How to Use Ahrefs for SEO and Competitor Research
Is it Ahrefs or A hrefs? Call it what you will, but we still have the same great SEO tools. Now, you might have heard about us from a friend or maybe you learned a cool hack from your favorite blogger. But how do you actually use Ahrefs to get more traffic to your website and improve SEO? You’re about to find out in this video.
Stay tuned. [music] What’s up marketers? Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche. Now while there are virtually an endless number of ways you can use our toolset, today, I’m going to share with you 11 ways to use Ahrefs that can actually help you get more traffic and hopefully, more business Ahrefs for SEO
Let’s get to it. The first feature Ahrefs is by far my favorite, and that’s to find content opportunities based on your competitor’s pages that get the most search traffic. Think about this. If you could know the pages that are driving the most search traffic for your competitors, then wouldn’t you want to get in on that action? Well, it’s super easy to do with Site Explorer Ahrefs for SEO
Just type in a domain of one of your competitors.Ahrefs for SEO Next, go to The top pages report. And this report ranks a website’s pages based on the estimated organic search traffic they get. And by default, the country that drives the most organic traffic is selected. But you can switch the dropdown to “All countries” to see the total search traffic these pages get globally.
If you want to find low competition topics, then just look at the total search traffic vs. the number of referring domains. Here’s a good one. This page is about using tags on YouTube videos,Ahrefs for SEO which only has 4 unique websites linking to it and gets over 10,000 search visitors each month. Ahrefs for SEO also have another report called “Top subfolders” which is similar to Top pages but gives you an additional layer of data.
This report shows you the pages and subfolders of a website that get the most organic traffic. So as you can see, Brian’s YouTube hub generates around 19% of his website’s total search traffic. So not only can you learn new topics to write about, but you’ll also learn a little bit about site structure of a broader topic.
The next way to use Ahrefs for SEO is to research both the quality of your competitors backlinks and get an understanding of how they got them. Let’s go back to the Top pages report for a popular health blog. You’ll see that this page on keto dieting has over 900 unique websites linking to it. Let’s click on the number here, which will open up the Referring domains report, which lists all unique websites that are linking to this page.
You can immediately see that the websites linking to this page are quality sites like the New York Times, CNBC, cancer.org and more. But it’s not always this kosher. For example, you’ll see that this page has links from nearly 200 websites, which is no joke. But if you look at the Referring domains report, you can immediately tell that the quality of the links aren’t great quality just by looking at the domain names that are linking to it.
To paint an even clearer picture, click on the “Link type” filter and you’ll see that more than half of their links are nofollowed, which just seems unnatural. Let’s go back to the original example. If we want to dig deeper into the linking pages for this keto diet web page, we can go to the “Backlinks” report in the sidebar.
This page shows you where the link is coming from, metrics on the linking page, and then the context of the backlink. For example, you’ll see that this link was earned because of a stat from the page. But filtering through all of the linking pages would take a long time. So you can actually use filters to narrow in on a specific subset of links.
For example, if you wanted to reach out to all linking pages that are from other blog posts, you could set the link type filter to “Content,” which will show you only pages that are linking to the target within a blob of text. Or if you wanted to only find followed links, then you can set the link type to “Dofollow,” which will narrow it down to only the value-passing links.
But let’s say that you’re a huge fan of resource page link building. You can easily find link building opportunities by using the Include search box. Just type in a common footprint like “resources.” Then we’ll set these two checkboxes since that’s where our keyword usually appears.
And if we click through to the first linking page, you’ll see that it seems like a perfectly good place where you could reach out and get your page added. In general, for backlinks reports, I recommend doing this at the page level, because analyzing links of an entire domain will likely be too large to get really actionable data from.
The next way is to find low competition topics with high traffic potential. And you can do this using Content Explorer, which is our very own search engine with a database of over one billion pages. Just type in a general keyword related to your niche. So I’ll type in backpacks. And since we know that backlinks help a page rank high in Google, we’ll set the maximum number of referring domains to zero to help us identify low competition topics.
