10 Ahrefs Alternatives (Free & Paid) For Every Need & Budget

Ahrefs is a solid tool. I've been a happy user for over 4 years, and I don't plan to stop using it any time soon.

That being said, it's not for everyone. So if you're on the hunt for an alternative, I'll do my best to recommend a tool. Let's start with clarifying what we're looking for.

Criteria to find an Ahrefs alternative

I'm going to make some assumptions about what you're looking for. There's a reason you searched specifically for ‘Ahrefs alternatives' instead of ‘SEO software', right?

Ahrefs has a lot of strengths, including keyword research, competitor analysis, backlink monitoring and more.

It has a few drawbacks too:

  • Relatively high starting price isn't ideal for smaller projects/budgets
  • Rank tracking doesn't update daily
  • Search volume estimates can be quite far off
  • Limited features for other channels, e.g. PPC
  • Lacking some features like white labelling for agency/freelance reporting

Chances are you're looking for something that offers some or all of the same functionality, but is either cheaper, fixes a specific drawback that you've encountered, or need more than just SEO tools.

With that in mind, I'll start with the solutions I believe are most likely to be a good fit (all-in-one tools), then go into tools that could replace a specific function of Ahrefs (e.g. standalone rank trackers or keyword research tools).

Here are the 10 best Ahrefs alternatives

  1. SE Ranking
  2. Mangools
  3. Semrush
  4. Nightwatch
  5. Sitechecker
  6. LowFruits
  7. Wincher
  8. ScreamingFrog
  9. Monitor Backlinks
  10. AnswerThePublic

These are the tools I'll be detailing in this post. Scroll down to get the details.

1. SE Ranking

SE Ranking is an affordable SEO platform with a ton of features. It can replace most of what Ahrefs can do, and adds a few new features too, at a much lower price.

With SE Ranking, you can cover a ton of needs & use cases for SEO work. Here's some (but not all) of them:

  • SERP tracking / rank tracking
  • Backlink monitoring, auditing & analysis
  • Keyword research
  • Competitor tracking & analysis
  • White label reporting
  • Technical site auditing

In addition, they offer a social media management feature. I don't use it personally, but it could replace a tool like Buffer if you wanted.

And unlike a lot of tools that try to do it all & fail to excel in anything, SE Ranking's features are pretty good across the board.

Reporting is particularly great in SE Ranking. There's a great white-label drag and drop report builder. You can connect to Google Analytics & Search Console to provide a holistic view of rankings, traffic and conversions & other SEO factors (e.g. site audit issues, backlinkss) all in one place.

And there's a ton of report templates to help build SEO reports quickly.

Pricing

SE Ranking's pricing is accessible, starting from around $25 per month (paid annually) or $30 (paid monthly). That's with daily rank tracking updates; you can get discounts for dropping the frequency too.

Higher prices raise limits like number of keywords tracked, backlinks monitored, web pages audited etc., and add new features like page change monitoring & white labelling.

2. Mangools

Mangools is a suite of 5 SEO tools that comes in at a much lower starting price than Ahrefs. It fixes a couple of specific drawbacks, but has fewer features overall.

With Mangools, you get these features:

  • Keyword research: volumes, trends, difficulty
  • Competitor research
  • Backlink monitoring & analysis
  • Daily rank tracking & reports
  • SERP checking/previews

The biggest reason to buy Mangools, in my opinion, is their keyword research tool: KWFinder.

In my post Mangools vs Ahrefs, I give examples where the search volumes and trends data is better than Ahrefs, especially when working with long-tail low competition queries.

Here's one quick example to illustrate using the keyword ‘weather station with lightning detector':

Ahrefs: 90 global searches, with no trends data

Mangools' KWFinder: 220 searches, with month-by-month breakdown.

Mangools KWFinder UI

The difference might appear small (90 vs 220), but when you're working on small sites like this, having more than double the volumes you expect really adds up.

In addition to keyword research, their rank tracker does a fine job. It's nothing extraordinary, but most of us just need basic daily position updates & some email alerts for key changes, which Mangools does perfectly well.

