Ahrefs Guide: How To Use Ahrefs for SEO, Content & Link Building

The biggest problem for website owners and marketers in 2016 and beyond isn’t the tools available. It’s figuring out how to use the tools they have.

Ahrefs is one of the (if not the) most powerful suites of social media & SEO tools that I’ve ever used. Most SEOs know it as a “backlink checker” that competes with Majestic and intelligence/analytics tools with smaller indices like Moz & SEMRush. But “backlink checker” grossly undersells Ahrefs as a marketing suite.

Ahrefs has so many features that you can get lost and resort to simply staring at your own links – maybe rank tracking a few keywords. Here’s the guide to how to use Ahrefs that I wish existed when I first signed up.

*Reader’s Note 1 – this guide was originally published in Oct. 2015. It’s been updated throughout for July 2016 to reflect Ahref’s new design.

*Reader’s Note 2 – all images are clickable if you want to see the full resolution.

Glossary
Dashboard
Site Explorer (Link Data)
Site Explorer (Search Data)
Content Explorer
Keywords Explorer
Ahrefs Tools

Ahrefs Glossary

Every piece of software has its own little universe of jargon. I’ll use these words throughout the guide. So here’s a glossary of terms.

URL Rating – Ahrefs’ measure of the quantity and quality of links pointing to a given URL. Link quantity and quality correlate with higher rankings in search engines.

Domain Rating – Ahrefs’ measure of the quantity and quality of links pointing to an entire domain. Link quantity and quality correlate with higher rankings for all URLs on a domain in search engines.

Ahrefs Rank – Ahrefs’ ranking of a domain’s rating relative to all the other domains on the Internet.

Backlinks – The number of hyperlinks pointing to a URL.

Referring Page – The number of pages with a hyperlink pointing to a URL. A page can have multiple links.

Referring Domains – The number of unique domains with a hyperlink pointing to a URL. A domain can have multiple referring pages and backlinks.

Referring Content – Ahrefs’ measure of the relative traffic that a unique piece of content sends to a given URL based on the popularity of the referring content.

Anchors – The anchor text used within a URL’s backlinks.

Sitewide / Not Sitewide – Ahrefs’ categorization of a link showing whether it shows in the same location on every page of a referring domain or not.

Fresh Index/Live Index – This is a new feature rolled out in an effort to maintain a historical index of links. Here’s the full blog post and here’s the Ahrefs definition:

  • Live Index – contains all links that were “live” on Ahrefs’ last re-crawl;
  • Fresh Index – contains all links that Ahrefs’ has seen “live” in the last 3 months (including those that were “dead” on the last re-crawl).

In the post, Ahrefs also says that they are “going to add a “Historic” index, that would include all backlinks that we seen live starting from 13th of August 2015.”

Top Pages – A given URLs’ top pages based on the criteria that you sort for.

Ahrefs Dashboard

The Ahrefs Dashboard is where you keep track of all your data. You can add a URL to keep a running snapshot of a domains health. It will quickly show you any technical crawl errors, new links, new referring domains, and a snapshot of Ahrefs’ domain rating and URL ranking.

Ahrefs Dashboard

On the dashboard you can also keep track of keyword rankings, any content alerts, and any links that you are trying to disavow.

Key Features

I think the main features of the Ahrefs’ dashboard are keyword rankings and content alerts. Although I don’t think rankings are as important as they used to be back in the days of old school SEO, they can be an interesting diagnostic indicator, and another data point to factor into your analysis. Since tracking is included with Ahrefs, it’s worth adding your critical keywords.

Alerts are useful for both planning outreach and for competitive analysis. Target several phrases that are directly relevant to your website so that you can get a feed whenever a new piece of content is published around that phrase or keywords.

Ahrefs Content Alerts

Fun Hacks

Email notifications are boring, but setting them up is a great way to hack your habits and discipline so that you can use Ahrefs’ data.

Unless you are extraordinarily disciplined, it’s easy to let monitoring and alerts slide. That’s why I love setting up Google Analytics intelligence alerts and Ahrefs’ email notifications. Set them up at a useful interval, and you’ll never miss an issue.

Ahrefs Alerts

Site Explorer (Link Data)

Site Explorer is Ahrefs’ bread and butter. It allows you to enter in a URL and check that URLs backlinks – and, as of 2016, everything from organic keywords to social data to PPC data as well. This section will focus on the Link Data.

Ahrefs gets this data by running a crawler around the Web just like Googlebot. Every backlink checker tries to replicate how & where Googlebot crawls links. No backlink checker is Googlebot. And no crawler can cover the entire Web. According to analysis by some of the best technical SEOs, Ahrefs is at the front of the pack.

Why? With Site Explorer, they not only have a large link index that closely replicates the Googlebot, they also extract & overlay additional data.

They pull out anchor text (the actual text within the link), backlink type, backlink follow status, social metrics, IP Address, and HTTP status. These additional pieces of information – paired with an enormous index of URLs – sets Ahrefs apart and turns it into a marketer’s suite.

