Semrush vs Screaming Frog is a surprisingly easy comparison because these platforms scratch a different itch within the marketplace for SEO optimization. Often times when we write a comparison, we are hard-pressed to find much of a distinction between products. With Screaming Frog vs Semrush, it’s quite easy to evaluate because they are fundamentally different solutions with some overlap.
If you want to get the cliff notes of Screaming Frog vs SEMRush and see which one is right for you, feel free to scroll to the bottom and read the quick summary. If you want to get a deep look “under the hood” of Semrush vs Screaming Frog, then keep reading and find out in what way each of these tools can help you (or your clients) rank higher on search engines.
Methodology: Semrush vs Screaming Frog
One simple way to categorize all the SEO features that you might find in a SEO tool is to put them into 3 areas:
This guide will run through the primary features within all of these categories for both SEMrush and Screaming Frog to compare how each stacks up. However, it should be noted upfront that Screaming Frog is primarily (if not exclusively) an “on-site” SEO tool.
For this reason, there isn’t much of a comparison between Screaming Frog vs SEMRush in the areas of research and off-site SEO tools. With that said, Screaming Frog is significantly less expensive than SEMRush (and offers a free, stripped-down version of their product). But we will tackle the subject of price at the end of this review.
SEO Research: Semrush vs Screaming Frog
One of the fastest and easiest ways to get your site ranking high for certain keywords is to research long tail keywords, competitive sites and potential aged domains to buy.
On this score, SEMRush aboslutely knocks it out of the park while Screaming Frog focuses on on-site optimization.
After using the research features on Sem Rush for a short while and seeing all the ways to make easy money from your site, you will be reluctant to be without it.
// Domain Research - Semrush
The best way to hit the ground running with SEO and to get your site ranking high is to buy an aged domain that (hopefully) already has some quality backlinks. While Screaming Frog does not address this area, Semrush has outstanding features to find a high-value domain that you might be able to scoop up for cheap on expireddomains.net or auctions.godaddy.com.
The way you use this tool is simple: paste the domain that you want to evaluate (or the domain you already own) into the domain overview field.
The first thing to point out is the “Authority Score” which gives you a numeric value for the relative authority the domain has against the rest of the sites on the internet. Most of the top SEO tools have this metric although they might call it something different (Domain Rank, Domain Authority, etc).
Although there are other tools that have the same type of domain authority metric, they are each proprietary and so they are not equal to one another. The industry standard is the Moz rank score which is free and you can download a chrome extension to quickly check it for each site that you visit.
It’s important to remember that these domain authority scores are “directional” to give you an idea of where the domain ranks and should not be considered a “end-all-be-all” authority of the rank of the site. The purpose is to give you a quick snapshot of where the domain ranks.
If the authority score is zero, then there really isn’t much value in it above buying a brand new domain.
Using SEMrush’s score can quickly tell you if it’s a domain you should investigate further to potentially buy … or … eliminate it as a possible acquisition.
Furthermore, you should monitor this score of your own site to make sure that it is improving over time. As you get into the 30s and 40s, you have a valuable site potentially worth a lot of money. If you score is headed in the wrong direction, it’s important to find out why and try to fix it as soon as possible.
// Keyword Research
After researching a high-value domain to buy, the next step to ranking and getting traffic is to create content for keywords that are “long tail” and thus easier to rank. This is another area where Semrush’s keyword research features can be the difference between your site getting traffic or being just another site that no one visits. (Again, this is not an area of focus for Screaming Frog and we will get to Screaming Frog when we cover on-site features)
It’s pretty simple how the Semrush keyword research tool works. You type in a keyword related to your site and you can use the keyword magic tool to start sifting through related keywords that have a low rank difficulty. SEMRush ranks keywords from “very hard” to “very easy”. If you build content targeting keywords that are “very easy” or “easy”, you’ll have a good chance of ranking quickly.
… Now let’s check out some highlights from Semrush’s off-site SEO optimization features.
Off-site SEO - Semrush vs Screaming Frog
There are a lot of tools in Semrush that fall under the category of off-site SEO and you could write a small book covering each and every one. However, arguably the most important feature of Semrush is the ability to inspect the backlink profile of your site (or a domain you are targeting for acquisition).
// Backlink Profile - Semrush
The backlinks to a site are extraordinarily important to its value. For this reason you need to be acutely aware of the backlinks to your site. You need to make sure that there are no toxic links to your site and also that you preserve all of you quality backlinks while consistently trying to add new ones.
