Ahrefs Review: An In-Depth Analysis of Whether or Not It's Worth Your Money
Hello folks! It’s been a while since we provided you with some insightful tech reviews. Considering the way digital marketing has engulfed the entire world, budding marketers are always on the lookout for marketing tools that can make their lives easier and help them stay ahead of everyone else. And that’s where we come into the picture with our detailed, well-researched, and insightful reviews on some of the most popular tech tools.
And today, we are going to do an in-depth review of one of the world’s best-known SEO tools i.e., Ahrefs, and see how it performs across key parameters like domain analysis, rank tracking, backlink analysis, ease of use, and much more.
So, without any further delay, let’s get on with it but let’s first understand what Ahrefs is all about.
What is Ahrefs?
Ahrefs is a highly popular SEO tool that can help you optimize your website for search engines. It was founded in 2010 by Dmitry Gerasimenko and has since been adopted by major clientele like LinkedIn, Uber, Netflix, Pinterest, and Facebook.
The Ahrefs tool functions by crawling search engines and websites for data and giving you the tools to know what other people are looking for on different search engines, including Google. This way, you can come up with web content that helps you generate traffic by tweaking certain technical aspects of your site that can assist it in achieving a higher search ranking.
For example, you can enter phrases in Ahrefs, and based on those phrases, it can suggest keywords to you that you can use in your content so that it can rank higher in search results. Also, it will tell you how challenging or difficult it can be to rank for certain search queries. Also, it would recommend websites which it will be worthwhile for you to generate backlinks from. And in case, you wish to carry out a technical SEO audit of your site, Ahrefs can help you with that too.
However, all of this is just scratching the surface. Ahrefs has got a plethora of features that can help you boost your search rankings. Let’s take a look at each one of these at a time.
1. Domain Analysis
Domain analysis is the starting point for most SEO projects. This involves getting a basic idea about the quality of the domain, which means analyzing how highly it ranks for specific phrases and how much traffic it receives.
Ahrefs makes it quite easy to carry out a domain analysis. All that you need to do is enter a domain into its Site Explorer tool and you can quickly get an overview of its backlink profile and how well it is performing in search results.
Once you enter a URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, it will serve you with lots of information about it like its domain rating score, the total number of visitors to the website every month, the total number of backlinks directed toward the URL, the total number of keywords that the URL ranks for, and the anchor text that is usually used in the links to the URL. By clicking on these metrics, you’ll be further provided with a detailed breakdown.
What’s really important while considering Ahrefs statistics is to remember that while they are based on hard data, they are only estimates based on that data, which is fine in most cases. However, when it comes to analyzing Ahrefs’ traffic statistics, you must keep in mind that the traffic figures provided by Ahrefs can sometimes be inaccurate. So, it would be wise to treat the traffic figures provided by Ahrefs as only an indication of the site’s popularity.
But overall, the domain analysis feature of Ahrefs is quite robust and I have no complaints there. Let’s take how Ahrefs’ keyword research feature performs.
2. Keyword Research
Keyword research is generally about finding out how many people are searching for a particular keyword, identifying how challenging it is to rank for that keyword, and then seeing how many sites are already ranking for that keyword. Once you’ve figured out all this, you can also get suggestions for other ones.
Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer tool helps you get keyword data. You can access it through the main navigation. Before you conduct your research, you’ll first need to choose a search engine which you can get the data from. Ahrefs provides keyword information from 10 different search engines, namely Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, Daum, Naver, and Seznam.
The availability of data from such a wide range of search engines is one of Ahrefs’ biggest USPs because many other popular SEO tools like Semrush and Moz only give you data from Google. Thus, for someone who wants to generate more views for their video content, having access to YouTube search data will help them. Similarly, Amazon data will come in handy for online merchants.
Upon entering the keyword into the keyword explorer tool, you’ll be able to see its ‘keyword difficulty’ score, the number of searches per month for that keyword, sites that are ranking for that keyword, and suggestions for alternative keywords that you can target.
3. Rank Tracking
Rank tracking is the process of monitoring how your content, or that of your competitor, performs in search engines for specific keywords.
Ahrefs makes it incredibly easy to set up rank tracking. For this, you will have to go to its Rank Tracker section, where you will need to enter the domain name and the keywords that you want to track. You will then get a report showing how that site is currently ranking for those keywords. You can also track keywords on a per-country or even on the basis of city/town.
You can also enable email notifications about the current ranking status of your keywords and schedule these to be sent out automatically to you daily, weekly, or monthly.
While Ahrefs’ rank tracking features are quite impressive, it only gives you a limited number of options based on your subscription plan. So, if you have an entry-level Ahrefs plan, you may not be able to perform as much rank tracking as you may like.
4. Backlink Analysis
Backlinks are links from other sites to any piece of content and they determine how strongly that content performs in search results. You can do backlink analysis in Ahrefs by entering a URL into its Site Explorer tool. This will give you a detailed ‘backlink profile’ data that will allow you to see who is linking to that URL, anchor texts being used in those links, domains linked to them, and if any links to that URL are broken.
