Introducing the tool
Ahrefs is an SEO toolkit with all the core functionalities you would typically need to cover all the bases in managing a website’s search performance.
There’s rank tracking against your chosen keywords, site auditing to check your site’s SEO health, and an in-depth competitor analysis offering which overlaps with backlink analysis into any URL on the web.
Other SEO toolkits such as Raven and Moz offer similar features to these – but Ahrefs has the key distinction of being powered by the exceptional Ahrefs database, which covers parts of the web that many competitors can’t reach. This enables greater accuracy and detail in the tool’s data-gathering.
Further functionalities including content research tools and web monitoring make Ahrefs one of the most comprehensive SEO suites on the market.
Ahrefs offers outstanding functionality for SEOs who need to research new keywords to target in their campaigns.
The ‘Having same keywords’ tab within Keyword ideas is a particular highlight. It brings up a database of related keywords, which can be filtered according to metrics such as keyword difficulty (from 1-10), search volume around the keywords, CPC and the word count required to rank. We rate this as an impressively simple way to turn raw keyword data into insights that can be fed into your search strategy formulation.
Ahrefs keyword research uses a database of over 7 billion keywords spanning 170 countries. That’s roughly one keyword for every person on Earth – a level of reach which could prove invaluable to search marketers who want to micro-target their campaigns using highly specific keywords.
Another useful feature is ‘Newly added keywords’, which shows new keywords in the Ahrefs database which are related a seed keyword, chosen by the user for their campaign. We advise checking out your newly added keywords monthly (the same frequency at which Ahrefs updates its database), as this could provide leads on new trends in competitor strategy and consumer search behaviour in your niche.
There are more interesting features to Ahrefs keyword research than we have time to write about here – but we can’t resist fitting one more in. It is commonplace for an SEO tool to provide data on the amount of search volume around certain keywords. However, Ahrefs goes a step further with this functionality, by pairing this reporting with a summary of top-ranking webpages for the keyword specified, plus estimates on the volume of traffic each of the top-ranking webpages will be gaining, based on their SERP ranking. The user can estimate, at a glance, the potential value of getting their content onto that top page of search results, rather than simply seeing the overall search volume, which may not be the most reliable indicator of keyword value. This is just one of many clever ways Ahrefs closes the gap between data output and strategic insight.
Finding content gap opportunities
One of the most interesting features of Ahrefs is its content gap analysis. This functionality finds content opportunities where multiple competitor sites rank for a keyword that your site doesn’t rank for. Once you’ve entered your competitor domains, you’ll be shown a list of keywords the sites rank for. If any of the keywords take your interest, you can click through and find more detail on those keywords, to help assess which ones could be a viable addition to your content marketing strategy.
We rate this as a great way to find new topics to write about in a content marketing campaign. On one level, it could help search marketers working on a new site to identify key topics in their niche. Or with established websites, it could help search marketers who are running out of ideas to identify new options.
Another key content research tool in the Ahrefs toolkit is Content Explorer, a feature which Ahrefs has described as “a mini search engine for SEOs and marketers.” Based on our testing, this is essentially a database of Ahrefs’ indexed content, searchable by keyword, where results from the web are augmented with key SEO metrics such as DA, referring domains and social media metrics. The tool has great UX and lots of potential uses in content research – particularly if you’re prospecting for websites to target in a link-building outreach campaign. That said, there’s an argument that browser extensions such as BuzzStream Buzzmarker provide a more elegant solution to this area of SEO, allowing the option to work directly from SERPs.
SEO Learning Resources
One of the other aspects that sets Ahrefs apart is their extensive learning library of resources. These will particularly appeal to anyone trying to get to grips with SEO. As well as an active SEO blog, they also produce some great weekly SEO videos which are both entertaining and educational.
Ahrefs is a one-of-a-kind, premium product – and it has pricing to match.
Individual, low-volume users can subscribe to Ahrefs Lite for $99/month, which gives you most of what Ahrefs has to offer, excluding mobile rank tracking, access to the Ahrefs historical index and a few other in-depth features. The main drawback to this package is that it limits the subscriber to 1 user, 5 projects and just 500 tracked keywords – not enough for a large-scale SEO operation. Ahrefs Standard ($179/mo) enables 10 projects and 1,500 tracked keywords, but still restricts the subscriber to 1 user only.
SEO teams should look further up the pricing structure, to the Advanced ($399/mo) and Agency ($999/mo) packages, which unlock access to more users, higher processing volumes and fuller functionality.
Unlike most of the other tools reviewed in our SEO tools comparison, Ahrefs does not offer a free trial period. However, there is the option of a $7 week-long trial, which should accommodate most SEO professionals and teams looking to add this powerful toolset to their arsenal.
What sets Ahrefs apart from other SEO Tools?
Well the team at Hrefs provide this short video that walks you through 9 key unique features they say you won’t find anywhere else and covers examples of the features we have covered in this review so you can see them in action.
We could write a book on the innovative functionalities Ahrefs has to offer. Given our time constraints, we’ve chosen to focus this review on two particularly interesting areas that set this product apart: keyword ideas and content gap analysis.
That said, there is far more to explore in Ahrefs, and we would recommend looking into the tool in more depth if you are thinking of signing up. The $7 week-long trial option should give you ample time to explore the possibilities. Ahrefs is arguably an SEO tool that’s best suited to SEO experts, based on the sheer scope of its offering. Only a full-time SEO professional – or, ideally, an SEO team – could make full use of its features, which do come at a high price. That said, the user interface is approachable and effective enough to accommodate relative beginners or part-timers, too. The exemplary content on the Ahrefs blog, which covers general SEO, technical SEO, content marketing and more, will help relatively inexperienced SEOs acquire skills and get the most out of the Ahrefs toolset.
Go back to SEO tools comparison report.