Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO tool, which makes it both a valuable addition to your marketing toolset and a beast to learn.
To help you make the most out of your Ahrefs subscription, we asked 97 marketers to give us their best tips for using the tool.
Some of the most popular ways to use Ahrefs include tasks like checking backlinks, conducting keyword research, and monitoring competitors:
But these tasks represent just a small number of the ways our respondents use Ahrefs.
Some of the other use cases our respondents recommended—discussed in detail below—include finding featured snippet and guest posting opportunities, identifying technical SEO issues, and monitoring the internet for unlinked mentions, just to name a few.
If you’ve ever wondered how to use Ahrefs to its fullest potential, this guide is for you.
Table of Contents:
What Is Ahrefs?
Ahrefs is a popular SEO research and analysis tool. While it’s best known for backlink analysis—the tool’s original focus—it has grown over the years into a truly comprehensive tool that helps with every aspect of search engine optimization.
If you’re just getting started with Ahrefs, G2’s Levi Olmstead recommends that you “spend time exploring all functions of the tool. The core functions—keyword researching, SERP monitoring, and backlink monitoring—are amazing, but so are the side features.”
“Content Explorer and Alerts help monitor brand, competitor, and keyword mentions and keep you on top of the best content being published. Then there’s Content Gap, Domain Comparison, Link Intersect, Best By Links, Top Pages…I could keep going!”
“Ahrefs is as robust of a content/SEO tool as you can get. I’ve used the platform on a daily basis for 2+ years now, and I continue to find new uses for it all the time,” Olmstead says.
Olmstead isn’t the only marketer using Ahrefs on a daily basis. In fact, more than half of our respondents say they check their reports in Ahrefs every day:
Emma Jansen of I Love Growing Marijuana offers this advice for new users of the tool: “Rather than fumbling around for a couple of months, take the time to get acquainted with it first, and then use it every day so you can keep practicing with it.”
Filip Jędraszczyk of Listonic agrees: “In order to get the most out of Ahrefs, you should check it regularly. The data from Ahrefs will contribute to a direct increase in traffic to your website.”
How Much Does Ahrefs Cost?
You can trial Ahrefs for seven days for $7. After that, prices start at $99/month for the Lite plan that includes one user, five projects, and 500 tracked keywords.
Ahrefs’ Best Tools and Features
There are dozens of ways to use Ahrefs for SEO, so to kick off this blog post, we wanted to find out more about our respondents’ favorite tools and features.
As far as tools go, Site Explorer and Keyword Explorer were the most popular:
But as Nathan Veenstra of Optimus Online says, there’s much more to Ahrefs than just it’s top tools: “Besides Content Explorer, Site Explorer, and Keywords Explorer, there are some hidden tools under ‘More.’”
“Discover which sites don’t link to you—but do link to several of your competitors—to uncover link opportunities in Link Intersect. Or take it a step further in Domain Comparison. And save time in your backlink reports by creating multiple backlink reports in Batch Analysis.”
“In short: take time to try out each individual tool in Ahrefs to unveil the variety of possibilities for your digital marketing strategy,” Veenstra says.
Ana Cosmatos of Page 1 Solutions agrees: “Evaluating all the data as a whole is how I get the most out of Ahrefs.”
“Utilizing the organic traffic overview, backlink reports, site audit recommendations, and keyword rankings to provide a full picture of a website as a whole helps me to determine where we can help a certain prospect or client in various ways.”
“We use this data to compare the website performance against top competitors, identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, and provide recommendations to improve user experience and SEO,” Cosmatos says.
Here are some of our respondents’ favorite Ahrefs tools and features.
“Site Explorer provides nearly unlimited options for keyword research,” says Corey Haines of Mental Models For Marketers. “Create a list, see top organic keywords, top pages, use the content gap report, and look at what competitors are ranking for.”
“Load up that list of keywords, and then you can go through and select which ones are most attractive to target. It’s actually a really fun process if you devote an hour or two to just adding keywords to your list to explore,” Haines says.
“Using Ahrefs for competitor analysis is one of the most impactful tools there is,” says Patricio Quiroz of Code Authority.” “With Site Explorer, you simply put in a competitor’s URL, and you can instantly get a complete profile of their ranking, keywords, and even backlinks.”
“By learning how your competitors are doing and who they are targeting, you can create an even better marketing campaign. You can see their weaknesses and make your own improvements, as well as viewing their keyword usage to create better keywords for your own site,” Quiroz says.
