Ahrefs is a dedicated SEO tool that can be used to effectively run an SEO campaign and handle different tasks related to Search Engine Optimization. It is one of the widely used tools that has helped many SEO professionals analyze different website metrics and optimize it for search engines.
While Ahrefs is a pretty useful tool, first-time users may find it quite strenuous to navigate through different elements. This is why we have designed a comprehensive guide to help you understand each element of Ahrefs so that you can also perform different SEO tasks without facing any issues.
So, without any further ado, let’s dive into the different components of Ahrefs and how it can be used to perform SEO for your project.
Here are the Ahrefs Best Features (and How-to-Use Them)
Here is a list of Ahrefs best features that you are likely to use while working on an SEO project.
1. Check Backlink Profile of ANY of Your Competitor
You can use Ahrefs to check the backlink profile for your site. The tool provides an in-depth insight into the backlink profile of a website.
To do so, copy & paste the website address into Ahrefs’ site explorer.
This will display a dashboard containing a detailed overview of the site. At the top, you’ll see the total number of backlinks the site has.
However, you can also dive deep into the backlink profile and closely analyze it to build further strategies.
In the top left corner of the sidebar, click on the ‘Backlinks’ button.
This will redirect you to a new page containing a list of all the backlinks the website has.
One thing that you should remember is that this list contains all the links (both do-follow and no-follow). In case you are specifically looking for do-follow backlinks, simply select the link type as do-follow.
Now, you have a complete list do-follow links of a website.
However, the real question is why would you want to generate the do-follow backlinks list for another website.
Well, the answer is pretty simple; to steal backlinks from your competitors and improve your site’s backlink profile.
Considering backlinks are one of the major Google ranking factors, it is important to acquire as many quality backlinks as you can. But, building backlinks, especially do-follow links, is not a piece of cake.
This is when you can play smart and boost the number of backlinks to your site by stealing a competitor’s backlinks. The truth is your competitors may already have been through the hassle of building quality backlinks for their site.
You can utilize this opportunity as people linking to your competitor’s website are most likely to link to your site too.
To do so, first identify the pages that are linking to your competitor’s website.
Here’s how you can do this.
Here’s an Ahrefs screenshot showing the backlink profile for Wordstream’s blog on ‘how to increase website traffic’.
Since we have already published an article on ways to increase organic SEO traffic, we can also approach the owner of the web page and ask him to provide a link to our article as well.
You can follow the same approach by going through each do-follow link of your competitor and individually approaching the page owners.
If not all, a large portion of these owners are most likely to link to your web page, especially if you have published better and informative content.
Ahrefs has also introduced features that make it easier to sort, analyze, and compare backlinks. Some of these features include:
Best By Links
The “Best By Links” is one of the best features of Ahrefs. Why? Because it helps you understand which competitor’s web pages are generating the majority of the backlinks.
Clicking the button in the middle left corner (under the ‘pages’ tab’) will sort the web pages in ascending order, i.e., web pages with the highest number of backlinks will be placed at the top.
The reason why ‘Best By Links’ is an interesting feature is that it allows you to find competitor web pages that generate the highest number of backlinks.
Now, you can analyze these pages and publish similar content on your site. That’s it. Your backlink count will exponentially increase in a relatively shorter time.
The ‘New Backlinks’ feature provides you with a list of sites/pages that have recently linked to your website.
This feature is useful because it provides you with fresh link building opportunities. A person who has recently linked to one of your competitor’s blog is more likely to link to your content as compared to a person who linked to the competitor’s blog 5 years ago.
Have you ever come across a situation where the backlink count for your site got decreased? If yes, then ‘Lost Backlinks’ feature will prove to be extremely beneficial. This feature generates a list of sites that were linking to you in the past, but have recently removed the link.
Once you have a list of all the lost backlinks, you can manually reach out to the page owners and ask for link reclamation. In the majority of the cases, these page owners will provide you with the guidelines or changes that you need to implement on the site.
Broken Links are the incoming links that point to a ‘404 error’ page. It means that the page has either been removed or does not exist at all. In any case, it is relatively important to optimize your site for broken links.
You can also check competitors’ broken backlink report and use it to design link building opportunities for your own website.
2. Keyword Explorer (Use this to do Awesome Keyword Research)
Ahrefs also has a dedicated keyword research tool that can be used to perform keyword research and find the best keyword opportunities for your site.
Since keywords are the primary pillar of any SEO campaign, it is important to target the right keywords. This way it’ll become easier to reach the most potential customers and drive targeted traffic to your site.
Ahrefs’ keyword research tool is a complete package as it gives you tons of information on a particular keyword, starting from keyword difficulty to search volume.
Let’s dive into the Ahrefs’ keyword research tool and understand how it can help you find the most potential keyword ideas for your website.
Keyword Difficulty (KD) tells you how competitive a particular keyword is. However, the best part about using Ahrefs is that it also tells you the number of backlinks you’ll require to rank in the top 10 positions for a specific keyword.
Here’s an example:
Here’s what Ahrefs displayed when we popped in “SEO Services” into the keyword research tool.
To rank for this keyword, we’ll at least require backlinks from 95 websites. Moreover, the keyword is quite competitive and it’ll take time and efforts to rank for SEO ‘services’.
