How to Use Ahrefs for SEO and Competitor Research

Is it Ahrefs or A hrefs? Call it what you will, but we still have thesame great SEO tools.

Now, you might have heard about us from afriend or maybe you learned a cool hack from your favorite blogger.

But how do you actually use Ahrefs to getmore traffic to your website and improve SEO? You're about to find out in this video.

Stay tuned.

[music] What's up marketers? Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool thathelps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche.

Now while there are virtually an endless numberof ways you can use our toolset, today, I'm going to share with you 11 ways to use Ahrefsthat can actually help you get more traffic and hopefully, more business.

Let's get to it.

The first feature Ahrefs is by far my favorite, and that's to find content opportunities based on your competitor's pages that get the mostsearch traffic.

Think about this.

If you could know the pages that are drivingthe most search traffic for your competitors, then wouldn't you want to get in on that action? Well, it's super easy to do with Site Explorer.

Just type in a domain of one of your competitors.

Next, go to The top pages report.

And this report ranks a website's pages basedon the estimated organic search traffic they get.

And by default, the country that drives themost organic traffic is selected.

But you can switch the dropdown to “All countries”to see the total search traffic these pages get globally.

If you want to find low competition topics, then just look at the total search traffic vs.

the number of referring domains.

Here's a good one.

This page is about using tags on YouTube videos, which only has 4 unique websites linking to it and gets over 10, 000 search visitors eachmonth.

We also have another report called “Top subfolders”which is similar to Top pages but gives you an additional layer of data.

This report shows you the pages and subfoldersof a website that get the most organic traffic.

So as you can see, Brian's YouTube hub generatesaround 19% of his website's total search traffic.

So not only can you learn new topics to writeabout, but you'll also learn a little bit about site structure of a broader topic.

The next way to use Ahrefs is to researchboth the quality of your competitors backlinks and get an understanding of how they got them.

Let's go back to the Top pages report fora popular health blog.

You'll see that this page on keto dietinghas over 900 unique websites linking to it.

Let's click on the number here, which willopen up the Referring domains report, which lists all unique websites that are linkingto this page.

You can immediately see that the websiteslinking to this page are quality sites like the New York Times, CNBC, cancer.

org and more.

But it's not always this kosher.

For example, you'll see that this page haslinks from nearly 200 websites, which is no joke.

But if you look at the Referring domains report, you can immediately tell that the quality of the links aren't great quality just bylooking at the domain names that are linking to it.

To paint an even clearer picture, click onthe “Link type” filter and you'll see that more than half of their links are nofollowed, which just seems unnatural.

Let's go back to the original example.

If we want to dig deeper into the linkingpages for this keto diet web page, we can go to the “Backlinks” report in the sidebar.

This page shows you where the link is comingfrom, metrics on the linking page, and then the context of the backlink.

For example, you'll see that this link wasearned because of a stat from the page.

But filtering through all of the linking pageswould take a long time.

So you can actually use filters to narrowin on a specific subset of links.

For example, if you wanted to reach out toall linking pages that are from other blog posts, you could set the link type filterto “Content, ” which will show you only pages that are linking to the target within a blobof text.

Or if you wanted to only find followed links, then you can set the link type to “Dofollow, ” which will narrow it down to only the value-passing links.

But let's say that you're a huge fan of resourcepage link building.

You can easily find link building opportunitiesby using the Include search box.

Just type in a common footprint like “resources.

” Then we'll set these two checkboxes sincethat's where our keyword usually appears.

And if we click through to the first linkingpage, you'll see that it seems like a perfectly good place where you could reach out and getyour page added.

In general, for backlinks reports, I recommenddoing this at the page level, because analyzing links of an entire domain will likely be toolarge to get really actionable data from.

The next way is to find low competition topicswith high traffic potential.

And you can do this using Content Explorer, which is our very own search engine with a database of over one billion pages.

Just type in a general keyword related toyour niche.

So I'll type in backpacks.

And since we know that backlinks help a pagerank high in Google, we'll set the maximum number of referring domains to zero to helpus identify low competition topics.