“Ahrefs is the best tool for finding organic keywords to improve your site’s SEO,” says Amanda Molinaro of PayKings. “I use its Keywords Explorer tool extensively. It will take the keywords you know you want to target and provide you with suggested keywords.”
“From there, you can decide which keywords you want to target based on Keyword Difficulty (how many backlinks from external referring domains are suggested to rank in the top ten results), monthly search volume by region or globally, click-through rate, and other important metrics,” Molinaro says.
“Ahrefs offers tons of information about individual keywords like volume, return rate (how often the same person searches for a given keyword over a 30-day period), and clicks,” says Aman Solanki of Moon Technolabs. “It helps you find excellent regional keyword opportunities, too.”
“When you’re coming up with ideas for content and your goal is link building, enter some topics into Ahrefs’ Content Explorer,” says Tihana Drumev of Best Response Media.
“There, you can see what has already been written on the topic and how it’s performing, but most importantly, you can filter it by the number of referring domains.”
“That’s useful because social shares don’t necessarily mean that content will earn links,” Drumev says.
Sagapixel’s Frank Olivo says that Content Explorer “may be Ahrefs’ best tool. It can help you find article topics that have decent search volume and are appropriately competitive for your website.”
“If you have a blog, you should be using this tool to identify low-hanging fruit on your buyer’s journey,” Olivo says.
PRO TIP: Monitor Your Overall SEO Performance in a Single Dashboard
To optimize their websites for organic search, most marketers rely on an SEO tool like Ahrefs to understand how their competitors are ranking on search engines and what they need to do to outperform them. To get the information they need, they may need to visit several areas within Ahrefs, or another tool, and view multiple reports. Now you can avoid those steps and quickly assess your overall SEO performance in a single Ahrefs dashboard that monitors fundamental metrics, such as:
- Ahrefs rank. See how well your website ranks compared to other websites in the Ahrefs database (based on the size and quality of their backlink profiles, or domain ranking).
- Domain rating. See the strength of your website’s backlink profile on a scale from 0 to 100. The higher the domain rating, the more link juice your website receives.
- Backlinks. How many backlinks does your website have? Get a comprehensive view of your site’s backlink profile, including dofollow links, nofollow links, image links, redirects, and more.
- Referring domains. How many referring domains are linking to your website? View the total number of websites linking to your website at any given point in time, as well as the number of unique referring domains pointing to your website.
- Domain rating by backlink referring page. Examine the domain rating of the top unique sites linking to your website.
- Referring domains by anchor phrase. See the total number of unique referring domains pointing to a target website or URL split up by anchor phrase.
Now you can benefit from the experience of our SEO experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template showing the most important metrics for monitoring important search ranking factors like domain rating, backlinks, referring pages, and more. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in SEO reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Ahrefs account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
“Use Rank Tracker,” says Illia Termeno of Extrabrains. “Rank Tracker tracks of the SERP positions of your target keywords. With this information, you will be able to assess which of your SEO efforts actually improved your rankings.”
“Looking at the data in Rank Tracker, you can get a feel for what Keyword Difficulty you can rank for easily in your niche,” says Referral Rock’s Jay Kang.
However, G2’s Izabelle Hundrev cautions that “Ahrefs is not always the most accurate or up-to-date when it comes to SERP rankings. Always double-check your results in Google.”
Related: The 23 Best Keyword Tracking Tools (According to 107 SEOs)
“A lot of people jump right into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, Content Explorer, etc. without using the Site Audit tool first,” says James Pollard of The Advisor Coach. “This is a mistake.”
“I consider the site audit tool to be the most important part of Ahrefs because it allows you to get an objective view of your website and shows you how you can shore up any weaknesses.”
“Before you do anything, take a good look at your site and fix the weak spots. That will enable your SEO strategy to be more effective,” Pollard says.
Shiply’s Louis Watton agrees: “My best tip for getting the most out of Ahrefs would be to set a decent amount of time aside when you first set it up. Run an initial site audit, and make sure you include a solid initial list of keywords (and competitors to compare to).”
Related: Conduct a DIY Technical SEO Audit with These 17 Questions
“In my opinion, the most valuable tool Ahrefs provides is Batch Analysis,” says Kevin Fabisiak of Big Sea. “It’s a quick and simple way to vet large quantities of domains, whether doing competitor research or analyzing site quality of linking domains while executing a backlink audit.”
