Best SEO Software 2020

Screaming Frog vs. SEMrush: Compare SEO Software

Is Screaming Frog or SEMrush the better SEO tool for you? Screaming Frog is preferred by larger companies & marketing experts that want an advanced web crawler. SEMrush's Site Audit tool is perfect for SMBs.

Screaming Frog and SEMrush are used by marketers to perform website audits that detect technical SEO issues. Fixing these issues improves website performance in Google's search results.

It's critical to understand that Screaming Frog is a specialty tool used solely for website audits, while SEMrush is a general SEO solution. SEMrush's website auditing tool is one of several tools that come with its monthly subscription.

Screaming FrogSEMrush
Software TypeWeb crawlerAll-in-one SEO software
Top FeaturesWebsite auditsKeyword research, keyword rank tracking, competitive analysis, website audits
Ease of UseScreaming Frog has a steeper learning curveSEMrush's auditing tool is easy to use for beginners
Pricing£149.00 per license per yearStarting at $99.95 per month
Best ForMedium & large websites that require in-depth technical auditsSMBs with smaller websites under 20,000 pages that benefit from an easier to use audit tool
Visit Screaming FrogVisit SEMrush

Table of Contents

Screaming Frog & SEMrush Feature Overview

As you can see in the Venn diagram below, both Screaming Frog and SEMrush come with basic crawling features. Screaming Frog includes many advanced crawling features that SEMrush does not offer. In addition to its web crawler, SEMrush comes with tools for keyword research, keyword rank tracking, competitor research, and more.

Screaming Frog + SEMrush Feature Comparison

A complete breakdown of SEMrush's top features can be found in our SEMrush review.

What Is a Web Crawler?

A web crawler is a software tool that analyzes the pages & structure of your website in order to identify technical SEO issues. Fixing these SEO issues will improve the performance of your website on Google and other search engines. Common technical issues discovered by web crawlers include:

  • Pages with 300, 400 and 500 status codes
  • Missing HTML tags (title tag, canonical, H1s, meta description)
  • Duplicate content
  • Broken links
  • Orphan pages
  • Slow pages

Compare Screaming Frog and SEMrush's Web Crawler

Let's compare Screaming Frog to SEMrush's web rawler, the Site Audit tool. As you'll see, Screaming Frog includes advanced crawling & reporting features that larger companies & marketing experts require. Meanwhile, SEMrush's Site Audit tool is more than sufficient for most SMBs, and is much easier to use.

Website Crawling

Screaming Frog and SEMrush have website crawlers that work very similarly. They test for the same core technical issues. In addition, Screaming Frog's spider has several advanced features, we'll share a few of our favorites below.

Website Elements Tested During Crawl

Screaming Frog and SEMrush test for mostly the same website elements during their crawl. The major categories of website elements test for are:

  • Metadata: Are title tags, metadescriptions, H1s, H2s, alt tags and canonicals implemented properly?
  • HTTP/HTTPS: Are pages and links HTTPS?
  • Directives: Are you properly using directives like Noindex and Nofollow?
  • Status codes: Are pages returning proper 200 & 300 level status codes? Are any returning 400 and 500 level errors?
  • Duplicate content: Do you have duplicate pages, URLs, title tags or other content that is confusing search engines?
  • Page response time: Do your pages load quickly enough?
  • Internal linking: What is the internal linking structure of your website?
  • Image sizes: Are your image files too large, or the wrong image file format?
  • Structured data: Have you properly implemented structured data markup to communicate that your pages are products, recipes, reviews or other standardized content types?
  • Site structure: What is the hierarchy of your web pages? Do you have any high-value pages with poor page depth?

Screaming Frog Advanced Features

Here's a few of the advanced features that Screaming Frog offers marketing experts.

  • Finding orphaned pages: If you connect Google Analytics or Google Search Console to Screaming Frog, it will identify orphaned pages.
  • Crawling authenticated staging sites: Screaming Frog allows SEOs to crawl staging sites and development servers. This is useful for testing new websites still under development.
  • Auditing redirects in a site migration: When a site is migrated to a new URL, it's critical that all 301 redirects are implemented properly. Screaming Frog has created a report using its 'always follow redirects' feature that allows SEOs to see a detailed map of full redirect chains for any URL.