Ahrefs Site Explorer

The Site Explorer, however, is also the most daunting of all the tools because there is so much information. So here’s what I think are the key features.

Key Features of Site Explorer’s Link Data

The first key feature is Inbound Links. Search engines use Inbound Links as a proxy for human endorsement. More links from trustworthy sites on relevant pages equals more organic traffic. The links feature allows you to pull all the links to a specific URL and then sift and sort to dig up the information you want.

The second key feature is Top Content. This feature allows to look at how specific pages on a URL perform. You can sift and sort by links, shares, or Ahrefs weighted importance score.

The third key feature is Top Referring Content. This feature shows you what content on the Internet that has a link to the URL you are exploring has the most links/shares or estimated traffic. You can get a ballpark estimate of what links send referral traffic to your URL.

The fourth and last key feature appears in both Inbound and Outbound Links – and that is Broken Links. This feature shows you which links are linking to or linking out to a URL that no longer exists.

What You Can Do With Site Explorer

Whatever you are used to doing with other backlink checkers, you can do with Ahrefs. There’s plenty you can do directly in the main screen, but keep in mind that you can also do an Export to Excel / Google Sheets if that’s your native work environment.

Determine What Marketing Tactics Are Working for Competitors

You can take your competitors – big and small – and see where they are getting their links from. You can go and try to get the same links. Or (and I recommend this approach), you can use the information to understand what has been working in the industry and use it to develop your own unique tactics.

Ahrefs Competitive Analysis

You can also look at Referring Domains, which will group the links by domain.

Ahrefs Site Explorer Link Types

Determine What Content Does Well

We all browse the Internet in a “filter bubble.” Sometimes it’s hard to believe that a site or blog post that you love isn’t more widely shared.

Or at a more higher level, many marketers think that the content that generates shares will also directly generate links. That perception is a myth.

You can use the top content report to understand exactly what works well. Understand what pages actually get links if you are building your organic presence. Understand what gets shares. Understand what types of content gets picked up.

Top Content Report

Do press releases matter? Do infographics actually work? What’s the one piece of content for competitors or industry publications that drives 80% of their links and shares.

Ahrefs Top Content by Shares

You can answer all those questions with the Top Content report.

Identify Low-Hanging Fruit / Easy Link Opportunities

Site Explorer has a Link Intersect report that allows you to input several URLs and learn which websites are linking to competitors (or industry sites), but not your site. You can get this same data by exporting links from several sites and running a few Excel tricks. But the link intersect tool does it quickly.

Does an industry publication have links to all your competitors, but forget to link to you? Is there a reporter that interviews your competitors but not you?

Link Intersect

Link Intersect Results

Find out with the link intersect tool and discover some quick wins that will bring you up to an even playing field.

Identify Influential Marketing Prospects

You can use a combination of the Top Referring Content report and the Inbound Links report to identify influential websites that are already linking to competitors and/or industry publications. But you can take it a step further and sort by Domain or URL Rating to figure out who matters the most. In a world of limited resources and time – priorities matter.

Referring Content

But be sure to note your goals…

Referring Content

Sometimes the influencers are not in the markets you expect. In the example above – REIs biggest influencers are in the travel hacking & survivalist. niches

Conduct A Broken Link Building Campaign

Broken link-building is one of the most effective and consistent link-building tactics in SEO. The idea is to find resources that no longer exist, rebuild them, then pitch to get the links pointing at the broken resource switched to point at yours. Or, on the flipside, correct any broken links that your site has.

Site Explorer Broken Links Report

I’ve written a full guide to Broken Link Building here. You can do broken link building manually, but Ahrefs’ broken link reports allow you to do broken link building efficiently and effectively.

Pro-tip – Jon Cooper of PointBlankSEO built a handy Chrome Extension called LinkMiner that pulls from Ahrefs data, allowing you to prospect quickly as you research.

Fun Hacks with Site Explorer

Quickly Find Worthwhile Broken Links

Take a giant site and look at Broken Outbound Links. You’ll quickly get a list of broken resources. Take all those URLs, and look at Inbound Links. The sites that link to your broken URLs are prospects for a broken link building campaign.

Outbound Broken Link Building

The inverse works also works well. Take a giant site – one that has plenty of resource pages. Pull Broken Inbound Links. Then pull the links pointed to those URLs. That will be your prospect list for a Broken Link Building campaign.

Explore Wikipedia & Top Publishers

Pull link metrics on Wikipedia URLs related to your industry – remember that you can search by subfolder. Create marketing ideas around the results.

Wikipedia Links

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Take a publishing focused site either in your industry or related to your industry and pull a top content report. This will allow you to skip to content that you know works. It will also give you link opportunities that are outside of what your competitors have.

Explore Publishing Site Links

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Take an industry publication or industry-related Wikipedia pages. Pull a Top Referring Content report. You’ll likely get list that includes mainstream media publications. Click through and do research on the journalist who linked out to the piece.

