How To Use AHREFS

ahrefs logo

What is Ahrefs?

Ahrefs is one of the leading data companies and providers of SEO tool sets. Their goal is to help companies invest their money in smart SEO strategies, and help maximize traffic to their website. With their tools, Ahrefs provides a means to save your company time by automating your marketing practices. When you understand how to use Ahrefs, these tools can assist with everything from backlinks, to keyword tracking, to domain rating.

Ahrefs gives your business an incredible advantage over the competition and lets you peek into your competition’s online rankings to see what exactly is their secret sauce for ranking high in search results.  You can use this information to catch up, and even surpass your competitor’s website, which will drive more traffic, real traffic that converts, to your business’s website.

Understanding search engine optimization is one thing, but understanding how to improve your SEO with maximum efficiency is entirely another. Fortunately, there are many guides and tools available to help you make the most of your SEO. One of these tools is called Ahrefs. While it might seem intimidating at first, once you learn how to use the tools provided by Ahrefs, then you can begin to generate traffic quickly and efficiently.

In this article, you will learn about the advantages of Ahrefs, and how to use their tool suite to optimize your website’s search engine rank and increase traffic for your website.

Understanding the ahrefs dashboard

The Ahrefs Dashboard is essentially your homepage on Ahrefs. After logging in, you’ll see your customized list of sites that you’re tracking, all with the same set of metrics, like this:

Ahrefs Dashboard

If you’re trying out Ahrefs 7-day trial, you’ll want to especially pay close attention to the following information so you can quickly understand the value proposition of using Ahrefs.

 

Domain rating

Ahrefs domain rating

The Ahrefs Domain Rating, or DR is a rating of your domain based on how many other domains are referring to it. Prior to Ahrefs existence, Moz had coined the term Domain Authority, or DA to provide a metric that allowed you to see the strength of domain similary to how Google’s search algorithm may view your site’s authority.

Why does Domain Rating matter?

If google sees that there is a strong number of other domains that are linking to your website, it translates that into your site being a trusted site for specific keywords, or key phrases.  Meaning that your site is answering questions that people who search on Google are looking for.  Based on this, Google will push your site higher into the search results to provide a better user experience for their users.

Want to learn more about Ahrefs Domain Rating system?

We wrote extensively about it, in this blog post. 

REFERRING DOMAINSAhrefs Referring Domains

The Ahrefs Referring domains metric is pretty straight forward.  It lets you know how many different domains your backlinks are coming from and gives you another way to measure your site’s growth.  This can especially be helpful anytime you’re doing an outreach campaign or attempting to grow your site by doing guest blog posting. 

organic keywordsAhrefs Organic Keywords

Keywords are a big deal when it comes to SEO. Ahrefs gives you amazing keyword research and measurement tools so that you can keep your site on mission to rank for the right keywords and keyphrases to help you succeed. 

Why Do Keywords matter?

Keywords define what your website is actually about. They are one of the main ways that you can communicate to Google what’s on your website and gain ground within search results. The organic keyword metric from Ahrefs let’s you know exactly how many organic (Non paid search or PPC) keywords that your site is ranking for. For any site, you want to see this number grow within the scope of what you want your site to rank for. 

Keywords are also a crucial part of how Google reads your website and determines search results.  Based on the number of keywords, and the relevance to a person’s google search could make the difference of them arriving to your website or not based on their search.

Keyword Research: The Foundation Of An Optimized Site

Whenever we begin a new web build or take an overhaul of an existing website, one of the first things we start with is keyword research.  Keyword research helps you define exactly what your website is in existence for.  Starting with the most important keywords and moving down various tiers of importance from there. This is where Ahrefs provides an additional tool, the Keyword Explorer

If you’re building a site, or even more specifically, a page that you would like to rank for a specific keyword, this is where you would use Ahrefs keyword explorer. We’ll go in depth on the keyword explorer in future posts, but for now this is the shortened version of how it works. The keyword explorer allows you to put in one or multiple keywords to see who is out there that is already ranking for the same keywords. This gives you an idea of who you’re up against and if it’s even worth your time to compete for certain keywords for page 1.  Many times you’ll find yourself using keyword explorer in a way that will help you discover variations, or more specific keywords that your website can rank for.  It’s an invaluable tool. 

