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Ahrefs: The Definitive Guide

This is a complete guide to Ahrefs.

In this new guide you’ll learn everything there is to know about this popular SEO tool, including:

  • Key features
  • Real-life use cases
  • Advanced tips
  • How Ahrefs compares to similar SEO Tools (like SEMrush)
  • Lots more

So if you want to get the most out of Ahrefs, this guide is for you.

Let’s jump right in.

Ahrefs – The definitive guide

Chapter 1: Intro to Ahrefs

Chapter – Intro to Ahrefs

What is Ahrefs?

Ahrefs is an SEO software suite that contains tools for link building, keyword research, competitor analysis, rank tracking and site audits. Most of the features inside of Ahrefs are designed for marketing professionals.

In short: Ahrefs is a popular SEO tool that people use to get higher Google rankings.

What is Ahrefs Used For?

Ahrefs is mainly used to analyze a website’s link profile, keyword rankings, and SEO health.

Ahrefs – Backlinko overview

You can also use Ahrefs to conduct keyword research for Google, YouTube, and Amazon.

Ahrefs – Keywords explorer

And many people use Ahrefs to find content that’s performed well (in terms of social shares and/or links) on a given topic.

Ahrefs – Content explorer

When Ahrefs first launched in 2011, it was mainly a tool to analyze a site’s backlinks.

Ahrefs – Old homepage

And its feature set has grown A LOT over the years. In fact, I’ve been an Ahrefs customer since 2013.

Ahrefs – Backlinko account history

Over that time I’ve seen Ahrefs grow from a link analysis tool into a fully-featured SEO suite that now competes head-to-head against Moz Pro and SEMrush.

Today, Ahrefs is mostly used by:

  • Small business owners that do SEO for their own websites
  • SEO agencies that work with multiple clients
  • “In house” marketers that run marketing for their employer’s site
  • Affiliate marketers that run several different sites
  • SEO consultants that advise clients on their SEO strategy

How Much Is Ahrefs?

Ahrefs’ pricing depends on the plan that you choose. And whether you go with monthly or annual billing.

Here’s a breakdown of Ahrefs pricing.

Ahrefs pricing table

While Ahrefs doesn’t currently offer a free trial, they do have a 7-day trial for $7.

Is Ahrefs Better Than SEMrush?

I recently wrote a review that compared Ahrefs vs. SEMrush.

Backlinko – Ahrefs vs. SEMrush post

So if you want a deep dive into how these tools compare, I recommend checking that out.

But the short answer is that I prefer Ahrefs over SEMrush. Both tools are excellent (in fact, I subscribe to both). But I like Ahrefs’ UX a lot more. Otherwise, the tools are very similar.

With that, here’s a quick breakdown of how Ahrefs compares to SEMrush:

Ahrefs and SEMrush compared

To be clear: this guide isn’t an Ahrefs review. But a lot of people ask me if I like Ahrefs or SEMrush. So I wanted to quickly answer that here.

Chapter 2: Ahrefs Terms and Metrics

Chapter – Ahrefs terms and metrics

If you use Ahrefs for more than 30 seconds, you’ll notice that the tool contains A LOT of different terms and metrics.

(Like “UR”, “Ahrefs Rank” and “CTLDs distribution”)

And, to be honest, Ahrefs doesn’t do a great job of explaining what these things mean in plain English.

For example, they describe Domain Rating as: “the target URL’s backlink profile on a 100-point logarithmic scale (higher = stronger).”

Huh?

So before we get into all of Ahrefs’ key features, it’s important to learn how to “speak Ahrefs”. I’ll also translate any technical stuff into easy-to-understand terms.

Common Ahrefs Terms

Here’s a breakdown of the terms that you’ll run into as you use Ahrefs.

URL Rating (UR): The link authority that a webpage has. Calculated as a combination of the quality and quantity of backlinks that point to that page.

Domain Rating (DR): URL Rating applied across an entire site (this is basically the equivalent of Moz Domain Authority).

Anchors: A breakdown of the most commonly-used anchor text in a site’s link profile.

Referring Domains: The number of different unique websites that link to the page or site you’re looking at. A high amount of referring domains correlates with higher rankings in Google.

CTLDs Distribution: A breakdown of a site’s links by top level domain (.com, .edu. .de etc.)

Ahrefs Rank: A worldwide ranking of a site’s link profile. Like with Alexa ranking, the lower the number, the better the link profile.

Parent Topic: The broad topic that a keyword falls under (for example, “link building” falls under the Parent Topic “SEO”).

Traffic Potential: The amount of traffic you’d get if you ranked in the #1 spot for that keyword.

Keyword Difficulty: How hard (or easy) it will be to rank on the first page of Google for a given keyword.

Also Rank For: A list of keywords that the top 10 results also rank for (for example, pages that rank for “content marketing” might also rank for “what is content marketing”).

With that out of the way, let’s get into the features!

Backlink Profile

To look at a site (or page’s) links, just pop a homepage or page URL into “Site Explorer”:

Ahrefs – Site explorer – Backlinko

And you’ll get a dashboard with info on that site’s backlinks, metrics and organic traffic.

Ahrefs – Site explorer – Dashboard

(More on that later)

To deep dive into that site’s link profile, hit “Backlinks” in the sidebar.

Ahrefs – Site explorer – Backlinks menu

And you’ll get a full list.

Ahrefs – Site explorer – Backlinks

If a site has a ton of backlinks, I recommend going to “Link type” → “Dofollow”.

Ahrefs – Site explorer – Dofollow filter

That way, you don’t have to sift through tons of semi-worthless nofollow links.

