If you’re unsure about using Ubersuggest or Ahrefs, then this guide is for you.
Both offer free and paid features.
Watch the 20 minute video explaining the key features and benefits of each.
What is Ubersuggest?
Ubersuggest is a free and low cost seo keyword research tool from Neil Patel providing keyword ideas, competitor website traffic estimates, keyword position tracking, backlink data and a site audit tool.
Is Ubersuggest free or how much does Ubersuggest cost ?
You have free, limited use of Ubersuggest, there’s a 7 day free trial then a monthly payment of £29, £49 or £99 a month.
What is Ahrefs?
In a poll of 4209 SEO experts, 39.5% voted Ahrefs as their primary, paid SEO tool of choice; making Ahrefs the most used keyword research, backlink research, content research, competitor research and rank tracking tool.
How much does Ahrefs cost?
Ahrefs have 4 paid for plans; $99, $179, $399 and $999 a month with a yearly discount on each plan. The plans are ideal for small business users, small web agencies with 1 to 3 users or larger SEO agencies with 5 or more users.
To learn how to use Ubersuggest I’ve created this guide.
First up, I compared the top pages traffic.
Top Page Traffic Comparison
When I compared my top page with both keyword research tools they produced fairly similar results.
Ahrefs estimates I get more traffic whilst Ubersuggest tells me that my page ranks for more keywords.
Bear in mind both tools are estimates.
In reality my pages gets over 1,000 organic visits per month and ranks for 2572 keywords.
But the traffic estimates for the top ranking keyword, business ideas uk, varies massively.
Search volume and position
Search volume and keyword position are almost identical.
Good to know.
How to calculate keyword difficulty with Ubersuggest and Ahrefs
Ahrefs keyword difficulty is calculated as follows :
“It’s calculated by taking a weighted average of the number of linking domains to the current top-ranking pages.
The result is then plotted on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100 (low difficulty to high).”
So if keyword difficulty is 5; then need around 5 links to your page to rank in the top 10 results.
Depending the client I’m working with, I’ll generally avoid keyword with a KD score above 30.
Provided your content serves the user intent.
Ubersuggest refer to keyword difficulty as seo difficulty.
To quote them; estimated competition in organic search; the higher the number the more competitive.
- Low competition is shown in light green; 0 to 35
- Medium competition is shown in light yellow; 36 to 70
- High competition is shown in pink; 71 to 100
However they don’t actually tell you how they calculate keyword difficulty.
With Ubersuggest I will manually view their report that shows links to the top pages then make a best judgement on keyword difficulty.
if all the top pages have high domain scores and all have a high number of links to their pages then it’s too difficulty to rank and I’ll avoid trying.
However if there’s a few top ranking pages with no or just 1 or 2 links and the domain scores aren’t all in their 90’s then I’ll consider this an opportunity.
Links to page
I actually have 3 links to my page; Ubersuggest don’t report page backlinks.
So as a measurement of difficulty it goes to show you can rank for harder keywords with a smaller number of links that Ahrefs predicted.
If I only needed a tool to estimate top page traffic I’d say Ubersuggest is a useful tool to have at your disposal.
|Top Traffic Page Comparison||Ubersuggest||Ahrefs|
|No. of keywords ranked for||353||312|
|Keyword comparison||business ideas uk||business ideas uk|
|Keyword search volume||2900||3100|
|Estimated traffic for keyword||43||150|
|Keyword difficulty of keyword||29||20|
|CPC of top keyword||£0.86||$1.90|
Keyword Research Tool Comparison
Next, I wanted to compare their keyword research tool.
I used the same seed keyword as above; business ideas for Google UK searches.
I have highlighted the main keyword research data from both tools for my seed keyword.
The search volume varies considerably.
In terms of difficulty, Ubersuggest state this keyword is easy but Ahrefs say it’s medium difficulty; needing 22 links to the page to rank on page 1.
I’d say this keyword and topic is hard to rank for.
Ahrefs deliver additional data about this seed keyword.
- Ahrefs tell you clicks to the top pages for this keyword.
- They tell you what percentage of clicks come from organic search results.
- They tell you the percentage of times that result was clicked.
- And Ahrefs tell you the RR, the return rate, how often people come back and made that search again the same month.