Log File Analysis

Log file analysis is an advanced SEO tactic used to understand exactly how search engines like Google are crawling your website. Each time Google loads a page on your website, it creates a record. By aggregating these records, you can see which pages Google has crawled, in what order, and how often.

Log file analyses yield valuable information such as:

  • What pages Google crawls most
  • What valuable pages Google doesn't crawl
  • How much Google is crawling your website in total, and with each Googlebot

Both companies offer a log file analysis tool as an add-on:

Reporting

One of the biggest differences between Screaming Frog and SEMrush is reporting. Screaming Frog provides much more data, but has a steeper learning curve.

Screaming Frog Reporting

Screaming Frog provides direct access to the crawl's raw data for every page. This is ideal for marketers who want to dive deep into crawl data and do their own analyses.

Screaming Frog crawl overview report

The Screaming Frog application also provides access to far more data than SEMrush. In the H1 tab below, you can see H1s for all pages, and use filters to quickly find all pages with a missing or duplicate H1.

Screaming Frog H1 report

SEMrush Reporting

SEMrush produces easy-to-interpret reports that are ideal for most SMBs. These reports remove guesswork by providing a summary of site health and a list of top errors that should be fixed.

SEMrush Site Audit Interface

The SEMrush Compare Crawls report is a valuable feature that lets you quickly compare crawl results over time. This will help you understand if you are making progress fixing technical errors over time.

SEMrush Compare Crawls Tab

Ease of Use

SEMrush's Site Audit tool is easier to use than Screaming Frog. This makes sense – SEMrush's tool is built for SMBs that don't need advanced features or access to every data point. Screaming Frog has advanced features & robust reporting. Therefore, it has a steeper learning curve.

For example, interpreting crawl results is easier in SEMrush. Its tool has a well-designed interface that highlights the key takeaways from the site audit. The overview tab includes an overall site health score, thematic reports, and a ranked list of the top issues.

SEMrush Site Audit Overview tab

Compare this to Screaming Frog's Crawl Overview report, which is exported as a CSV file. This report contains significantly more data than what you find in SEMrush, but you have to know what to look for and how to interpret it.

Screaming Frog crawl overview report

SEMrush's interface also includes tool tips that you can scroll over to fully understand what you're looking at.

Top Competitors

Screaming Frog and SEMrush have different top competitors. Screaming Frog competes against other crawlers, while SEMrush competes most often against other all-in-one SEO solutions.

Screaming Frog Competitors

Screaming Frog competes with other web crawlers. Here's the best alternative web crawlers:

  • DeepCrawl
  • Sitebulb
  • OnCrawl

SEMrush Competitors

SEMrush competes most directly with other all-in-one SEO solutions. Here's the top SEMrush competitors:

For more detail, read our full guide to SEMrush competitors.

How Much Do Screaming Frog and SEMrush Cost?

SEMrush is significantly more expensive than Screaming Frog. However, the SEMrush subscription buys you around 30 SEO tools.

Screaming Frog Pricing Details

Screaming Frog is desktop software that is priced per license (1 user = 1 license).

  • Free license to crawl up to 500 URLs
  • £149.00 per license per year
  • Bulk discounts for purchasing multiple licenses
  • No page crawl limit

SEMrush Pricing Details

SEMrush pricing starts at $99.95 per month. All prices below are for one user:

  • Pro Plan: $99.95 per month
  • Guru Plan: $199.95 per month
  • Business Plan: $399.95 per month
  • Limits on number of URLs that can be crawled per month and per project

Bottom Line

Screaming Frog and SEMrush are both excellent SEO solutions. When comparing the two, remember that Screaming Frog is a specialty solution for website audits, and SEMrush is a general SEO solution with several use cases.

If you need to complete an in-depth site audit to identify & fix technical SEO issues, then Screaming Frog is an excellent option. We recommend evaluating Screaming Frog, Deepcrawl & Sitebulb.

If you want an SEO tool that does a little of everything, and excels at keyword research, rank tracking & competitive analysis, then you'll love SEMrush. We recommend comparing it against Ahrefs and SERPstat.

Click here to download the free version of Screaming Frog. To start your free trial with SEMrush, click here.

Bruce Hogan

Bruce Hogan is Co-founder & CEO of SoftwarePundit, a technology research firm that provides advice, information, and tools to help businesses thrive. Bruce has experience investing at multi-billion dollar private equity firms, leading teams at venture-backed Internet companies, and launching new businesses.