For example, my site has 196,849 backlinks.

Ahrefs – Backlinko backlinks

But if you only look at dofollow links, that number drops to 163,629.

Ahrefs – Backlinko dofollow backlinks

Still a lot of links. But it’s a lot easier to manage.

I usually also hit the “One link per domain” or “Group similar links” button here.

Ahrefs – Site explorer – Filters

That’s because, most of the time, you don’t want or need to see every single link a site has. It’s more to get a general idea of WHO links to that site and why they link to it.

And when you add the “One link per domain” or “Group similar links” filters, you get that information… without having to sift through as much noise.

So:

Now that you have a complete list of a site’s dofollow backlinks, what can you do with this information?

What You Can Do With This Report

Here are the two main things you can do with the Ahrefs backlinks report.


1. You can find pages that link to your competitor… and that might also link to you.

For example, when I looked at the links pointing to Ahrefs.com, I found this page:

Smashing Magazine – Technical SEO article

And when I look at the page, I can see that it links out to lots of different websites:

Smashing Magazine – Article links

(Specifically, websites that write about technical SEO)

So if I had an article on my site about technical SEO, I’d want to pitch my post to the person that runs the page.

Rinse and repeat this process until you’ve gone through your competitor’s entire link profile.


2. You can use their link profile to get an idea of WHY people link to that site.

For example, let’s look at Moz’s link profile:

Ahrefs – Moz backlinks

I notice right away that a good chunk of their links point to studies that they’ve published on the Moz blog:

Moz backlinks to studies

So if I wanted to get links from these same sites (which I do), I just learned that original data and research is a great way to do it.

Now that you’ve seen a site’s overall link profile, it’s time to start digging deeper into the data using some pretty cool Ahrefs features.

“Link Intersect”

This is an awesome feature that not that many people know about.

Here’s how it works:

In the top navigation hit “More” → “Link Intersect”.

Ahrefs – Link intersect – Menu

Then, put two or more competing sites into the fields:

Ahrefs – Link intersect – Input sites

And voila! You get a list of sites that are linking to all of the sites you put in.

Ahrefs – Link intersect – Results

Why is this helpful?

Well, if someone links to one of your competitors, it doesn’t tell you much. It could be because they have a relationship with that particular site. Or maybe they got lucky.

But if a site links to THREE of your competitors (and not you), this shows that they have a tendency to link to websites in your niche.

And if you use the same approach that your competitor’s used to get their links, they might be willing to link to you too.

Best By Links

“Best by links” = pages on a site that have the most backlinks.

And I can tell you from experience that this is one of the BEST features in Ahrefs’ entire toolkit.

I’ll explain with an example.

A few years ago, I put Moz into Ahrefs and looked at the “Best By Links” report.

Ahrefs – Best by links – Moz

And I saw something that shocked me.

A good chunk of Moz’s most linked-to pages were huge ultimate guides.

In fact, their 2nd most authoritative page is their Beginner’s Guide to SEO.

Moz – Beginners guide to SEO

This page had more links than their free SEO tools, their popular blog… and tons of other pages that I thought would have more links.

In fact, this single page has 114K backlinks.

Moz – Beginners guide to SEO – Backlinks

(That’s more than most entire websites have).

That’s when I realized: “I need to publish more definitive guides!”

And a few months later, I published my first big guide: “The Definitive Guide to Keyword Research”.

Backlinko – Keyword research guide

And it was a huge hit!

To date, this guide has 4.45K backlinks from 1.47K domains:

Keyword research guide – Backlinks and referring domains

In fact, a lot of the sites that linked to Moz’s guide now also link to my keyword research guide:

Ahrefs – Link intersect – Moz vs Backlinko

This approach works so well that I’ve started to double down on definitive guides.

Backlinko – Definitive guides

Which is one of the main reasons that our organic traffic has grown by 19.92% over the last 8 months.

Backlinko – Traffic increase

And it all started from the insight that I got from the “Best by links” report.

“New” Backlinks

This feature gives you a list of sites that just linked to your site (or a competitor’s site).

Ahrefs – New backlinks

Why is this helpful?

Because it shows you link building opportunities that are working right now.

For example, here’s an old backlink to my site:

Backlinko – Old backlink

I got that link 5+ years ago. You MIGHT be able to also get a link from that page.

But as time passes, it’s less and less likely that person is going to go back to an old page and add a link. Plus, SEO techniques change all the time. Specifically, strategies get overused and no longer work.

Which means that it’s entirely possible that the approach I used to build that link no longer works.

On the other hand, here’s a link that’s only a month old:

Kyliesaunder – Backlinko backlink

The person that wrote that new article is going to be MUCH more receptive to adding your link vs. someone that published something 5+ years ago.

Bottom line? “New” backlinks can help you identify fresh link building opportunities that you can tap into right away. They also help you see what’s working best in terms of link building right now.

“Lost” Backlinks

Lost backlinks is just like it sounds:

You get a list of pages that used to link to you… but recently removed your link.

Ahrefs – Lost backlinks

This is helpful for “Link Reclamation”… or getting lost links back.

For example, I recently lost this link:

Cision growth hack article backlink

Well, if I can find out why that person removed my link, I can sometimes get that link back.

That said: it’s normal to lose links. Sometimes scraper sites will delete a page. Or someone will update a post and remove your link because it’s no longer relevant. The idea here isn’t to obsess over lost links. Instead, use this as a way to get legitimate lost links back.

Note: Sometimes Ahrefs will show “link removed” even though the link is still there. So make sure to look at the page to confirm that your link was actually removed.