This data is important to know.
You could, for example, pick a keyword with high search volume and low difficulty.
Then it turns out hardly anyone clicks the results and those that do only click from paid results.
Basing your strategy on half the information could set you up for disappointing and failure.
So the feature comparison between the tools is beginning to widen.
|Business ideas (UK)||Ubersuggest||Ahrefs|
|Cost per click||£0.86||$1.90|
|Percentage of clicks||N/A||56%|
|Percentage of organic clicks||N/A||90%|
Now, what about the number of keyword ideas each tool can generate ?
Keyword Ideas Comparison
Next I wanted to discover how many keyword ideas related to the seed keyword each tool delivered.
Each tool shows 2 types of keyword ideas; same as keywords and all keyword ideas.
Same as keyword ideas
Same as or same term keywords are those keywords that contain the same phrase.
So with Ubersuggest, I’m shown 146 same as keyword suggestions compared to 17673 same as keywords from Ahrefs.
That’s a massive difference.
Just look at the screenshot above to see the ideas that Ahrefs deliver.
It appears that Ubersuggest is mainly delivering longer tail variations of the seed keyword and not looking for words before the seed terms.
All keyword ideas
Next, I looked at all keyword ideas; maybe some of the keywords you need from Ubersuggest are stored under the related keywords tab.
|Business ideas (UK)||Ubersuggest||Ahrefs|
|Same as keywords||146||17673|
|All related keywords||688||20740|
Yes you need to look under related keywords in Ubersuggest to find some of the keyword ideas Ahrefs show as same as keywords.
But when I compared all the keyword ideas for Ubersuggest and Ahrefs, there’s still a vast gap between 688 and 20,740 keywords.
So when it comes to keywords ideas, as Gary V would say, Ahrefs is crushing it.
Keyword Filtering Comparison
Another essential part of keyword research is the ability to filter keywords by words, phrases or difficulty.
Filtering keywords is useful when understanding the users’ intent.
If we take this post for example, it’s called Ubersuggest versus Ahrefs : a keyword research comparison.
I know most of my target market use free research tools like Google Planner and Ubersuggest.
I know I can deliver them better rankings and traffic results for their clients by using paid research tools than free tools in my Mini SEO Plans.
There are 4 types of searches.
- Informational – how to, what is
- Navigational – branded search eg: Google Adwords login, pubs near me, car repair shop phone number
- Commercial Investigation – best, versus, compare, alternative, this product for that person
- Transactional – buy, order, get, download, cheapest
That’s where keyword filtering is so critical.
Keyword modifier filtering
In this exercise I chose to filter the seed keyword, business ideas, by queries containing “online”, “small”, “how”, “what” and “best” to discover how many keywords each tool delivered.
Then I chose to filter by keyword difficulty to discover how many keywords were returned.
Filter seed keyword with “online”
Here’s a screenshot comparing the number of keywords when you filter the seed keyword by the word “online”.
Ubersuggest have 2 keyword ideas that contain “online” where as Ahrefs have 709 keyword ideas.
Filter seed keyword with “small”
Here’s a screenshot comparing the number of keywords when you filter the seed keyword by the word “small”.
Ubersuggest have 1 keyword idea that contains “small” where Ahrefs have 1932 keywords.
Filter seed keyword with “how”
Here’s a screenshot comparing the number of keywords when you filter the seed keyword by the word “how”.
Ubersuggest don’t have any keyword ideas that include “how” whereas Ahrefs have 82 keywords.
Whilst the search volume of these 82 keywords is really small, 50 searches a month, finding small volume keywords and ranking them on page 1 can still deliver good traffic for a brand new website.
Filter seed keyword with “what”
Here’s a screenshot comparing the number of keywords when you filter the seed keyword by the word “what”.
Again, Ubersuggest fails to deliver any keyword ideas for my seed keyword that includes “what”.
However Ahrefs gives me 57 long tail, small volume keyword ideas.
Filter seed keyword with “best”
Here’s a screenshot comparing the number of keywords when you filter the seed keyword by the word “best”.
Ubersuggest don’t deliver any keyword ideas whereas Ahrefs give 960 keywords ideas.
Now let’s filter by keyword difficulty.