Publisher Content

Narrow Results

As I mentioned with Wikipedia, don’t forget that you can search for just a subdomain, a subfolder or a specific URL in Site Explorer.

URL Prefix

Site Explorer (Search Data)

Site Explorer’s Search Data (formerly Positions Explorer) shows what keywords a domain is ranking for, then provides estimates for what kind of traffic that domain and its pages are getting organically.

It also tracks paid positions. Think of it like rank tracking for every domain on the Internet.

Positions Explorer crawls Google search results pages (SERPs) and aggregates the data into something you can search. They also pull search volume from Keyword Planner. Then it triangulates the organic traffic going to a domain based on standard click-through rates per position.

A couple caveats – and this goes for every “traffic estimation tool” including SimilarWeb, Compete, SEMRush, etc – everything in this tool is ballpark estimation. I do not recommend you use it for reporting. There are many variables in play – each with a lot of margin of error. Don’t let the exactness of the numbers lull you into a sense of certainty. Ahrefs pulls keyword data fast & frequently, but be sure to check key rankings manually & against Keyword Planner.

With that said, I’ll go ahead and state that this is Ahrefs’ most underestimated tool. Either that, or the marketers who know about it aren’t talking about it. Regardless, here we go.

Key features

Keyword Site Explorer

The most obvious feature is Ahrefs’ estimation for how many significant keywords (i.e., they have search volume) a domain is ranking for and their estimation of traffic based on those keywords.

That overview feature is interesting, but again, not super-useful without some context.

The feature that provides 80% of this tool’s value is the Top Pages feature under both Organic and Paid sections.

The other notable features are the Top Competitors, which shows what domains most frequently share the same search results as the domain you’re looking for. And also the PPC ads, which shows you a sample of PPC ads in the SERPs.

What You Can Do With Positions Explorer

Understand Top Content for Other Websites

Although the exact numbers in Positions Explorer are not accurate, the relationships and differential among the pages & keywords is accurate.

In other words, even if a given URL doesn’t drive XX visits per month, if it is listed as the Top Organic Page – that position is accurate. The difference in traffic between the top URL and the second URL is accurate as well – both for a couple reasons.

First, because even if the traffic numbers aren’t exactly right, their relative volumes are correct. Head terms show more volume than long-tail terms. Second, because on the landing page level, nearly every site’s traffic will conform to the 80/20 pattern – 20% of pages will drive 80% of the traffic. And so on for every given set of URLs.

Why does this matter?

This data is invaluable because you can discover and build off competitor or other industry websites. You can learn from all their content and go straight for the best terms.

Keywords Competitiveness

In the example above, you’ll see that for whatever reason, this company gets almost all their non-brand organic traffic from a (not so special) Garage Kit category page. It would make an excellent target for anyone in that industry.

Or you get to find out that your favorite website’s biggest winner is a throwaway post that happens to rank for a really broad but noncompetitive term.

Content Traffic

Either way, you get to learn from your competitor’s best (and worst) content. Ahrefs did a video tutorial on this feature –

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Do Better Keyword Research

The toughest challenge of keyword research is thinking laterally. Making the jump from different variations of a single obvious keyword to complementary or semi-synonymous keywords that reflect the real intent of your audience.

For example, it’s the insight that helps you make the leap from “winter gloves”…”gloves for winter”…”gloves for cold weather” to “mittens.” Or if you’re in the plumbing industry, making the leap from “outdoor faucet” to “sillcock.”

Those leaps are tough. Google’s Keyword Planner is mediocre at the job. And often it means using tools like Google Correlate in ways they aren’t traditionally used.

But Ahrefs’ Position Explorer solves this issue by allowing you to take top pages and viewing what other keywords those pages are ranking for. It gives you a bigger seed list & introduces more diversity into your keyword research process.

Keyword Research

Steal Ads

You can use the Paid section of Positions Explorer to swipe ad ideas from competitors. If you can see the angle/benefit that competitors are using, you have a direction to either copy or play off or test both.

Steal Ads

Find Competitors for Keyword / Link Research

Most SEOs are familiar with telling clients that their SERP competitors are different from their real-world competitors.

But outside of scraping a few head or vanity terms, it’s fairly difficult to find SERP competitors systematically. You can use Ahrefs’ Positions Explorer to at least add a few new ones to the mix.

Fun Hacks

For marketers who love Excel and/or Google Sheets, you can export keywords under both Top Pages and Organic Keywords.

If you want to remove brand & noisy terms, go to Organic Keywords and filter by phrase length and by keyword included. Longer phrases will often give you more insight.

Long Tail Content

Content Explorer

Ahrefs’ Content Explorer shows the most shared content around any topic. It’s like Site Explorer’s Top Content report…but for the entire internet. For marketers who read a bit – it’s basically BuzzSumo but you get it in addition to Ahrefs’ link data.

But like Site Explorer, the key to Content Explorer is understanding the features’ functionality. That will take it from a trivia tool to a marketing tool.

