It can be said that Ahrefs is an SEO tool that makes the SEO process extremely useful for you. In the previous article, I have basically reviewed Ahrefs and showed you how to read and understand the indicators in Ahrefs.
But a lot of you share with me that:
- The theory is so, but is Ahrefs tool really that magical?
- Specifically, how to use Ahrefs effectively?
Therefore, I write this article to answer all of you – Ahrefs User Guide with 6 features:
- Keyword research
- Keyword authentication
- Look for broken backlinks
- “Steal” the opponent’s backlink
- Review links
- Optimize Anchor text
Now, let’s find out the details!
Keyword research by Ahrefs
What first comes to mind when you think of Ahrefs? I am sure it is a “keyword research dictionary”.
Like I said in the previous article, most people know about Ahrefs because of its backlink analysis. However, you will regret it if you ignore this keyword research function.
I will guide Ahrefs in detail and give you some tips that I often use to find untapped keywords on Google.
# 1: Analyze competitor URLs in Site Explorer
This first step is to analyze the competitor’s URL. After you have chosen a competitor, go to Explorer Site Explorer and enter the URL.
Analyze rival URLs in Site Explorer
After analysis is complete, you will continue to step 2.
# 2: Find Organic Keywords
The second step is to click on the “Organic keywords” below the “Organic search” section.
This is where the keywords will appear. This section will give you lots of ideas for your keyword research. However, to upgrade your keyword research to a higher level, you need to refine these ideas. And that is the third step you have to do – Use Filter.
Click on “Organic keywords” below the “Organic search” section.
# 3: Use Filters
Using Filters will bring many interesting things. However, before you begin you need to set up a few things:
- Is your site really capable of ranking yet? This means that you have mastered the authority of your website or not.
- The reason you need to do this is because the authority of the website will determine what keywords you should target.
For example: If you have a completely new website, you need to target long-tail keywords (long keywords). If you have a reputable website (related to the competitor you are analyzing), then you should target more competitive keywords.
In this example, I assume you have a new website. The first step is to filter your results based on “Volume” – search volume of users. In other words, the average volume per month.
I have found that target keywords in the 100 – 1000 search volume range are good targets for new websites. Because keywords in this range will be less competitive.
Volume – the amount of user search
This does not mean that you should target this search volume ranking forever.
Target a group of keywords with a new, higher search volume when your site starts to have a certain amount of authority.
The next step you will be tangled in the pile of keywords. So, if you want to see only long-tail keywords, in the “words” section you should set the number of words in each keyword you want to see.
You can stop researching the initial keyword at this time because you can narrow the results.
However, I also like using the “Position” filter. This filter will show where your competitors are ranking in Google for each keyword in your keyword set. I like to use this filter from position 11 to 20.
There is some important information to keep in mind:
- There are some cases where your opponent does not target those specific keyword phrases. They can display long tail keywords just because of their page authority and not their goal.
- Some long tail keywords rank in the second position or the third position only slightly related to the main keywords of competitors. That gives you the opportunity to enter and dominate those long tail keywords that are targeted.
Following the Ahrefs manual, I would like to show you how to track your opponent’s new keywords.
# 4: Track your opponent’s new keywords
Click on the “New” under the “Organic keywords” to track new keywords of competitors
Before doing anything, you should ask yourself why you should do it. Everything has a reason. So why do you think it is important to consider your new keywords?
The reason is simply:
- You do not want them to take too much SEO momentum
As the site ages, they will gain more social signals (signals from social networks, backlinks, and user signals). All of these signals not only help improve the rankings of your competitors but they also improve their rankings.
I noticed an effect called “snowball” when you clicked on the first page of Google. That happens because most people choose the first page when they are looking for sources to link to.
The bottom line is that you do not want your opponent to build a solid foundation.
You need to track the new keywords they are targeting and then focus your efforts to compete with those keywords. That means you need to create a page that is more valuable than their page.
Now I want to show you how to find your competitors’ top pages. This is one of the important tactics that I want to mention in the Ahrefs manual.
# 5: Check out your competitors’ best sites
To find your competitors’ best pages (from an organic traffic perspective), go to “Organic search” and click on the “Top pages” section.
This is one of the most popular sections in Ahrefs. Because you will have topics that have been endorsed by your competitors.
Backlinks and social signals will help you determine that these topics are valuable. It also confirms that your competitors have chosen compelling content for that topic.
