or phrases are being used in your topic? Are they looking for an “ergonomic chair” or a “comfortable chair”? It could be they are looking for an “ergonomic chair” but the language they are using in their search is “comfortable chair”.
You can of course use both, SEO tools can help you find the keywords people are searching for as well as related keywords.
These tools can also help you determine, how difficult it would be to rank for these keywords. If you’re starting out, you likely want to work towards low difficulty keywords to build your traffic.
Analyzing Content for On Page SEO
If you already have content written but it’s not ranking as high as you would like, many tools offer the ability to analyze your content. They will then make suggestions to improve it’s SEO.
Technical SEO Audits
SEO is more than just great articles that are optimized, your entire site should have some settings in place to make sure it’s optimized as well. A technical SEO audit can find issues on your site so that you can fix them. I once had an issue with more than one H1 on a page – which can be confusing to Google.
Want to know what is being said about you? Not in a creepy way, just in a who is talking about you and linking to your site way. Having lots of sites linking to your site (called backlinks) tells search engines you’re an authority in your topic.
If you’re an authority that other domains link to, Google users might like to go to you too, and it can help your content rank better.
By tracking backlinks you can see if your authority is growing or not.
Why Should You Consider Ahrefs Alternatives?
The number one reason to consider alternatives to Ahrefs is the User Interface. I found it difficult to navigate the tool. And if I’m going to be paying $100/month I want to make sure I’m getting the most out of it, by using the tool to its maximum abilities.
Which Ahrefs Alternative is Best for Your Blog?
The right Ahref alternative for you, depends on how you plan to use a keyword research tool, your SEO knowledge, and your budget.
Best All-in-One Ahrefs Alternative: SEMrush
SEMrush is a great alternative to Ahrefs. While it costs about the same, it’s much more user friendly and is easy to navigate.
SEMrush not only helps with keyword research and determining keyword difficulty, it also helps with content marketing.
You can use SEMrush to audit your current content to make improvements. It will even generate a custom content brief that works within Google Docs, so you know what to include in your article for the best chance to rank.
- Ideal tool for bloggers who can’t afford a team and need to create amazing content that will rank
- User friendly interface
- Works with tools most bloggers use (WordPress, Google Docs)
- Includes content distribution (publish to WordPress or various social media channels)
- Cost is about the same as Ahrefs
- The basic plan doesn’t include the content marketing tools
The lowest plan, called Pro costs $119/month or $1,199/year.
The next tier, called Guru costs $229/month or $2,299/year.
Paying annually saves you 16%.
They do offer a 7 day free trial so you can check it out.
Best Alternative On A Budget: Frase
Frase just keeps getting better and better (I’m actually drafting this article in Frase). Simply enter a keyword and Frase will provide you withe the average word count of articles ranking in the top 20 for that keyword. It will also show:
- The headings those articles used,
- How many links they had, and
- Phrases that they used throughout the article.
As you write you content Frase will score your it to help you see what your article is missing. You can even choose to have it scored in different areas, for example scored for long tail keywords, which are typically easier to rank for.
Frase actually offers two products, Frase Content and Frase Answers. Frase content is the most useful for bloggers. You can use Frase to conduct content research. Then use that research to create a content brief. (especially helpful if you work with Freelancers)
And if you already have content you’ve written but want to improve, you can import it and use Frase to optimize it.
The latest feature released, is AI generated content to help you automatically write original headlines and frequently asked questions.
While Frase’s Basic plan is just $45/month, they offer a Free plan (not a free trial, a free plan). The free plan lets you use Frase for up to five documents every month.
- Super budget friendly with a Free plan
- It’s a growing company that is regularly rolling out new features
- Works well for creating the content itself
- Gives great competitive analysis
- Integrates with Google Search Console and WordPress
- It’s not explicitly a keyword research tool
- Doesn’t do any backlink analysis
- Takes a bit a playing around with it to get the hang of it.
As mentioned earlier Frase offers a free plan which makes it a great cheap Ahref alternative.
Even if you decide to upgrade to the basic plan at $45/month, that is still half the cost of Ahrefs.
Best Ahrefs Alternative for Beginners: RankIQ
RankIQ is a new SEO tool on the block, it’s created by Brandon Gaille of Blog Millionaire. It aims to help bloggers zero in on the information they need without the overwhelm of tools like Ahrefs.
Like SEMrush and Frase it comes with a content optimizer. So you can see what is missing from your article giving it the best chance at ranking.
RankIQ’s main feature is its Keyword Library. They’ve picked out the best low competition keywords with the highest traffic potential.
Once you find a keyword you like, you can have RankIG generate a report which will help you craft your blog post title and take you to the content grader to help you optimize what you write.
- Designed for bloggers who aren’t SEO experts
- Great tutorials to help you get going fast
- Simplifies keyword research
- Not all niches have tons of keywords
- Some keywords are not categorized correctly (I found “german shepherd working line vs show line” in the Personal Finance keyword library)
Regularly priced RankIQ is $99/month. However, as it’s new they are offering a special to get 50% off, making it $49/month.
Best Alternative for Full Site Audits: SerpStat
If you’re looking to clean up the technical SEO on your site then a site audit is a great place to start. It will list any errors on your including broken link. Site audits will also usually include some backlink analysis so you can see what sites are linking to yours.
Serptstat’s SEO audits do a great job of explaining what needs fixing so you don’t have to hire someone else to fit the errors on your site.
Serpstat comes with a great amount of features and a plan designed for individuals rather than an SEO team.
With the easy to navigate side menu, even a beginner can figure out the best place to start.
- Site audits for up to 10 sites
- Rank tracking
- Backlink analysis
- Keyword and Domain Analysis
- No free trial or free plan
- The number of projects seems to be lifetime, if you delete a project it still counts towards your 10.
Unfortunately Serpstat doesn’t offer any sort of free trial. Their lowest plan comes in at just $69/month. You can get a 5% discount if you commit to 3 months. The discount increases the longer you commit to a subscription.
The right Ahrefs alternative for you will depend on what you want to accomplish and your skill level. If you’re just starting out, you probably don’t need all the bells and whistles (or the price tag) of tools like SEMrush.
If you want to dip your toes in the SEO waters, starting out on Frase’s free plan is probably the way to go. Perhaps alongside the currently affordable RankIQ.
If you want something that goes head to head with Ahrefs but a little easier to navigate then SEMrush is right for you.
What do you think? Have you used any of these tools? Which do you like best or what is another one you love? Let me know in the comments!