Chapter 4: Keywords Explorer

Keywords Explorer

Keywords Explorer is Ahrefs’ keyword research tool.

And it’s legit.

Why?

Because it gives you INSANE amounts of data on each keyword.

It’s like putting a magnifying glass (or a microscope) over a given keyword.

And in this chapter I’ll show you how to use Ahrefs for keyword research.

Keyword Overview

When you enter a keyword into Keywords Explorer, you’ll notice a bunch of cards above the fold:

Ahrefs – Keywords explorer – Overview

This is the “Overview” section that gives you a high-level overview of the term that you just searched for.

If you’ve ever used a keyword tool before, most of this stuff (like search volume and keyword competition) should be familiar to you.

Keyword difficulty and search volume

This overview is helpful when choosing a keyword for SEO… or quickly deciding between two different keywords.

But what makes Keywords Explorer unique is that you get to also see a keyword’s “Return Rate” (how often people search for a keyword more than once):

Ahrefs – Search volume – Return rate

Number of clicks:

Ahrefs – Number of clicks

Percentage of people that click on paid vs. organic results:

Ahrefs – Paid vs organic clicks

And “Clicks per search”:

Ahrefs – Search volume – Clicks per search

Why is this stuff important?

Or, put another way: what’s wrong with just looking at a keyword’s search volume?

Here’s the explanation:

As you’ve probably noticed, Google has been adding more SERP features to the results every year.

Things like Featured Snippets, “People also ask…” boxes, additional ads, video carousels, and more.

Thanks largely to these new SERP features, according to Sparktoro, “no-click searches” are up significantly compared to last year.

Sparktoro – Data on no-click searches

Which means you can’t just go by a keyword’s search volume anymore. You also need to know how many people actually click on the organic results. Because in many cases, these two numbers are completely different.

For example, take a keyword like “Mount Everest height”.

According to Keywords Explorer, that term gets 4.5K searches per month.

Mount Everest height – Monthly searches

But those 4.5K searches only result in 763 clicks.

Mount Everest height – Clicks

Which is why many SEO professionals now focus more on “Clicks” over traditional search volume.

Keyword Ideas

This is a list of keyword ideas based on the seed keyword that you searched for.

Ahrefs – Keywords explorer – Keyword ideas

In my opinion Keywords Explorer isn’t great at generating new keyword ideas. It tends to pump out simple variations of your seed keyword:

Ahrefs – Keywords explorer – Similar keywords

But if you want to find long tail versions of your keyword, this feature isn’t bad.

Plus, you can hit the “All keyword ideas” link in the sidebar:

Ahrefs – All keyword ideas menu

Which sometimes bubbles up a handful of interesting keywords.

How to get backlinks – Keyword

SERP Overview

At the bottom of the page you’ll see information on the pages that rank in the SERPs for the keyword you’re looking at.

First, you have “SERP History”.

Ahrefs – Keywords explorer – SERP history

This is a breakdown of how the rankings have changed since Ahrefs started to collect data on that term (this starts in 2016 for most keywords).

That way, you get some context around how pages have come and gone from the first page.

You can also see how much the results tend to fluctuate over time.

As you can see above, the keyword “link building” has been pretty stable over the last 3+ years.

(And it’s been super stable over the last year).

But if you look at a keyword like “creatine”, the results are all over the place.

Ahrefs – SERP history – Creatine

Why is this helpful? Well, if you see a SERP that hasn’t budged over the last 12 months, the chances of you coming in and mixing things up is pretty low.

(Unless you have a super authoritative domain)

On the other hand, if you come across a volatile SERP, that means that Google hasn’t found 10 results that they like yet. Which means you have a chance of cracking the top 10.

In addition to SERP History, Ahrefs also breaks down the 10 results based on Domain Rating, URL Rating, number of backlinks and more.

Ahrefs – Keywords explorer – SERP overview

This is your typical SERP breakdown for SEO. The only interesting feature here is the “Top keyword“ column.

SERP overview – Top keyword

This shows you the keyword that brings that page the most organic traffic. In most cases, it’s the keyword that you’re analyzing. But in many cases, you’ll uncover a keyword that you wouldn’t have even thought of searching for.

For example, when I search for “SEO tips”, literally 10 out of the 10 results all have “SEO tips” as their top term.

SEO tips – Top keyword overview

Not super useful.

But when I search for “how to do SEO”, I get a list of top keywords that I may not have otherwise found.

How to do SEO – Keyword overview

Keyword Research For Other Search Engines

Ahrefs’ keyword tool now supports a bunch of different search engines.

Like most keyword research tools, you can search for keyword data for a bunch of different countries (like Germany and the UK).

Ahrefs – Keywords explorer – Country option

But you can actually use Keywords Explorer for different search engines, including:

  • YouTube
  • Amazon
  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Yandex
  • Baidu

So if you do SEO for any of these non-Google search engines, you’re covered.

Keywords Explorer Mini-Case Study

Overall, Keywords Explorer has become one of my go-to keyword tools… especially during the later stages when I’m deciding between different keywords.

Let me walk you through a real life example.

A few months ago I was debating whether or not to target the keyword “SEO Audit”.

And to help me decide, I popped that keyword into Ahrefs.

Ahrefs – Keywords explorer – SEO audit

This single page gave me pretty much everything I needed to make a decision.

Specifically, I looked at the keyword search volume:

SEO audit – Search volume

(Which, at least according to Ahrefs, is more accurate than most other tools on the market)

And in my industry (B2B), 4.8K searches is pretty solid. So that was a good sign.

