Ahrefs Review: Thumbs Up and Down

Ahrefs Review: Thumbs Up and Down

Recently, I reviewed Ahrefs for a client, Chris from HopeHasArrived.com, where I serve as his Virtual Chief Technology Officer. The goal was to see how well Ahrefs stood out against the competition. Many of the clients we advise require a competitive edge in the market when it comes to their website. Tools like Ahrefs provide our clients with the ability to master Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Paid Per Click (PPC) as ways for increasing website traffic.

The tools we’ve had our eyes on besides Ahrefs, include SEMRush and SpyFu. Other honorable mentions include Moz Pro and Raven Tools. We wanted to consider tools other experts I knew personally had endorsed or tools I had experienced first-hand using. Several of my SEO and PPC friends rave about both SEMRush and Ahrefs, so those tools made the cut. I’ve had personal experience with SpyFu. I remember the first time I used Spyfu. TheHopeLine.com, a client, and I used SpyFu to evaluate how well their website did against other websites. While TheHopeLine is technically a ministry and non-profit, it never hurts to check out the competition. From that day forward, SpyFu has been a tool I return to often for online research.

One Major Positive

Ahrefs both impressed and disappointed me. I do admit, my expectations were high for Ahrefs. Why? The first was due to my friend John Doherty and the second was due to the high-quality educational material Ahrefs creates. We will come back to those 2 items later in our review.

Before we get into the details, I want to share the 1 major positive I experienced with Ahrefs. Alerts by Ahrefs by far is my favorite Ahrefs’ feature. The Ahrefs Alerts feature alone motivates me to want to license Ahrefs. Later in this review, we go into detail why Ahrefs Alerts was my favorite feature and how it can serve you.

One Major Negative

So, what disappointed me about Ahrefs? The report limits frustrated me! Shortly after starting my 7-day trial for $7, I was faced with lots of restrictions in Ahrefs I never expected or anticipated. Everywhere you turn in Ahrefs, you face some arbitrary limit if felt like. For example, I set aside a Sunday afternoon to perform keyword research with Ahrefs for this very article. This was going to be my most important test of Ahrefs.

Within 30 minutes, I had hit some so-called 25 unique report limit. Why? As I soon learned, Ahrefs requires users to upgrade to the next pricing plan when they hit the 25 report limit. So essentially, you need to pay for the next 25 reports or wait a day to continue your research! What?!

I am not a fan of arbitrary limits. Why do I call this limit arbitrary? It would be understandable if my running the 26th report triggered let’s say… an Uber driver to go to the library and perform research. That would require a car, a drive, gas, labor, and more. That, I would expect to pay for. Here though with Ahrefs, that just isn’t the case. And why 25 reports? Why not 250? The reason, greed! Let’s look at this through the lens of business and why a company would arbitrarily set such a limit.

Expansion Revenue vs CAC

In business school, students are taught the importance of expansion revenue. A dollar earned from an existing client has a lower cost of acquisition than a dollar earned from a new client. This cost for a new client is referred to as Customer Acquisition Cost or CAC for short. Almost always the cost to acquire a new client or CAC is sustainably more than expanding the revenue of an existing client. Companies with recurring revenue like Ahrefs measure expansion revenue using a metric called Monthly Recurring Revenue or MRR for short.

Expansion revenue in business is a good tool when done correctly. In using arbitrary limits, Ahrefs I feel has implemented expansion revenue poorly. They would be better off, in my opinion, selling feature sets as modules instead of all the features with arbitrary limits.

For example, I would pay $49/month for Ahrefs Alerts as a stand-alone service. Then after getting comfortable with Ahrefs and locked in as they say in business, I would later add a module for say unlimited SEO research reports for another say $99/month. This purchasing of a new, separate and stand-alone services would accomplish two things. It would make the hurdle rate lower from $99/month to $49/month. In essence, more people would sign up due to the lower hurdle rate for using their services. Secondly, this would allow for common sense expansion revenue increasing Ahrefs MRR.

Using this method, Ahrefs would earn $148/month from me, over 50% more than the $99/month they charge for their entry-level ‘Lite’ plan. Instead, Ahrefs manufactured an arbitrary limit to get users like me to pay them more. This is bad business, at least in my opinion.