Key Features

The key – and really only feature of Content Explorer – is the ability to search by topic. You enter a phrase and it tells you the most shared / linked to content about that topic across the Internet.

In the original versions of Content Explorer, you would quickly notice that there’s a wide gulf in the results you get. If you enter a broad topic, you get a lot of meaningless noise (re-posted clickbait stuff). If you enter a specific topic, then you’ll get very few results.

Content Explorer

Ahrefs has dramatically improved the tool so that you can easily find relevant content. However, you can find exactly what you want when you understandhow to narrow & curate the results. And that is where Boolean Operators and Advanced Search filters (ie, “search everywhere / in title / in content”) come in.

I can feel your excitement.

But really if you’ve ever used Google Search Operators like site: or even putting a phrase in quotes, you’ll know how you use these. Just navigate to Advanced Search in Content Explorer.

Boolean Operators in Ahrefs

The ones I’ve found most useful are exclude a word, filter a site and define date range (especially for seasonal ideas).

To use boolean operators effectively though, you have to approach Content Explorer with a goal in mind. It’s fun – and sometimes useful to just click around – but it’s most useful when you are looking for a specific piece of data to support a strategy.

For example, you want to create a blog post that drives Facebook likes. Or, you want to create an infographic that drives links. Or, you need to understand what type of Christmas content stands out in December. If you have a specific goal in mind, you can mix, match and combine boolean operators to focus your search.

Content Explorer

What You Can Do With Content Explorer

Inform PR Strategy

“Press release and pray” is not an effective PR strategy, especially if you want a quality pick up from a major publication.

The best angle for getting a press pickup is that the piece will bring in readers. You can use Content Explorer to figure out what pieces do well and what type of content a publication likes.

Seasonal Ideas

You can even drill down to figure out what a specific journalist likes to write about – and what content they were most successful with.

Custom PR Pitch

In 2013, I got a personal blog post to go viral with exactly 1 email pitch to a 1 journalist. I knew what the journalist wrote about. And I knew what drove pageviews for them. It was a perfect fit for both of us.

*Note – this feature is still in the early days for Ahrefs. You’ll get the most out of it by pairing it with Google search operators.

Understand a Topic

“The curse of knowledge” is a concept that says the more familiar you are with a topic, the less you understand how to think about a topic from the perspective of those less familiar.

And it’s a huge problem in content marketing. You can use Content Explorer to understand what angles, language and facts resonate with people on any given topic.

Look for Top Performers’ Commonalities

On a related note, you can use Content Explorer to figure what form your content should be in. Many times a text post won’t work but a video will. Or an infographic will work in one industry but not in another. For example, if you run Content Explorer and see that every top performer has a video included…you should probably include a video in your content.

Content Explorer Commonalities

Set Benchmarks

Every company would love for a positive story to “go viral” but that term is basically meaningless because it can mean anything to anybody depending on context and a dozen other factors.

In a study of content by Moz and BuzzSumo, they found that 75% of content got zero shares and zero links. Zero.

And then, on any given day, BuzzFeed will be able to manufacture 1 million plus shares across every platform.

Purina Cat Food might be able to create a piece of content that generates a hundreds of thousands of shares because they are a huge brand operating in the cat market.

Cat Market

GE is an even bigger brand than Purina but they won’t get a million shares because they make stuff like aircraft engines.

Either way, Content Explorer can at least give you a ballpark benchmark for a successful campaign. If your goal is shares and the best campaign in your industry generated a 1000 shares – “success” might be defined as 100, not 10,000.

Pergola Shares

Understand Platform Types & Goals

As Moz & BuzzSumo found in their study, links do not always correlate with shares. And shares on one platform do not always correlate with other platforms, e.g., Facebook Shares vs. Twitter Tweets.

Use Content Explorer to figure out what content fits your marketing goals. For example, if it’s a campaign to drive organic traffic, sort by links – not by overall shares.

Fun Hacks

Click-through to Author

On the Content Explorer results, you can click through to look at a specific writer. This is useful for tracking down guest post opportunities or finding freelance journalist who write at a range of publications.

Export Twitter Sharers

Also on the Content Explorer results, you can view & export people who have tweeted each piece of content in the last 7 days (the 7 days is to ensure you’re only getting people who remember Tweeting it – you can still get a larger export from Topsy). This opens up a whole new world of Twitter marketing opportunities.

Twitter Sharers

But the most immediate uses are to:

  • Create a custom audience for Twitter advertising. If you know they tweeted one piece of content on a topic, they are probably interested in another. I did this for a small giveaway experiment.
  • Create Twitter lists for manual outreach later. If you identify a few highly influential accounts, you can set them aside for further research and outreach.
  • Take the data and send it to one of the dozens of Twitter tools for analysis of personas, related interests, best time to tweet, related followers, etc.

*Note – I’ve found this feature to be amazing but still buggy.