Next, I saw that the keyword difficulty was 61. And that I’d need backlinks from “134 websites” to rank in the top 10.

SEO audit – Keyword difficulty

So the keyword was competitive. But not insane. Another positive sign.

Next, I looked at “clicks” and “clicks per search”.

SEO audit – Clicks and clicks per search

And these two metrics told me that 91% of people that search for that term ultimately click on an organic result.

SEO audit – Organic clicks

Another great sign.

Then, I saw that the average cost per click for “SEO audit” was $19.

SEO audit – Cost per click

This told me that this keyword has strong commercial intent. In other words: people that search for this keyword are likely to convert.

And based on those numbers, I decided to create this post optimized around “SEO Audit”:

Backlinko – SEO site audit post

Chapter 5: Organic Keywords and
Organic Search Traffic

Chapter – Organic keywords and organic search traffic

This super helpful Ahrefs feature scrapes millions of Google results to see who is ranking for what keywords.

And when you enter pretty much any domain or URL into Ahrefs, you can see the exact list of terms that they rank for (and where they rank for them).

This allows you to quickly size up how your site compares to the competition.

You can also use it to keep tabs on how your own site is doing (the data updates so often that I basically use it in place of traditional rank tracking).

Let’s break down this useful feature in detail.

Organic Keywords and Organic Traffic

Ahrefs’ “Organic Keywords” and “Organic Search Traffic” features reveal all of the keywords that a domain ranks for… and how much search engine traffic that site is getting right now.

Ahrefs – Backlinko organic keywords and traffic

You can also see how these metrics have changed over time with this nifty chart:

Ahrefs – Organic traffic and keywords charts

How accurate are their organic traffic estimates?

Well, I decided to run a little experiment. According to Ahrefs, my site brings in 303K visitors from Google every month.

Ahrefs – Backlinko organic traffic

The real number (according to Google Analytics)? 342K.

Backlinko – Monthly organic traffic

Pretty close.

To be honest, there isn’t much actionable stuff you can do with this data. It’s more to benchmark where a site is compared to your site or other competitors.

The real value comes from the complete list of keywords that a competitor ranks for:

Ahrefs – Organic keywords report

You even get an estimate of how much traffic they’re getting from each term:

Ahrefs – Organic keywords traffic

So if your site has a similar Domain Authority, you have a good shot to rank for these keywords too.

In many ways, this shortcuts the entire keyword research process. Instead of typing a bunch of random keywords into a tool, you get a site’s entire keyword profile presented to you.

Traffic Value

This underrated feature shows you the approximate value of all the traffic a website gets from search.

Ahrefs – Backlinko traffic value

The higher this number, the more valuable the traffic is.

Why is this important to pay attention to?

Well, it’s one thing to get 1M visitors per month from Google. But if most of that traffic comes from keywords with little-to-no commercial intent, then it’s not super valuable.

On the other hand, if a site only gets 10k visitors per month, but that traffic is made up of people with strong buyer intent, this will show up in the Traffic Value report.

In fact, I tend to pay more attention to my Traffic Value number than anything else. As long as that’s going up, I know that the quality of my search traffic is increasing.

Example of How I Used This Feature to Find an Awesome Keyword

As you may know, my site is in the SEO and digital marketing niche.

And because my site has been around for 6 years, I’ve pretty much already covered the major keywords in my space (like “link building” and “on page SEO”).

Backlinko – Link building and on-page SEO guides

Which is why I’m always on the hunt for marketing keywords that aren’t super obvious.

Thanks to the Organic keywords feature in Ahrefs, I was able to find one.

First, I put a competing site into Ahrefs.

Ahrefs – Coschedule overview

And when I looked at their top keywords, I found a term that had high search volume and a high CPC.

Coschedule – How to write a press release keyword

So I decided to create a blog post optimized around the term: “how to write a press release”.

Backlinko – Write a press release guide

Even though press releases are related to SEO, it’s one of those keywords that would have never come to my mind without being able to reverse engineer another site’s keywords.

Chapter 6: Content Explorer

Chapter – Content explorer

Ahrefs Content Explorer is designed to show you content that gets lots of social shares… not necessarily backlinks.

(Basically, it’s a mini version of BuzzSumo).

And in this chapter you’ll learn how this feature works.

Find Highly-Shared Content

This is the main reason that people use Content Explorer.

All you need to do is pop a keyword or topic into Content Explorer…

Ahrefs – Content explorer – Paleo diet

…and you’ll get a list of articles that got tons of shares on social media:

Ahrefs – Content explorer – Paleo diet results

If a specific social media network is important to you, you can sort by shares on that specific site:

Ahrefs – Content explorer – Sort by social shares

Otherwise, you just want to scan the list to get a general idea of what’s working. Or to find a specific piece of content to use for The Skyscraper Technique.

Sort By Traffic Value

Like I mentioned back in Chapter 5, I’m a big fan of using Traffic Value as a metric for how a site’s SEO is doing.

And what’s cool about Content Explorer is that you can sort the results by Traffic Value. That way, you don’t just see content that got a bunch of shares… but content that’s still bringing in valuable traffic today.

Ahrefs – Content explorer – Sort by traffic value

Find Republished Posts

There’s a little dropdown tucked away in the top left-hand corner of the screen that lets you find content that’s been republished.

Ahrefs – Content explorer – Republished menu

(In other words: content that someone updated on the same URL).

This can give you a better idea of why a specific piece of content did so well.

For example, when I searched for content related to “SEO tips”, I noticed this result got a ton of shares.