Did I pay the extra $100/month to unlock the next 25 reports? No, I just switched to SpyFu and continued my research there.

Ahrefs Best Feature: Ahrefs Alerts

What is Ahrefs Alerts? Ahrefs has the ability through Ahrefs Alerts to notify you when a competitor’s website uses a specific keyword online. Ahrefs can monitor millions of websites across the Internet as well as social media websites like Twitter and popular Q&A websites like Reddit and Quora.

If you’ve taken Ahrefs online course Blogging for Business, Tim Soulo details the power of Ahrefs Alerts well in that course. During the course, I learned further from Tim that Ahrefs has invested heavily in building their very own Internet bot. An Internet bot is a digital robot that scours the Internet and indexes for the owner everything it sees and finds. Ahrefs Internet bot rivals that of Google, the king of indexing the Internet.

A good tip Tim recommends in the course, suggests you monitor Twitter for mentions of keywords and competitors associated with your website. When a keyword or competitor shows up on Twitter, you may want to reply to the tweet by congratulating the author on the great post. At the same time, you should recommend an article you recently published on a similar subject. This does 2 things. It alerts someone who is obviously interested in the topic to your article so you are being helpful. Secondly, others seeing the Tweet may also see your reply and check out what you published. This creates a win-win!

Ahrefs Alerts vs Google Alerts

I actually first learned about Ahrefs Alerts after reading an article by Ahrefs on Google Alerts a few weeks earlier. In the article, Ahrefs highlights how to properly set up Google Alerts. At the same time, Ahrefs introduces us to their own Ahrefs Alerts feature. Ahrefs highlight how powerful Ahrefs Alerts when compared to Google’s Alerts.

While I didn’t get the opportunity to actually test Ahrefs Alerts during the trial, I have no reason to doubt Ahrefs Alert capability. From everything I have heard and read, Ahrefs really does want to compete with Google at some point in the future. Also, it is smart business for Ahrefs to not overly rely on Google and to build their own bot. By building their own Internet bot plus alert system that rivals Google’s bot and alert system, Ahrefs now controls their own destiny. This is simply smart business!

Earlier, I mentioned Ahrefs Alerts as my favorite feature. I have over recent days since my 7-day trial ended thought about actually subscribing to Ahrefs for this feature alone. At $99/month for the Ahrefs Lite plan, I’m on the fence for whether I would get that much value from it.

Ahrefs’ team has invested time and resources into building its own Google-like search engine to bring us Ahrefs Alerts. While not an actual search engine you and I can use to search (at least not, yet), Ahrefs investment here into building bots that index the web similar to Google I feel is a smart bet. To learn more about what Ahrefs is indexing online, check out the section on their website that call Ahrefs By The Numbers.

Watch Out Google, Ahrefs Maybe Coming

In the future, I would not be surprised to see Ahrefs compete directly with Google in the search engine business. This potential to compete with Google I feel is why Ahrefs service is more expensive than competitors and also why Ahrefs encourages upgrades by limiting features. Ahrefs I feel is no dummy and they are experiencing success.

How much success? I heard recently that Ahrefs was close to achieving $1 million in revenue per employee. With 50 employees excluding support, that would mean Ahrefs generating $50 million per year at minimum. That is huge!

Why would Ahrefs exclude support? I heard Ahrefs was thinking about separating out their support staff from their sales metrics internally since support costs correlate highly with revenue. Thus, Ahrefs is categorizing support as a Cost of Goods Sold or COGS for short. In business, we look at COGS as a necessary expense to generate revenue. For an automobile company, they would count for example the expense they pay for steel in their COGS. The more cars they sell, the more steel the car manufacturer must buy. In business, we separate COGS from operational costs in an effort to calculate Net Revenue or Net Sales. With Ahrefs performing this calculation, it demonstrates Ahrefs is preparing the business for greater achievements than where they are now.

