aHrefs versus MajesticSEO: The Real Test

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Tools reviews are not easy: You can test usability (based on your own preferences) and compare the feature set with what you have seen so far. However, if you want to dig deeper and compare the complex data and come to well-grounded conclusions, you need to be careful.

There’s no way you can get free logins at advanced tools, pick three domains and jump to fast conclusions based on that.

Do You Really Need to Compare?

When people ask what the best backlink profile crawling tool is, my favorite answer is, “Try many of them”. I absolutely believe in personal perspective and lots of playing:

  • If you combine a few tools, you combine their indices, and you always get a much deeper understanding of the data;
  • Different tools offer different ways to re-organize the data that can give you additional insight;
  • Some people are born for some specific tools: You know that feeling when you login and you just know what is where. Whenever you try another tool, it just doesn’t feel right no matter how awesome it is. That’s why I so much believe in personal experience.

Besides, most tools have free trials: So read reviews for educated guesses but always make sure to play with all of them yourself.

What If You Really Have to Compare

Now, if we have a few similar-purpose tools, we can’t do without comparing and since there have been a few rather vague comparisons recently, here’s the indepth experiment: aHrefs and MajecticSEO

Description of the experiment: 100 random domains have been selected and imported into Excel using this tool (the list is here if you want to run your own test with the same domains).

Backlink info has been retrieved using the three tools:

  • aHrefs
  • Majestic Historic
  • Majestic Fresh

Here are some screenshots visualizing the outcome (I haven’t managed to show all 100 rows (you are welcome to re-run the test) but you’ll get an idea):

  • Green = wins
  • Grey = same result
  • No color = lost

aHrefs versus MajesticSEO Fresh

Note: Mind that aHrefs count subdomains as separate domains here.

MajesticSEO Fresh versus aHrefs

  • On Referring Domain counts Majestic wins 72 times out of 100
  • On Link counts Majestic wins 53 times out of 100.

aHrefs versus MajesticSEO Historic

Note: mind that MajesticSEO had recently announced their Historic Index update and this test was run after that:

aHrefs versus MajesticSEO Historic

Disclaimer: I have free “pro” accounts on both the services but none of them compensated me on this article.

Date of research: 30th January 2013

Now, Is This Just the Numbers Game?

No, like I said, I don’t believe in number-based comparing. Both the services have unique features and unique algorithm of measuring the value of each link. I’d say numbers mean the least to me here, and this test was just a response to previous discussions on this topic.

Your preferred one will be based on why you are actually using the tools (which is seldom the raw number of external backlinks). If you really want to get an insight into which tool does what, check out this article at SEObook, then try the tools and then write your own comparison!

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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  • Jacob King

    Actually just read Matthew Woodward’s comparison between Ahrefs, Opensite, seo powersuite, and majestic.

    Personally I’m with Hrefs and opensite but just have the opensite because of other moz tools. So I double em up and remove dupes.

    If you really want to go hard use em all to reverse engineer your competitors backlinks and crush.

    • Brian

      Well said. I think the message you are sending should be on an article post of its own. It’s a good philosophy Reverse Engineer, then Crush!

      • maggie

        Does majestic offer the same amount of free testing as ahrefs does

    • MatthewWoodward

      Hi Jacob,

      Thanks for mentioning my post, here is the link for anyone that wants to check it out http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/backlink-checkers-compared-ahrefs-majestic-seo-seomoz-raven-tools-seo-spyglass/

      • Matthew Woodward

        Just planned out the follow up test that will slam the doors closed on this argument once and for all.

        The data so far doesn’t support the findings here, not even close lol

    • Matthew Woodward

      This test used 100 domains.

      This test users 1,000,000 http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/ahrefs-majestic-seo-1-million-domain-showdown/

      • Ann Smarty

        You have too much free time, Matt 🙂

  • Jamie Farrelly

    Personally I use Ahrefs, mainly due to the fact that I like the layout of the site. For some reason I don’t really like the design of Majestic SEO. For me I find Ahrefs so much easier to navigate and get the information that I actually need.

    • dejeesh

      Hey Jamie, I also using Ahrefs because of, the user interface in Ahrefs is superb. And easy to analyse and crawl all the datas about the backlinks .

      Majesticseo is also good, but it have not much of huge details than Ahrefs. I personally like its Global backlinks distribution graph. Some times it helps to make a good visual business Audits.

  • Jeff

    Another vote for Ahrefs here. I just find it’s a little quicker presenting the info, and perhaps as Jamie mentioned, the layout is a little easier to navigate and use. For the most part I only want a quick snapshot of the link profile anyway….if I’m going after a FULL analysis, then I’m going to be combining Ahrefs, Majestic (both Fresh and Historic), OSE and even Google Webmaster Tools.

