Are you looking to take your SEO game to a new level? Well, then it’s time to make some fine additions to your digital marketing toolkit. As Google continues to refine its search engine algorithms, only those who successfully manage their SEO campaigns from end-to-end get rewarded. There are tons of helpful digital marketing tools out there – each with unique capabilities, pros, and cons. In this review, we take a massive dive into Ahrefs – one of the most powerful, all-in-one SEO tools.
What is Ahrefs?
Ahrefs is a comprehensive SaaS tool for backlink and SEO analysis. According to their website, Ahrefs helps users learn why competitors rank higher and provides insights on how you can outrank them. It particularly stands above other SEO tools due to its vast index of live backlinks and sophisticated crawling set-up. With their innovative technology, Ahrefs can help you with keyword research, content creation, link building, rank tracking, organic traffic analysis, competitor research, website audits, and so much more. As you read ahead, you will learn why Ahrefs is particularly useful in the SEO process and how you can tap into its unlimited power.
How to get started with Ahrefs
Ahrefs is a web-based SEO solution, so it does not require any installation. To get started, you have to sign up for a paid plan or a 7-day trial. The trial option lets you test out the Lite or Standard plan for one week at a price of $7 and it is super helpful and gives you a good feel for what the tool has to offer before making a decision on a paid plan. Once you sign in and get access to the user dashboard, you can start setting up your projects on Ahrefs. The next section will guide you through the project set up process before digging deeper into Ahrefs features.
Ahrefs dashboard displays the most relevant stats and important data for your website. But before getting here, you have to set up a project. The process is very straightforward, so you won’t spend too much time. From the dashboard, locate the “New Project” button and click on it. It redirects you to a window where you can input the project you’re working on.
You’ll need to provide the right details here, as setting up this wrongly will yield different results. As you will see, the project could be an entire website, subdomain, or single web page; so make sure to select the correct mode.
Finally, complete your set up by adding the keywords and competitors you’d like to monitor. Ahrefs expedites this process by analyzing your website and suggesting keywords and competitors you should track. Another important thing you should set up is alerts. Ahrefs delivers fresh alerts for new keywords, backlinks, and mentions via email. What’s really cool is how you can manage these alerts from a central place on Ahrefs, unlike most SEO tools that spread them across different sections. Ahrefs knows the power of timely alerts and they serve you with important information for your campaigns.
Features of Ahrefs
1. Site explorer
Now we get to Ahrefs’ most comprehensive tool, the Site Explorer. This section provides everything you need to know about your website performance. The Ahrefs Site Explorer offers deep insights into your backlinks, domain ranks, and a bunch of other valuable metrics. As An SEO enthusiast, you need complete information for efficient website analysis and competitor research. Ahrefs’ Site Explorer provides such on-the-spot figures backed with tables, graphs and other visual representations for easier interpretation. (Check the snapshot below for our site explorer stats at the time of writing)
As you can see, the Site Explorer is Ahrefs’ treasure trove of valuable information presented in a user-friendly manner for your SEO campaign. More specifically, this tool shows:
- Domain rating
- Backlinks count
- Referring domains count
- Organic keywords rank
- Anchors text table
- Top landing pages
- Outgoing links
- Competing domains and pages
- Content gaps
- Website rank (out of all websites)
- Paid keywords
2. Content Explorer
It’s not always easy for writers to discern exactly what they need to write about without doing some research upfront. Ahrefs Content Explorer is a great research tool that can help find unique and epic content ideas.
One thing we loved about Ahrefs content explorer is that it displays detailed results for every topic you search immediately. Ahrefs boasts an index of over 800 million pieces of content on various topics. They also add over five million new pieces to this database every day. We know the figures are absolutely insane but leaving that aside, how does this benefit the user? It means you can enter any keyword or phrase into the Content Explorer and Ahrefs will kick back a ton of ideas. Better yet, you can filter the results to meet certain criteria. Here’s a snapshot of Ahrefs Content Explorer upon searching the topic “content marketing”.
That’s an incredible 600,443 pages with the topic “content marketing“ on the web. You can use the drop-down button to filter the information based on the publish date, domain rating, word count, language, social shares, and much more. Overall, the amount of information on Ahrefs content explorer is amazing and super helpful. You can use it to not only create top-performing content for your pages but also identify potential outreach channels within your niche.
3. Keyword Explorer
The Keyword Explorer is another impressive feature that makes Ahrefs a go-to tool for keyword research. It displays standard metrics for keyword planning such as keyword difficulty and keyword volume. It also shows a “Global Volume” section, which filters keywords based on the country. One thing that will blow you off is the way Ahrefs displays the results in a clean, organized and well-structured manner. Check the snapshot below showing a random search for the keyword “seo services” on Ahrefs.
The Keyword Explorer has other interesting keyword stats that you won’t come across in other tools. One example is the “Clicks”- a metric that shows the number of searches and clicks for a target keyword. Another useful metric is the “Return rate” that shows how many times people search for a particular keyword a repeated number of times. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer is also great for SERP analysis because it provides a replication of Google’s organic search results, but this time with SEO information.
Despite this awesomeness, we found out that Ahrefs could improve this feature by enhancing the “Keyword Ideas” section. For most keywords, the explorer did not provide many suggestions. For others, it had no suggestion at all- fairly disappointing.