If you were specifically in the market for a rank/serp tracking tool, Mangools isn't the first option that comes to mind. But if you already want the other features, the rank tracking is absolutely fine — and it's great value to have it bundled in with everything else.

Mangools SERPWatcher UI (dark mode)

Pricing

Mangools pricing is accessible, starting at $29 per month (paid annually) or $49 per month (paid monthly). They offer a big 40% discount for choosing annual.

Higher pricing tiers unlock more daily keyword searches, more tracked keywords, and more backlink rows. See their pricing page here.

3. Semrush

This time we're going in the opposite direction. While Mangools was a cheaper option with fewer features, Semrush is slightly more expensive, with more features.

semrush

The first thing to understand is that, when it comes to SEO features specifically, these two platforms are very similar.

There are small differences between them, but in my experience, people are usually happier to just go with whichever UI feels more familiar.

Two very quick things that I think Semrush is better than Ahrefs for though:

One, daily rank tracking updates…

And two, reporting.

There's a great drag-and-drop customizable report builder. It's particularly useful for agencies and consultants delivering white label reports to clients. In addition, you can connect to a Google Data Studio dashboard.

semrush drag and drop report builder

One more note is that Semrush are investing a lot in their keyword difficulty formula. Ahrefs keyword difficulty is based only on backlinks, whereas Semrush are working on introducing more factors:

semrush keyword difficulty formula factors

Read more about keyword difficulty software, or about Semrush's formula.

Other than that, the main reason to buy Semrush over Ahrefs would be for other marketing features.

At-a-glance, here's some additional things that Semrush can do.

  • Schedule posts on social media (excluding Instagram)
  • Conduct PPC keyword research & competitor analysis
  • Track mentions of your brand (and competitors) across the internet
  • Plan, manage, and collaborate on tasks with your team in Marketing Calendar

There's a full list of features here.

Pricing

Semrush pricing starts slightly higher than Ahrefs, at $99 per month (paid annually) or $119 (paid monthly). And like with Ahrefs, a lot of functionality is locked away into higher tiers.

4. Nightwatch.io

Nightwatch is an affordable SEO tool. It's biggest strength is rank tracking, but it also covers backlink monitoring and site auditing.

nightwatch

Nightwatch started out as a rank tracking tool, and that continues to be it's strongest feature.

With Nightwatch, you can get accurate daily rank tracking for multiple search engines (including Google, Bing, YouTube), and it is very good with local rankings too (including map packs).

The UI provides a nice straightforward overview of keywords moving up and down, and you can create tags, segment by landing page/URL, and more.

nightwatch daily change

Reporting is good too. You can overlay your Google Analytics & Search Console data to correlate ranking increases with traffic, and easily 1-click export any graphs to share/report:

It's worth noting that Nightwatch doesn't have a keyword research function. If you don't need keyword research, or already have that covered by another tool, Nightwatch is a really solid lower cost choice.

See here for a more comprehensive comparison: Nightwatch vs Ahrefs

Pricing

Their pricing starts at $24 per month when paid annual, or $49 paid monthly. That makes it more accessible than Ahrefs, which starts at $99. Link to pricing page 🔗

One thing I'd comment on is that I find the ratio of ‘websites tracked' to ‘daily keywords tracked' is a bit odd. In the Optimize package, you can get 200 websites tracked (more than an average agency needs), but only 1,000 keywords tracked (less than an average agency needs).

If you contact their support, they can offer custom packages. For example, somewhere in between Starter and Optimize to get more keywords tracked.

5. Sitechecker

Sitechecker is an SEO toolkit. Their biggest strengths are in technical auditing, ongoing site monitoring, and rank tracking.

Sitechecker doesn't replace all of the features Ahrefs has to offer, but it could be a viable alternative to consider to save money if you don't need every feature Ahrefs has. It would be a good choice if your primary needs are relating to site auditing & rank tracking, but not competitor analysis or keyword research.

The features this tool offers includes:

*The backlink tracking feature does not work the same as Ahrefs. In Sitechecker, you can import a list of backlinks from another tool and keep tabs on them. For example, one use case would be to make sure you don't lose any links. Or at least, take action to reclaim if they are lost.

