In this article, I’ll cover all the Ahrefs features. Then, I’ll share some insights from current users.
It’s almost impossible to overstate the influence of Ahrefs within the digital marketing community. For many SEO professionals, it’s the tool that they simply can’t live without.Why? Because it’s not just a single tool. It’s a suite of invaluable services.Simply put: if you’re struggling with deciding on which tools to include in your digital marketing toolbox, you really can’t go wrong with Ahrefs.Yes, it’s that good.
Would you like to learn more about competitor websites so you can imitate their strategies to rank your own site? If so, then you’ll love Site Explorer.Site Explorer looks and acts in many ways like SEMRush. So if you’re already familiar with that tool, you’ll have a short learning curve.Here’s what Site Explorer offers:
Organic traffic analytics – Learn about the keywords that competitors are ranking for. See which search terms are bringing home the bacon.
Backlink checker – Where do your competitors get the backlinks that help them rank? Site Explorer will answer that question.
Paid traffic analytics – Maybe your competitors are reeling in customers with paid ads on search results. If that’s the case, Site Explorer will show you the keywords they’re using, the ads they’re running, and their landing pages.
Page analytics – Site Explorer will also show you which pages on a competitor’s website have the most social shares and backlinks.
Of course, you don’t have to use Site Explorer to learn about competitors. You can also use it to get some insight on your own website.Why would you do that? To find out important info, such as which keywords are bringing in the most organic traffic and which domains are giving you the most love in terms of backlinks.Then, you can use that knowledge to capitalize on what works.
Ahrefs Review: Keywords Explorer
Ahrefs says that its keyword research tool is “the most complete keyword research tool on the market.”That might just be puffing, but there’s little doubt that you’ll find it a valuable source of inspiration when it comes to identifying keywords related to your niche.Here’s what you can expect from the Keyword Explorer tool:
Keyword suggestions – Get plenty of ideas on keywords that you can rank for. Uncover popular search terms that your competitors don’t even know about!
Multinational support – Don’t think for a second that Keyword Explorer only offers English search terms. In fact, the tool supports more than 100 languages. In this global market, can you afford an English-only solution?
Accurate volume metrics – Keyword Tool leans on clickstream data to give you accurate search volumes.
Click metrics – You don’t just get volume metrics with Keyword Tool. You also get click metrics so you can see if people are actually clicking on the results they get. According to Ahrefs, no other tool offers that kind of detail.
Advanced metrics – Learn about clicks per search, percent of paid clicks, return rate, and more.
Keyword difficulty scores – Find keywords that are easy to rank with little to no competition. Go straight to the top with “low-hanging fruit.”
Keyword lists – Aggregate your favorite keywords into a list that you can reference from time to time.
Content Explorer shows you the content that’s hot for a particular keyword or topic. It’s like having BuzzSumo within another tool.Simply enter a keyword and Content Explorer will show you titles, excerpts, and links from around the web that are popular for that subject.How does Content Explorer determine popular content? It looks at the number of social shares and the backlink count.You’ll see that info in the report about popular content. For each article, Content Explorer shows you the number Facebook Shares, tweets, LinkedIn shares, and Pinterest pins.When it comes to backlink detail, the tool highlights the number of referring domains on the top-level report. You can drill deeper to see where the backlinks are coming from.Additionally, You can filter your search results by:
Content Explorer will also show you which domains have never linked to your content before. Use that info to find new backlink opportunities.
Ahrefs Review: Rank Tracker
As an SEO professional, you want to know if your work is bearing any fruit. Ahrefs can help you answer that question with its Rank Tracker tool.For starters, it will show you the basic info: your rank for a particular keyword over time.It does quite a bit more than that, though.You can also compare your performance over time to a competitor’s performance.Rank Tracker will also show you ranking updates for both desktop and mobile platforms.Even better: it will show you results from 170 different countries.Rank Tracker interactive graphs highlight the following analytics:
Percentage of clicks from organic traffic that land on your site
Average position and traffic
Position distribution (Positions #1-#3, #4-#10, #11-#50, etc.)