 

TRACKED keywordsAhrefs Tracked Keywords

Organic Keywords vs. Tracked Keywords What’s the Difference?

Tracked keywords are specific keywords that you’ve manually input into Ahrefs that you want to actively track. From the Ahrefs dashboard, you’ll see how many of those specific keywords that you’re ranking for at positions 1-3, 4-10, 11-20 and 21-50. That’s a really great way to measure progress on keywords for your site. 

Organic keywords are all keywords that your site is ranking for regardless of you setting out to rank for those words and regardless of you tracking those keywords. This can let you know if you happen to stumble upon a great keyword for your site that you can capitalize on. 

 

rank trackerAhrefs Rank Tracker

Rank Tracker is accessible from the Ahrefs dashboard and will take you to a more in depth display of your tracked keywords, giving you the ability to sort by various means such as ascending rank position (My personal favorite). This is where you’ll go deep on keywords and be able to identify posts or pages that are already winning, but may need a boost, and the addition of evergreen content to help them keep gaining ground. 

For your business website to succeed, your website will need to rank in the top keywords relating to your business. The problem is monitoring information about your ranking among the top keywords is time-consuming. This is where Ahrefs Rank Tracker can save you time and help you focus your efforts. 

Rank Tracker is a specific tracker with Ahrefs that you need to first manually add the keywords that you want to track.

This is different from the total keywords metric, which you can see from the Ahrefs dashboard. The other difference between Ahrefs Rank Tracker and Keywords metric from your Ahrefs dashboard is the rate at which they update. 

Your keyword metric on the dashboard will not update as frequently as the Ahrefs Rank Tracker. 

While the Ahrefs dashboard provides you with a great snapshot of valuable SEO metrics, it may be behind by a few days or up to a week. 

After you add your website, add the keywords you want tracked into the Rank Tracker. Next, add the regions pertinent to your keywords, anywhere from the local level to countrywide. From there, the Rank Tracker saves you time by tracking the keywords and sending a report to your inbox.

You can also view your ranking at a glance over different time frames from one month, three month, or over the course of a year.  This allows you to keep your finger to the pulse of your website, and always know how well your business’s site is performing.

 

Ahrefs Site Explorer

Statistically speaking, the number of clicks on the first page of search results drops rapidly after the third result. Therefore, the closer you are to the top three, the better. To help you reach there, Ahrefs has created the Site Explorer tool, which can be used to rank your pages by which are best suited for optimization. The Site Explorer possesses several other functions, too, which can help your website rank higher across all pages.

It’s critical to have several entry points to your business’s website.  This allows Google to direct more search results directly to your business’s website.

Backlink Research

You can use the Site Explorer tool to sort web pages by their UR score, in order to determine if search engines consider them a high-quality source. If they have a high UR score, then you know to focus your efforts on receiving backlinks from them. Furthermore, you can use the Site Explorer to see the backlinks of other websites for businesses similar to your own to find websites willing to make a backlink to your website.

Competitor Traffic

Site Explorer also comes equipped with an option to see competing domains. The Competing Domains report lists websites ranked under the same keywords your business website is listed. Moreover, you can see the number of both common and unique keywords a website has in comparison to your website. Through this, you can know who your top competitors are, see where their strongest points are with their keywords, and take steps to emulate their work to organically gain their traffic.

The Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Keywords and backlinks are the backbone of SEO. Without keywords to increase traffic or high-quality backlinks to raise your search engine rank, your website will not stand a chance against the competition in the search engine results. In fact, many SEO experts believe that backlinks are the most important factors of SEO. Learning how to research keywords is relatively easy, but is time consuming without a tool. Additionally, it can feel like you have no direction or any idea who to turn to for backlinks. Often you will have to write content and hope for the best, as contacting companies begging for backlinks will only end in failure. Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer can help you obtain both good keywords and backlinks so you can gain the advantage over your competition.

