IS IT WORTH IT? AN IN-DEPTH LOOK TO AHREFS
Hi there! Welcome to an in-depth look to Ahrefs brought to you exclusively by www.websitesadvice.com. If the name Ahrefs sounds to you more like a command line entry than a name for a drug, you have a grasp on the philosophy of the company. While this SEO tool is relatively fully featured, we found it wasn’t spending a lot of time worrying about the niceties of end users , especially an intuitive user interface. Beginning at $82 a month for its Lite plan (when paid annually), this is a full featured platform aimed primarily at people who know what they do when it comes to SEO. It’s a solid choice for those folks though. Ahrefs, for example, maintains one of the world ‘s largest backlink lists, currently with more than 12 trillion historical backlinks and 6 billion web pages crawled every day.
It also includes a number of other features and capabilities including ad – hoc keyword research, ongoing SEO monitoring and position tracking, content – specific research, and a strategic domain comparison. Basically, Ahrefs can do a bit of all that. While the keyword management and SEO reporting features of Editors ‘ Choice Moz Pro are missing, and its bare – bones user experience ( UX) cannot equal that of the much cleaner Editors ‘ Choice, SpyFu, Ahrefs does much to merit consideration beyond its iconic crawling capabilities and has invested in interface enhancements, more sophisticated reporting, and improved keyword management features since our inception.
AHREFS PLANS AND PRICING
Ahref ‘s pricing is somewhat on the high side, starting at $82 a month for his Lite plan ($99 if you opt for monthly billing). This plan gives you one user, five promotions (the number of sites you can track in the Ahrefs dashboard), 300 keywords tracked per week, 25 domain crawls per day in the Web Explorer app, and just three searches per day in the Keyword Explorer. The number of alerts and the number of results you can export from the backlinks and rankings indexes of Ahrefs also have caps. The regular $149 per month plan ($179 month-to-month) is the more feasible option for SMBs, expanding the ability of the platform to 10 campaigns, 1,000 tracked keywords revised every three days instead of weekly, 100 domains per day, and 50 keyword searches per day.
Then there’s the Premium kit, billed annually at $332 a month ($399 month to month). It’s here that you get to get into premium features. The Advanced tier provides you with 25 promotions, daily updates to up to 4,000 tracked keywords, 200 keyword searches per day, expanded access to backlinks and ranking indexes, mobile rankings, and up to three user logins. Then there’s the Business package, billed annually at $832 a month ($999 month to month). This tier provides you for real – time web-mention tracking, daily backlink reports, and far higher quotas for every mention of Site Explorer, Content Explorer, and Keyword Explorer. We would recommend going with the Standard or Advanced plans for most SMBs depending on how much data you are looking for, and how often you need updates.
USER EXPERIENCE AND EXPLORING KEYWORD
The first thing about the Ahrefs dashboard you notice is that it’s relatively sparse. A navigation bar with Dashboard tabs, Alerts, Site Explorer, Content Explorer, Keywords Explorer and a drop – down Tools is placed across the top of the screen. This is where you can access the Ahrefs application programming interface ( API), the Ahrefs user toolbar, and other tools such as multiple backlinks domain comparison and fast batch analysis. Below the tabs is a search bar that allows you to enter a domain, URL, topic or keyword. The dashboard itself shows all of the current campaigns which can be clicked on to access Domain Explorer for the latest monitoring data from that site.
Ad – hoc keyword research is what business users will most often use when identifying the best possible results pages of the search engine ( SERP) to target with an optimization strategy that can help the pages rank higher. As such I mainly focused my research on the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool.
I used a common set of five keywords for each method for testing purposes to see how the SEO metrics, performance, and related keyword suggestions will vary. I tested five keywords with: digital marketing , online shopping, IT contractor and accounting for small businesses. It is a relatively standard collection of words that might be used by an SMB or a publishing outfit such as Ziff Davis. Together they let me see a snapshot of the relevant search results and the spots ripe for targeted optimization of competitors.
I started by inserting all five of my test keywords into the search bar in Keyword Explorer. Ahrefs lets you narrow the country – by – country search but, unlike in KWFinder, it does not include the ability to drill down by region. The keyword results page was initially the most simple and straightforward of all the tools I evaluated in terms of metrics returned, but with a responsive page of interactive data visualizations, Ahrefs greatly enhanced the Keyword Explorer tool. In the new Keywords Explorer app, where before there was a simple table with metrics on average monthly search volume, cost – per – click (CPC), how many total search results were on the list, and keyword difficulty ranking, I got an overview page with interactive bar charts on overall search volume and clicks, volume distribution, and difficulty distribution. Below that were tables and charts breaking down the features of SERP, distribution of volume-difficulty, top countries by number, keyword ideas, and pages and domain traffic shares. Keywords Explorer now also uses clickstream data when you visit the Metrics tab next to Summary to provide users with more accurate individual keyword metrics around search volume, clicks (and clicks per request), and return rate (how often people search for the same keyword). Google’s Keyword Planner also groups volumes of keywords for related queries and this is particularly useful in this regard. There is also a link to open the SERP overview, listing which URLs hold each position with deeper metrics on the page’s SEO strength in the search results. Ahrefs has also updated its SERP results, now populating a SERP ranking history chart to track changes in rank over time, as well as incorporating new fields such as Featured Snippets into the results page.