Rank Tracker will also inform you when you land in the much-covered Featured Snippet spot.The tool also enables you to filter your data so you can see exactly what you want to see. Just associate a particular keyword group with a tag and run a report for that tag.Finally, Rank Tracker also offers “share of voice” functionality. See which websites are fighting to rank for the keywords that you’re using.
Ahrefs Review: Site Audit
Would you like get an on-site SEO checkup? If so, then you’ll love the Ahrefs Site Audit tool.As with most other on-site tools, it uses a crawler to traverse all over your site. Then, it produces a helpful report with actionable insights.It’s not a problem if your website is huge, either. It might just take longer to crawl. However, you can filter out entire sections of your site with crawl settings. That will make crawling quite a bit faster.Site Audit will inform you about the following issues:
Performance – slow pages, large CSS files, and large HTML files
Tags – missing or duplicate meta tags, title tags, and header tags
Social tags – incomplete Open Graph tags or Twitter cards
Content quality – duplicate pages, low word counts
Localization – issues related to your use of hreflang
Site Audit also lets you filter the data so you can create a custom report that gives you exactly what you’re looking for.One final note: Site Audit runs in the cloud. That means you don’t have to install anything, unlike with Screaming Frog.
With Ahrefs, reports come to you.The Alerts tool will notify you, via email, of new backlinks, lost backlinks, web mentions, and keyword rank changes.All you need to do is set up the appropriate alerts. Ahrefs will handle the rest.
Ahrefs Review: SEO Toolbar
As if it weren’t easy enough to visit Ahrefs in the cloud and check vital web stats, the tool also offers a plugin so that you can take Ahrefs with you as you wander around cyberspace.The plugin exists for both Google Chrome and Firefox.Now, as you’re visiting a competitor website, you can see key metrics. You’ll gain insights such as:
Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR)
Ahrefs URL Rating (UR)
Ahrefs Rank (AR)
Number of backlinks
Number of referring domains
Estimated search traffic
Number of keyword rankings
That makes the tool an outstanding time-saver for busy professionals such as yourself.If you’d like more detailed reports, they’re just a click away.
How would you like to see how one domain or website stacks up against another? Or two others? Or three others?In fact, the Ahrefs Domain Comparison tool lets you compare up to five domains at one time.Here’s the data that the tool shows you in its comparison report:
Number of backlinks
Links from .gov sites
Links from .edu sites
And more.You can also use the tool to compare link growth over time between the domains.
Ahrefs Review: Batch Analysis
Maybe you don’t want to evaluate websites one at a time. You’re busy, after all.Fortunately, Ahrefs has a batch analysis tool. It’s unsurprisingly named Batch Analysis.All you need to do is prepare a spreadsheet with up to 200 URLs. Then, import it into Ahrefs. The tool will show you a report that includes the following info for each URL:
Number of referring domains
Number of backlinks
Ahrefs also offers a Link Intersect tool that enables you to identify sites linking to your competitors but not to you.What can you do with that kind of information? You can reach out to the webmasters of those sites and ask for a backlink.Or you can pitch a guest-post idea to get a backlink.You can also use the tool to find a competitor’s “fans.” Those are websites that link to almost every new piece of content on the site.You might develop a few fans of your own thanks to Link Intersect.
Ahrefs Review: Content Gap
Which keywords are your competitors ranking for but you aren’t? To answer that question, turn to the Ahrefs Content Gap tool.If you’re relying on an Excel spreadsheet to give you that info, you’ll need to know how to use some of the more advanced Excel features.That’s not the case with Content Gap. It’s a tool with an easy-to-understand user interface. It simply takes all the keywords that your competitor ranks for and subtracts from that set the keywords that your site ranks for.Everything else is what you should call “opportunity.”You can even use Content Gap to aggregate keywords that all your competitors rank for but you don’t. That should keep you busy for quite some time.