Search Volume is the total number of searches being performed for a specific keyword. To get the most out of your SEO practices, it is always a good strategy to target keywords that have higher search volume and lower KD.
Another advantage of using Ahrefs’ keyword research tool is that it also tells how many times the keyword is clicked in SERP. So, along with the search volume, you would also want to ensure that the users are actually clicking the search results, displayed for the keyword.
In addition to this, you can also check the percentage of people that click on paid results vs people who click on organic search results.
These are the basic keyword metrics that’ll help you understand whether a specific keyword is worth targeting or not.
However, the tool can be used to generate keyword ideas as well. Considering LSI keywords are a crucial part of SEO, Ahrefs’ will help you find related search terms.
You can scroll through this list to find keyword ideas that are worth targeting and can help you reach the target customers.
The keyword research tool also sorts the keyword ideas on the basis of SERP features. Choose any SERP feature and the tool will filter the list accordingly.
3. Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
The site explorer tool gives a detailed overview of a website. Ahrefs uses different metrics to describe a website’s performance. Some of these metrics include.
Like Alexa, Ahrefs also has a ranking mechanism where each website has an individual rank. This rank is calculated on a worldwide basis. Of course, the lower the rank is, the better it is for your website’s performance.
URL Rating (UR)
URL Rating describes whether a particular web page is authoritative or not. While linking to a web page, it is important to check its UR. You would want to link to web pages that have a comparatively higher URL Rating.
Domain Rating (DR) is the UR equivalent for the entire website. It tells you how authoritative a particular domain is. If you want to improve your website rankings, it is important to focus on improving the Domain Rating as it is one of the critical ranking factors.
Referring domains are the number of unique websites that link to the website/page. Even if a site has linked to your web pages more than once, it’ll still be considered as one referring domain.
If you want to check the link acquisition rate for a website, take a look at referring domain graph. This graph will show the rate at which the website has been acquiring new backlinks from referring domains.
Ahrefs also shows the total number of keywords for which your website ranks organically.
As you can see that Backlinko ranks for almost 100k keywords. Click on the button to get a detailed report on these organic keywords.
These are the keywords for which Backlinko is ranking in SERP. Since we share the business niche with Backlinko, these are the keywords that we can also target through our SEO campaigns.
You can also check the organic keyword report for your competitors and include these keywords in your web pages while performing on-page optimization.
The CTLD distribution map is quite a beneficial feature in Ahrefs. It tells you about the site’s links on the basis of their domain (.com, .edu., .us, etc.).
The CTLD distribution map can also be used to check whether your site has spammy links or not. For instance, a Brazil-based website (.br) can have tons of backlinks from .br domains, but if same happens for a US-based website, there’s definitely something fishy.
Top Pages (This is one of the BEST FEATURE we like the most)
The top pages report displays the list of web pages that bring the majority of organic traffic to your site. Click on the ‘Top Pages’ button at the bottom left corner and you’ll have a full report at your computer screen.
You can also check the ‘top pages’ report for your competitors and see which competitor web pages are bringing organic traffic to the site. Moreover, you can also check the list of keywords that are being targeted within a single page.
Click on the keyword button in front of any web page and this will drop down a list of all the keywords. This is another keyword opportunity for you as you can replicate the content while infusing these keywords at the same time.
The competing domain feature is quite useful for relatively newer websites. While launching your website, it is always a good practice to know your competition. When you know what you are up against, it becomes easier to develop strategies that’ll help you attract customers and surpass the competition.
With Ahrefs, you can also identify page-level competitors. While performing competitor analysis, finding page-level competitors is also a crucial part. These are the web pages that also rank for similar search terms that you are targeting through your website/pages.
Content Gap is one of the most underrated features of Ahrefs. However, if you used effectively, it can prove to be extremely beneficial for your SEO campaign. Content Gap is a feature that generates keywords that your competitors rank for but you don’t.
At once, you can compare up to three competitor domains and find keywords that they rank for.
Put 2-3 competitor names into the search bar. Also make sure to put in your website name into “But the following target doesn’t rank for” field.
Click on the ‘Show Keywords’ button and this will display a list of all the keywords competitors are ranking for.
4. Content Explorer (Use this to Find Best Content Opportunities and Ideas)
Like keyword explorer, a content explorer is also a dedicated tool present in Ahrefs that can be used to find content opportunities for your blogs. There can arise several scenarios where you may not find content ideas for a specific topic.
This is when content explorer comes into the play. Simply enter your target keyword into the search bar and hit enter.
This will display a list of top ranking pages that contain the target keyword. Scroll through these pages and you’ll have plenty of information to write a blog post.
The list displays all the relevant information including the organic traffic, number of referring domains, and domain rating (DR). This will help you understand what kind of topics people are reading about and how you can replicate these topics to attract traffic to your site.
That concludes our guide to using Ahrefs. Although Ahrefs can also be used to run your paid marketing campaigns, it is mainly an SEO tool. There are better-paid marketing tools that can help you manage your PPC campaigns. However, as far as SEO is concerned, Ahrefs is the best tool in the market who are looking to improve the search traffic to their website