    The biggest issue I have with Majestic Historic is that it tends to leave the dead links in the data as well, so it inflates the numbers when the links are no longer there. So take the numbers from Majestic Historic with a grain of salt. Better yet, get the data and then run it through a 3rd party tool to double check live links.

    By the way SEJ – comments don’t show up in Chrome.

    • Ann Smarty

      >>> Ahrefs, Majestic (both Fresh and Historic), OSE and even Google Webmaster Tools

      I didn’t want to do that because, like I said, I don’t believe in numbers that much and there’s already a good article on comparing three of them without focusing on numbers: http://www.seobook.com/comparing-backlink-data-providers

      >>> So take the numbers from Majestic Historic with a grain of salt.

      Historic is the way to dig deeper if you are really serious about not missing a single backlink 🙂 I am good with Fresh index though

      >>> For the most part I only want a quick snapshot of the link profile anyway

      Absolutely agreed: Unless you dig too deep, just choose the one that feels better to you. If you really want to dig too deep, combine the data from a few sources!

  • Aidan

    Majestic Fresh for me though I agree the presentation can be confusing until you get used to it. No doubt Majestic will consider a different layout when the guys there get enough of these comments!

  • Dixon Jones

    Thanks ever so much for writing this all up Ann. For the record I have a clear and obvious preference for MajesticSEO.

    Jacob: There were (as Link Assistant or Spyglass or someone said) quite a few things found wanting only the Matthew Woodward post. The most glaringly obvious is that the analysis was done with three sites he knows well, but will not disclose. Three sites with clear bias vs 100 sites with a random element is a significant difference.

    What wasn’t said was this: I don’t know whether he included his own site in his list of three, but the objective nature of the analysis gets stretched further when you see that he is blocking Majestic’s bot but not Ahrefs’: https://www.majesticseo.com/reports/site-explorer?folder=&IndexDataSource=F&q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.matthewwoodward.co.uk%2F (You need access to the site explorer to see the block in this link). You also won’t see the robots.txt file unless you know what you are looking for. Now – we do not need to crawl his site to see links TO his site, but if he insists on saying one system is better than another, he really shouldn’t make the claim on a site which shows such obvious bias.

    There. I said it. I tried to bite my lip for a few weeks, but good people are reading that review and not seeing the lack of objectivity.

    Jamie: That’s a very fair reason. Some people like one and some like the other. Certainly, they get more stuff on the page above the fold – although where they are weaker is in the order in which they show links (Majestic does a better job with Flow metrics).

    Aiden: Thanks for your vote! We just did a survey, a CRO audit and plenty of other stuff. We are working on it, but there so much other cool stuff we want to do too.

    I take my hat off to Ahrefs for the increase in their crawl of late. When they stopped scraping Google, this gave them significant extra power for crawling which they are putting to good use. But from the results in this article at least, they have not beaten Majestic yet.

    • Matthew Woodward


      Dixon I have noted the weaknesses in my initial tests from various source and while your suggest my test was done with ‘bias’ because they are 3 of my sites at random is complete bullshit.

      I realise I left to much wiggle room for people to come up with justifications as to why Majestic didn’t win the test.

      To be honest I didn’t think it would cause this much of a stir!

      The follow up test is going to leave no wiggle room and make this ‘random’ URL sample look insignificant.

      And seeing as your doing everything you can to discredit me and my data, I’ll also be highlighting the relationship between Ann Smarty, yourselves and IMN. I wonder how many people read this very post and weren’t aware of that?

      For a CEO to come out and try to discredit people makes you look very weak – you should take a leaf out of Viktar Khamianok’s book and handle it like a boss http://www.link-assistant.com/blog/backlink-checkers-compared-seo-spyglass-ahrefs-majestic-seo-seomoz-raven-tools/

      We’ll see how random those 100 URL’s really were with my follow up – its going to be air tight this time.

      ps. I dont see what in my robots.txt file http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/robots.txt would be blocking it?

      • Ann Smarty

        Matthew, if you think this article sounds biased to Majestic, please let me know how. I compared the numbers and said they didn’t matter to me. I know both the companies personally, as well as many other businesses in this industry, and I am never biased.

  • John

    Couldn’t disagree more with this article. Ahrefs is IMHO far superior to Majestic which is itself far superior to OSE.

  • Markus

    Hi Ann, congratulations for the article.. I think that Majestic SEO is the best for to found new backlink, and compare with the competitors… Ahref was the best for the ranking, maybe now ahref is the best only for the simpler interface.