I May Not Be Within Ahrefs Target Market

My point here is that it is easy for me to complain about Ahrefs pricing model but it may be that I am not the ideal client for Ahrefs. I would be what Ahrefs would classify as a ‘value shopper’. Their ideal client probably wouldn’t bat an eye at $99/month to start would quickly jump to $199/month for more reports.

Thus, Ahrefs may be knowingly making a trade here to avoid value clients like me and target premium clients like digital marketing agencies such as my friend John Doherty I mentioned earlier. We will go into detail later on why John likes Ahrefs and why he sees benefit from them from an agency point of view.

Watch Out Duck, Duck, Go!

What other evidence do I have that Ahrefs may want to target Google in the search engine business? I have heard Ahrefs executives on multiple podcasts and online in their writing argue there should be an open alternative search engine that doesn’t track users to the degree that Google does. technically, there are search engines that do this like Duck, Duck, Go.

So, why not just mention Duck, Duck, Go? My opinion is that Ahrefs is preparing to battle Google. By building a service that essentially reverse-engineers Google’s algorithm and funds the effort through website owners that need help unlocking that algorithm reeks to me of pure genius. To take down one of the world’s largest Internet companies that has almost endless amounts of cash, you can’t be the cheapest service available. Also, your executive team knows that average revenue per employee is important in battling a giant with similar revenues per employee like Google. So I feel this is by design, not accident.

Ahrefs Alerts combined with their social media and Internet tracking via Internet bots make for a powerful combination. Ahrefs has invested heavily in technology that rivals that of Google. A company such as Ahrefs with that much firepower to scan the web rivaling Google deserves strong consideration. Let’s see what they do with this technology in the future and if my prediction proves accurate.

Ahrefs Big-Data webpage where the companies publish the work performed by their Internet Bots that scourer the Internet much like Google’s Bots.

When it comes to features, I shared earlier that their Ahrefs Alerts was by and far my favorite feature. However, most SEO Experts may argue that Ahrefs Backlink Research tool is their strongest feature. To not mention their backlink research tools would, I feel, have left this Ahrefs review incomplete. Allow me to explain why backlink research is important.

On the Internet, the number of links a website receives from other websites can be used to determine how popular and well respected a website is. The more popular and respected the backlink, the more ‘link juice’ as they say the referring link has. This makes common sense if we consider a backlink a vote of confidence in the material. And we can safely assume this without ever looking at the actual websites. Why? Because other quality websites have voted with their links.

To see this in more detail, let’s compare 2 websites solely based on their backlinks. The first website has 10,000 quality backlinks from other well-respected websites. The second website has zero. We can safely assume that the website with 10,000 backlinks has a higher reputation and more valuable information than the website with no backlinks.

Is that fair? For the website with zero backlinks, it may feel unfair. However, for the website that has worked to achieve 10,000 backlinks, they more than likely feel the use of backlinks as a measure of quality is completely fair.

What if the website with zero backlinks has quality content and the only issue is that it is new? Isn’t that website unfairly hurt due to its young age?

There are 2 arguments here. First, the number of backlinks and the quality of those backlinks are just 2 measures of hundreds and even thousands used by search engines to rank search results. There are other areas such as page load speed, outbound links, keyword usage, time on page, low bounce rates, and more that will help level the playing field for the new website. Secondly, in time as the new website earns more backlinks from respective websites with the help of Ahrefs Backlink Research Tools, this issue too, as they say, will soon pass.

Google without revealing how their search algorithm works, has acknowledged publically a major factor in the ranking of their search results is the number of quality backlinks a website has. So, if you own the website with 0 backlinks and you want to compete against the website with 10,000, Ahrefs and their backlink research tools would be a good tool for you.

Also, if you are the website with 10,000 backlinks, Ahrefs would argue they are a good tool for you as well. With Ahrefs backlink research tools, a website could go from 10,000 quality backlinks to 20,000 and up helping it continue to have a competitive edge over new entrants.

In using Ahrefs, you can analyze the backlinks your competitor is getting and compare those to you. From there, you can work for example to get backlinks from the same websites that link to your competitor. You can go even as far as trying to get some to remove their links from your competitor and redirect them to you. Alls fair in love and war, after all.