Keyword difficulty filtering
Filtering keyword ideas by difficulty is a popular strategy of many web professionals.
For newer or less authoritative websites we tend to avoid the hard to rank topics and keywords.
Filter seed keyword by medium difficulty
Here’s a screenshot comparing the number of keywords when you filter the keyword difficulty from 0-30.
In this example, Ubersuggest is better at delivering keyword ideas when you filter your seed keyword by difficulty than a word.
As you can see from above 142 keyword ideas from Ubersuggest and 202 from Ahrefs.
Filter seed keyword by low difficulty
Now, here’s a screenshot comparing the number of keywords when you filter the keyword difficulty from 0-10.
Ahrefs have twice as many keyword ideas when you filter by very low keyword difficulty.
Comparing keyword filtering
So to summarise here’s a tool comparison when applying 7 different keyword modifier filters.
|Business ideas (UK)||Ubersuggest||Ahrefs|
The next comparison was to look at how each keyword research tool estimates the traffic to the top 10 pages.
In this day and age of featured snippets and Google scraping questions and answers, it is essential we know the keywords and topics we research can realistically earn traffic.
Each tool delivers different pages in different positions and provides different page traffic estimates.
From the table and screenshot below, it appears Ubersuggest are using a proportional ranking method to determine traffic to pages in position 1 to 10.
ie: position 1 result gets x% of traffic, position 2 result gets y% of traffic.
|Traffic to each position||Ubersuggest||Ahrefs|
|2||2932||People also ask|
Notice that with Ahrefs estimated traffic, the result in position 10 is greater than the results in position 7,8 and 9.
And traffic to the page in position 12 is greater than the pages in position 7,8,9,10 and 11.
If you look at the Ahrefs data in the below screenshot you can see they show the number of keywords and traffic for each page.
Let’s compare the traffic estimates to each top page regardless of their position.
|Traffic to pages in top 10||Ubersuggest||Ahrefs|
|Save the Student||850||802|
|Start up Donut||271||915|
|Start up Loans||356||589|
Some of these traffic estimates vary wildly.
So I decided to use Ubersuggest to check the top pages traffic for the Shopify and Startups pages.
Above, Ubersuggest tells me the Shopify page gets 5502 visits but the top pages result tells me the exact same page gets 8997 visits.
The Startups page above gets 2932 according to Ubersuggest but the same page in the top pages report gives 4521.
All very confusing.
Keyword Research Tool Feature Comparison
Here’s a list of features that Ahrefs contain and Ubersuggest don’t have.
I’ll explain how they are beneficial to doing keyword research.
|Google search engine||✔||✔|
|Other search engines||✖️||✔|
|Search position history||✖️||✔|
|Best links by page||✖️||✔|
|Content gap analysis||✖️||✔|
|New referring domains||✖️||✔|
|Traffic to pages of site’s backlinks||✖️||✔|
|External broken links||✖️||✔|
|Internal broken links||✖️||✔|
|Find broken links with content explorer||✖️||✔|
Features that Ubersuggest doesn’t have
Ubersuggest is a very welcomed and useful addition to the keyword research market.
However there are features Ahrefs have in their toolkit that Ubersuggest don’t have.
Google search engine
Ubersuggest are only pulling data for Google searches whereas Ahrefs have expanded their keyword research tool to include other search engines.
It is said that more people start their product research on Amazon than any other website.
So adding in an Amazon keyword research tool is a great addition for e-commerce agencies and clients.
I use Amazon keyword research in conjunction with the sales data estimates from Jungle Scout to provide both research and sales data for those looking to source and sell products.
Whilst there are YouTube keyword research tools such as VidIQ and TubeBuddy, we can now do YouTube keyword research inside Ahrefs.
Whilst Bing has such a low share of the market it’s neglected by most online marketers.
So perhaps with a Bing keyword research tool you can become a big fish in a small pond.
Same goes with Yahoo; I never hear marketers discuss Yahoo search results but good to know I can research here.
Other search engines
There are various other international search engines that Ahrefs provide keyword research data for.
Useful for others but not for my needs.
Search position history
For every search result, Ahrefs will show you the search history and volatility of the top 10 results.
If you see trend lines where the top pages are fairly level you probably want to omit targeting those keywords.