Matt Bassos of Vuly Play agrees: “Don’t neglect the Batch Analysis feature. It allows you to get some key metrics on a large number of websites in seconds. If you just need top-level data, it’s better to use than the Site Explorer tool which has a daily limit on many plans.”
“Use the Link Intersect tool,” says Omar Fonseca of Medicare Plan Finder. “One of the most underused features in Ahrefs, it provides in-depth competitor research and analysis and can unearth plenty of link building opportunities.”
“Using this feature, you can input up to 10 of your competitors to compare their backlink profiles, providing intelligence on all the backlinks your competitors have acquired. Ahrefs extracts lots of information such as anchor text, backlink type, follow status, IP Address, and HTTP status.”
“You can also prioritize the backlinks based on Domain Ranking, URL ranking, number of external links, date found, etc. Most importantly, it will help you identify domains that have linked to your competitors but not you, which provides great link acquisition opportunities.”
“Using this list of domains, you can reach out with an email proposing content or asking for a backlink. If they can acquire them, we should be able to as well,” Fonseca says.
“To get the most out of Ahrefs, you should take advantage of Alerts,” says Audrey Strasenburgh of LogoMix.
“Set up backlink alerts by adding your domain or a specific URL. Set up new keywords alerts to get a report sent via email on how many keywords you’ve gained or lost during a given timeframe. Also, set up mentions—an email report showing places your brand name is mentioned on the internet,” Strasenburgh says.
“You can also use alerts to find pages that link to competitors,” says David Lee of CPD Online College. “You can then target these for new links and send over your site to see if they will give you a nice backlink.”
Seeing your new links, keywords, and mentions—beyond the SEO benefits—is also just a nice email to receive. “My favorite time of the month is when Ahrefs emails me,” says Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging.
“While using Ahrefs in the browser is great, the core thing the tool offers at the end of the day is the raw data it stores,” says Matthew Kay.
“To get the most out of Ahrefs—and if you aren’t getting the answers or data points you want from their dashboard in the browser—don’t be afraid to export out (either via API or through CSV) data from the tool and bring it into Google Sheets or Excel to slice and dice it however you like.”
“As an example of what this might look like, Ahrefs themselves provide a keyword cannibalization Google Sheets template in this blog post that simply uses Ahrefs data with some formulas to slice and dice data that’s already present into a new and useful report,” Kay says.
“Any time I’m trying to rank for a keyword, I always check the Content Gap tool,” says Rachel Cottam of ZipBooks. “By plugging in the sites currently ranking on page one, I get some insight into which keywords are mentioned most and which content areas are lacking.”
“This helps me identify searcher intent (to make sure I actually include what they’re looking for), as well as bulk up my article with some missing terms (that searchers may not be typing in first but that still provide additional value).”
“The Top Pages report, sorted by traffic value, is hands-down the best feature in Ahrefs,” says Jeremy Mackey of WhatsTheHost. “In five minutes or less, you can quickly compare all the top content of a competitor’s site with your own to find super-valuable pages that you should recreate.”
“To do this, open up the report, sort by traffic value, and then export. Do this for 5-10 competitors. Then, in a spreadsheet, you can combine all the competitors’ pages together and create a new formula dividing the traffic value by the number of links to that specific page.”
“That will give you a quick gauge on what pages you can recreate and see faster ROI since you won’t have to build many links to the page to compete. I call this Value/LRDs, and it helps prioritize which pages I create first.”
“As a pro tip, instead of manual copy/pasting, you can use the query function in Google Sheets to pull in the data from multiple tabs (one for each competitor) and stack them all together.
If you’ve never done this before, this workflow will be a game-changer for your content road mapping.”
How to Use Ahrefs to Improve Google Rankings
Now that you’re a little more familiar with some of the most popular tools in Ahrefs, let’s take a look at how our respondents use those features to improve their Google rankings.
Optimize and Improve Your Existing Content
There are several tools in Ahrefs you can use to optimize and improve your existing content.
Jay Purohit of TheNextScoop recommends using the Content Gap analysis to compare your domain with a competitor’s domain—or your blog post with a competitor’s high-ranking blog post—to find additional keywords to use in your existing content.