High Expectations For Ahrefs

As I mentioned earlier, I had high expectations for Ahrefs. The first was due to my friend John Doherty at GetCredo.com. He’s an SEO expert and had selected Ahrefs as his tool of choice (though he admits in his Ahrefs review that it was a toss-up between Ahrefs and SEMRush). Many SEO experts like John prefer Ahrefs based on my research in writing this article. If they didn’t pick Ahrefs, they almost always picked SEMRush. So John is in line with exactly what others felt.

Were John and the other SEO/PPC consultants possibly wrong in picking Ahrefs since I have given them some knocks? No, absolutely not. More on that later in the article. Let’s, for now, turn to the second reason I wanted to test Ahrefs.

Ahrefs Has A Powerful PR Machine

The second reason my expectations were high was due to Ahrefs strong social media presence and education prowess that had a great influence on me well before I ever actually tested their product. Ahrefs puts out some amazing content and educational material. Let me be clear: Ahrefs is a marketing machine!

Another client of ours, TheHopeLine.com, with over 3.5 million visitors to their website annually, also appreciates the educational material Ahrefs puts out. While TheHopeLine.com officially chose SEMRush for their SEO research, they still rely on Ahrefs educational material and often site Ahrefs research for a reason they implement a change. Why did TheHopeLine choose SEMRush over Ahrefs? TheHopeLine’s SEO consultant, Go Epps, preferred SEMRush and could easily add TheHopeLine to their account. Go Epps also utilizes SpyFu heavily in their research. My guess though is that had GoEpps used Ahrefs, then TheHopeLine would also. It goes to demonstrate how closely aligned Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Spyfu are and how the competition in this space is good for consumers.

Ahrefs does offer a comprehensive site audit. While Rackless.com is a new site, we already have 22 organic keywords. Learn in this article though that we have to pay more $ to see what those keywords are.

Ahrefs before Spyfu? Why?

If I, TheHopeLine, and their SEO consultant GoEpps already have experience with Spyfu and Spuyfu has given us so much for free already, then why are we reviewing Ahrefs first and not Spyfu?

Spyfu provides a lot of its features on a limited basis for free without even signing in. Go Spyfu! They even expand those features more if you sign up for a free Spyfu account. Cheers to Spyfu! With Spyfu, you can identify competitors on the web. They do this by comparing the keywords you rank against the keywords of other competing websites. Spyfu also helps you find other websites experiencing success with keywords you are trying to rank for and some you may not yet be aware you should rank for. Spyfu sounds cool, doesn’t it?!

What company out there doesn’t want to know more about their competitors, both known competitors, and unknown competitors? Who doesn’t want to learn from and emulate the website that is doing SEO and PPC better than them? That is what SpyFu does so well!

The only real negative against Spyfu rests in the fact that rarely do SEO or PPC consultants recommend them wholeheartedly. Yes, they use them much like GoEpps uses them but they aren’t loved to the degree that Ahrefs and SEMRush are loved. Spyfu rarely is mentioned and to an outsider seems that it is barely if ever on the radar of SEO and PPC professionals. Why? I am not really sure. It leaves me scratching my head. Spyfu seems to be a natural fit. If I had to guess, it is because Ahrefs and SEMRush do a better job of educating the buyer before the purchase. Simply said, Ahrefs and SEMRush are simply better at marketing!

Ahrefs Course: Blogging for Business

To officially kick off my Ahrefs review, I registered and attended their online course named Business of Blogging. This course regularly costs $799. However, Ahrefs had decided to offer it for free for a limited time. I have a lot to say about Ahrefs Course Blogging for Business. I even wrote a whole article on the course. For example, in that article, you’ll learn my theory for why Ahrefs provides their course both at $799 and also for free from time to time.

I took Ahref’s Blogging for Business course simultaneously during my Ahrefs paid 7-day trial. I’d actually trialed Ahrefs a couple of years ago so I didn’t know if I would be able to try them again for another 7 days. I was delighted to learn I could. Ahrefs accepted my $7 payment and my 7-day trial began. For the next 7 days, I took their online course and test their software. I felt this would be a great technique to learn Ahrefs while also time-boxing the experiment.