With the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, you can browse Ahrefs’ keyword database. Not only is their database updated every month, it contains over 4 billion keywords to choose from. With the Keyword Explorer, you can enter several keywords pertaining to your field of business and find other related keywords neither you nor your competition had thought about. Furthermore, the Keyword Explorer has tools which will help you determine which of the suggested keywords will help you the most, and help you begin building your backlinks.

Good Keywords

Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer can display different metrics associated with the different keywords, such as search volume, so you can determine which keywords are worth your time. Using this tool, if you notice a link has a high search volume, you might immediately think knowing this is good enough to decide. This, however, would be a mistake, as some keywords have a high search volume, but low amount clicks. If you looked up a famous date, like “when did WWII begin,” Google displays the answer above the search results. In this case, you might not click on any of the links below if you already see the answer you need. Fortunately, the Keyword Explorer also displays the number of clicks in the search results, so you can find a keyword with a good balance of search volume and clicks. From there, you will have a better idea of how to proceed.

Keyword Difficulty

In addition to the search volume and click metrics, the Keyword Explorer can also determine keyword difficulty. Keyword difficulty is a metric Ahrefs created to determine the difficulty a specific keyword would have reaching the front page of the search results. The Keyword Explorer will examine the top ten search results, and finds how many backlinks these websites have, and uses this information to determine how challenging competing with these websites will be. Since certain search engine algorithms, such as Google’s, look at the number of high-quality backlinks a website possesses to determine how it will rank, you can trust Ahrefs’ metric to be accurate. With this rating, you will know whether it is worth you time or not trying to compete with the top ten results.

This time saving function can save you many hours of frustration when you are attempting to gain traction for your site with a particular keyword.

Building Backlinks

Finally, the Keyword Explorer can be used to help you build backlinks by automating part of the process. You can use the Keyword Explorer to see why your competitors are ranked as high as they are in the search results and see the number of backlinks from different domains your competition has. This saves you time, since you do not have to search for the competitors or figure out how many backlinks they have on your own. At this point, you can see who gave them their backlinks, so you know who to pursue to grow your backlinks. Moreover, you can see how high-quality the content of your most successful competitors is, and then create better content to generate more organic backlinks.

With the Keyword Explorer, you can raise your rank in the search results by learning how to get the most out of your keywords and backlinks. 

Content Explorer

To make the top-quality content, you need to research what content succeeds in attracting backlinks. Using Ahrefs’ Content Explorer, you can begin researching by looking up targeted keywords and see what the top content is. The Content Explorer shows statistics like referring domains, search traffic, and how many times the content has been shared on social media. By looking at the most popular pages, you can emulate what makes them successful to strengthen your own content.

web traffic map

While tools can help point you to websites who can provide high-quality backlinks, it is still up to you to create content which attracts backlinks. All of this comes down to you creating top-quality content, and content which makes websites pick you over your competition. In other words, you need to create linkable assets. In addition to this, your website will need to go against competitors who rely on search engine paid advertising, or paid inclusion. Suffice to say, you will need to consider how their paid inclusion works for them so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. Fortunately, Ahrefs’ has two tools which can assist you with these: the Site Explorer and Content Explorer. In this final part of this series over Ahrefs, you will learn how these tools can help you create top-quality content and research your competition’s paid inclusion.

Quality Content and Paid Inclusion

When creating content to attract backlinks, it can be tempting to pump out as much keyword-heavy content as possible, regardless of the quality. While the content might be seen by websites, none of them will want to link to it if it is mediocre. When you write your content, you want to find a balance of quality and quantity. Create regular content, but make sure the content is something others would want to link.

While you can acquire your traffic organically through content, sometimes paid inclusion can help give you an advantage over the competition. With paid inclusion, your page will be marked as an advertisement, and will appear above the other results. This search engine marketing technique, however, is something of a two-edged sword. While this can place you above all the other search results, if a user installed an ad blocker, then they will not be able to see the paid links. Since 30% of users utilize an ad blocker, that is a large chunk of traffic lost. Therefore, it is best to use other SEO and SEM strategies besides paid inclusion.