Matthew Ross of The Slumber Yard recommends finding additional keywords to target in your content using the Keywords Explorer tool: “I’ve found the ‘Having same terms’ filter to be extremely helpful in identifying secondary keywords to go after in my content.”
“Essentially, by using this filter, you can efficiently build out your article, blog post, or content with additional sections that actually have SEO value, instead of just filling space with content that really doesn’t attract or drive any traffic,” Ross says.
And Aki Merced of Handle.com recommends “using the ‘Questions’ panel in Keywords Explorer when putting together content ideas and building out outlines for articles.”
Find Content that Needs to be Updated
Not sure which content to update and reoptimize for search? Ahrefs can help with that, too.
“We use the Top Pages report to identify pages that are ranking well for certain keyword phrases,” says Geoff Hoesch of Dragonfly.
“If a page is ranked on the first page, but not in a top position, we audit the page’s SEO and work to get it ranked higher for the phrase for which it is already doing well,” Hoesch says.
Related: How to Update Old Blog Posts & Boost Search Rankings
Find Backlink Opportunities
Backlink research and analysis is one of Ahrefs’ core features, and there are tons of ways to use the tool to find backlink opportunities.
“My best tip for getting the most out of Ahrefs would have to be to use it to keep an eye on your competitors,” says Katherine Rowland of YourParkingSpace. “Following your competitor’s backlinks is a great way to find link opportunities for yourself.”
Shane Griffiths of Clarity Online recommends finding competitor backlinks using the Link Intersect report. “It allows you to see which links your competitors have that you don’t. This gives you a prioritized list of what to do to level the playing field.”
Jonathan Saipe of Emarketeers agrees: “You get the best results when you aggregate data from multiple domains and display the results in a single view. The aggregated data will highlight your own strengths and weaknesses and will inform your SEO strategy and subsequent tactics.”
“The sites in the Link Intersect report are ripe for outreach because they’ve already linked to sites that are similar to yours,” says Jim Milan of Auto Accessories Garage. “Examine your competitors’ links on these sites, figure out how they acquired those links, and see if you can replicate that process.”
Josh Gallant of Foundation Marketing recommends another option—finding backlink opportunities using Content Explorer:
“Any time we publish a new blog post, we jump into Content Explorer to find every single piece of content that talks about a complementary topic. We’re not trying to get links from identical content; we want to find spots where our content can be additional support for their own content.”
“Once we hit search, we filter the results by publish date (usually less than two years ago), domain rating, and referring domains.”
“This trims the list down to only show posts that are (1) recent, (2) on high-quality sites, and (3) are most likely to pass value if we earn the link. Then you just export, clean it up, and start your outreach,” Gallant says.
Engage in Broken Backlink Building
“You can use Ahrefs to find your competitor’s broken pages and see who was linking to them,” says Best Company’s Rochelle Burnside. “If you have similar content on your site, you can reach out to those domains and mention that the link they are using is broken and offer yours instead.”
If you don’t have similar content on your site, Quincy Smith of ESL Authority recommends “looking up the broken URL in Wayback Machine, creating something comparable, and then doing some broken link outreach to get some quick backlink wins.”
To find competitors’ broken pages, Richard Howe of SEO Oxford says to “enter a competitor’s URL into Site Explorer, click ‘Best by links,’ and filter by ‘404 not found’ using the ‘HTTP code’ dropdown.”
“This will return a list of your competitor’s missing pages, many of which probably had a good quality backlink profile. Look for any pages listed that could easily be reproduced on your site, and write some unique content around the subject.”
“It’s then a matter of getting in touch with each site to make them aware of your competitor’s 404 and suggest they re-point to the alternative content you now provide,” Howe says.
Pass Internal Authority to Your Most Important Pages
If you’re trying to boost the authority of specific pages on your site, you can do so with both backlinks and internal links from pages on your own site.
“We use Ahrefs’ ‘Best by links’ feature to ensure that we interlink to key commercial pages from those pages with the best backlink profiles,” says Adam Grunwerg of LearnBonds.com.
“We routinely check and redo this process each month because the pages and news articles on our site constantly get fresh backlinks from Google News. We also filter by keyword to improve this process, finding relevant high authority internal pages to juice our more commercial pages.”
Find Guest Posting Opportunities
Several respondents noted that Ahrefs is an ideal tool for finding guest posting opportunities.
“Most guides about finding guest posting opportunities will point to using Google search operators,” says Ramya Menon of Bayut. “And while that’s a good method, it’s not the best.”