The course really helped me wrap my mind around the concepts of SEO and PPC from the perspective of Ahrefs. I actually can’t believe Ahrefs charges for the course which you will learn more about in my article on the course. To be candid, the course felt more like an online training class for Ahrefs. While I didn’t expect Ahrefs to demo SEMRush, I did expect more on the actual topic of ‘Business of Blogging’. They should possibly rename the course ‘Ahrefs Tutorial.’

Ahrefs Publishes Great SEO Content

When it comes to learning about SEO and PPC, Ahrefs puts out some great content. I have actually been a subscriber to Ahrefs email newsletter and YouTube channel for years well before authoring this Ahrefs Review.

To subscribe to Ahrefs Email Newsletter, visit the Ahrefs Blog and look for the email subscribe form on the page. Ahrefs articles on SEO are top-notch! The only writer out there that closely matches the material put out by Ahrefs are from Brian Dean of Backlinko.

Here is a screenshot of Ahrefs Email Signup form. Ahrefs will email you when they publish new articles. Ahrefs publishes some of the best SEO content I have read online.

Who is Ahrefs Best Suited?

What businesses’ are Ahrefs targeting their product and pricing to attract? This brings us back to why John from GetCredo.com was not wrong. Ahrefs is designed for what I arguably feel is the SEO/PPC consultant or a website that already has achieved huge levels of traffic.

An SEO consultant like John or the webmaster at my client TheHopeLine can achieve scale when it comes to SEO tools. Thus them being able to upgrade to the higher-priced plans in Ahrefs without all the limitations makes financial sense as they are better positioned to generate a return on their investment. SEMRush, the other tool John recommended, at least on paper, replicates many of Ahrefs features and is on par when it comes to pricing. So, I expect SEMrush’s service to have little differences when compared to Ahrefs.

After My 7-day Trail

Based on my 7-day trial and seeing the daily limitations of the Ahrefs Lite plan, I can quickly say that Ahrefs feels better suited for the SEO/PPC agency or possibly the webmaster of a large website with thousands of visitors. For the end-user such as a small business owner or someone just starting out with a new website, Ahrefs feels expensive and almost too advanced.

Ahrefs lite plan costs $99/month and comes with those daily report limitations I was surprised by. A webmaster with thousands of unique visitors monthly or even multiple websites could very well see a benefit from Ahrefs at this pricing level. Such a webmaster could and possibly should have a daily routine of using a tool like Ahrefs to make small, regular, and incremental tweaks to their site. This regular daily usage would make the report limits I disliked more acceptable since Ahrefs would be used within a smaller, almost daily burst. A webmaster of a large website will likely not set aside a Sunday afternoon like I did to do their keyword research in just one sitting. Instead, they will have the luxury of batching their keyword research in daily bite-sized amounts staying well within Ahrefs reporting limits.

Ahrefs will also help webmasters go beyond keyword research and help them build backlinks much more effectively. This link building will help to increase their site’s reputation as well as help the webmaster get more of their money’s worth from Ahrefs. With Ahrefs, the webmaster will know where to target their backlink efforts quickly saving them both time and money in the long run.

Ahrefs Competitive Advantage: Ahrefs Alerts

Also, last but not least, remember the Ahrefs Alerts feature, my favorite. To me, this feature alone makes Ahrefs a strong contender and a value purchase. To a webmaster wanted to find websites where they can recommend their content, the Ahrefs Alerts feature will help them in this area much more than say Google Alerts would.

If you do license Ahrefs, be prepared to spend more though. If for example, you plan to use Ahrefs to do keyword research, remember you’re limited to just 25 keywords searches per day on the $99/month Lite plan. To increase this limit to 50 keywords searches, you’ll need to upgrade to the next plan named Standard for $179/month.

Tools Better For Smaller Sites

Ahrefs makes a lot of sense for the established website webmaster or an SEO/PPC agency with daily procedures that can incorporate Ahrefs easily into their daily routines. What should a small site owner like a small business or a new blogger use if they’re just not ready for Ahrefs?