Finally, we'll set the Organic traffic filterto a minimum value of 1, 000.

Now what this combination of filters does, is it shows us all of the pages that contain the word “backpacks, ” have zero backlinkspointing at them, and get over 1, 000 search visitors per month.

Plus, we take the guesswork out of knowingwhich keywords to create your content around.

Just click on the Details button and then the Organic keywords tab, and you'll see the keywords they rank for, their ranking position, andthe amount of traffic each keyword accounts for.

Try this with a broad keyword related to yourniche, and you might just find yourself some great topics you can get traffic from.

The next use case is to find keyword datafrom 10 different search engines.

Keywords Explorer is Ahrefs' keyword researchtool.

It's super simple to use.

Just choose a search engine, whether thatbe Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, or any of these other platforms, enter your keyword, and run the search.

Since we chose Google, you'll see some helpfulkeyword metrics like Keyword difficulty, Search volume, Clicks data, and more.

You can generate more keyword ideas from anyof the reports here in the sidebar, or you can dig deeper into this search query by scrollingdown and analyzing the position history, and the top 10 ranking results.

Let's move on to the next use case, and that'sto find a ton of relevant guest blogging sites.

If you've ever looked for guest posting opportunities, you've probably done it using Google search operators.

You'd probably searched for something like “writefor us” and then added a general topic like “camping.

” Now there are a few problems with this.

First, you don't have any of the SEO metricsso you won't know if writing for this site would have any benefit at all.

And second, you'll almost always have to spenda ton of time filtering through a lot of irrelevant results.

And three, you're really limiting yourselfto sites that have “contribute” or “write for us” pages, which will be tough, especially if you're in a small niche.

And just because a website doesn't have awrite for us page, it doesn't mean they won't accept guest posts.

Well, Content Explorer can solve all of theseproblems and then some.

Let's start by typing a keyword into ContentExplorer.

And I'll click on the “One article perdomain” filter since we don't need to pitch the same website more than once.

Finally, you can filter this set of resultsdown even more by using the Domain Rating filter.

And Domain Rating is an Ahrefs metric whichrepresents the overall strength of a website's backlink profile.

So if you're new to guest blogging, then youmight set the Domain Rating filter down to 30-40, which is the perfect way to find smallersites so you can get some practice pitching, writing and building your portfolio.

And if you're a seasoned guest blogger, thenyou can set the Domain Rating filter to something like 50-70, which will narrow in on more establishedblogs.

Now pitch a good number of sites and you'reoff to the races.

We have a full video on scaling guest blogging, so if this is something that you use as a link building or marketing strategy, I highly recommendwatching that.

Now, let's look at a way to use Ahrefs tofind new link building opportunities on complete autopilot.

In our backlinks study, we found that topranking pages are more likely to consistently acquire new links simply because of theirranking position.

And this happens because higher ranking pageswill naturally get more exposure.

Knowing this, you can use Ahrefs' Backlinksalerts to find out where these top ranking pages are getting their links from.

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in real time.

Here's how it's done.

First, go to Google and type in the keywordyou want to rank for.

Next, copy the URL of the top ranking page.

Now, go to Alerts, and create a new Backlinksalert.

Just paste in the top ranking URL and setthe Scope to “New.

” Now, any time this page gets a new backlink, you'll get an email notification.

And if you see an opportunity to pitch yourpage, then you'll have timing on your side and that's a critical component to successfuloutreach.

But don't limit yourself to the #1 rankingpage.

You might as well create new alerts for thetop 3 or top 5 pages to maximize your opportunities.

The next feature in Ahrefs that you have touse is our Content Gap tool.

This tool can show you keywords that one ormore of your competitors are ranking for, where your website isn't.

Logically speaking, if two or more of yourdirect organic search competitors are ranking for these keywords, then there's a good chancethat you should go and target them too.

To get started, enter your domain into SiteExplorer.

Next, go to the Сontent gap tool in the sidebar.

In the top section, enter in a couple of yourcompetitors' domains.

After you've done that, I recommend changingthis dropdown to “all of the below targets.

” This will keep our results super relevantby only showing keywords where both of these websites rank, and yours doesn't.