“It’s labor-intensive scraping results. You can’t see any SEO metrics. And it limits your scope: you’ll only find pages using the words you type in, but there are millions of sites that take guest posts but don’t advertise it.”
“Taking advantage of Content Explorer’s massive database allows you to find more guest post opportunities—while filtering by Domain Rating—and it also helpfully excludes any sites that have already linked to you,” Menon says.
Colibri Digital Marketing’s Andrew McLoughlin offers a couple more tips for this approach: “Enable ‘One page per domain’ to avoid repeats in your results, and ‘Highlight unlinked domains’ to avoid doubling up with previous guest post or backlink partnerships.”
Another way to find guest posting opportunities, according to Best Company’s Carlee Linden, is to “look at your competitors’ new backlinks in Site Explorer. This helps me find out where my competition is guest posting.”
“This strategy has nearly doubled the number of responses I get when I send out a pitch. Instead of reaching out to a random company and hoping they get back to me, I can specifically target companies that are looking for more content,” Linden says.
And Olga Bedrina of Wave.video says that Ahrefs can even help you decide on a topic for a guest post. “When we are trying to pitch a guest post, I check the blog’s top pages in Ahrefs. I also assess what keywords the blog/website ranks for and what pages got the most links.”
“All of this information helps me come up with several article ideas that I can then pitch to the blog. With such a thorough approach, the chances of our article getting accepted increase dramatically,” Bedrina says.
Identify and Fix Technical Issues
Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool is great for identifying technical SEO issues on your site.
“Set up weekly audits as a benchmark for your technical SEO health, and have Ahrefs run it automatically,” says Elijah-Blue Vieau of Looka. “Then, use your audit score as a benchmark between your SEO and development teams, and strive to continually increase the score and respond to issues in a timely fashion.”
“Ensuring your website loads fast and is technically sound is half the battle when it comes to SEO.”
Find Low-Competition Keywords to Target
Another great way to use Ahrefs to improve your Google rankings is to use its tools to find low-competition keywords to target—keywords you’ll be able to rank highly for faster and more easily.
“My main process is to search in Content Explorer for a topic that is related to my business,” says John Reinesch of Beacon Digital Marketing. “Then, using the filters, you can really dial in your search and make it more effective.”
“I set a filter so the Domain Rating is less than my site’s Domain Rating. Then, I set a filter for zero referring domains and traffic greater than 100. This gives me a list of content that is ranking and getting traffic for keywords related to my topic, but the websites that rank have a lower domain rating and zero backlinks.”
“This gives me a list of quick-win topic ideas where I can typically rank quickly just by creating better content than what’s currently ranking,” Reinesch says.
Another approach, recommended by Sam Tucker of Crazy Coffee Crave, is to look for keywords with a Keyword Difficulty (KD) between 0-5:
“If you are looking for the fastest way to rank, you can look for alternative keywords like ‘Ibuprofen and coffee’ (0 KD, 300/month volume) instead of ‘painkillers and coffee’ (3 KD, 20/month volume). Spending time exporting all of the keywords and finding these gems is how we can rank number one as a brand new site.”
Identify Unlinked Mentions
“Ahrefs has the best email alerts I’ve seen,” says Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios. “Each mention is sorted by authority (which they call Domain Rating), so the check to see if there are any no-mention links is easy to prioritize. Just start at the top.”
“Reaching out to bloggers and editors who mentioned but didn’t link is the fastest and easiest way to grow the authority of any website—no question. And Ahrefs’ email alert is the easiest way to find them. It catches things the other tools miss,” Crestodina says.
Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles says you can also use Content Explorer to find unlinked mentions:
“Search for your business, brand, or brand avatar’s name in Content Explorer. Select the ‘one page per domain’ toggle. Then use the ‘highlight unlinked domains’ option to find all the websites that have mentioned your business, brand, or brand avatar name but did not link them to you.”
“Then, reach out to the site owner or editor to request the mention be updated to a link,” Dodds says.
Crestodina recommends the process below for requesting links on unlinked mentions:
Find Featured Snippet Opportunities
“When you have to work with a lot of content and keywords, Ahrefs is quite convenient to use for hunting easy-win SEO opportunities,” says Uladzislau Yanouski of ScienceSoft. “For example, I regularly check keywords that rank well to find opportunities for featured snippets.”
