Author’s note: Besides being a customer of Ahrefs, I have no affiliation with the tool, and this is not a paid article.
Ahrefs is a robust SEO toolset that is popular among search professionals — yet many are not using it to its fullest potential. There are so many nooks and crannies in Ahrefs that it can take a while to learn everything it has to offer.
The following lesser-known Ahrefs reports can provide useful data which can help you with your link building and content strategy.
Hidden in the bottom right corner of the Overview page, this report provides an at-a-glance view into a website’s backlink profile.
Each link pointing to your site has a URL Rating from 1 to 100 — the higher the number, the higher the link quality. In this report, Ahrefs groups a domain’s backlinks by URL Rating (in 10-point increments), providing insight into the quality of its inbound links.
This report is helpful for evaluating competitors’ sites or even potential link-building providers you might be partnering with. Major brands will likely have a large number of low-quality links due to link spam, which is not usually their fault. However, if it’s a small to medium-sized site that doesn’t have many high-quality links, that may be an indicator of their overall link quality.
Whether you are using this information to evaluate a competitor or to work on a client, the URL Rating distribution report gives you a good overview of a site’s backlink profile quality.
Found in the left-hand side navigation, this report can help you find content that may be growing in popularity. This is important because you can focus on these pages for link building, as Google already sees natural link growth and considers it as one of the many factors that go into SERP position. Focusing on the pages that are getting traction with backlinks is simply keeping the snowball rolling down the hill.
This report can help you with your content strategy, too. By knowing which pages are getting the most backlinks, you can create more high-quality pages centered on topics your audience is linking to. This idea of working with your audience, rather than trying to make content work that just isn’t resonating with them, makes your content creation process a lot easier.
A lot of link builders go after competitor or industry-related broken links on external websites, but they fail to monitor their own lost opportunities. The lost links report (which has a calendar view followed by a list) allows you to find sites that were linking to you that may have removed the links.
In the calendar view, the green counts gained links and red counts lost ones.
As you view the list under the calendar, you can see where your lost links were coming from, which may give you insight into why they disappeared. Some lost links are understandable, like an awards or sponsors page that got updated to the current year. But some may have been lost due to an error, potentially making it worth your while to inquire about why your link was removed.
For instance, if you see that a guest post lost its link (which was agreed upon when you submitted the post they published), it might be worth asking the site owners or editors what happened. This can help you gain back some of your own lost backlinks that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
This report on anchor text for backlinks shows you what text other sites are using when linking to your domain.
By knowing how others are referring to your site, you can better target external pages for link building and also optimize existing pages to include the anchor text terms (where applicable).
This data can also give you content ideas. Let’s say there are a few websites linking to a product page on your site, but instead of calling the product by its official name, they are using a different term. If your audience is referring to products by alternative names, then adding content in product descriptions or in blog posts with those alternative words may help your audience find you.
For instance, in the screen shot above, you can see that the retailer has 48 backlinks with the anchor text of “turkey call” which is an all-encompassing term, as there are different types of turkey call devices. Instead of only having product pages for specific devices, their main product page is optimized for “turkey call,” since that is what most customers call it, no matter what its actual specific type may be.
No matter what insight you are hoping to glean from Ahrefs, these reports are just a sampling of the useful data available to help inform link building, SEO and content strategy. The most successful SEOs know that knowledge is power, and by utilizing all the data available to us, we can make more informed decisions for our clients and ourselves.
All screen shots taken January 2018.
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