Finally, we’ll set the Organic traffic filter to a minimum value of 1,000. Now what this combination of filters does, is it shows us all of the pages that contain the word “backpacks,” have zero backlinks pointing at them, and get over 1,000 search visitors per month. Plus, we take the guesswork out of knowing which keywords to create your content around.
Just click on the Details button and then the Organic keywords tab, and you’ll see the keywords they rank for, their ranking position, and the amount of traffic each keyword accounts for. Try this with a broad keyword related to your niche, and you might just find yourself some great topics you can get traffic from.
The next use case is to find keyword data from 10 different search engines. Keywords Explorer is Ahrefs for SEO ‘ keyword research tool. It’s super simple to use. Just choose a search engine, whether that be Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, or any of these other platforms, enter your keyword, and run the search.
Since we chose Google, you’ll see some helpful keyword metrics like Keyword difficulty, Search volume, Clicks data, and more. You can generate more keyword ideas from any of the reports here in the sidebar, or you can dig deeper into this search query by scrolling down and analyzing the position history, and the top 10 ranking results.
Let’s move on to the next use case, and that’s to find a ton of relevant guest blogging sites. If you’ve ever looked for guest posting opportunities, you’ve probably done it using Google search operators. You’d probably searched for something like “write for us” and then added a general topic like “camping.
” Now there are a few problems with this. First, you don’t have any of the SEO metrics so you won’t know if writing for this site would have any benefit at all. And second, you’ll almost always have to spend a ton of time filtering through a lot of irrelevant results. And three, you’re really limiting yourself to sites that have “contribute” or “write for us” pages, which will be tough, especially if you’re in a small niche.
And just because a website doesn’t have a write for us page, it doesn’t mean they won’t accept guest posts. Well, Content Explorer can solve all of these problems and then some. Let’s start by typing a keyword into Content Explorer. And I’ll click on the “One article per domain” filter since we don’t need to pitch the same website more than once.
Finally, you can filter this set of results down even more by using the Domain Rating filter. And Domain Rating is an Ahrefs for SEO metric which represents the overall strength of a website’s backlink profile. So if you’re new to guest blogging, then you might set the Domain Rating filter down to 30-40, which is the perfect way to find smaller sites so you can get some practice pitching, writing and building your portfolio.
And if you’re a seasoned guest blogger, then you can set the Domain Rating filter to something like 50-70, which will narrow in on more established blogs. Now pitch a good number of sites and you’re off to the races. We have a full video on scaling guest blogging, so if this is something that you use as a link building or marketing strategy, I highly recommend watching that.
Now, let’s look at a way to use Ahrefs for SEO to find new link building opportunities on complete autopilot. In our backlinks study, we found that top ranking pages are more likely to consistently acquire new links simply because of their ranking position. And this happens because higher ranking pages will naturally get more exposure.
Knowing this, you can use Ahrefs for SEO ‘ Backlinks alerts to find out where these top ranking pages are getting their links from… in real time. Here’s how it’s done. First, go to Google and type in the keyword you want to rank for. Next, copy the URL of the top ranking page. Now, go to Alerts, and create a new Backlinks alert.
Just paste in the top ranking URL and set the Scope to “New.” Now, any time this page gets a new backlink, you’ll get an email notification. And if you see an opportunity to pitch your page, then you’ll have timing on your side and that’s a critical component to successful outreach.
But don’t limit yourself to the #1 ranking page. You might as well create new alerts for the top 3 or top 5 pages to maximize your opportunities. The next feature in Ahrefs for SEO that you have to use is our Content Gap tool. This tool can show you keywords that one or more of your competitors are ranking for, where your website isn’t.
Logically speaking, if two or more of your direct organic search competitors are ranking for these keywords, then there’s a good chance that you should go and target them too. To get started, enter your domain into Site Explorer. Next, go to the Сontent gap tool in the sidebar. In the top section, enter in a couple of your competitors’ domains.