Finally, a strong keyword ranking of the opponent will appear. That is exactly how Google verifies that your opponent is on the right track.
This section will give you the ability to create content and pages that your industry really cares about.
You will also see the content you need to create to meet the user’s intent (in the way that Google wants).
Take advantage of the data in this section as it will eliminate a lot of doubts for finding your target keywords.
Next, I will show you how to find competitors in your industry.
How to access “Organic search” and click on “Top pages”
# 6: Find other competitors
To find your other competitors, click on “Competing domains” under “Organic search”.
I recommend that you follow the above process to extract more keywords from your competitors.
The next tactic I want to mention in this guide to using Ahrefs is to use the Content Gap Tool. This is my favorite tool.
# 7: Use the Content Gap Tool
This is a very good tool as it will show you the keywords you are not ranking top, but your competitors are ranking top.
All you need to do is place the competitor’s URL in the “Show keywords that any of the below targets rank for” section. You can also add multiple competitors but in this example, I use only one competitor.
Then put your URL in the “But the following target does not rank for” section and then click on “Show keywords”.
Now you can see the keywords and content ideas that you are targeting. To that word, you will understand that:
What should you do to compete with your competitors?
You need to create pages that are more valuable and different than your competitors in these keywords. Do not allow your opponent to be “smoothly sailing” to pull in countless traffic.
The last keyword research tactic I want to show you in Ahrefs is to take advantage of its Keywords Explorer tool.
# 8: Take advantage of Keywords Explorer
To access this feature, click on “Keywords explorer” in the navigation bar.
All you need to do now is enter some potential keywords. In this case, I would use a keyword, such as “health”.
Click on “Keywords explorer” on the navigation bar to take advantage of Keyword Explorer
After analysis, Ahrefs will take you to all sorts of data about this keyword. This tool is a great tool to check the quality of potential keywords. However, in this case we only use it to further define keyword ideas.
To achieve this goal, continue to select the “Keyword ideas” section. You will see all kinds of great keywords related to the original keyword.
How leveraging these keyword ideas will depend largely on the strength of your website.
Example: It is difficult to rank for a broad-range keyword like “health” unless you have a super-premium website. Most online websites are not able to rank for such a keyword.
That is why you should target longer keywords like the ones that Ahrefs is providing in this section.
Now you have mastered how to find keywords with the Ahrefs tool. Let me show you how to validate your keyword list.
How to authenticate keywords with Ahrefs
Building a large list of target keywords is an important first step. However, the real magic happens when you validate your list of target keywords.
So, what does keyword authentication mean? That means you will narrow your list by running your keywords through the checker. The end result will be a set of Google certified keywords.
Here is how to get started:
# 1: Analyze competitor URLs in Site Explorer
The first step of the keyword validation process is to click on the “Keywords explorer” option in the Ahrefs navigation bar.
Ahrefs Keyword explorer will show some useful data in this section. The first data point worth looking for is “keyword difficulty”.
This is a good measure of keyword competition. However, you need to remember that this data is based on Ahrefs internal data. It is not as perfect as you think.
That is why you need to always conduct manual research. But if you do a quick analysis, “keyword difficulty” will suffice in most cases.
The next metric you should consider is the number of searches that lead to a click.
This is usually the result of featured snippets or SERP features, the answer to search queries without the searcher conducting any additional research.
Another part of Keyword explorer that you should analyze is Paid vs. Organic results for your potential keyword phrase.
This is important for the same results above as the more paid results will push the organic results to the bottom of the page. That will reduce the organic CTR. So, you need to keep that in mind when you do your research.
Now you understand some 30,000-foot view metrics inside Keyword explorer. I will talk about this process a little deeper.
Scroll down to the “SERP overview” section, click on the “Export” button in the right corner.
Open the Excel spreadsheet and delete all columns except: “URL”, “Backlinks”, “Referring Domains”, “URL Rating”, “Domain Rating”, and “Facebook”. Your worksheet will look like this after you do:
Your worksheet will look like this after you open excel
The next step is to go through each column and average the numbers. Highlight the cells or numbers that need to be averaged and click the drop down arrow on the automatic button and select “Average”.
Results table after following the steps above
Repeat this process for all columns. The next step is to paste your domain name or target URL into the “URL” column. Then paste your Domain Rating (DR) into the appropriate column as follows:
In this example, I am assuming that you have no pages that are targeting the keyword phrase. The difference is important because comparing DR is the only option in this case.