View URL Data

Lastly in the Content Explorer results, there’s a little drop down that will show you detailed link data and the keywords that the content most likely ranks for. That data is invaluable for planning a well-rounded piece of content.

Content Data

Content Keywords

Keywords Explorer

Keywords Explorer is Ahrefs’ tool to pull and manipulate keywords generated in Google Search Autocomplete (aka type a keyword, hit space but not enter). For SEOs who know their tools, it’s like Ubersuggest or KeywordTool.io.

In November 2016, they launched a huge new revision called Keywords Explorer 2.0.

It’s the most useful keyword tool that I’ve seen yet. I’ll cover a few key ideas here, but I highly recommend reading their comprehensive introductory post to get a sense of all the definitions & features.

Key features

There’s one key feature to this tool: pulling a ton of keyword variations straight from the source. Google Autocomplete is one of the most useful keyword research tools because the variations not only give you longer-tail, more specific terms to target, but they also provide a window into user intent.

Ahrefs’ goes a step further and matches the keyword variations with search volume data from Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner. In that respect, it makes the tool similar to the paid version of KeywordTool.io…except for that it’s built into your Ahrefs subscription.

Here’s the catch though with Keywords Explorer – like Ubersuggest and KeywordTool.io, it relies on Google’s Autocomplete API. Google announced that they were going to discontinue public access on August 10th, 2015.

With the launch of Keywords Explorer 2.0 – Ahrefs pulls in ClickStream data. ClickStream data gets a little technical – if you are interested, you can learn more about it here. For our purposes, it’s sufficient to say that Ahrefs’ keyword data is accurate enough to make marketing decisions with.

In other words, don’t assume that the exact volumes are correct, but you can assume that they are accurate enough to decide what you should target & prioritize when choosing target keywords.

Thus far, all the tools seem to work accurately. What Ahrefs does with the tool after they no longer have access remains to be seen.

What You Can Do With Keyword Explorer

Either way, in the meantime, you can quickly do a lot of interesting keyword research all within Ahrefs. Take a broad keyword, and run it through Keyword Explorer to get a lot of useful variations on your broad keyword.

Do In-depth Keyword Research

Contemporary keyword research goes beyond finding search volume and modifiers (e.g. “blue winter gloves” has 1000 searches per month, and we should also mention “navy blue winter glove”, “light blue winter glove” on the page).

Those details are important. But more important now are understanding things like –

  • what broad topic is the keyword is a part of
  • what type of page the typical searcher wants to see
  • what lateral & complementary terms are relevant (e.g., “blue mittens”)
  • what type of site the searcher wants to see
  • what terms people also ask before and after that specific query
  • etc, etc, etc

This doesn’t mean that keyword research is difficult or mind-blowing. But it is usually tedious to do it correctly at scale.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer speeds up the process by integrating full SERPs, phrase match ideas, Parent Topic, Search Suggestions, and pages also rank for directly in the Dashboard.

Keywords Explorer Overview

Judge Keyword Difficulty

One of the toughest (and tedious) parts of keyword research is figuring out whether your website could rank for a certain theme of keywords.

There’s no sense investing in new content or high volume topic targeting if there’s no way that you can win. And even if you can compete – it’s critical to know what you’re going to need to compete (e.g., links to that page, answer box considerations, etc).

Judging keyword difficulty is a skill that is not necessarily complicated. It’s mostly just tedious. For non-SEOS, it requires pulling link data and really looking at each SERP. Veteran SEOs can quickly open up a SERP, scroll through and make a quick judgement call. But even that takes time when you are considering thousands of keyword opportunities.

The Keyword Difficulty score is extremely useful to make the “first cut” in your keyword research process. Ahrefs uses a 0 to 100 scale based on their link data to score what it would take to rank for a certain keyword. Ahrefs explains this metric here.

Within the Dashboard, use this feature heavily to sift & sort not only low-hanging fruit but also to create realistic content promotion strategy to get your content visible.

Keyword Difficulty

Estimate Return on Investment

Predicting a return on investment for SEO is notoriously difficult (and arguably impossible). But you have to have something to help prioritize opportunities – even if you can’t say exactly what those opportunities will bring.

Keywords Explorer’s number on Clicks, Return Rate and Clicks per Search are ballpark accurate enough to make these sorts of judgment calls.

With Return Rate and Clicks per Search – you can get a good snapshot of what kind of visibility and traffic levels you’ll get if you rank well for a specific keyword.

Fun Hacks

Find Guerrilla Keyword Angles

The biggest wins in keyword research are when you can make a “lateral” move to a relevant target keyword that is not competitive. I’ve written about how to use all sorts of tools from Google Correlate to Google Books to Wikipedia and more to find these golden nuggets of SEO.

I still use those sources – but Ahrefs makes these finds even easier & faster to find than ever before. You simply have to click to the right places and keep your eyes open.

Guerrilla Hacks

Find SERP Competitors

In SEO, you’ll often find that your industry competitors are not the same as your SERP competitors. And that’s an issue as you continue your search for broader & more in-depth keywords.

