Screaming Frog vs SEMRush

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I am about to explain the pro’s and con’s to both Screaming Frog and SEMRush Audit tool and give you the information to find which one is best for your website.

Technical SEO seems to have got more important in recent years and that can only be a good thing. It helps both SEO and UX so as well as improving your rankings you can make your visitors happy.

A crawling tool will save you a lot of time (you can do all of this manually but that wouldn’t be very efficient and scalable).

Two of the more common solutions are Screaming Frog and SEMRush which both offers solutions to allow you to audit your site.

In this article we are purely focusing on Screaming Frog Paid Version and SEMRush Audit tool. I am fully aware SEMRush platform offers a whole suite of features and products.

Try before you buy

Before I get into the analysis, I just wanted to say by options offer a trial version. SEMRush you can get a 7 Day Free trial which is great as it allows you to try all their features and Screaming Frog offers a free version of the tool, it just limits the tools to 500 pages and you don’t get all the features.

So I would highly recommend you trial both to get a better understanding of what they offer.

Screaming Frog

This is a desktop based tool which you download onto your device and use to crawl a website, because it’s desktop based the more powerful your machine the larger the websites you can crawl, but whilst crawling I usually find its not recommend to use your machine.

Pro’s of Screaming Frog

  • No Limit on the number of pages you can crawl (only limitation is by your hardware)
  • Ability to download error reports straight into Excel
  • Ability to crawl a wide variety of sites (including Javascript)
  • Can easily crawl a list of URLs
  • Unlimited number of sites you can crawl
  • Quickly spot large images on your site
  • Quickly identify slow loading pages on the website
  • You check the issues which you think are important
  • Crawl the site’s looking for custom checks (GA Code, specific words, html elements)

Con’s of Screaming Frog

No Default crawl scehduling (can be done, but requires knowledge)

Its desktop based, meaning its limited by your computer resources and usually means you can’t use the machine while its crawling

  • No default reporting
  • No default “Tech Seo Score” to measure progress
  • Doesn’t work on phone / tablet
  • Need a decent internet connection

While no default reporting or score, you can use the Screaming Frog SEO Dashboard which use Datastudio to give you a visual report of issues.

SEMrush

SEMRush Audit Tool

This is a cloud based tool, so doesn’t really need a machine to run, actually I usually do a lot of the checking and analysis from my Ipad Pro.

Pro’s of SEMRush:

  • Easily Schedule Crawls
  • Cloud-based meaning it can be done off phone, tablet or desktop
  • While an internet connection is needed to analyse the report, schedule crawls will still run even if you don’t have the internet
  • Tech SEO Score calculated based on issues on your website
  • Historical comparison against previous crawls.

SEMRush Dashboard

Con’s of SEMRush:

  • A limited number of URLs you can crawl – you can purchase more
  • A limited number of “Projects (websites) you can crawl – you can increase the number of projects
  • They are preset checks which they analyse (while you can ‘hide’ some checks, you can’t create your own’

Summary:

Both tools have their uses and I think it really depends on the number of sites you want to manage and the size of these sites.

Part of my process for auditing sites is simple. I use SEMRush to crawl websites daily and give me a good quick snapshot of things which have changed over night. I then prefer to use Screaming Frog to do a large audit once a week / month depending on the client needs and requirements.

I really do like both platforms and think they complement each other quite nicely – why not give both of them a go for free and tell us in the comments below which on your prefer.

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By Andy Halliday

I am the Managing Director of Indago Media and have been in Digital Marketing since 2009. Initially in-house working for some of the UK's biggest brands, but now I run my own agency helping small business grow.

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