On the other hand, if you already have a page targeting the “what is creatine” keyword, then you should fill in the data for each column to make a suitable comparison.
So, in this case, Greatist.com has enough authority (DR) to compete for these keyword phrases. It will be easy but there are still some weaknesses in the results.
First, there is a YouTube video ranking.
That is a good sign.
Second, both Blonyx.com and MyProtein.com have one or no linking root domains. It is a sign that these pages are ranking well because they are fulfilling the searcher’s purpose properly. But the biggest thing that drives their rankings is the overall website authority.
So, in the case of Greatist.com, this would be an attractive keyword to target because their domain name is stronger than 3 of the other ranking pages.
Also Bloynx.com has the lowest DR but is ranked in the top 5.
Therefore, this brief analysis is only the first stage of the process.
After you have determined that your site can be competitive (at least 30,000 feet view mode), you need to analyze each ranking page.
This is important because SEO is not a simple game.
On the surface, the Greatist has no problem ranking for this keyword phrase.
However, that confidence can change like the wind as you analyze ranking URLs at a deeper level. The biggest factor is the quality of the pages.
The main question you must ask is:
Can you create a page that is more valuable and different from what is being ranked?
Think of this question every time you want to target keywords.
Now you understand how to find and validate keywords using Ahrefs effectively. It is time to show you how to use Ahrefs for technical SEO in detail.
Technical SEO. An instruction on how to use Ahrefs to find Broken Backlinks
Finding Broken Backlinks is one of the easiest ways to create backlinks because you already have HAD backlinks. In addition, “linker” has decided to link with you. That means you can skip the complex relationship building phase of the outreach process. Here is how to find broken backlinks using Ahrefs:
The first step is to open the “Site explorer” tool and enter your domain name.
Instructions to open the tool “Site explorer” and enter the domain name
Now go to the “Backlink” section and select “Broken”.
Results after going to “Backlink” and selecting “Broken”
Next you need to go through each result, find contact information (Voila Norbert and Hunter), then send each of your potential customers a similar pattern:
Broken Backlink Template
I blog at [your blog] and I see that you are linking to my article on [topic] (thank you).
I noticed that the link is really broken. It seems like it has a [problem].
If possible, change the link to this URL: [Your exact URL].
Link Prospecting. How to “steal” your opponent’s links with Ahrefs
There are many ways to find links, but one of the best methods is to extract them from competitors in your industry. The key to getting your competitors backlinks is an effective outreach process. Anyone can find links, but it needs to be tested and refined to get scale backlinks.
The first step in the process is to open Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and paste the competitor’s URL into the search bar.
Instructions to open Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and paste the competitor’s URL into the search bar.
After the analysis is complete, go to the “Backlink profile” and click “Backlinks”.
Manipulate to see all the backlinks of your opponent
Now you can see all of your competitors’ backlinks. It is time to start the links acquisition process. I will provide you with a framework that you can implement today.
However, there is one important point you should keep in mind:
You must always check, refine and improve your outreach process. No outreach process is perfect. All you can do is check the process and improve it.
Here, my link crawling process looks like this (in 30,000-foot view):
Your success in SEO and digital marketing generally depends on your ability to build relationships with influential individuals and audiences in your industry. It all starts with outreach.
The first part of this process that you need to understand is that your outreach process will vary based on the type of backlink you are trying to get. For example, the process of getting a backlink through a customer post is much different than trying to get a backlink through the building of broken backlinks.
The next stage is to begin the process of getting your name out there and build relationships with your potential customers.
Straight to the problem:
No blogger likes cold outreach. In fact, it is disrespectful to reach out to a blogger who has a lot of followers and asks them to do something. Why? Basically, you say: Hey, I have all the benefits of your audience, which you have spent years building.
The meaning of the story:
Do not get cold outreach. This is an adventure game if you are trying to be a serious player in your industry. You do not want to repel influencers.
So, you should be wondering:
How do you begin the process of building a relationship with your prospecting link?
Some methods include:
- Leave thoughtful and thoughtful comments
- Retweet their content
- Reply and engage with them on Tweets, posts on Facebook, …
- Send them an email
- Ask them a question (requires their expertise) via email
How to evaluate Link Opportunities with Ahrefs
As I mentioned above, finding link opportunities is the easiest step in the link acquisition process. The next most important step in the Ahrefs user guide is to assess what link opportunities are truly worth pursuing. Below, what you need to do to evaluate your link opportunities (by scale):
The first part in evaluating links is to go to the “More” section on the navigation bar and click on “Batch Analysis”.