The advantage of this data is that it allows you to reverse engineer the SEO success of your competitor by knowing who is linking to their site. You can then reach out to those sites and ask them for a link to your site.
The backlink data provided by Ahrefs is laid out clearly and allows you to see when a domain has gained or lost links. You can also see the URL rating and domain rating for each URL. The accuracy of the backlink analysis depends on the size and quality of the Ahrefs link database.
5. Link Building in Ahrefs
Most new Ahrefs users are interested in using it for backlink building. And there are three main tools provided by Ahrefs that facilitate backlink building.
Identifying Link Building Opportunities Using the Site Explorer
Using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer is probably the simplest way to identify link-building opportunities. It will require you to enter the URL (most likely of your competitor) into the Site Explorer. You will then get a list of all the backlinks the Ahrefs can find pointing to that URL. You can then try to find contact details for those domains and reach out to their owners for a backlink.
Identifying Link Building Opportunities Using the Content Explorer
Ahrefs’ Content Explorer feature is a great way of identifying quality websites that you can approach for a backlink. You’ll just need to enter a topic into the tool and you will get a list of high-authority pages and posts about that topic. You’ll also get a list of top authors who are particular experts on that topic, along with their Twitter details- if available- to help you contact them.
Identifying Link-Building Opportunities Using Ahrefs Alerts
The Ahrefs Alerts will require you to enter a competitor’s URL into it and you will receive regular email alerts containing a list of all the latest sites that link to that URL. Thus, you are at liberty to reach out to the owner of the linking sites and request them to link to your site too.
6. Broken Link Building
Broken link building involves finding broken links (the ones that no longer lead anywhere), recreating the content that it used to point to, and then asking anybody who used to link to the dead content to link to your new content instead. Thus, you are able to build up new backlinks to your content this way.
To identify broken links in Ahrefs, enter the domain name into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer section and click Backlink profile > Broken backlinks. This will give you a list of all the broken inbound links for that domain along with the sites where those links feature.
You can also spot broken outbound links i.e., links from your website to other URLs that no longer work. Make sure that your website doesn’t contain any such links as they can then be interpreted as a sign of poor quality content by Google and other search engines, thereby, having an adverse impact on your ranking. To find broken outbound links in Ahrefs, enter the domain name into the Site Explorer tool and go to the ‘outgoing links’ section, and hit the ‘broken links’ option to view the results.
7. Site Auditing
Google and other search engines are increasingly laying high emphasis on the technical aspects of websites like security, site speed, and mobile-friendliness. And Ahrefs helps SEO professionals to stay on the technical side of SEO.
Ahrefs’ Site Audit feature helps you improve your technical SEO. During a site audit, Ahrefs sifts through your site for any issues that might have a negative impact on your search ranking including broken links, missing alt texts, duplicate content, slow-loading content, and missing headers.
The Site Audit feature offers a very useful report and gives you a clear picture of your site’s health. And you can use the insights from Ahrefs to make technical improvements to your site’s SEO setup irrespective of the platform you’ve built your site on; Ahrefs’s Site Audit Feature comes in handy regardless of whether you use Wix, Shopify, Squarespace, or WordPress.
Ahrefs is very expensive in comparison to a lot of other digital tools. And that’s perfectly understandable because you are not only paying for the functionality but also for access to huge quantities of data, including a lot of competitor intelligence.
Ahrefs offers four pricing plans.
Ahrefs’ pricing plans are fairly comparable to those offered by its key competitors like Moz, Semrush, and Majestic. Although Majestic offers a lower monthly plan for $49.99 per month, it is considerably less functional than the entry-level plans provided by its competitors.
9. Customer Support
With its wide array of features, Ahrefs can be fairly complex to understand. So, the availability of customer support is often a key consideration for users. Ahrefs offers two channels of customer support i.e., through email and chat. This is in contrast to Moz and Majestic which only offer email support. However, unlike Semrush, Ahrefs doesn’t offer phone support.
However, on the plus side, Ahrefs makes its contact details very easy to spot- a live chat box is visible at the corner of each page, with estimated wait times listed on it too. Also, the support is available in several languages.
Pros & Cons of Ahrefs
Easy to use.
Offers keyword research for a wide variety of different search engines including, YouTube and Amazon, unlike its key competitors that only provide search data for Google.
Access to all key tools needed for an SEO project i.e., keyword research, backlink analysis, and site auditing.
Its generous domain verification systems mean that you can work with a large number of websites relatively cheaply.
No free trial.
All plans, including the most expensive Enterprise, plan only come with one ‘power user’ seat.
No phone support.
Smaller link index than those of its key competitors like Moz and Semrush.
Overall, Ahrefs is a great solution for most SEO projects as it gives you access to a wealth of information, which if used wisely can help you boost the level of organic traffic to your website significantly. It is easy to use, works with more search engines than its main competitors, and lets you work with a large number of projects cheaply.
However, it’s not without its flaws. The absence of a free trial and expensive rank-tracking add-on means that most people will think hard before using it. Also, there is only one user account regardless of the plan. However, you can always begin with the Lite plan, navigate your way around this tool, and then take a call if you’d like to go all in by purchasing its Enterprise plan.