But if the lines are up and down like a yoyo then Google may not be able to figure out the best results to rank or what the user wants.
SO Ubersuggest recently added a backlink feature to the tool so let’s check it out.
They report that I have 130 referring domains pointing to my website.
Referring domains means a single website.
Ahrefs report I have 206 referring domains.
Ubersuggest estimate I have 807 backlinks.
A backlink is one individual link from one website to yours.
So you could have multiple links from one website; hence why backlinks are more than referring domains.
Ahrefs tell me I have 1560 backlinks.
Now the reason for the difference could be a timing issue.
So maybe Ubersuggest haven’t crawled my website recently.
Nevertheless, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Referring Domains per page
The next type of analysis that is important is discovering the links to a particular page.
In this screenshot, you can see both tools report the same number of links to 2 of my pages.
But Ubersuggest hasn’t picked up I have 12 links to the page at bottom of each screenshot.
How can they miss so many links ?
Ubersuggest doesn’t really have this type of analysis where I can find my top linked pages.
Ahrefs does this in it’s best pages by links report.
This is useful if I want to find out the link building strategy a competitor uses to earn links.
And here’s another analysis Ubersuggest lacks that Ahrefs delivers.
Ubersuggest has a column for Facebook and Pinterest shares per page.
Only one of my pages gets any shares.
However, Ahrefs report that 10 pages have shares on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
And then Ahrefs go one stage further.
You can also find out who actually tweeted your article.
Ahrefs kill it with their competing domains feature.
I can find out the traffic the top competitors get in seconds.
And targeting your top 20 competitors ranked pages is one of the best keyword research strategies.
Doing this with Ubersuggest would take hours and days.
Pop in your website and look at competing pages means you can see what keywords other rank for you that you don’t.
This might result in improving your page content.
A strategy that’s worked wonders for my website and some clients.
Best links by page
This report shows you the pages on a website that have the most backlinks.
Where this is useful is reverse engineering your competitors link building strategy.
For example, I found a client’s competitor got links to infographics and pages they created about hot places and temperatures.
And I found out a recruitment client’s competitor got most of their best links by targeting schools with job seekers resource pages.
Content gap analysis
Plug in your website and a few competitor or industry website to see the content they rank for that you don’t.
Ahrefs will show the internal links to each of your pages.
This is useful when you want to boost the links and rankings of this pages that have a few or no internal links.
Here’s my course on advanced internal link building.
New and lost referring domains
If you do a lot of link building this data is helpful to track new links.
Alternatively if you are losing links this helps to convince clients they need to check their page content or start a new campaign or recover lost links.
Traffic to pages of site’s backlinks
Another keyword research strategy for advanced uses is to identify the traffic to pages that link to you or industry websites.
Similar to the referring domains report.
External broken links
You can check external broken links to competitors or industry websites; ideal for a broken link campaign.
Internal broken links
Check your website does not have broken or 404 pages as a result of a site audit or content restructure.
You can analyse the links your competitors have that you don’t have and seek out these links.
Quickly compare the links, traffic and domain rating of lots of similar websites.
With the Ahrefs site audit tool you can identify hundreds of website issues and fix them.
Track the positions of your pages, keywords and competitors with the site audit tool.
With content explorer you can discover all kinds of data of pages in the Ahrefs index going back years.
You can find pages that earns shares by various social channels, page traffic and referring domains and word count.
Find broken links with content explorer
My best link building strategy is broken link building.
Enter a seed keyword and filter by broken links then sort by referring domains.
Suddenly you have hundreds of link prospects to reach out to and propose your page as an alternative resource.
And yes I teach broken link building inside SEO Box.
Ubersuggest v Ahrefs Video Comparison
Here’s an 18 minute video comparing the differences
Without doubt Ubersuggest is a useful keyword research tool.
But in the words of Sean Connery in The Untouchables movie it’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight.
If it was a boxing match between Ubersuggest and Ahrefs the contest would be over with the second punch.
Win by knock out; Ahrefs.
Competition for a place in Google’s top 10 search results is a battle.
So new or emerging websites need the tools to compete with their stronger, better ranked competitors.
You need to right tools to compete and that’s why Ahrefs is your go to keyword research tool.