Ahrefs – Content explorer – SEO tips

And when I hit the “republished” feature, that post is still the #1 result in Content Explorer.

Ahrefs – Content explorer – SEO tips – Republished

Which tells me that this page has been regularly updated and relaunched over time.

Chapter 7: Helpful Ahrefs Features

Chapter – Helpful Ahrefs features

Now it’s time to cover a few random Ahrefs features that don’t fit neatly into any of the categories that we’ve talked about so far, including:

  • SEO site audits
  • Finding competitors
  • PPC features
  • Directly comparing domains
  • And more

Let’s check them out:

Competing Domains

This report gives you a list of domains that are trying to rank for the same terms.

For example, this report lets me know which sites are competing against me in Google’s organic search results:

Ahrefs – Competing domains report

So I made a note to hate those sites 🙂

But seriously, this feature isn’t super useful to use for your own site. After all, you probably already know your SEO competitors like the back of your hand.

Competing Domains is more helpful if you just launched a new site or you took on a new client.

That’s because this report can show you the SEO landscape for that site in a few minutes.

For example, you can see if the competitors are rinky dink blogs… or Fortune 500 companies.

You can also check out the “Best By Links” report for some of the competing sites.

Ahrefs – Best by links – Backlinko

That way, you can learn what types of content works best in this space.

Content Gap

Content Gap shows you keywords that your competitors rank for… but you don’t.

In my experience, this is more helpful than analyzing a single website. Because if you find TWO competing sites that rank for a keyword, there’s a great chance you could rank for it too.

For example, I put two of my competitors’ sites into this feature:

Ahrefs – Content gap – Input competitors

And I also made sure to put my site in the “But the following target doesn’t rank for” field.

Ahrefs – Content gap – Input own site

And boom!

Ahrefs – Content gap report

I get a list of 12,000+ keywords that I could probably rank for.

Site Audit

This is basically a web-based version of Screaming Frog.

To use it, pop in your site’s homepage:

Ahrefs – Site audit – Input website

And give the site auditor time to do its thing.

(Depending on how many pages your site has, this can take a few minutes to several hours)

When it’s done, you get a thorough technical report on all of your site’s pages:

Ahrefs – Site audit – Report

Including pages that are redirected, blocked by Robots.txt, or that have a noindex tag applied.

Ahrefs – Site audit – Internal pages report

Paid Search

Even though Ahrefs is designed first and foremost for SEO, it does include a few features to help with PPC campaigns.

To use it, put a competing site into Ahrefs. And hit “Paid Search”:

Ahrefs – Paid search – Moz

And you can see which ads generate the most traffic for that site:

Ahrefs – Paid search – Moz ads

(Which is a GREAT resource for writing your own ads)

Keywords that send them the most paid traffic:

Ahrefs – Moz – Paid keywords report

And landing pages that most paid visitors end up on:

Ahrefs – Moz – Paid top pages

Alerts

Alerts is helpful if you want to stay on top of a site’s links and rankings.

That’s because you can ask Ahrefs to send you an email every time you or a competing site gets a new backlink… or starts to rank for a new keyword.

Ahrefs – Alerts

Domain Comparison

Here’s where you compare 2-5 sites head-to-head.

Ahrefs – Domain comparison

Why is this useful?

It’s a great way to see how your site compares to the competition.

For example, when I put some of my main competitors into the Domain Comparison tool, I can see that I’m behind when it comes to “referring domains”:

Ahrefs – Domain comparison report

So instead of cranking out more content, I might want to put more time into link building.

If I just looked at my site’s links in a vacuum, I’d see that I have 14k referring domains and think: “That’s a lot!”.

But in an insane competitive space like SEO and digital marketing, 14k referring domains is good… but not enough to dominate the search results.

Bonus Chapter: Advanced Ahrefs Tips and
Untapped Features

Chapter – Advanced Ahrefs tips and untapped features

Here’s a handful of cool things that you can do with Ahrefs that I’ve picked up over the years.

So if you want to squeeze even more value out of your Ahrefs subscription, this chapter is for you.

Easily Find Broken Links

Ahrefs takes a lot of the grunt work out of Broken Link Building. That’s because Ahrefs shows you all of a site’s broken links:

Ahrefs – Broken links report

(So there’s no need to run Check My Links a million times)

Analyze Anchor Text

Keyword-rich anchor text can improve your Google rankings… to a point. If your anchor text is too optimized, you could find yourself with a Google penalty.

So check out the “Anchors” report to make sure that most of your anchor text is made up of generic and branded anchors:

Ahrefs – Anchors – Report

Best By Links Growth

This shows you pages that are getting links right now (specifically, within the last day, week or month)

Ahrefs – Best by links growth – Backlinko

Super helpful for figuring out what people in your industry are linking to.

Batch Analysis

If you’re doing SEO at any sort of scale, Batch Analysis is for you. Instead of analyzing URLs one-by-one, you can analyze up to 200 URLs in one go:

Ahrefs – Quick batch analysis

Find Guest Post Opportunities

Did you know that you can use Ahrefs to find sites in your niche that accept guest posts? Well, you can. This video walks you through the steps.

Top Content

This is basically “Best By Links” for social shares. In other words, you can see which pages get shared most often on social media:

Ahrefs – Top content report

There’s a BIG difference between content that gets linked to and content that gets shared (source).

So if your #1 goal is to get shares on social media and referral traffic from blogs and news sites, this is a feature that I recommend checking out.

Conclusion

Ahrefs guide – Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed my new guide to Ahrefs.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

Do you already use Ahrefs?