This is where I mention SpyFu, again. I am surprised by how little SpyFu’s mentioned by SEO/PPC consultants. After reading other Ahrefs reviews where they detailed their experience of Ahrefs, many didn’t mention SpyFu as a viable alternative. My guess for why not? SpyFu.com is built for the small business user that needs a low priced tool that can help them with both SEO/PPC. I am sure SpyFu lacks a lot of features an SEO/PPC shop would require but it feels to me just right for a small business or a new website owner.

You are probably saying ‘but Micky, isn’t Ahrefs 25 reports enough for a small business owner or new website master?’ It could arguably be. However, I just see so many other tools a new webmaster should, well, master first before taking on a tool the size, complexity, and costs of Ahrefs.

Google’s Tools Are A Prerequisite

Before a webmaster starts to learn a tool like Ahrefs or even Spyfu, I feel they should have mastered Google Webmaster tools like the Search Console or Google Analytics. If a webmaster hasn’t implemented these tools to a significant degree, I would recommend they delay tackling a tool like Ahrefs or SpyFu.

Also, Google provides Google Alert features much like Ahrefs Alerts. The difference is Google provides its alerts for free. Ahrefs would argue Google’s Alerts aren’t as robust or as detailed as Ahrefs and that may very well be true. However, I feel a webmaster should at a minimum play around with Google Alerts first so they have alternatives and will know if Ahrefs Alerts is more helpful or not when it comes time to step up their game.

What would change my mind and recommend Ahrefs to new website owners and small businesses? I have one feature request that I think would change my mind. If Ahrefs allowed the report limits to roll over day to day or month to month when you don’t use reports, then maybe I would soften and expand my recommendation.

Ahrefs Audit Report Doesn’t Show All the Keywords. In the Lite plan which they offer during their 7-day trial, Ahrefs won’t show you the keywords in Position 21-100. The odd thing is that it doesn’t show 2 through 20 either for some reason, possibly a bug.

Give Us The APIs, Please

At Rackless, we are always looking at technology. tools for use to help small businesses grow their technology stack. The most consistent criteria we require of all our cloud-based tools include access to the Application Protocol Interface (API). This Ahrefs review as well as any review by me almost always includes coverage on the vendor’s APIs. The reason we demand APIs is two-fold. Let’s look at those now.

To technology professionals, the presence of API offerings by a vendor signals their product’s level of maturity. Without the presence of an API, a technology professional will feel the product has not yet reached product-market fit.

Had the product reached product-market fit, naturally, the company would have begun to sell to Enterprise-level clients. Enterprise-level clients almost always insist on an API to be present. Why? Enterprise-level clients need their software systems to integrate tightly to help them scale.

An Enterprise-level client will need access to these APIs of their cloud products to build these integrations. Because Enterprise-level clients use APIs for these integrations between systems and to access their data, they will insist the product not change too often or by much otherwise, they will have to continue to need to update and maintain these integrations which can be frustrating. For this level of certainty to exists for Enterprise-level clients to be satisfied, the product will have had to achieve a level of maturity to satisfy the Enterprise buyer. Thus, that is why APIs can be used to gauge the level of maturity for a web-based product like Ahrefs.

We Rely on APIs

At Rackless like enterprise-level companies, we purchase technology we wish to integrate into our own systems. For example, by using an API we can speed up some of our processes internally using automation. This automation helps us remain efficient and pass those savings on to our client.

So how well did Ahrefs do when it comes to APIs? We have good news and bad news. Ahrefs surprised us with the robustness of their API documentation. Sadly though, Ahrefs doesn’t provide their API within any of their premium plans. Ahrefs charges extra for access to their APIs based on the number of rows of date consume via the APIs used. The pricing starts at $500 for the first 500,000 rows plus $1 for each additional 1,000 rows. SpyFu includes in their Professional plan 10,000 API rows and that plan is $78/month. I would have preferred to see Ahrefs include API access in their plans like SpyFu, at least to give you a sampling of data.

Ahrefs offers access to their underlying APIs. API access starts at $500/month and includes up to 500,000 rows of data.