In either case, Ahrefs’ tools can help save you time when creating quality content and looking into paid inclusion.

With the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, you can browse Ahrefs’ keyword database. Not only is their database updated every month, it contains over 4 billion keywords to choose from. With the Keyword Explorer, you can enter several keywords pertaining to your field of business and find other related keywords neither you nor your competition had thought about. Furthermore, the Keyword Explorer has tools which will help you determine which of the suggested keywords will help you the most, and help you begin building your backlinks.

Good Keywords

Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer can display different metrics associated with the different keywords, such as search volume, so you can determine which keywords are worth your time. Using this tool, if you notice a link has a high search volume, you might immediately think knowing this is good enough to decide. This, however, would be a mistake, as some keywords have a high search volume, but low amount clicks. If you looked up a famous date, like “when did WWII begin,” Google displays the answer above the search results. In this case, you might not click on any of the links below if you already see the answer you need. Fortunately, the Keyword Explorer also displays the number of clicks in the search results, so you can find a keyword with a good balance of search volume and clicks. From there, you will have a better idea of how to proceed.

Keyword Difficulty

In addition to the search volume and click metrics, the Keyword Explorer can also determine keyword difficulty. Keyword difficulty is a metric Ahrefs created to determine the difficulty a specific keyword would have reaching the front page of the search results. The Keyword Explorer will examine the top ten search results, and finds how many backlinks these websites have, and uses this information to determine how challenging competing with these websites will be. Since certain search engine algorithms, such as Google’s, look at the number of high-quality backlinks a website possesses to determine how it will rank, you can trust Ahrefs’ metric to be accurate. With this rating, you will know whether it is worth you time or not trying to compete with the top ten results.

This time saving function can save you many hours of frustration when you are attempting to gain traction for your site with a particular keyword.

Building Backlinks

Finally, the Keyword Explorer can be used to help you build backlinks by automating part of the process. You can use the Keyword Explorer to see why your competitors are ranked as high as they are in the search results and see the number of backlinks from different domains your competition has. This saves you time, since you do not have to search for the competitors or figure out how many backlinks they have on your own. At this point, you can see who gave them their backlinks, so you know who to pursue to grow your backlinks. Moreover, you can see how high-quality the content of your most successful competitors is, and then create better content to generate more organic backlinks.

With the Keyword Explorer, you can raise your rank in the search results by learning how to get the most out of your keywords and backlinks. 

Ahrefs Site Explorer Revisited

The first part of this series explained how to use the Site Explorer tool to find websites who are willing to make backlinks to your website and to take traffic from your competitors. Here, you will see how you can use the Site Explorer tool to obtain organic backlinks, and look into your competition’s paid inclusion.  

Organic Backlinks

Like in the first part, you can use the Site Explorer tool to look up your competition and sort them by their UR scores to see how high-quality they are considered. You can go to their webpage and see what makes their linkable assets attract backlinks organically. For example, see how they use webpage design and theme to make their page more aesthetically pleasing. Alternatively, make note of their use of pictures or charts to make the information more digestible. Both elements can help a page attract backlinks, so once you see how they style their backlinked webpages, you can emulate it.

Competition’s Paid Traffic

Whether or not you want to begin using paid inclusion yourself, knowing how much paid traffic your competition is relying on can help you adjust your strategy accordingly. With the Site Explorer’s “Paid search” section, you can see your competition’s paid search advertising in different keywords, leading pages, and what their advertisements look like. Furthermore, this can inform you what other keywords are worth pursuing. If your competition is paying for advertisements under certain keywords, that probably means the keyword brings them a high return of investment. Even if you do not pay for advertisements, learning valuable keywords alone can be an incredible advantage. 

 

There you have it. You can save time, gain more traffic, spy on the competition, and build backlinks all with Ahrefs’ collection of tools. Now that you know how to use Ahrefs, you can begin to improve your SEO today.

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