4. Rank Tracker
The Rank Tracker is the newest tool on Ahrefs. Although it was released recently, this tool holds great potential for improving your SEO campaign. While on the rank tracker dashboard, there are four tabs showing different details. These are:
- Competitors tab – It helps you to compare your website’s progress against that of your competitors. This comes in handy when keeping track of your rankings and how well you can stay on top of the game.
- Pages tab – This report groups keywords you’ve tracked by their corresponding pages.
- Metrics tab – Ahrefs integrated all their keyword tracking metrics in this feature. You can check virtually everything you need to know about measuring keyword performance in this tab.
- Grossing tab – It primarily focuses on how your tracked keywords improved over time. It displays their progress over that last 7, 30, and 90 days- on both desktop and mobile platforms.
5. Site Audit
Now that you know how to get the most difficult stuff (keyword research, content creation, and link building) out of your way, it’s time to look into onsite-errors that may hinder your success. This is where the Ahrefs site Audit feature comes in handy. The tool helps you diagnose common issues with your website without lifting a finger. It can help you find:
- Rogue “no-index” tags and other HTM tag issues
- Slow loading pages
- Missing meta descriptions
- Thin content
- Internal and external link issues such as broken links
Other than the features highlighted above, Ahrefs provides more value through additional features namely:
- Domain Comparison – The domain comparison feature allows you to compare up to five related domains. It will provide data on their social followers, domain rating, referring domains, backlinks, and other SEO-related metrics.
- Batch Analysis – This feature allows gives you access to comprehensive reports comparing hundreds of URLs. Comparison metrics in the report include website traffic, domain authority, backlink count and more.
- Link Intersect – This is a handy tool for finding potential link-building opportunities. It helps you identify sites that link out to your competitors.
- SEO toolbar – Like other SEO tools, Ahrefs also has a useful toolbar that can be installed on your Chrome or Firefox browser as an extension. This SEO toolbar is useful but offers nothing extraordinary. It displays your domain rating and backlinks stats on individual pages as well as SERPs.
- Ahrefs API and applications – There is an API that allows you to use Ahrefs database externally. However, you must seek approval and make a subscription to use it for your projects. Ahrefs also allows third-party integrations. At the time of writing, there were eight third-party applications using Ahrefs’ data. These add-on applications need to be purchased separately.
Ahrefs offers several pricing packages that suit the needs of different users- from individual website owners to e-commerce stores and large digital marketing agencies. You have the freedom to choose from four subscription plans as shown in the snapshot.
From the options above, it is clear that Ahrefs pricing is relatively higher compared to most SEO tools in the market. However, there’s a catch-all these amazing features come at a price. As the plans become more expensive, so do the features, data limits and updates increase. Ahrefs also gives users access to a 7-day trial version for the Lite and Standard plans for only $7. If you are, for whatever reason, not contented with the tool, you can cancel your trial version by sending an email to the support team before the one-week trial period ends.
Worth a mention is that Ahrefs allows you to downgrade or upgrade your subscription option at any time depending on your needs. If you want to save more on your subscription, consider choosing the annual billing option which allows you to enjoy up to 20% savings. This is worth a whopping 2-months of free subscription.
Usability and customer satisfaction
Ahrefs has a clean and easy-to-use interface. The logical flow of data across the dashboard is something you’ll love. As you might have noted before, a common problem with most SEO tools is how they deal with tons of data. Some tools show too much information with little regard to the platform’s interface. Others prefer not showing some information to maintain a clean user-interface. However, Ahrefs pulls off a winner in this- it strikes the right balance of maintaining a friendly user interface and providing abundant data. The tool particularly makes good use of collapsible, easy-to-navigate sections coupled with advanced filtering across the dashboard.
After a careful evaluation of the tool by the team at SEOMofo and checking through thousands of reviews from users on the web, we affirm that Ahrefs provides so much value to business owners and accomplished SEO professionals. However, the tool is not designed for casual bloggers, low-budget marketers, or webmasters who rarely update their websites. The same applies to pioneers in a completely new market. For instance, it was difficult for Uber to get data about its niche following its launch in the year 2010.
Ahrefs main competitors
There are a couple of tools that could serve as alternatives to Ahrefs, with SEMrush and Moz leading the competition. Other SEO analysis and research tools such as Serpstat could also be ideal for users who are on a budget.
The Pros and Cons of Ahrefs
In summary, we have put together the strongpoints and downsides of Ahrefs in this table.
A wide range of innovative features that provide invaluable data/metrics
Highly responsive customer support
Access to a private Facebook community
Loads of training materials for all users
Regular features and update releases
Largest backlink database among SEO tools
No free trial
Numerous restrictions and low limits on the Lite option
No integration with Google Analytics
Ahrefs is a great tool that keeps the entire SEO industry on its toes, thanks to its brilliant capabilities. This tool leads the pack when it comes to link-building. There’s a caveat though- the large amount of data generated by Ahrefs and provided to the user could be really confusing especially to first-time users. You do not want this to get along your way during link building or any other aspect of your SEO campaign. For this reason, SEO Mofo recommends that users take their time in learning and understanding the data. This way, it will be easier to leverage the data and take your SEO efforts to new heights.
Overall, Ahrefs is one of the big guns for anyone looking to stay ahead of the competition. Most notably because of its massive database of backlinks and informative statistics that are backed by a set of impressive features.