“To do that, go to the ‘Organic Keywords’ report for your website, activate the ‘Featured snippet’ filter in the ‘SERP features’ dropdown, and limit ranking to the top 10 positions. Then, find keywords that you want to win a featured snippet for, and optimize content accordingly.”
Ben Johnston of Sagefrog Marketing says you can also use Ahrefs data to optimize your content for featured snippets:
“Find a featured snippet that you want to target, copy the page’s URL, and paste it into Site Explorer. On the overview screen, you’ll be able to see backlinks to that page, the organic keywords it ranks for, and more.”
“By coupling the actual page itself with the information Ahrefs provides about a given URL, competing for featured snippets is a snap,” Johnson says.
Identify Lost Link Equity
The final way to use Ahrefs to improve your Google search rankings comes from SEO Notebook’s Steve Toth who recommends searching for your site in Site Explorer, looking at the “Best by links” report, and filtering by HTTP code 404.
“Redirect those pages to relevant pages on your site,” Toth says.
How to Use Ahrefs for Content Ideas
In addition to being a great SEO tool, many of our respondents said that Ahrefs is a great content marketing tool—not only for helping you optimize your content but also by helping you come up with new ideas for things to write about.
Here are some of the ways our respondents use Ahrefs to brainstorm new content ideas.
Find New Keywords to Target (and Therefore Topics to Cover)
Petra Odak of Better Proposals recommends typing a competitor’s domain into Site Explorer and viewing the “Organic keywords” report. This will show you a list of all of the keywords your competitor ranks for, which you can use to come up with new content ideas.
Odak also recommends “looking for keywords where the top-ranking websites have a Domain Rating lower than 40. These keywords are great opportunities for you.”
Find High Performing Industry Content
“Type a topic/keyword you’d like to rank for into Content Explorer to see what’s worked well in the past, be it garnering social media likes, organic traffic, or total referring domains,” says Nate Masterson of Maple Holistics.
You can then review the list of results to come up with new content ideas.
Find Ideas for Linkable Content
“One creative way that we use Ahrefs is to investigate the backlink profile of competitors in our space with Site Explorer,” says Fundera’s Eric Goldschein. “By researching competitor backlink profiles and best pages by links, we can:”
- “discover content ideas that would earn a high number of links”
- “identify areas where we can create better and more informative content for readers”
- “find new potential content partner websites”
- “find link-building opportunities when competitor links are broken”
Discover High-Performing Pinterest Content
“When I’m looking for new content to write, I use Content Explorer for content ideation,” says Bibi Raven of BibiBuzz. “I focus on Pinterest because it’s an easy way to generate huge amounts of traffic—all without any links or other SEO strategies.”
“Here’s how I find my content topics:”
- “Enter a topic or keyword in Content Explorer.”
- “Add a filter for social shares.”
- “In the Pinterest field, add a minimum number of repins, perhaps 10,000 (depends on the niche).”
“In the results, you can click on the red-lettered word ‘Pinterest’ to see the pin that got the shares. I always study the pin image, as well as the post itself. When I create my blog post, it will be similar (or better) than what I find in the Content Explorer. And I’ll base the design of my pin image to what’s clearly working already.”
“I’ve had a lot of success with this way of finding proven content for my sites. A lot of marketers don’t know where to begin with Pinterest marketing, but using Ahrefs will give you an amazing start!”
Discover Popular Quora Questions
Automate.io’s Archita Sharma recommends using Ahrefs to find Quora posts where you can promote your content. “Search for Quora’s domain in Site Explorer, look at the ‘Top pages’ report, narrow by keywords related to your content, and add a filter to see only positions 1-10.”
“This will show you top-ranked Quora questions for this topic, and you can start answering them right away,” Sharma says.
This is also a great way to find new topic ideas: they’re all popular questions your audience might have and may be interested in reading your answer to.
How to Use Ahrefs for Competitor Research
“You may be familiar with how to use Ahrefs for your website,” says Time Doctor’s Carlo Borja. “But once you start doing the same for your competitors, you will gain a lot of insights that you can apply to your own site.”
“The best way to use Ahrefs is for competitor analysis,” says Sharp Growth’s Angela Han.
“It’s very easy to find competitors’ backlinks so that you can copy them. You can also find out other aspects of what they’re doing well, such as their top content, best pages by links, and other things that are useful for any SEO competitor research analysis,” Han says.
