by brantley crowder - January 22, 2019
The question, Moz Pro or SEMrush? is not the beginning of a journey but the end instead. The original question was what is the best SEO tool for marketers? The last and final question to be asked on this trip of analyzing the tech specs of over 10 SEO/SEM tools available today is, MozPro or SEMrush? Interestingly I have used both of these products in the past and I really like them both. I am currently in the position once again to select an SEO tool for my company and these were my two immediate go-tos. But it’s been a while since I took a deep dive into SEO tools so I decided it might be a nice exercise. And so the quest began. In the end, I had returned to the original question. So, let’s just dive in.
Before we begin the software feature analysis let’s talk about philosophy for a minute. Although I have used both of these tools in the past it has been a couple of years and I never did hold the two products up for side-by-side comparison. But, when I did I noticed a striking philosophical difference in the marketing of the two products. I am not making inferring that the product marketing strategy represents the philosophical disposition of the parent company but the difference in strategy was so stark that I thought it worth a closer look.
Although both these great tools deliver data designed to inform a solid SEO/digital marketing strategy, the tone is very different. Moz takes a very “you” centric approach marketing their flagship product. The focus of the marketing copy is your website, your content, your pages, your visitors, and your link opportunities. On the other hand, SEMrush uses a completely different marketing tactic focusing on “your competition” instead. The marketing copy used phrases like your competitors best keywords, your competitor’s ad budget, and your online rivals’ ad copy. When I was pouring over the details of Moz I was inspired to be better and to create delightful content. As I read through the SEMrush literature, I just wanted to crush my competition. The question is do you want to take a close look inside and grow into a better marketer or do you want to seek out all internet dwellers who would seek to impede your progress and slay them? This is really tough for me because I’m a little bit country and a little bit rock-and-roll. Oh well, on to the specs!
- Keyword Explorer (Score A) – As the name suggests, Keyword Explorer is a keyword research tool. Moz has spent years working on this tool. It is probably the most comprehensive tool on the market. The amount of data this tool can generate is astounding. The Moz Keyword Explorer is perfect for developing optimizing any search campaign. You will definitely have solid data to develop an effective bid strategy. But, probably the best thing about this tool is its ability to create and analyze groups or lists of keywords and phrases. This comparative list data can provide well-rounded insights to advise and drive your content strategy.
- Rank Tracker (Score A) – Rank Tracker is a great tool that delivers insight into how your website is performing on the search engine reporting pages that you are targeting. In addition to this high-level view, Rank Tracker allows you to develop a high performing key strategy that will help improve your position on the SERP over time. Using Rank Tracker, you have access to real-time performance metrics for all of your keywords and keyword phrases. You can also see what’s working for your competition allowing you to take advantage of the gaps in their digital marketing. This is a comprehensive tool that will allow you to understand and improve your search visibility. Rank Tracker is not only effective it is also thoughtful, providing device-specific insights that allow you to segment your marketing strategy based on the behavior of your users.
- Site Crawl (Score A-) – Site crawl is one of my favorite Moz Pro tools. The Site Crawl tool monitors the search performance health of your website all the time and reports back to you any issues it uncovers. Site Crawl also categorizes your website’s issues based on impact to your search performance or ranking. This allows you to work effectively correcting the most damaging issues quickly. Some examples of issues that Site Crawl reports are broken links or redirects, missing title tags, 4xx errors, page titles too long, and product descriptions too long.
- On Page Optimization (Score A-) – This tool is designed to match customer intent with the content on your page. By optimizing the content on your page you can develop a successful search marketing plan that lines up with the intent of your customers and drives them to a page that closely matches their intent. Suggestions for both page improvement and content are all a part of the On Page Optimization Tool.
- Link Explorer (Score B+) – This tool is designed to help you understand and improve your domain authority. Link Explorer provides data on all of the linking domains and inbound links to your site. You can also compare your Domain Authority to your competitions today and over time. Understanding your Domain Authority compared to your competition will enable you to set goals and track your progress. Domain Authority is a Moz creation that weighs your topical authority against your customers based on a variety of measurements like, inbound links, relevant content, page authority, and linking domains.
- Community (Score A+) – The Moz community is outstanding! From the very beginning, the folks at Moz were incredible community builders. Their marketing is great, they have informative social media, whiteboard Friday is a must every week, and their conference is top notch. In fact, I give Moz an A+ on all of their customer touch points. They listen to their community and tailor their products to the needs of their patrons.
- Education and Training (Score A) – Moz and the extended Moz community have a wealth of resources including a comprehensive beginners guide to SEO. Their blog is very informative and quite good. As mentioned above, Whiteboard Friday should be added to your calendar. In addition to all the great free resources, Moz offers a full series of paid courses in their Moz Academy. Within the stacks of the Moz Academy, you will likely find everything you wanted to know about SEO.
- Reporting (Score B) – Moz Custom Reports is the Moz Pro platforms reporting solution. Although these reports are throughout and can be customized to represent whatever data you need to isolate and analyze, the report creating experience could be a little better. The Moz reporting suite does offer a drag and drop tool that lets you highlight the data that is most important to your team or stakeholders. Moz Custom Reports also includes a branding feature so you can create branded reports for clients. The branding feature is not very extensive allowing you to add your logo to reports but that’s about it.