  • Robert Kirk

    Really nice post Ann. I was using SEOMoz, Ahrefs, Majestic – but now find myself mostly using Ahrefs on daily basis, i find the interface is by far the easiest to use. I also find many of the new links im building for clients get found much quicker through Ahrefs.

    They all have pros and cons, but for me Ahrefs is a winner

  • Jamie Knop

    Majestic seems the winner here. ahrefs was great for other things such as looking at keywords your ranking for that you may be unaware of picking up easy wins. That specific tool they discontinued…

    Obviously the best solution would be to combine data from all three major link indexes Majestic, ahrefs and OSE. I know that’s not possible for everyone…

  • Aleksey Batrachenko

    Thanks for the comparison, Ann!

    I wanted to ask though, it looks like you decided win-loss based solely on the number of backlinks returned. Is it always ‘the more links returned the better’?

    My hesitation to jump to that conclusion (and maybe wrongfully so out of sheer ignorance of the tools’ algo parameters) is the possibility of filtered results on ahrefs’ side. Perhaps ahrefs has a higher crawl freq. than majestic and is more appropriately discounting dead links . Are these legitimate possibilities, or am i way off?

    Sorry if its a stupid question and im just lacking research on my end 😛

  • Dejeesh

    hey guys, the ahrefs has been rolled out a new feature their own platform, that is ahrefs ‘SEO Reports’, by this feature we can analyze On page status of website’s like Titles,Meta description,Meta Keywords and H1 .

    So now ahrefs providing both Onpage and Off page analysis of websites. Kudos Team 🙂

    Waiting for big move from their competitor like Opensiteexplorer and Majesticseo.

  • Scott

    I think Ahrefs is steamrolling the competition. Not bad for a service that was rolled out due to the Yahoo Site Explorer removal. I wish I could afford an ongoing subscription because it was quite useful to get the full data set.

  • Robert Calvin

    I personally prefer A href because it is easy to navigate and to connect with user interface . we can get required information easily with that.

  • identity

    I think one value in Majestic’s historic may be in comparing with current to identify links that were once there but seemed to have dropped off…if someone linked to you once before they more be more inclined to link to you again, perhaps even more so than someone who has never heard of or linked to you before.

    Of course it would be a huge task, but what I’d like to see is verification of link existence. I’m not sure the real test or question here is whether one tool reports more or less backlinks than any other, but how tools compare on accuracy…though, now in-house but with many years of agency experience, I recognize the answer to the question, “Would I prefer to use a tool that reports 90% accuracy but only half as many backlinks or one that reports twice as many backlinks but with only 40% accuracy” might be “it depends on who I’m reporting the numbers to.”

  • David

    I think people need to realise that there are so many tools out there simply because everybody can not be pleased or find what they are looking for within one set of tools! Regardless of what a review says, the majority of tools give away 7 or 30 day trial access for free or there is the other option to simply pay for one month, try them out and see what you think for yourself.

    If people are too stupid to consider that all reviews will inherently have some level of bias in them, regardless of what the reviewer says or what the review outcome is (unless of course something is really terrible). There is always going to be very little in it to choose from…

    You could read 100 reviews all proclaiming one tool to be better than the other, but you yourself need to test them and see what you prefer. Regardless of how much data they return, they aren’t Google, they don’t have access to the data Google has collected so you should learn to make use of trials and make your own mind up as to what you like and what is useful for you…

  • Derr.Inessa

    I’m definitely with Majestic! It shows more backlinks, it is fast, has many interesting features and it is reliable. They have definitely improved the service since Yahoo Site Explorer has been closed.

  • Nazito

    I am new to SEO and and I didn’t know about this tools. Thanks for sharing this information. I did a quick comparison and yes Ahrefs is more user friendly, very easy to use and navigate; on the other hand Majestic provide great info as well and like somebody said Majestic may change after they read all the constructive comments in this site.

  • Pieter

    Great test. It would be even cooler if you could put Seomoz next to it.

  • keyword removed

    actually i prefer ahrefs because it’s free, and you can use it 3 time per day with no restriction.

    • Dixon Jones

      Majestic has plenty of free stuff too. For your own sites you get ALL the link data for free, for example.

      • maecky

        Yeah, but for my own website, I know most of my data 😉 I want to know my competitors data and therefor aHrefs is frre and majestic not….

  • Peter Mead

    You still get limited results with either tool unless you take out a subscription plan.

    I highly recommend paying for the service as you will discover the unlocked features of the tool.