SEO Tool Overview: Ahrefs
Imagine a construction worker. When he’s ready to work, he puts on his hard hat, safety goggles, and tool belt. With a quick check of his tool belt, he sees he has everything he needs to get his work done for the day.
SEO workers do the same thing. They put on their thinking cap, focus on their objectives, and check their arsenal of tools.
In a SEO worker’s tool belt, you will see tools such as, SEMRush, Screaming Frog, SpyFu and my personal favorite - Ahrefs. If this isn’t in your SEO tool belt yet, it’s time to become familiar with it.
After signing into Ahrefs, you’ll immediately see the Dashboard. This is where you will see projects, which will likely be your website or competitor sites.
This gives you a glimpse of the most important information about the sites listed. You’ll see:
- Ahrefs Rank - This is how your site’s backlink strength compares to all other sites. An AR of 1 is the strongest.
- Domain Rating - This gives you the strength of the quality of the backlinks you’ve gathered.
- URL Rating - This is the strength of the URL’s backlink profile.
- Number of Backlinks - How many pages link to your website.
- Referring Domains - How many domains refer to your site.
- Organic Keywords - The number of keywords ranked organically.
- Tracked Keywords - The keywords you’re tracking.
Ahrefs continuously tracks the backlinks and keyword rankings for your projects. The Alerts section of the site lets you know if there are any issues with your backlinks, and if there are any new keywords linked or if there are any new mentions of your site.
This part of the tool gives you in-depth information about any website. All you have to do is put in the URL. It will scan the site and return the number of backlinks, the sites where those backlinks are coming from, and the hyperlinked keywords.
You can use this information in a number of ways.
- If you’re scanning your website, you can look to see if you have any low quality backlinks. You can then see if you can have them unlinked by contacting the website’s owner, or you can have them disavowed in Google Search Console.
- If you’re scanning competitors’ websites, you can reach out to the sites they have managed to get a backlink from, and see if you can get them too. Together with their backlinks and additional ones from other sites you’ve found, you can set yourself up to possibly outrank them in search results.
This is one of the coolest features of Ahrefs. The Content Explorer shows you which articles on a given topic have been shared the most times on social media.
This is how you can use this information:
- Share the article on your social media, so you can have it shared through your account.
- Create content based off the article, but make it even better. Chances are high your content may be shared just as much or more since you improved it.
- Click on “Who Tweeted” to see who shared the content, so when you publish your new and improved article, you can ask those people to share yours.
The Keywords Explorer is like AdWords Keyword Planner, but gives you so much more information. It will not only provide search volume, keyword difficulty score, and clicks, but it also gives you related keywords to use in your content.
When writing SEO content, don’t just focus on one keyword phrase. If you add in related terms, your content will likely rank for more keywords bringing you more traffic to your site. The Keywords Explorer gives you those phrases you can use in headers and throughout the body of your article.
This tool allows you to save lists of keywords, so you can come back later to them as you’re creating your editorial calendar. The History section allows you to see what you’ve searched for in the past. This is useful if you want to see if they are still being searched for, or if you simply want to improve your content with additional keywords from older lists.
The Rank Tracker allows you to add keywords to track positioning. You can see the position of each keyword, the volume of searches, and traffic you’ve received from it.
This information can be used to:
- Monitor your rankings over time to see if you’re moving up or down Google’s search results.
- Know which pages you need to improve to boost the ranking position for the keyword phrase.
- Determine which keywords are not driving much traffic to your site, so you can either improve or switch gears.
The newest addition to Ahrefs is the Site Audit tool. It will scan your website and return a list of the most common SEO issues. You can work off this list to improve the SEO of your website to boost its performance on Google.
Since I’m an active user of the tool, I do recommend it for your SEO tool belt. Does it give you absolutely everything you need to master SEO? No, but it includes some of the biggest factors in it, such as backlink research.
For additional information on how you can improve your website rankings in Google, click here for a copy of our Ultimate SEO Checklist.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.