Enter Keyword Explorer’s Traffic Share feature. Search for a broad topic that you’re trying to compete in. You’ll get a full list of domains. Now you can take those domains and reverse engineer them for the best keyword opportunities.

Mining Keywords

Toss Broad Nets w/ Include & Exclude Features

This last “hack” is simple, but ridiculously powerful. Instead of searching for a keyword – search for a modifier.

Then use Ahrefs’ menu of include & exclude features to find very high volume keywords (then rank for them).

Broad Keyword

Ahrefs Tools

Ahrefs Labs is Ahrefs’ collection of apps that take Ahrefs’ data and put it into something useful. It includes Ahrefs’ API, the Link Intersect tool, the Domain Comparison tool and others.

Key Features

If you are trying to manipulate data at scale quickly, Ahrefs Labs is where to go. Most of the tools are either specific use, or are mentioned in Site Explorer.

The SEO Toolbar is useful to have installed on your browser, so that you can get a sense of marketing data as your browse the Internet. It’s a great way to get immersed in SEO/Social data and develop an intuitive sense of what matters on a webpage.

The SEO Toolbar also has a SERP overlay function that will pull data and overlay it on your Google Search Results Page.

The Ahrefs Top tool is interesting, but I’ve yet to find a good use for it.

Under Apps, I highly recommend Jon Cooper’s Link Miner app. If you are doing broken link building, it’s a must have. It syncs up with Ahrefs and pulls data straight to your broken link scan.

Next Steps

Ahrefs is fairly pricey, but it has a giant feature set. Like most marketing tools, its usefulness is only limited by your creativity and understanding of the feature set.

Approach Ahrefs with specific marketing goals in mind, and you’ll get a lot of value out of it. Be sure to use it as more than a backlink checker.

If you are curious about other marketing tools, here’s how I categorize the universe of Ahrefs’ competitors. They generally all specialize in 1 channel, but overlap with a secondary channel.

Ahrefs = Primarily SEO with Social components and some PPC data.

Moz = Primarily Analytics/Education with SEO and Social components.

SEMRush = Primarily PPC with SEO components.

BuzzSumo = Primarily Social with SEO components.

Majestic = Exclusively SEO with focus on penalty analysis. Great complement w/ Ahrefs.

SpyFu = Primarily PPC with SEO components.

Raven Tools = Primarily Analytics with SEO and Social components.

If you have any interesting Ahrefs hacks – tweet at me @nshivar

Fun quizzes for SEOs – 

What Superhero Represents Your Off-Page SEO Style?

What TV Character Represents Your Technical SEO Style?

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Using Wikipedia for Search engine optimization & Content Marketing

Wikipedia and SEO

Wikipedia may be the 800 lb gorilla within the Search results. It ranks for nearly 1 / 2 of all searches. It’s the website. Google has built large servings of its Understanding Graph off the rear of Wikipedia.

It&#8217s additionally a motherlode of Search engine optimization sources &#8211 directly behind Google Keyword Planner, Search, and Google Analytics. It&#8217s helpful for on-page &amp off-page Search engine optimization for just two reasons &#8211

  • Wikipedia is human understanding. It uses language the way in which humans utilize it, since it&#8217s compiled by humans. It connects topics and keywords with techniques that just humans can.
  • Wikipedia is the online resource. People trust it, utilize it, and reference it.

So regardless if you are just beginning out planning your site&#8217s keyword strategy, searching for brand new content ideas, or searching for methods to construct trust for the website, here&#8217s using Wikipedia for Search engine optimization and content marketing.

Using Wikipedia for Off-page Search engine optimization

A core a part of Google&#8217s formula uses links from reliable websites to gauge the trust &amp relevance of other websites (ie, &#8220off-page Search engine optimization). And Wikipedia is the reliable, relevant resource. For some time getting links from Wikipedia started to develop a large amount of junk e-mail.

In 2007, Wikipedia implemented rel=&#8221nofollow&#8221 on all outbound links, meaning links from Wikipedia don’t pass PageRank or anchor-text (ie, Wikipedia articles don’t directly help webpages within the eyes from the Googlebot). For SEOs who’ve a formulaic outlook on Search engine optimization (ie, links + keywords = rankings), this transformation made Wikipedia much less appealing for backlink building and off-page Search engine optimization generally for spammers and non-spammers alike.

Google states that &#8220In general, we don&#8217t follow them [nofollow links].&#8221 Many occasions, SEOs generally divide into 2 camps. The very first group states &#8220well, nothing useful for good links&#8230let&#8217s move along to another tactic.&#8221 The 2nd group concentrates on the &#8220In general,&#8221 forms a conspiracy theory, and pops up with more and more creative methods to junk e-mail Wikipedia (exactly the same people that junk e-mail blog comments).

Wikipedia&#8217s editors don’t take kindly to junk e-mail or using Wikipedia for commercial gain. So even if you’re capable of getting a hyperlink put into Wikipedia, you’ll probably incur the non-public (or public) shaming&#8230or a minimum of a citation that doesn&#8217t look great for the brand.