Here are a few ways our respondents use Ahrefs for competitor analysis.
Reverse-Engineer Your Competitors’ Backlink Strategies
“The most useful part of Ahrefs is the ability to see what sites are linking to my SERP competitors,” says Phil Strazzulla of SelectSoftware Reviews. “Obviously, one of the major ways of growing your search traffic is to grow your backlink profile. In order to do this, you need strategies.”
“By looking at who is linking to my competitors, I can see what sorts of strategies they have employed—and what may work for me.”
“For example, I may find syndication partners that my competitors are using which may also push my content. I may find lists that I can ask to be a part of. I may find guest blogging opportunities.”
“Understanding your competitor’s backlink profile is essential to figuring out how to build your own link building strategy,” Strazzulla says.
Fundera’s Ricardo Velez agrees: “I highly recommend looking at your competitors’ backlink profiles. It’ll give you insight on their outreach strategies and a nice prospect list of sites to reach out to for links back to your content.”
Mindster’s Hyfa Ahmad says to ask these questions about your competitors’ links: “Are they PBNs? Are they using white-hat strategies? Are they industry-relevant directories?”
“Nothing beats the ability to get insights into how the competition acquires links in order to copy the strategies that work,” says Dusan Mrkalj of RazorSocial. “It’s a huge time saver!”
Discover What Keywords Competitors Are Targeting and Ranking For
“By entering a competitor’s URL into Site Explorer, you will quickly see what your competitor’s top keywords are and what pages are generating most of the organic traffic,” says Matt Woodley of MoverFocus.
“Being able to analyze competitors based on keyword overlap is an extremely useful feature because it allows you to scope out the competition and analyze whether there’s a content gap,” says Pickfu’s Will Chin.
See Your Competitors’ Top-Performing Pages
“One of my favorite—and one of Ahrefs’ most useful tools—is Site Explorer,” says Lisa Chu of Black n Bianco. “It allows me to discover my competitors’ top-performing pages and see what types of content they are writing.”
“That gives me the ability to do something similar in terms of content and trying to rank for those keywords.”
Identify New Competitors Quickly
“My best tip for getting the most out of Ahrefs is to regularly check competing domains with your own website and those of your competitors,” says Ian Wright of BusinessFibre.co.uk. “This will help you spot new competitors early so you can keep an eye on them.”
How to Use Ahrefs to Set Goals and Monitor Performance
Some of the final suggestions our respondents had were around using Ahrefs to help you set goals and monitor performance.
Using Ahrefs to Set Realistic Goals
“To get the most out of Ahrefs, I leverage the many different tools that the platform offers and check in on a weekly basis to see how we are performing,” says Alexandra Bohigian of Enola Labs. “I think it is important to first view analytics via Site Explorer and use that information to set goals for where you want to be.”
“For example, you might want to rank first for 20 different keywords, but through Ahrefs, you will get a better perspective of what is realistic based on the competition for each keyword. You can leverage this information to set more realistic and timely goals for each keyword, plan content, and track progress along the way.”
Using Ahrefs to Monitor Performance
“I use Ahrefs a lot to see which of Money Done Right‘s articles are doing really well,” says Tess Thompson. “I also use it to see how we are ranking and if we are improving in our rank. This is very important to me because that is basically my entire job!”
G2’s Lauren Pope agrees: “Ahrefs is the best place to track your organic keywords. As your content ages—and as more people share, like, and backlink to it—you’ll start to see your position rise in the SERPs, which is great.”
“What’s not great is when a piece you wrote about social media marketing starts ranking for weird keywords. Site Explorer allows you to check the health of your content and discover whether or not you’re really ranking for the right things.”
“It’s better to rank for 100 organic keywords that are related to your topic than 10,000 that have nothing to do with your topic. Why? Because you need the right people finding your content organically to increase conversions and make your content count,” Pope says.
How to Learn More About Ahrefs
Interested in learning even more about Ahrefs? Our respondents offered a few sources where you can find more great ideas for how to use the tool:
Tim Parkin of Parkin Consulting agrees that Ahrefs’ blog is a great way to learn more about how to use the tool. “There are so many subtle and powerful details about using Ahrefs that you can pick up from their content and use right away.”
“Read the blog,” says Best Company’s Anne-Marie Hays. “Just read it. Ahrefs’ blog posts are full of different strategies and research hacks that I would have never come up with, even though I use the tool every day.”