If so, what’s your favorite feature?

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

  1. Thanks so much for making another VERY helpful guide. Ahrefs is definitely my favorite SEO tool.

    Are you planning on making a definitive guide teaching how to make a study? It would help a lot. And I’m sure there’s demand for it.

    For example, I’m trying to figure out how to write a “sleep industry study” similar to the way you made your google lens study or SEO traffic study. But I can’t find a guide teaching how to make one properly.

    Anyways, keep up the great work!

    1. You’re welcome, Josh. Good question there: I might cover industry studies in a future post. There’s a lot to it. So it’s definitely worth covering in a blog post or YouTube video.

      1. I’ve been using Ahrefs for years. Their backlink data is far more accurate than SEMRush but is not quite 100% accurate enough to use for anything other than getting a glimpse of the complete picture. It’s not accurate enough to use in client reports.

    1. Thanks Marko. Same here. But I signed up for Ahrefs back in 2012. Back then the tool didn’t even have enough features to warrant a guide like this.

  2. Hi Brian, Thank you very much for this amazing Ahref guide. No one can describe things better than you.

    I am also following your writing style and SEO tips on my client’s blog and I must say that the results are continuously improving.

    Keep motivated us.

    Love from India!

    Regards,
    OK Ravi

    1. Ahref is best seo tool out in the market, I have been using it since 2016 and they improved a lot by the time. You have no need to get any other tool to fulfil your seo needs, best feature I love the most is Competitors Backlinks scraping to get some easy backlinks without making your own footprints. Thank you so much for such an informative and indepth guide.

    1. Thanks Andy. I’ve been an Ahrefs customer for 6+ years now. So I’ve picked up a lot of cool little pro tips that I wanted to share in this guide. Which is why I added the advanced Ahrefs tactic chapter to the end of this guide.

  3. Hey Brian,

    As always great stuff 🙂 I am a fan of Sam Oh too – in how he really covers insiders on Ahref.

    That said this is indeed brilliant work, and I wouldn’t have trusted if Sam said Ahref is better than Semrush 😉 . I have subscription for both and I guess site audit by semrush feels much more comprehensive. But then none of these guys beat Seo spider / seo surfer – so yeah might not be good parameter 🙂

    Shared it with my team as usual with a note : Brian dean method 🙂

    As an aside – a pdf would be really handy too for these kind of articles , cause I refer your stuff multiple times over. ( and it gets you more subs 😉 )

    1. Thanks man. I appreciate that. Same here: I have a subscription to Ahrefs and SEMrush. And as I wrote about here, I like them both almost equally. Regarding PDFs: I try to get these done for every post. It’s tricky. But anyway, I appreciate the shares and glad to hear that you enjoyed the post.

  4. Hey Brian, this is an awesome post as expected from you, thoroughly detailed article including everything that a webmaster needs to know.

    Thank you so much for sharing this article, definitely going to try out these and make the most out of AHrefs.

    Thanks,
    Rishav

    1. No problem, Rishav. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been an Ahrefs power user for like 6 years. So I wanted to kind of put my approach together in one place.

  5. Great explained Brian. Really helpful. I’m looking for a tool for backlink now I definitely use ahrefs while using semrush for my paid campaigns.

  6. Just wow, I´ve been using Ahrefs for a few months now, and to be honest, I´m still trying to figure it out. But, with your guide it´s made my job lot easier. Now, I´ll go and play with Ahrefs and apply some of the stuff you mention and see what I can get for my niches. Thank you for this really cool and useful guide. Cheers.

    1. Hi Daniel, you’re welcome. Yup, Ahrefs is a powerful tool. BUT it takes some getting used to. Anyway, glad to hear that this guide helped you out.

  7. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for sharing this useful guide. Now, I will be able to make the most out of my premium Ahrefs account.
    To be honest, you pulled it better than Ahref’s team 🙂

    Keep up the great work!

    Best Regards,
    Himanshu Tyagi

    1. Thank you! This was actually one of the easiest posts I’ve put together in a while. It’s literally a knowledge dump of how I personally use the tool.

  8. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for Definitive Guide, defenetly it will help me to use most features of Ahrefs. Also, if my budget allows only one tool SEMrush or Ahrefs, which one should I pick?
    And, could you plan to write for SEMrush? Thank you so much ❤️

  9. Brian,
    I have been read a lot reviews about Ahrefs even the Ahrefs team… but that review you make is amazing… 100% unique quality content…
    Many thanks
    Claude

    1. Hi Bobby, I actually don’t promote anything as an affiliate on this site. That way, my opinions don’t have any bias. Gotta keep my street cred as the kids say!

      1. Gotcha. So what’s the purpose of it if the Ahrefs guides are even better? I was thinking you go by the 10x rule? (make your content 10x better than anything else out there on the topic). While this is good, it isn’t 10x better than ahrefs guides….

  10. One of the best ever guide on Ahrefs, I admire you most and read your posts most thoroughly. Loving your blog because of user experience and super-high quality of content.
    Lots of Love and best wishes.

    Love & respect
    Amit Mishra

    1. Thanks. I definitely set out to make this the most comprehensive guide to Ahrefs out there. But I have a feeling I’m not going to outrank them for “Ahrefs” anytime soon though 🙂

    1. No worries. Good question there. I’d like to see them improve their front end performance actually. The site can be really slow and sluggish to use. So I rather have them work on that vs new features.