SEMrush’s backlink tool lets you quickly assess a site’s backlink profile and find the most valuable links and also the links you need to disavow on Google. This is important for a site you are considering buying as well as the sites you own and nurture. With SEMRush,you can investigate all the backlinks to a site and sort by domain rank, page rank, traffic, toxicity score, etc. You can then export the list to other people if needed and set up a regular report to be sent to you that monitors changes.
Your site will live and die by the backlinks which is why the SEMrush tool is almost a must for people who want to build a successful site. Screaming Frog does not address this area in its tool because it requires crawling OTHER sites on the web to see which ones are linking to your site.
For a company like google, the cost of crawling the internet looking for backlinks is a rounding error but for everyone else, it’s extremely cost intensive. That’s why tools like SEMrush cost more than on-site tools like Screaming Frog.
// Link Building - Semrush
Semrush’s link building tool pulls a list of link building prospects for your site based on your site’s keywords and competitors. It also serves almost as a “link building CRM” and where you can manage your outreach directly from the tool and monitor your progress.
The backling building tool also has intergrations with gmail and google search console and a monitor reporting features to keep track of where you stand on your outreach.
But without a doubt, the biggest time-saving feature for the backlink tool is the automated contact info retrieval for target websites. Getting the correct contact info is one of the most time-consuming parts of link building it can be incredibly frustrating to spend time reaching out to prospects only to discover you don’t even have the right contact info. This feature on Semrush is worth its weight in gold.
On-site SEO: Screaming Frog vs Semrush
Now we finally get to the point where we can make a head-to-head comparison of Screaming Frog vs Semrush in the area of on-site SEO tools. While Screaming Frog is a handy tool with a free option, it does not address the areas of off-site backlink work or researching domains and keywords.
There are two important points to keep in mind when evaluating Screaming Frog:
- Screaming Frog is first and foremost an SEO agency. Its spider tool is merely an add-on to it’s primary SEO services.
- The Screaming Frog spider tool is not web-based — which means you actually download the application on to your computer to use it.
Neither of these points are bad in any way. The first point is important to keep in mind because the spider tool is not their primary business whereas with Semrush, the platform is their bread and butter.
You will likely notice right off the bat how fast and easy it is to navigate around Screaming Frog. This is the advantage of having a native app vs a web based app that Semrush offers.
While this gives Screaming Frog a leg up, it probably won’t make much of a difference unless you are doing HEAVY on-site inspection and really digging into every page of your site.
For this reason, Screaming Frog is often used by people working professionally in on-site SEO optimization (either with an agency or independently). However, for most people, they won’t be turning over every single element on every single page of their site. That’s why the site audit tool at Semrush gives you all the information you need. Unless you are spending all day auditing your site, waiting a few extra seconds for the page to load isn’t a big deal.
With Semrush, you can add “projects” for each of your sites and schedule regular crawls of your site. When there are issues with the site, Semrush will alert you that there is something you need to address.
Pricing: Semrush vs Screaming Frog
If you are evaluating only on price, then there is a clear winner which is Screaming Frog which offers a free version of its software and allows you a maximum of 500 URLs in it’s crawl. For about USD$210/year, the paid version gives you additional features like Google Analytics and Search Console Integration, unlimited pages, and a long list of other add-ons aimed at on-site optimizations.
Semrush plans for individuals start at $110 /month which makes it quite an expensive tool for someone who is not an SEO professional. We suspect it’s all the offsite and research tools that make Semrush more expensive. Crawling the entire internet to tell you who is backlinking to your site is very costly.
But as mentioned, using Semrush to 1) find long tail keywords and 2) buy an aged domain with some quality links is the best way to start getting traffic. Without work in these two areas, it’s a long road to start ranking on Google (think years not months).
Semrush vs Screaming Frog -- which one?
Making this decision should be relatively easy depending on your needs. If you are an SEO worker who only does work on site, you’ll be happy with the Screaming Frog Spider tool and can probably get away with the free version depending on how big the site is.
If you need a more comprehensive SEO solution and want to grow the authority of a site and start to get traffic soon, there’s not question that Semrush is a better-suited tool for the off site work you will inevitably need to do. Luckily, there is a 7-day free Semrush trial so you can experiment with the tool and see if it’s right for you. Click on the button below to sign up and start your free trial today.