- UI (Score B-) – I think the user interface of the Moz platform historically draws the most criticism. Moz has been around for a long time, long before the software admin UI had to be pretty and intuitive. The Moz UI suffers from being the first tool of the sort. Moz was created during a time where most of us were just so thrilled to have access to this type of SEO data that we were not really concerned with the UI. In fact, UI wasn’t really an emphasis at all. So the challenge for Moz has been to improve upon an existing UI without disrupting a well defined existing brand. If asked the question which is more important, the rebranding for the sake of improving the UI or focusing on what made us in the first place, the data? I believe the data would win.
- Price Structure (Score B+) – Moz Pro offers a free 30-day trial period which is awesome! Thirty days gives a marketer enough time to digest at least 75% of the software’s functionality. After the 30-day trial period, Moz Pro’s pricing is competitive and fair. If you are willing to sign a one-year deal, you can buy just about all the SEO you will ever need for under $150/month. Like most products, the price is really going to boil down to how many users you require and how much research your team intends to do.
- Keyword Difficulty (Score A) – Similar to the Moz Keyword Explorer, this tool is designed to identify opportunities and develop the right bid strategy to maximize your budget. The difference, however, is the competitive angle the tool takes. The Keyword Difficulty tool helps you identify affordable opportunities that will exploit what your competition is not doing. This perspective reminds me of my concept of micro-optimization which I developed for e-commerce which was inspired by Avinash Kaushik idea of the Aggregation of Marginal Gains.
- Domain vs. Domain (Score B+) – This is an interesting tool that will accelerate and enhance your process of competitive analysis. However, instead of traditional analysis methods like reviewing competitors websites and following their social media, the Domain vs. Domain tool allows you to compare your competitor’s websites to yours based on positions in SERP for each of your important keywords. This side by side comparison can be executed for both organic and paid search terms.
- Charts (Score A) – Charts is a neat graphical tool that allows you to quickly assess your digital competition. Charts is simple and quick to use and you can compare up to five different domains at one time. You can visually display your results in a variety of ways including bar, line, and pie graphs. This tool offers you so many different ways to look at your online competition. You can compare Google organic traffic, Bing organic traffic, paid search traffic and cost, AdWords traffic and cost, declined keywords, and keyword that competitors are using to drive traffic that you have overlooked. Charts will visually help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competition.
- Keyword Magic Tool (Score A) – This tool helps you generate the right keywords and keyword groups to create the perfect PPC campaign. All you have to do is enter your target keyword or keyword phrases and you will have access to millions of related keywords and keyword ideas to choose from. In addition, you can segment the list by key attributes like competitive density, CPC data, search volume, and keyword difficulty. The Keyword Magic Tool will help you brainstorm new rich content that you may not have considered with these specific insights.
- Community (Score A+) – Both Moz and SEMrush have done a fantastic job at creating community. Like Moz, SEMrush offers an informative blog, Academy level classes, an extensive product knowledge base, webinars, podcasts, and Ebooks. However, one notable difference is the public profile feature offered by SEMrush. You can set up this profile and really join the SEMrush community, not looking in from the outside but by making actual contributions to the community. You can publish blogs and even take part in a webinar as a host or speaker. This allows you to regularly connect with other users and SEMrush staff and contributors.
- Education and Training (Score A+) – SEMrush provides an incredible array of education and training resources. As mentioned above you can choose from webinars, Ebooks, Academy courses, training videos, written knowledge base content, or topical podcasts. They are prepared to support the needs of every kind of learning style. I think this is important for both the user and SEMrush. I believe that if you take advantage of all the functionality offered by the software, you will rank higher in search, drive more traffic to your site, and tap into new audiences or customer segments you have overlooked. But, like with any software product, driving results and meeting KPIs is entirely up to the operator.
- Reporting (Score B+) – SEMrush offers extensive reporting capabilities. My experience and my research did not uncover any data reporting weakness. Like Moz, SEMrush can basically slice and dice your data any way you want it. SEMrush also offers a custom reports tool called My Reports. This tool allows you to create nice branded reports for bosses and clients. The drag and drop report generator is nice and has a slight edge on the Moz product. Personally, I feel that the reports SEMrush generates are a little bit prettier than the Moz reports but no more informative.
- UI – (Score A+) – SEMrush offers a great user experience, so much so that you will really enjoy working with the software. I think is very important because users are likely to really engage with the software which will, in turn, lead to their completing their goals and achieving their KPIs. The SEMrush UI is engaging, colorful, graphical, and relatively intuitive.
- Price Structure (Score B+) – SEMrush offers a 7 day free trial period which is definitely not enough time to digest the software’s full functionality. Once this period has ended, you will pay around $200 to the comparable Moz Pro plan which costs under $150 (with an annual contract). The SEMrush pricing plans are all month to month and they do not offer any discounted long term contract.
Keep in mind that these two products were the finalists of my original research. Given that, it is fair to say that both of these products are exceptional. Your SEO/SEM will improve if you learn and use either of these tools. In the end, I selected and have purchased a SEMrush account. I love Moz Pro and the whole Moz community but I believe that SEMrush is innovating at a much quicker pace. In addition, the A+ UI that SEMrush has created was a critical part of my decision-making process. I like easy to navigate. I like elegant reports. And I must admit, I’m a sucker for a pretty face.