Example of Spam Link on Wikipedia

However, you will find legitimate uses of Wikipedia to earn links which are wins for everybody involved.

1. Grab broken links &amp citation needed links

Simply because Wikipedia links are nofollow, doesn&#8217t mean they aren&#8217t valuable. Wikipedia links you can get referral traffic (ie, people clicking your link). Plus, exactly the same individuals who click Wikipedia links will probably link back on their own site, as you are in the end, a Wikipedia reference.

The bottom line is to obtain a Wikipedia link without getting known as out for commercial junk e-mail &#8211 really be useful and improve Wikipedia rather of treating it just like a graffiti board. Normally, it might be a difficult job finding spots to put a link, with the exception that Wikipedia&#8217s editors did the meet your needs.

Example of a dead/broken link on Wikipedia

Perform a Search for:

site:wikipedia.org [keyword] + “dead link” (or &#8220citation needed&#8221)

If you want to browse all of the pages with broken links &#8211 Wikipedia includes a source of you here. WikiGrabber is another awesome tool to assist narrow your research.

Have you got a resource (or are you able to create one) that gives a reference for your missing or dead citation?

Should you choose, grab that link! You&#8217ll obtain the referral traffic, along with a nofollow link in the most reliable website on the web, that we&#8217d value greater than any unseen, unclicked dofollow link every day.

But don’t forget that you will have two similar, but slightly different choices here.

If you’re searching in a Dead Citation &#8211 then you’re essentially doing damaged backlink building with Wikipedia. You can try that old bit of content around the Wayback Machine and recreate it with your personal spin (ie, not plagiarized).

If you’re searching in a Citation Needed link &#8211 then you definitely&#8217ll have to create content that fits the requirements of the citation. It&#8217ll require a little more planning and research &#8211 but less than a wide open-ended bit of content. Plus, you&#8217ll possess a guaranteed link chance. Credibility is crucial. You&#8217ll must find a specialist or real data which will offer an actual citation. If you’re able to&#8217t do this, then stick to dead links.

But don&#8217t stop together with your Wikipedia link! You may also place that dead link right into a link explorer like Ahrefs or Regal Search engine optimization. Find all of the pages that accustomed to connect to exactly the same resource, and achieve to them.

2. Search for link possibilities with subject pages

Wikipedia pages rank well for 1 / 2 of all searches, which results in a feedback loop. Wikipedia pages rank very well because individuals connect to them. They still rank better still for any wider selection of searches because high-ranking  pages have more links. Whenever a journalist must cite a fast definition or perhaps a blogger must connect to an idea, they perform a quick search, and connect to the appropriate Wikipedia page.

Wikipedia pages often are probably the most relevant page for broad keywords. People connect to them generally. And you may use that to locate individuals who&#8217d want to consider linking for you.

Take various Wikipedia pages highly relevant to your market. Mind over to Ahrefs, Regal, or any other and drop another Wikipedia page in. See who’s linking to that particular page.

Ahrefs-Wikipedia-Links

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You&#8217ll find a summary of people, sites &amp blogs who’d apply to your website &amp your potential customers &#8211 and might easily connect to your articles.

3. Search for link possibilities with regard pages

Even in early 2000s after i is at school, I heard the old saying &#8220don&#8217t cite Wikipedia, but use Wikipedia to locate citations.&#8221 Quite simply, when individuals do research they begin with Wikipedia to locate reliable sources (note how this pertains to #1).

And, if they’re doing research for his or her site, they&#8217ll connect to individuals resource pages (again, grounds for doing #1), because the human editors of Wikipedia have discovered individuals reference pages is the best citations.

Building links with Wikipedia reference pages

Take all of the URLs of all of the citations inside a relevant Wikipedia article and plug them into Open Site Explorer/Regal/Ahrefs. You have an even bigger listing of websites, people, and blogs who might want to consider linking for your content.

4. Make Your Own Wikipedia Page

Within the original form of this publish, I deliberately left this time out.

Why?

Since I disdain junk e-mail, especially on the wonderful, public resource like Wikipedia.

But here&#8217s the factor. In case your organization needs a Wikipedia page, then you need to get one, and it ought to be structured well.

Google and lots of other data sources uses it, therefore it may as well be right. Seek information into Wikipedia&#8217s guidelines, and readily experienced Wikipedia editor to upload and edit it.

Using Wikipedia for On-page Search engine optimization

Regardless if you are planning for a content or keyword strategy, nothing can beat real data from humans who either deeply understand and have real questions regarding your subject. Comprehending the language, questions, and interest of the audience is essential to some effective Search engine optimization campaign.

The challenging part may be the obtaining a solid, accurate begin a method. You might start if you take educated guesses or doing extensive customer interviews. Or rely on a persons-edited encyclopedia that ranks for pretty much every possible subject.