The rank tracking tool is good, low-cost, and provides daily updates. There's a clean UI with good summaries, plus the details if you want to dig in further.

One killer feature that I really like about Sitechecker's rank tracker is the SERP history. You can open up a keyword, and take a look at how the full SERP has been changing; both your site plus competitors. There's helpful filters to narrow it down too (e.g. only show top 3 or 10 etc., or only show pages that dropped/gained).

Lastly, their Site Monitoring tool is very useful. It can be used to keep a log (a feed & a timeline) of every change happening on your site. New pages added, pages deleted, page titles changed, site downtime, and more. Some use cases for this could include:

  • If you have multiple people working on the site and you want a changelog
  • If you want to analyze what changed before a big traffic increase or decrease
  • You want to be able to quickly identify if something critical happens, e.g. site is accidentally noindexed with robots.txt — so you can notice before your rankings drop
sitechecker seo monitoring

Pricing

Sitechecker is a pretty budget-friendly tool, with prices starting at $29 per month (paid monthly) or $23 per month (paid annually).

Higher pricing packages simply increase limits (pages monitored, keywords tracked etc.).

6. LowFruits.io

LowFruits is an alternative to consider specifically for keyword research.

It's relatively new tool, and it comes with both a free and a paid version, plus a trial of the premium features.

As the name suggests, it's built specifically for the purpose of finding low-competition keywords.

It does that primarily by giving you easy filtering options, such as finding SERPs that having low DA domains in the top 3 results, or even forums & reddit threads. In my experience, these are sure signs of an easy win for established sites.

There's also a handy filter for high intent keywords. These are terms containing words like ‘review, best, how to', etc. which indicate some level of buying intent.

To find these keywords, you'll need to start with a seed keyword. LowFruits allows you to use a * wildcard, add in negative keywords, and set a max DA that you consider weak.

A search like this one above for example yields longtail results like ‘best 20 inch mountain bike', ‘best aero road bike' and so on. It provides you with search volumes, and then those filters come back into play to get the best opportunities.

Pricing

The handy thing about LowFruits, especially if you're using it in addition to other SEO tools, is that it works via credits. That makes it possible to use ad-hoc, and very scalable for when you need to step it up.

lowfruits pricing

You can buy credits starting from $25, and they go as low as $0.005 per keyword when buying bulk.

You can use the free version of LowFruits, or grab a 250 credit free trial.

7. Wincher

Wincher is an alternative to consider for low-cost rank tracking, with prices starting at €24 per month (around $27 USD).

wincher

It covers all the basics that you would need:

  • Daily ranking updates
  • Email alerts for changes
  • PDF & .csv exports
  • Competitor tracking

It does a great job of displaying ranking history over time, and the ability to overlay competitor rankings is a nice touch.

The reporting is pretty good. It's what you would expect from a rank tracking tool: automated email alerts

White label branding is a nice touch (available on higher pricing tiers).

wincher reporting

Pricing

Wincher starts at €24 per month (paid annually) or €29 per month (paid monthly). There are a few features only available in higher tiers, like Data Studio integration, and API access, which makes it a nice scalable tool — with more advanced features for those who need it.

8. Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is an alternative for technical site auditing.

It is a widely used tool which comes with an excellent free version, and a reasonably priced (£149 / ~$199 per year) paid version. It is specifically for site auditing, and comes without any other functionality.

screaming frog site auditor

In case you visit the website and find yourself wondering… Screaming Frog are a marketing agency. SEO Spider is the site auditing tool they built. This is a good thing in my eyes for two reasons:

1. This tool isn't their only source of income, so they're not squeezing every penny out of it like a saas business would have to in order to grow.

2. It's built by people who are still ‘in the trenches', and is therefore likely to be kept up to date regarding functionality and best practices.