For example I found it had the highest search volume and a difficulty score of 75 for my online shopping keyword. Conversely, with a keyword difficulty score of 59, the digital marketing had a lower but still important search volume. For reference, a difficulty score is an all-in – one, 1-100 number used by all the tools I tested that factors like Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA) SEO metrics along with other data, including keyword search volume, how heavily paid search ads influence the results, and how strong the competition is on the current search results page at each spot. Ziff Davis Senior SEO Manager Mike Levin told me that you’re aiming for the perfect difficulty score and PA / DA target is below 50, and that any score higher than 60 is usually a tough nut to crack.
I was able to identify many low-scores URLs in various custom Ahrefs metrics on the SERP results page for digital marketing. These include domain ranking, URL rating, and the “Ahrefs rank” score, as well as how many links came from social media sources such as Facebook and LinkedIn (potentially valuable data that you can import into any social media analytics tools that you may use). From here, you can take those use URLs and run a Site Explorer search to determine if your organization can optimize the SERP position to capture it. A small menu with a few other options is on the left hand side of the Keywords Explorer tab, providing you a list of related keywords with the same metrics as well as a phrase match list of longer search terms that fit the keywords. Compared with the related keyword suggestions you’ll find in Moz, KWFinder, and SEMrush, Ahrefs doesn’t give the average user the same in terms of constructive support and tailored keyword recommendations to target. That said, what was the worst standalone ad – hoc keyword querying in our initial reviews has been greatly improved by the feature. Ahrefs has increased its keyword database starting 300 million to 3.1 billion keywords, and as such the Keywords Explorer now returns ten times as many keyword ideas as reported in “Word Match” and “Having Same Phrases.” The website has launched recommendation options for related keywords such as “Has rank for” and “Search suggestions” sections to bring up more relevant keywords.
On the SERP results page for digital marketing I was able to identify a lot of low-scores URLs in different custom Ahrefs metrics. These include domain ranking, URL rating, and the “Ahrefs rank” score, as well as how many links came from social media sources like Facebook and LinkedIn (potentially valuable data that you can import into any social media analytics tools you can use). You can take those URLs from here and run a Site Explorer search to determine if your company can optimize the SERP capture function. On the left hand side of the Keywords Explorer tab is a small menu with a few other options, providing you with a list of related keywords with the same metrics as well as a phrase match list of longer search terms that fit the keywords. Compared to the similar keyword suggestions you can find in Moz, KWFinder, and SEMrush, Ahrefs does not give the average user the same in terms of positive support and tailor – made keyword recommendations to target. That said, the feature has considerably improved what was the worst standalone ad – hoc keyword querying in our initial reviews. Ahrefs has expanded the keyword database from 300 million to 3.1 billion keywords and as such the Keywords Explorer now returns ten times as many keyword ideas as recorded in “Word Play” and “Have Same Phrases.” Recommendations for related keywords such as “Has Rank for” and “Search Suggestions” pages have been introduced on the website to create more relevant keywords.
SITE EXPLORER AND ALERTS
Of SEO’s three major categories— ad -hoc keyword research, ongoing search location tracking, and crawling— Ahrefs in the latter two is much stronger. I got a thorough rundown of the PCMag.com domain covering all the Ahrefs custom metrics while typing a URL into the Web Explorer, a breakdown of organic keywords and traffic, organic and paid search and a complete listing of all the crawled pages on the site. Only Moz possesses the same degree of functionality of the tools I tested in terms of running fast, detailed web diagnoses.
I also found interactive visualizations of data when scrolling down the Site Explorer tab. We pull live data on referring domains and websites, backlinks, and a map of where search traffic comes from all over the world. Below that, too, was a search terms word cloud carrying the most traffic. Then there were deeper site overview options into search and backlinks in the left – hand navigation column, paid and organic search and some new comparison features that helped me to recognize competing domains and pages. The features of the analysis broke down how many common and unique keywords my website shared with rival sites. Ahrefs and the SpyFu Kombat comparison tool provided the SEO tools with the most competitive comparative metrics.
Finally, Ahrefs lets you set up email alerts to track backlinks, new keywords, and mentions of the web / brand. I simply clicked the add warning button on the top right of the Notifications dashboard when creating a new keyword alert, then entered the URL, country, keyword volume I wanted (less than 1,000, 1,000-10,000 or more than 10,000), the email addresses where I wanted the alerts to be sent, and how often those emails should go out. The Ahrefs alert is straightforward, easy to set up, and makes tracking of the overall SEO health of a website and monitoring of targeted keywords simple.
COVERING ALL THE BASICS
Ahrefs is a great alternative if you are looking for a SEO platform with excellent crawling and domain analysis that covers all of your bases in terms of simple keyword research and ongoing monitoring. The user experience is nothing fancy and the recommendations for keyword management and optimization leave much to be desired compared to Editors’ Choices Moz Pro and SpyFu, but Ahrefs is on par with DeepCrawl and Majestic as the best crawlers we’ve tested, and includes the most backlink tracking tools of any product in this roundup next to LinkResearchTools. It can be a worthwhile addition to the SEO tool suite for your business.
That’s all for our in-depth review about Ahrefs. Do you have any experience with Ahrefs or do you have any questions? Let’s discuss down in the comments section.
Thank you so much and see you again!
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