1. Gauge Interest for Topics

Amount of searches is an essential component of Search engine optimization research. However with Google&#8217s moves from both phrase match in Keyword Planner as well as their concentrate on topics not keywords, it may be difficult to gauge just how much interest is offered for just about any given bit of content.

The good thing is that Wikipedia most likely already ranks for most of the keywords highly relevant to confirmed subject, and you will discover just how much traffic it will get. All Wikipedia&#8217s traffic stats are public, but Domas Mituzas has printed something which makes the study quite simple.

Mind to http://stats.grok.se/. Enter your Wikipedia article. Get traffic figures each month to 2007.

Wikipedia traffic statistics

If your well-edited Wikipedia page is just obtaining a couple of visits per month &#8211 you&#8217re most likely barking in the wrong content marketing tree. Whether it&#8217s getting solid, consistent traffic, the you’ve something to construct towards.

Otherwise, using this data and pairing it with Google Trends and Keyword Planner provides you with solid insight towards the traffic potential of recent content.

2. Do Market And Keyword Research with Wikipedia + Keyword Planner

The keyword strategy part of Search engine optimization  is about working out both what language your audience uses to explain your product or serviceOrsolutionsOrcontent material and working out how search engines like google realize that same language.

Regardless if you are employed by a customer within an unfamiliar industry or building your personal content that should confer with your audience, a persons facet of market and keyword research is frequently the most difficult.

Too frequently, SEOs will delegate the heavy initial brainstorming to&#8230a machine. Also referred to as the Keyword Planner. The issue with Keyword Planner is it&#8217s only just like the first human inputted keywords. If individuals initial keywords aren&#8217t a great sample, then you definitely&#8217ll keep carrying out a rabbit trail farther away from the best keyword strategy.

This circles to the initial problem to find a good initial listing of keywords from the mind that understands your subject.

Enter Wikipedia &#8211 again, an origin written, edited and browse by subject experts &amp your audience. (h/t to Dan Shure about this original idea &#8211 see his original publish here)

Have a relevant Wikipedia page URL. Visit AdWords &#8211&gt Keyword Planner.

Mind to New Keyword Ideas. Drop the Wikipedia URL in to the Website Landing Page field.

Using Wikipedia and Keyword Planner

Out can come a good seed keyword list which you can use to grow &amp refine your keyword list.

3. Plan Content via dead links, citation needed &amp stub pages

I&#8217ve already pointed out this concept to seize links &#8211 but [citation needed] on Wikipedia also represents a specific content chance. It&#8217s an immediate signal Wikipedia needs content to assist claims.

Much like how the look of mirriam-webster, solutions.com, a Pdf, or perhaps a forum publish (all generally poor results)  in the very best 10 of search engine results represents a bat signal that Google wants better content &#8211 a [citation needed], [dead link], or stub page means there are literally no reliable immediately available alternatives.

Wikipedia citation needed for SEO

Anybody who builds the information to fill that require lies not just being an authority &#8211 but additionally setup well for the advantages of off-page idea #1.

Plus, you are able to frequently take a shortcut building the information and doing outreach. For dead links particularly, you are able to go ahead and take (now dead) URL, mind over to the web Archive Wayback Machine, and find out exactly what the linked-to resource accustomed to seem like. Build something better, then achieve to everybody else who from the old page.

For instance, keep in mind that dead link I said earlier in off-page idea #1? Take a look online Archive&#8230

Rebuilding Internet Archive content

Now i know precisely which kind of content offered like a reference. I’m able to rebuild better still and obtain the Wikipedia link&#8230along with every other websites that accustomed to connect to the damaged page.

4. Plan Content round the reference pages

This unique idea comes via John Dean&#8217s guest publish at OkDork. Not just are reference pages at the end of Wikipedia articles ideal for recognizing link possibilities &#8211 they’re also helpful for generating content ideas.

In the end individuals bits of content were sufficiently good to be located &amp reported with a Wikipedian, let’s say you may earn it better still?

Wikipedia reference links

What exactly are styles and customary questions that come in the reference pages? Can there be any interesting data? Are you able to repackage the information into interesting content?

Next Steps

Using Wikipedia isn&#8217t a shortcut to building your website&#8217s Search engine optimization or content strategy. It&#8217s not really a spot to junk e-mail. However it&#8217s also not really a spot to ignore.

It’s an amazing resource which you can use to construct your personal site, while adding to Wikipedia. The next move ought to be to create a narrow your search of Wikipedia pages highly relevant to your audience &amp subject.

Then utilize them for market and keyword research utilize them for off-page research enhance the Wikipedia pages &#8211 and enhance your website.

EDIT 9/4/14 &#8211 GrowthAddict announced a brand new tool known as WikiGrabber, which could rapidly find a few of the dead link &amp citation needed possibilities. Make sure to take a look.

EDIT 5/20/14 &#8211 The Brand New Yorker ran an amazing piece about how edits become truth on Wikipedia &#8211 very highly relevant to branding. See clearly here.

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