I also recommend leaving this checkbox checked, so only keywords where one of your competitors ranks in the top 10 will be shown.

Again, another way to get relevant results.

And I can see a couple of great keywords thatwe can create content around like a guide on using Google Search Console as well asYouTube SEO.

But our Content gap tool is super unique inthat you can actually run these reports at the page level.

Let's say that we want to create a blog poston YouTube SEO.

First, I'll click on the SERP button besidethat keyword to see the top ranking pages for this keyword.

Next, I'll copy the top 3 relevant rankingresults and paste them into the top section.

And I'll actually delete our URL at the bottom.

If we run the search, you'll be able tosee all of the keywords that the top ranking pages rank for.

So you can then use this keyword list as an outlinefor content that you're about to create.

Just skim through the keywords and try andextract sub topics within it.

The next feature will help you preserve “linkjuice” from your broken pages.

Think about this for a second.

If you have links pointing at a page, butit's returning a 404 response code, then you're completely wasting perfectly good links.

You can find these pages really quick inSite Explorer.

Just search for your domain.

And then go to the Best by links report.

This report shows you the pages on your websitethat have the most backlinks.

To find your broken pages, just click on theHTTP code filter and choose “404 not found.

” All you need to do now is fix the page oradd a redirect to another relevant page, and fix any internal URLs pointing at the brokenpage.

Now, this is great to fix issues on your ownwebsite, but why not look up your competitors' websites to find broken link building opportunities? Just change the URL in the search bar to acompeting website.

Then, set the HTTP code filter to 404.

And we now have tons of new topics that wecan create content around and people to reach out to with some good old-fashioned brokenlink building.

We have a full step-by-step tutorial on doingbroken link building with stats and all, so I highly recommend watching that after.

Now, we've talked a lot about keyword researchand link building, so let's switch gears to technical SEO.

With Ahrefs' Site Audit tool, you can scan your website for over 100 common technical SEOissues.

After you've run your crawl, go to the Overviewreport and scroll to the table near the bottom, which shows you all of the technical SEO issueswe found.

For example, if we click on “404 page, ” it'llopen up Data explorer and show all of the broken pages we found on your website.

And the reason why we were able to find thesepages is because there are internal links on your website pointing at them.

So you'd probably want to remove these.

You can just click on the number of inlinksbeside the page you want to investigate, export the report, and then you or your developercan remove the internal outlinks.

Site Audit also has dedicated reports to specifictechnical categories like page speed, HTML tags, and more.

Let's go to the HTML tags report.

You'll see that a lot of the pages are missinga meta description tag.

So let's click on that error, which will openup Data explorer showing you the affected pages.

A cool feature with things like meta descriptionsand titles is that you can actually add a description by clicking the plus button here, and enter in the text that you want to input.

After you've created all of your notes, goto the “to-do” report and you can export the results, send it to your developer, and havethem add your descriptions.

So we've covered a lot of ground with themain categories in SEO, but what about measuring ranking performance? Well, we've got Rank Tracker for that.

With Rank Tracker, you can see where yourpages rank in Google for any keyword on desktop and mobile across 170 countries.

But I want to show you a couple of uniquefeatures within Ahrefs' Rank Tracker that can help you take performance optimizationto the next level.

First up is our SERP feature tracking.

In total, we track 13 SERP features for allof your keywords.

Not only do we show you which features arevisible in the SERPs, but we show you the history of these tracked features which youmay have owned.

Another unique feature within Rank Trackeris the Competitors report.

You can track up to 5 of your competitorsand see how you match up against them on graphs for various categories.

These are just a dozen or so use cases thatyou can do with Ahrefs.

But there's a lot more you can do than this.

So I've got a question for you.

If you're already an Ahrefs user, I'd loveto hear about which feature you use most.

And if you're not, which feature would youwant to use most.

Make sure to leave a comment below and ifyou enjoyed this video, make sure to like, share and subscribe.

And I highly recommendwatching the playlist below to get in-depth training on specific topics like keyword research, link building, technical SEO and more.

So keep grinding away, and I'll see you inthe next video.

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