Avatar photo Michael Cooney
Jun 11, 2020

A quick truth about the world of marketing; it’s an investment, and leads are the return on that investment. SEO just happens to be a a specific type of marketing investment, and it pays out in the form of organic search leads. Getting full value from your SEO investment requires that you capture all those organic leads that get in touch via phone calls, form-fills and web chats.

Pairing call tracking software with SEO efforts will help you fill in a huge chunk of missing data.

Before you can capture any organic leads, however, you’re going to have to make sure your site shows up at the top of search results. We'll be looking at four of the main SEO software platforms that can help with this; Moz vs Ahrefs vs SEMrush vs SE Ranking.

This is the first post in a three-part series on the best SEO software available. In this, the first article, we’ll decide which tool has the best Keyword Research feature. The second article will feature analysis of the site audit features. In the third article, we’ll examine the SEO reporting features.

The tools we talk about in this post can help you automate processes and simplify the tall task of optimizing your website for organic search. You can use these tools to boost the number of organic search leads you receive — but you’ll then need lead tracking software to capture, organize and report on the value of your SEO investments.

Introducing the tools:

  • SEMrush

SEMrush has an extensive database and up-to-date information, but its real difference-maker is proactive reporting. The SEMrush platform force-feeds you insights. One example is how SEMrush automatically emails you a list of things that you need to fix on your site to improve internal linking.

Yes, SEMrush can be a bit more complicated than the other platforms. However, it provides rock solid data once you get the hang of it.

  • Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a little more costly than Moz and SEMrush. In terms of keyword data, Ahrefs claims to have data on 11.6 billion keywords. That's fewer keyword than SEMrush, which claims to have data on 20 billion keywords.

Some have complained about Ahrefs not being as user-friendly as the other platforms. One complaint is that, unlike other tools, Ahrefs makes you dig for insights to improve your SEO. While other platforms put those insights front and center, or even email tips to you, Ahrefs forces you to set that reporting up before it goes into effect.

  • Moz

Moz does not have as much keyword data as the other two tools. It also has fewer features overall than Ahrefs and SEMrush. When we compare Moz vs. Ahrefs, we notice Moz  has a committed community around it, and has even developed its own metrics to measure SEO.

Page authority is one such metric, which Moz created to predict your domain authority on a certain subject. With original metrics like this, Moz can help you better understand the factors that go into SEO.

One of the advantages of being around so long is Moz has a sort of community; a following of people who are always sharing advice and ideas. Moz seems to take a more personable approach to SEO compared to the technical tactics of SEMrush and Ahrefs.

Now that we’ve gone through a quick overview of the main differences between the platforms, let’s find out how it shakes out between Moz vs Ahrefs vs SEMRush vs SE Ranking.

  • SE Ranking

SE Ranking is another strong option that has multiple useful features. While the data provided by SE Ranking isn't quite as in-depth as the data provided by Ahrefs, it does load very quickly. SE Ranking provides the standard set of data about each keyword you're researching, including search volume, cost-per-click broken down by country, and warnings about low search volume.

Keyword Research

Moz has an issue when it comes to keyword research; it’s slower than the other tools. When your keyword data doesn’t load instantly, it’s easy to get frustrated and bogged down.

Moz does make it easy to add keywords to a list you can look back on later. When performing keyword research, it’s helpful to add keywords to a list you can refer back to. Landing Page Reports come in handy here. A Landing Page Report tells you which page of your site your leads land on. If you know which keywords each page is targeting, you can take a calculated guess at the keyword the lead used to find your site.

A quick note about keywords and landing pages:

By pairing a Landing Page Report with your keywords list, you can see how your selected keywords are delivering leads. Attaching lead data to keyword data can prove you with powerful insights into how much return-on-investment you’re getting for your SEO efforts. When you know the value of your leads and you know your SEO spend, you can calculate cost-per-lead for organic search.

Here’s an example:

best seo software


You can add “apartments+in+[city]” as a keyword to track in Moz. Using a Landing Page Report, you can then see how many leads come to the Apartments page on your website. If you know the potential value of each lead, you know how much revenue you’re getting from your efforts to target the “apartment+in+[city]” keyword. Imagine how much your client or CEO will appreciate you being able to tell them the exact ROI of their SEO investments?

Let's get back to Moz for a quick wrap-up. Moz keyword research gives you a lot of data, but compared to other tools, it’s not as up-to-date, doesn’t load as quickly, and isn’t as intuitive.

SEMrush has a ‘keyword magic tool’ for keyword research, and they've recently released more updates to provide more tools that make navigation easier:

  • Keyword Overview lets you analyze any keyword on a local, nationwide and worldwide level.
  • Keyword Bulk provides metrics for up to 100 keywords at once
  • Keyword Gap offers a side by side comparison between keyword profiles of up to five competitors

All these keyword research tools are linked with Keyword Manager.

The SE Ranking dashboard looks similar to Ahrefs, meaning it would be easy to switch from one platform to another without too much of a learning curve The SE Ranking tool is also very fast, which is one of the most important things to look for if you're going to research multiple keywords in a short amount of time.

The Ahrefs keyword explorer is extremely intuitive. There’s a section called, “Keyword phrase match” that can help you come up with ideas for content topics and headlines. Every piece of the keyword research tool is fast, up to date, and easy to use. Ahrefs also puts all the keyword data on one page so you don’t have to waste time clicking around.

The Winner: Ahrefs

moz vs semrush

Ahrefs allows you to search for a keyword and get instant results, which is important when you need to gather data and compare keyword options quickly. When we compared Moz vs SEMrush vs Ahrefs vs SE Ranking, we found Ahrefs is easy, speedy, and downright enjoyable to use. To get the full experience and realize the benefits of speedy keyword research, you've got to try it yourself.

Using call tracking software to get ROI from SEO

SEO is an investment in improving a site’s content, layout, and link structure. Once you’ve done these things, you should see your business earning more leads from organic search. Those leads are your pay out; your return on SEO investment. Make sure you have call tracking software in place so you can capture those leads and show the value of your SEO efforts.

To justify your SEO spending, you’ll have to prove to clients or CEOs that your investment delivered organic leads. Landing Page Reports and Lead Page Reports can help you show many leads you get from organic search, how many are quotable and how much they’re worth.

Stay tuned for Part II of this series, in which we reveal the best SEO software for performing site audits.

Until then, learn how WhatConverts can help you prove the ROI of your marketing efforts.

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Michael Cooney

Michael Cooney is a co-founder of WhatConverts. Connect with him on Twitter or via email at michael.cooney@whatconverts.com.

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