Screaming Frog's SEO Spider does everything that Ahrefs can when it comes to site auditing, plus a bit more:

  • Check page meta tags (character lengths, duplicates, etc.)
  • Find broken links
  • Find redirects
  • Identify slow loading pages
  • Check crawl depth and find orphan pages

It's less intuitive, and certainly less helpful than Ahrefs. In Ahrefs, you'll find it easier to navigate, and you'll also find helpful tooltips explaining each issue.

Screaming Frog can identify all the same issues, but it's best used by someone already knows at least the basics of technical SEO.

A significant thing to consider is that it's not a cloud-based application.

Especially for the younger SEOs among us who are less accustomed to dealing with non-cloud based tools, it might feel intimidating to set up:

In addition, that also means that you can't share the paid version with teammates like you might be able to with an account login. So if you're getting the paid version, and working in a team, you'll need to buy multiple licenses.

All things considered though, it's hard not to recommend Screaming Frog. The free version is solid, and if you do need the paid version, it's very affordable for a solo user.

To summarize, and highlight some potential downsides to be aware of:

  • It only works with Windows, Mac & Ubuntu
  • It's not cloud-based
  • The UI is quite outdated
  • It won't give you guidance on how to fix the issues
  • You can't pay monthly for the premium version
  • Free version only crawls 500 URLs at a time (but you can start further down, e.g. mysite.com/blog/)

Pairing this tool with Mangools (for keyword research, rank tracking, backlink monitoring and competitor analysis) gets you a super affordable SEO stack that covers all bases.

9. Monitor Backlinks

Monitor Backlinks is an alternative for, you guessed it, monitoring backlinks.

I want to start with a quick caveat here that I haven't actually found a scenario yet where I've wanted to recommend paying for a standalone backlink tracking tool.

If you're going to pay for such a tool, chances are you won't be spending less than $20-30 per month (minimum). And by that point, you may as well spend a little extra and shoot for one of the all-in-one options from above like Nightwatch, Mangools, or Ahrefs for 5x the functionality.

Anyway, if you do still want to explore this, here's the summary.

This tool covers all the backlink analysis basics. You can find:

  • Anchor text analysis
  • Dofollow vs nofollow ratio
  • Majestic metrics (trust flow & citation flow)
  • Changes to your links (new, broken, lost)
  • Links with ‘low quality signals'

That's great, but there isn't much that is unique here. For the most part, it just pulls through data from 3rd party sources like Majestic.

A couple of nice extras that you get are:

1. A disavow tool. This is a helpful function that helps you add bad links to a disavow file as you find them. The UI then offers a link through to where you can submit to Google. The only other place I've seen this in a backlink tool is Semrush.

monitor backlinks disavow

2. Backlink traffic. After connecting your Google Analytics account, you can find all-time referral traffic data per link. It's nice, but a little limited in usefulness. Partly because it's nothing unique again, since it's just pulling GA data. Beyond that though, if it's a good link, you'll already be glad to have it. I can't see it helping with any analysis or decision making, unless it's a monthly/annual paid link.

Pricing

Monitor Backlinks pricing plans scale according to how many links, how many domains, and how many competitors you want to track. There's also a rank tracking function now, which I haven't tried & won't comment on.

The lowest price you'll get is $16.50 per month with no competitors, 2500 links, and an annual commitment.

10. AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic is a freemium tool that can be used as an alternative for keyword research. It does have a paid version, but they're well-known for providing a generous free option.

Starting with a seed keyword, AnswerThePublic will give you a bunch of questions generated from Google's autocomplete and ‘people also ask' features.

The questions are segmented by type (e.g. which, why, where, who etc.), and displayed in a graphic like this:

This can be a super quick, easy (and free) way to get some content ideas, or some ideas to add FAQs to existing content.

One additional use case, which is very useful, is to find comparisons (vs keywords)

The big downside is that you don't get keyword search volumes or keyword difficulties to adequately assess the opportunities & prioritize your content.

But hey, it's free. Can't complain, right?

About the author

Ryan Prior

I'm Ryan, a SaaS SEO. Previously in-house at Toggl, I'm now focusing full-time on SEO growth strategy for SaaS brands at Skale. I started this blog to share everything I'm learning in the world of SaaS SEO growth & marketing tools.

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