  11. Hey Brian,
    ahrefs is hands down the best SEO Tool in my opinion.
    After years of using it, you could still give me new perspectives on what to precisely look at.
    For example i really liked the CPS – Clicks per Search and RR – Return Ratio that you pointed out again.
    Will have a look at these more often.
    Cheers from Munich and thanks for your alltime great guides. I mean that.
    Timo

    1. Hey Timo, you’re welcome. Yup, I wanted to include everything I’ve learned from using Ahrefs for 6+ years. Glad to hear that you learned some new ways to squeeze value out of your Ahrefs subscription.

  12. As always, you rock with your interesting way of explaining a topic in detail. Although, I have been using Ahrefs for quite a long time, this post has been very helpful in getting more out of this tool. Keep it up Brian!

  13. Thank you got another masterful guide, Brian.

    I was wondering who do you think has more accurate DA metric between Ahrefs and Moz. I use both and I find that Moz rankings are always lower than ahrefs DR metrics. I know that Ahres has a superior crawling system, does that have anything to do with this issue?

    Thanks again!

    1. You’re welcome. I’d say they’re pretty close. Ahrefs probably has the edge due to the crawling system and index that you mentioned.

  14. Hi Brian, Thank you for this wonderful guide. I like ahrefs specially for competitor’s backlinks analysis.

    Have you heard about Surfer SEO tool? They have pretty good on page analysis tool and provides action items. Love to hear your thoughts on it.

  15. Hey Brian,

    I’ve been meaning to mention this to you for a long time since I know you like ahrefs (as do I – been using it for years).

    Did you know that WordPress blocks the ahrefs bot from crawling wordpress.com websites? It results in a 403 error in ahrefs site audit.

    I brought this up with Tim Soulo last year and they are aware of the issue but can’t do anything about it.

    Weird how ahrefs has publicly stated they want to build a search engine, yet they are unable to crawl what amounts to a huge portion of the internet.

    Anyhow, thought I would bring this up to you in case you didn’t already now.

    1. Hey Marshall, good question there. I agree that that’s something that should be fixed. But I can see both sides. As you said, wordpress.com sites make up a huge chunk of the internet. On the other hand, how many legit, valuable and highly-visited sites are on wordpress.com vs a real domain? I think that may be their argument of why it’s not a huge priority. But I could be wrong because I’ve never talked to them about it.

      1. Hey Brian,

        Actually there are a large number of valuable, highly-visited sites that use the wordpress.com platform as the host but using their own ‘real domain’/URL.

        I guess I wasn’t clear enough. I’m talking about websites with their own URLs, but use the wordpress.com platform as the host. My personal website is one (though it hardly fits into the valuable, highly-visited site category).

        We link out to several large manufacturers and organizations in our niche that have their own domain name, but use wordpress.com as the host. These links return a 403 error in the ahrefs site audit.

        So WordPress appears to be blocking ahrefs from crawling ANY website hosted by them, even if the site is ‘valuable and highly-visited’.

        1. Ah OK. That makes more sense now. In that case, you’re 100% right: that is a pretty big flaw in Ahrefs’ crawling abilities.

  16. hello Brian ,
    i am using ahref and thanks for your top guide, this software is very powerful to see many things about a website. I don’t know the others softwares , do you think that there is a software more powerful that this ahref ? i am curious about all the softwares about analyse. i use also screaming frog a good complement i think. what is your opinion, please

  17. I love this guide, Brian 🙂 Thank you! I’ve been using SEMRush for just over a year and the only reason I don’t love it is because of the UX (super important). I’m happy to see that you also feel the same. After all, if you don’t like using something, you won’t! But I also get lost in not knowing exactly what to do with all of its features. I’ve decided to switch over to ahrefs since the price is the same but with a better interface! Thanks for taking the time to share some of the best ways to use this powerful tool (and include explanations for their terms). Cheers, Michele

    1. Hi Michele,

      You’re welcome. Yup, I think the data in SEMrush is just as good (and in many cases better) than Ahrefs. So it’s not really that one is better than the other. Like you, I think that Ahrefs is much easier to use. Especially when it comes to quickly finding the exact report that you need.

  18. Well I also use Ahrefs on daily basis, but there is much discrepancies in it, When we search for a particular keyword it’s sometimes show too much traffic & sometimes very low. A keyword when i searched showed only 29k monthly searches whereas the site with same keyword and domain receives 1 million traffic on the same keyword

  19. Hi Brian,
    This is an amazing guide. It is very useful for someone who uses Ahrefs regularly for various purposes. You have provided a lot of insights on it. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  20. Hi Brian,

    It’s amazing how you consistently put out such comprehensive content. This stuff is truly next-level.

    Thanks
    Mayank

  21. Great article. Thanks again for great content!

    When I’m prospecting a niche, Ahrefs is my favorite tool to take a Scrapebox list of domains from serp top 100 results and then run them through the Batch Analysis tool. Exporting to Excel and filtering domains with a lot of ranking keywords but 0 traffic is a great way to find sites that aren’t ranking well but could.

  22. Once again Brian, you amazed me with the quality of your content. This is absolutely brilliant!

    Although I have been using ahrefs for a bit now, I see there’s still a lot more to get our of it!

    Thanks to you, keep up the great work!

    ps: so glad I subscribed to your newsletter

    1. You’re welcome, Marian. This guide took a bit of time to put together (especially the screenshots and illustrations). But I’m happy with how it turned out.

  23. Memories… I remember the old Ahrefs when I was using it just to see what links I gained and lost in a specific time frame, compared to the rhythm of my competitors. I was so upset when it became a paid tool, glad my company affords it.

  24. I love using the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer without using a specific keyword and just look at what gets the most searches in a country, especially keywords that include specific words.