After you’ve done that, I recommend changing this dropdown to “all of the below targets.” This will keep our results super relevant by only showing keywords where both of these websites rank, and yours doesn’t. I also recommend leaving this checkbox checked, so only keywords where one of your competitors ranks in the top 10 will be shown.
Again, another way to get relevant results. And I can see a couple of great keywords that we can create content around like a guide on using Google Search Console as well as YouTube SEO. But our Content gap tool is super unique in that you can actually run these reports at the page level. Let’s say that we want to create a blog post on YouTube SEO.
First, I’ll click on the SERP button beside that keyword to see the top ranking pages for this keyword. Next, I’ll copy the top 3 relevant ranking results and paste them into the top section. And I’ll actually delete our URL at the bottom. If we run the search, you’ll be able to see all of the keywords that the top ranking pages rank for.
So you can then use this keyword list as an outline for content that you’re about to create. Just skim through the keywords and try and extract sub topics within it. The next feature will help you preserve “link juice” from your broken pages. Think about this for a second. If you have links pointing at a page, but it’s returning a 404 response code, then you’re completely wasting perfectly good links.
You can find these pages really quick in Site Explorer. Just search for your domain. And then go to the Best by links report. This report shows you the pages on your website that have the most backlinks. To find your broken pages, just click on the HTTP code filter and choose “404 not found.” All you need to do now is fix the page or add a redirect to another relevant page, and fix any internal URLs pointing at the broken page.
Now, this is great to fix issues on your own website, but why not look up your competitors’ websites to find broken link building opportunities? Just change the URL in the search bar to a competing website. Then, set the HTTP code filter to 404. And we now have tons of new topics that we can create content around and people to reach out to with some good old-fashioned broken link building.
We have a full step-by-step tutorial on doing broken link building with stats and all, so I highly recommend watching that after. Now, we’ve talked a lot about keyword research and link building, so let’s switch gears to technical SEO. With Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool, you can scan your website for over 100 common technical SEO issues.
After you’ve run your crawl, go to the Overview report and scroll to the table near the bottom, which shows you all of the technical SEO issues we found. For example, if we click on “404 page,” it’ll open up Data explorer and show all of the broken pages we found on your website. And the reason why we were able to find these pages is because there are internal links on your website pointing at them.
So you’d probably want to remove these. You can just click on the number of inlinks beside the page you want to investigate, export the report, and then you or your developer can remove the internal outlinks. Site Audit also has dedicated reports to specific technical categories like page speed, HTML tags, and more.
Let’s go to the HTML tags report. You’ll see that a lot of the pages are missing a meta description tag. So let’s click on that error, which will open up Data explorer showing you the affected pages. A cool feature with things like meta descriptions and titles is that you can actually add a description by clicking the plus button here, and enter in the text that you want to input.
After you’ve created all of your notes, go to the “to-do” report and you can export the results, send it to your developer, and have them add your descriptions. So we’ve covered a lot of ground with the main categories in SEO, but what about measuring ranking performance? Well, we’ve got Rank Tracker for that.
With Rank Tracker, you can see where your pages rank in Google for any keyword on desktop and mobile across 170 countries. But I want to show you a couple of unique features within Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker that can help you take performance optimization to the next level. First up is our SERP feature tracking.
In total, we track 13 SERP features for all of your keywords. Not only do we show you which features are visible in the SERPs, but we show you the history of these tracked features which you may have owned. Another unique feature within Rank Tracker is the Competitors report. You can track up to 5 of your competitors and see how you match up against them on graphs for various categories.
These are just a dozen or so use cases that you can do with Ahrefs. But there’s a lot more you can do than this. So I’ve got a question for you. If you’re already an Ahrefs user, I’d love to hear about which feature you use most. And if you’re not, which feature would you want to use most.
Make sure to leave a comment below and if you enjoyed this video, make sure to like, share and subscribe. And I highly recommend watching the playlist below to get in-depth training on specific topics like keyword research, link building, technical SEO and more. So keep grinding away, and I’ll see you in the next video.
Source Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oU8lclN114