Then all you need to do is paste the list of link opportunities URLs. In this example, I will analyze a list of guest posts in the “fitness” market segment.
After you have pasted the URL, click on “domain with all its subdomains”.
The first goal of the process is to eliminate opportunities that are low quality or do not meet your minimum standards and criteria. Then you need to prioritize your potential customers.
You can accomplish these goals through the data provided by Ahrefs. However, I highly recommend The Relevancy Pyramid.
High authority websites and higher traffic are hard to get link positions but they have a greater impact.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you can focus on lower authoritative sites with a focus on quantity.
Either way, I prefer to focus on more difficult opportunities because they always seem to work better (in my experience).
To start the process of prioritizing these links, you need to sort them by “keywords”
The keywords column indicates the number of organic keywords that the website is ranked on Ahrefs rank. This is very important for eligible link opportunities. The reason is because a website is working well in Google, it is a sign that Google algorithm trusts this website.
Higher trust = better link opportunity
The opposite is also true.
You should be interested in websites that do not work well in Google. All you need to do is sort your list in ascending order to find this kind of prospective link.
A website without good SEO performance does not mean that it has a bad opportunity.
You must remember that Google is just a website and a marketing channel.
The value of an opportunity link cannot rely on a channel.
There are several ways to determine the value of an opportunity link in addition to organic search traffic such as checking its audience size across multiple channels, checking the quality of link profiles, checking the level of interaction on social media and even Check out the level of interaction on its blog.
I will learn more about this process in a future blog post. But for now, the most important thing is that it is not possible to judge a link opportunity as bad because it just does not work well on Google.
However, what I say is only an optimistic view. That means there are still many low-quality opportunities that you should avoid.
All you need to do is check for sites with weak SEO performance and see if there is any way this site can add value to you.
If you are struggling to find any value in an opportunity link, remove it from your list.
It makes more sense to focus your time on really valuable links.
The next step is to sort your list by DR (Domain Rating).
The verification step is very simple:
Getting backlinks from websites with higher DRs will have a stronger impact (in most cases). They are also harder to get in position, so you need to keep that in mind as well.
You can then sort your list by Total Referring Domains (the number of sites linking to you).
DR and Total Referring Domains will be correlated. For example, sites with lots of Total Referring Domains will generally have higher DRs.
You can evaluate and remove opportunities by relying on Total Organic Keywords, DR, and Total Referring Domains.
Another metric you can refer to is the number of .edu and .gov backlinks. This is a sign of reliability.
In addition to us, see Total “Linked” Domains (total outbound links on a prospective website).
If there are a large number of outbound links, it is sometimes possible that the website is selling backlinks. It is worth considering if you find an alarming number of backlinks.
But before you continue, you need to understand how to optimize anchor text.
How to optimize anchor text with Ahrefs
If you understand how to optimize anchor text, you will improve your site’s SEO results. Moreover, you also keep your website from trouble such as penalties from Google.
Now I want to rank for the keyword phrase “healthy breakfast”.
In this example, I found this keyword phrase while searching for organic keywords by Greatist. You can also check immediately by clicking on the SERP button.
Instructions on how to optimize anchor text with Ahrefs
From here, simply click on the down arrow next to each rival URL and open “Anchors” in a new tab. I recommend doing at least with the first 5 or more opponents. Next, what you need to do is get the exact anchor text with this keyword.
This is important because you will see the “ceiling” for each exact anchor text.
I usually cut the list of exact anchor texts in half and choose a safe ceiling.
For example, if the anchor text is exactly 10%, I would choose the ceiling level is 5%. And as I mentioned, since the first Penguin update, you should usually keep the 1% level with the right keywords. However, it may also vary based on scale.
Another important factor you need to consider when calculating the average of the anchor text (and use it as a guide) is competition. The reason is because higher authority sites can often get rid of anchor text rules.
That is why you should consider EMAs for competitors that have similar scope of authority as your website.
You can also perform the process of averaging for partially matched anchor text.
The article above I have instructed to use Ahrefs SEO standard with some outstanding features. I hope they will be helpful to you.