  25. This is a great article. I hope Ahrefs will create an affiliate program so you can win more out of it. I know I would use that also considering how many people I recommend the tool to every month.

    For a moment I was afraid you were not going to mention Content Gap, it’s a gold mine when your new client does not now what to cover in terms of content.

    I never paid that much attention to traffic value until now. Good tip.

  26. I was real sceptical viewing this post in an email notification, Brian. I though to my self, I know ahrefs and I’m using it every day 🙂 and I know all the tools… But it was so such a pleasure to read, that I felt excited like ”I want to read more, mayby I’m missing something” and you’ve got me reading till the end. Congrats!

  27. Hi Brian,

    I’ve been using Ahrefs for over a year but never tried to figure out the value of so many features like SERP History, Traffic Value etc. that you have explained so beautifully. Thank you so much for this valuable guide.

    This guide could be even more useful with the addition of a section in using Ahrefs filters that can throw up pleasant surprises.

    1. You’re welcome, Trishan. Good suggestion there. Their filtering is one of the things that I like most bout Ahrefs.

  28. Wow, this really is a definitive guide. I’ve been on the fence about subscribing to Ahrefs due to the cost, and this guide gives me a bird’s eye view on what I can do with Ahrefs.

    Thanks Brian!

    1. They have pretty good documentation. But it’s more focused on specific features vs getting the most out of the tool as a whole.

  29. Please make a video on this subject as well. A video will be more easily understood apparently. I will also try to read through this guide, but it takes me much longer to read an article than to watch a video.

  30. Hi Brian,

    Thank you so much for creating another VERY valuable manual & handy Ahref Guide. Ahrefs is unquestionably my favourite search engine optimization tool. Also, this is truly wonderful stuff. As a new user, I have learned a great deal of new things from this article. Thank you for your hard work. Much love and keep up the great work!

  31. Brian Dean, it’s all fascinating no matter the complex way SEO appears to be!!!

    Am inspired by you… I need to begin… The idea of SEO is new to me and I believe it’s possible to learn, grow as well as become great at it!!!

    Thanks Brian

    1. You’re welcome, Nicholas. SEO is definitely not easy. Or straightforward. But it’s probably the best ROI channel out there. So it’s worth learning.

  32. This is great Brian. I’ve only just signed up to your mailing list and I’m also new to AHREFS. Perfect timing!

  33. Hey Brian, another great article. I’m new to SEO, one of your students Sa El, Sam Oh, Tim, and you got me excited about SEO a couple of months ago.
    Thank you for showing me what the SERP graph is, I didn’t know how to use it and just bypassed it every time, now I’ll slow down and look at it.
    The other thing, since I just started and didn’t know where to start, I decided to look at big players in the space, look for low keyword difficulty opportunities with a high CPC, and judging from your article that’s not a bad place to start.
    Once again, thank you for your great content.

    1. Hey Ron, thank you. For sure: looking for low KD keywords with high CPC is a great place to start with keyword research.

  34. One of the best guide on ahrefs, the features and things you have mentioned most of users are not aware about that. This post is really so much helpful for those who likes tool like ahrefs. Thanks for sharing

  35. I am a massive supporter of Ahrefs and have had a subscription with them for the past 2 months. Very informative insight into how to make use of it properly.

    1. Hey Kevin, great. Yup, Ahrefs is a great tool and one that I’ve been using for years. Which is why I decided to create this guide.

  36. Brian – I am a user of Ahrefs and love their reports, and also their blog (which is kind of a competitor to yours 😉).
    I love the tip about sorting by traffic value – definitely going to use that next.

    1. Thanks Aaron. For sure: when it comes to SEO they’re definitely a competitor. We’re both gunning for a lot of the same keywords.

  37. I already knew most of Ahrefs’ features, but I still completed the guide, because it’s written by Brian, and the design of the page is no doubt, super amazing.
    Brian, how do you get these super high quality screenshots? Which screenshot tool/extension do you use?
    Anyway, love you!

    1. Hey Karan, thank you. To answer your question, those screenshots are all custom edited and designed in photoshop to highlight the important parts.

  38. Thanks for the guide. Nice to have all the main ahrefs features in one place. I’d be curious to see your comparison of all the main backlink database providers (ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush, Majestic, etc.) by someone like yourself whose judgement isn’t clouded by affiliate links. Why do you use SEMrush and ahrefs, for example? What are the best features of each of them?

  39. Hey Brian, thanks for sharing this amazing blog. It’s been two years since I have started my career as an SEO Analyst. And, I am reading your blogs ever since that day.

    Trust me, your blogs have helped me a lot. Now, coming back to the topic, I have been using Ahref from past few months and there are so many features that are mentioned above in the blog, I have never explored. Well, they say never late to learn. So, thanks again 🙂

  40. Brian, Ahrefs is such an important tool and you explain and break things down so easily! I appreciate your effort in trying to help as many people as you can. Its refreshing.

  41. I just Love the way you explained each and everything about Ahrefs, I have been using ahrefs since 2 years and found very useful. Thank you for your guide, it’s really helpful 🙂

  42. Hi Brian,

    I always was unsure if this tool is worth the money or not (considering also that I’m a country with average salary quite low).
    I’m watching quite often their video on youtube, but now you convinced me and I bought a subscription.

    Thanks for the info and cheers mate!

  43. This guide opened my eyes to feature that i didn’t even know about in Ahrefs. I wish there instructions where as clear to understand as your blog. Thank you for taking the time to write it and also sharing it. I got so much out of it!

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