Mobile User Experience Hurts Ahrefs

As a general rule, one of the first tests we perform at Rackless on a cloud-based service like Ahrefs is testing their website from our mobile phones. Here, Ahrefs disappointed us with their mobile experience or should I say their lack of mobile experience. While Ahrefs did design their marketing website using a mobile-friendly design, their actual app, for the most part, works better on the desktop. Expanding the screen on your phone to see Ahrefs information left a lot to be desired.

Why do we at Rackless value a mobile experience? Simply because the world now values and demands a positive mobile experience. The Internet industry several years ago adopted the ‘mobile-first’ mantra. Mobile-first means websites should design assuming their users will consume information and web services via their mobile phones. For most websites, over 51% of your audience will use their mobile phone to learn about you. This metric claims to be over 80% for consumer-oriented websites.

Now technically, we can assume that Ahrefs audience is made up of primarily business users that work mostly from their desktops and tablets. There probably is not a lot of consumers licensing Ahrefs services. Yet, that weakens the argument and doesn’t strengthen it. We can safely assume almost every user of Ahrefs owns and uses a smartphone. Why not provide their users who while sitting in a company meeting may need quick access to Ahrefs from their mobile phone? Why not provide this user who when he can’t sleep researches SEO popular keywords from their mobile phone? Forcing a user to go get their laptop at 12:30 am in the middle of the night borders on rude. Take some of your top talented staff Ahrefs and switch to a mobile-first experience!

SpyFu Wins Mobile User Experience

Do you know who has a great mobile-first experience? SpyFu knocks it out of the park when it comes to mobile-first. I have also already started testing SEMrush and sadly they missed the mark here, also. That fact alone with SEMrush makes me not excited about testing their platform. As you can see, I value the mobile experience with the technology we use. Sadly, missing this one criterion by Ahrefs influenced me heavily to not stay with Ahrefs. Not as much as limiting the reports and keywords but mobile and the better pricing serves as a big driving forcing moving me closer and closer to choosing SpyFu.

Is the 25 reports my only irritation? No. There is a lot to hate about Ahrefs. For example, I had a client, HopeHasArrived.com, on a call and he wanted to see Ahrefs knowing I was demoing it. So we put in the search feature on Ahrefs a website he admired to see the keywords they were performing well using. Ahrefs only showed us the first 20 keywords, then hid the next 80 keywords, then showed keywords after 101. What? Immediately, Chris from HopeHasArrived agreed with me that Ahrefs was a bust. They wanted me to upgrade to the $179/month plan to see the keywords in position 21-100!

Ahrefs limiting the number of reports you can run daily.
In this Ahrefs screenshot, you can see a keyword report for the term ‘Webmaster’.
This report counted toward the 25 daily limits included in the Lite $99/month Ahrefs.com plan.

My Preference After This Ahrefs Review

Chris from HopeHasArrived asked me after seeing Ahrefs what vendor I was leaning toward for SEO and PPC research. I explained that if I had to purchase today, I would buy SpyFu.com. Why? Because their free version gives me more information than Ahrefs did in their $99/month lite plan. My assumption is that if I paid SpyFu.com the $39/month, it would provide me the research and information I needed without all the limitations.

Switching from Ahrefs to SpyFu I would calculate saves me $140/month. How did I calculate that? I assume I would need the $179/month Standard plan from Ahrefs to get the data I need to be productive. Since SpyFu charges $39/month and I feel I will get the same information there without all the limitations of Ahrefs, SpyFu appears to be a better buy for us and our small business and non-profit webmasters.

If we did end up licensing Ahrefs in the future, the reason will due to the Ahrefs Alerts feature. That feature I feel alone would be worth $99/month. Yes, we would suffer through not seeing keywords in the position of 21 through 100 and we would have to live with that 25 reports per day artificial limit. However, I do feel that the Ahrefs Alerts feature alone could make the $99/month worth the investment.

Before I decide to license SpyFu, however, I plan to give SEMrush a spin. As I shared earlier, I’m not looking forward to the mobile experience at SEMrush based on what I have seen so far. Trust knowing that this Ahrefs review doesn’t capstone our research. We will continue reviewing other SEO and PPC research tools in the future. So stay tuned!

Above is the Ahrefs Pricing Plans as of March 28, 2020.