For any web page or domain, you can check its backlinks with the Backlink Checker tool.For each URL or domain, you’ll see two important metrics that I’ve touched on just briefly:
Domain Rating (DR) – The popularity of the domain.
URL Rating (UR) – The popularity of the single page.
Both metrics are scored from 0-100, with 100 being the best.That kind of info is important because, when you’re looking for backlink opportunities, you want to find pages and sites with high DRs and URs, respectively.Why? Because you’ll get more page rank from those sites. That should help your site rank.Backlink Checker also shows you:
A complete breakdown of a target’s backlink profile
Estimated organic traffic to each linking page and referring domain
Most linked-to pages
A complete breakdown of all outbound links
Backlink anchor text
Ahrefs Review: SERP Checker
SERP Checker analyzes search results, shows traffic potential, and helps you improve your rankings.For starters, you can use the tool to show real-time search results from different locations. That can be a big help if you’re working on international SEO.You’ll also see localized difficulty scores for keywords.Additionally, SERP Checker will show you the amount of organic traffic top results get from all the keywords they rank for.Finally, the tool also integrates with other Ahrefs tools. So you won’t have to worry about getting API access if you’d like to integrate the data with other features.
There are four Ahrefs pricing plans:
Lite – $99/month
Standard – $179/month
Advanced – $399/month
Agency – $999/month
What’s the difference between each plan? You can check the comparison page for specific details.In a nutshell, most of it boils down to:
The number of keywords you’re allowed to track
The number of campaigns you’re allowed to create
The frequency of data updates
The maximum number of pages the Site Audit tool will crawl
The maximum number of domains and URLs you can research with Site Explorer every day
The maximum number of backlinks per report or per month
The maximum number of reports per day
The maximum number of batch analysis keywords
The maximum number of alerts
Ahrefs Review: What They’re Saying
Ahrefs has plenty of users already. Here’s what some of them are saying about it around cyberspace.First, the positive:
Highlights competitor info
Dashboard gives a great bird’s-eye view of a website
Tool has plenty of info, even for smaller sites
Site auditor offers actionable insights
It does almost everything
Helps with content marketing strategy
Best all-around SEO tool
Now, the negative:
Keyword volume may be inaccurate sometimes
Not always a lot of data on niche keywords
Can be a bit confusing at times
Tool requires a bit of a learning curve
Smaller shops will find it expensive
Need to upgrade to get the full feature set
Site audit tool lags behind competitor tools
Reports aren’t as pretty as they are with other tools
Wrapping Up This Ahrefs Review
For SEO professionals, Ahrefs is a must-have. I don’t say that lightly.Even if you can only afford the Lite plan for now because you’re just setting up shop, sign on with the service. Get to know how to use it so that when your business grows and you can afford a more expensive option, you won’t have to worry about a learning curve.Of course, you can also sign up for the 7-day trial period. That will only cost you $7.
About the Author
John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the nation. Named #1 SEO company in the USA, UK and Canada by Clutch.co and number 1 PPC company by 10BestPPCs, Ignite Visibility has been an Inc. 5,000 company in both 2017 and 2018. Ignite Visibility offers a unique digital marketing program tied directly to ROI with a focus on using SEO, social media, paid media, CRO, email, Amazon and PR to achieve results. Outside of Ignite Visibility, Lincoln is a frequent speaker and author of the book “Digital Influencer,” which was named one of the best new marketing books by Forbes and LinkedIn. Lincoln is consistently named one of the top digital marketing strategiest in the industry and was the recipient of the coveted Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of The Year” award. Lincoln has taught digital marketing and Web Analytics at the University of California San Diego since 2010, has been named as one of San Diego’s most admired CEO’s and a top business leader under 40. His business mission is to help others through digital marketing.