Ahrefs Review 2018: Ultimate Showdown With Pros & Cons (No Fluff)

Ahrefs review

Ahrefs Overview

Ahrefs is the best competitor research and SEO tool you can get right now. It has the biggest backlink index than any other tool. With this tool, you can spy on your competitors' SEO strategies, their backlinks, keywords, and also other aspects.

If you are serious about SEO of your site, getting a decent backlink and keyword research tool is crucial. Undoubtedly, as you keep on reading this review you'll notice how Ahrefs beat every other SEO tool in the market out of the water.

You also can get a free 15-days trial of Ahrefs.

It's the swiss army knife of SEO.

In this Ahrefs review, I'll be walking you through the tool and help you know whether the tool is worth the price or not.​

Features

Dozens and dozens of features than any other tool in the market

Price

Bit on the pricier side, but it's certainly worth it.

Ease of use

Dead-simple to use compared to other tools. Powerful data filters make using this tool a kid's play.

Support

Support is good with phone, email, and chat support.

Backlink Index comparison: Undoubtedly Ahrefs has the biggest backlink index. The backlink index of Ahrefs is even better than the most popular Majestic SEO's backlink index.

As a simple search, I compared the number of backlinks reported for my site by each of these tools. Below is the result.

Ahrefs vs majestic vs semrush

The SEMrush is struggling hard to report all the backlinks of my domain as you can see in the above screenshot.

In some cases, especially in the case of new domains, SEMrush reports not a single backlink at all even after a month of acquiring it.

Keywords index comparison: The keywords of a domain are reported only by Ahrefs and SEMrush. Below is the screenshot of the keyword data of my domain reported by both Ahrefs and SEMrush.

Ahrefs compared with semrush

Both of these tools have 100+ country keyword databases. If you are doing SEO for a specific country's Google TLD, both of these tools work better for you in terms of keyword research.

But undoubtedly Ahrefs have a better keywords index than SEMrush.

Ahrefs Review - Will it be your last SEO tool?

With the variety of tools like SEMrush, SERPStat and others in the market, it'll be quite hard to find a great tool for executing your SEO plan in a systematic way.

Understanding this, I've reviewed Ahrefs in this blog post very indepth. In fact, in this blog post I've explained every feature of the Ahrefs.​

Now let us go ahead and explore some of the features of Ahrefs. I will walk you through some of the greatest features of Ahrefs.  Also I'll present you some of the strategies you can follow to make the best of these features for boosting the SEO of your site.

Site explorer - Overview of any site just a click away!

Once you enter a link in Ahrefs, you get to know the following details of a site or URL.

Site explorer

  • Ahrefs rank: It is based on the volume of organic traffic a site is getting. It is better than Alexa rank.
  • UR (URL ratings): This determines how influential a URL may be based on the number of backlinks pointing to it.
  • DR (Domain ratings): Due to the large backlink index of Ahrefs, this metric is more accurate than Moz's Domain Authority.
  • Other data are obvious.
Backlinks graph

The tool also displays you the graph, how the number of backlinks and referring domains have improved over the time. This is very helpful in making sure that you are following the link velocity guidelines, without any irregular spikes.

Pro tip: This backlinks graph will also be helpful in spotting poor promotion or backlink building on your competitor sites. In these cases, you can make use of the poor growth of your competitor's backlink profile, and build backlinks proactively to dominate the market.​

Organic keywords graph

The organic traffic and keywords graph helps you to know how the site has acquired organic traffic over time. You can also determine what search traffic a site was getting at a particular point in time.

These are just basic features, there are much more powerful features which you will explore shortly.

Backlink profile - What's special in here?

This is one of the greatest strengths of Ahrefs. Their backlink index is the best in the world.

Ahrefs backlinks

By entering the domain name or the URL in the search box, the Ahrefs will show you all the backlinks pointing to that domain or URL. The results also come with various powerful filters like:

  • Grouping similar links
  • One link per domain display
  • Link type - Dofollow vs. nofollow, sitewide, redirect, Gov, and Edu.
  • Platforms - Comment systems, forums, WordPress blogs, etc.

You can look up to 25 domains and 100 URLs per day in the Lite plan. Whereas, with the Standard plan you can lookup 100 domains and 500 URLs daily.

Broken backlinks

In simple terms, these are all the sites that link to a broken page on the site. If you find that people are linking to your broken pages more often, either you can fix the page or outreach them to fix the link to your site.

You'll be surprised to know how people accidentally link to a non-existing page on your site. You can reclaim those links using this feature.

Anchors

This feature enables you to find out the anchor text of your backlinks. This is especially helpful when diagnosing your link profile when hit by Google Penguin or other updates.

Again there are filters for you to sort out anchor texts for various lengths like 2 words, 3 words, and 4 words.

You can filter out anchor texts from nofollow links to display only what matters to you.

New/lost backlinks - Spy on live SEO campaigns of your competitors!

New backlinks

This feature helps you know what backlinks have been built and at what time. You can just select a date and know what are all the backlinks that are built on that date.

It lets you accurately determine what areas your competitors are working on for building backlinks.

Lost backlinks

The "lost backlinks"  lets you know the backlinks that you lost. This is very helpful, in case if you are an active guest blogger and want to know whether the blog owner has removed a backlink from your guest post.

Without this tool, you have to manually track your guest posts and make sure the link is live.

This helps you check whether the backlinks you built, still exist or not.

Organic search - Know what keywords your competitors are targeting

You can enter the domain name or the URL, and display the organic keywords that drive traffic to that domain.

Organic keywords

This is especially very important in getting some good blog topic ideas, that drive great traffic to your site. If your competitors are ranking high for some keywords, why can't you? It's as simple as that.

Movements

If you are targeting any specific big keyword, you can track the movements of your blog's rankings in SERPs. You can use this feature also for your competitor domains.

Top pages

These are some of the top pages on my domain when it comes to organic traffic according to JetPack. The results are surprisingly accurate when compared to those reported by Ahrefs.

You can also drill down the keywords that these individual pages rank for. As per the 80-20 Pareto principle, 20% of pages drive 80% of traffic to any site. How about stealing top 20% of keywords of your every competitor? This feature makes it possible.

Competitors

Ahrefs also does a great job of returning some of the competitors of a site based on the number of keywords that those sites have in commonality. The competitors of GoBloggingTips as returned by Ahrefs is shockingly accurate.

Determining your competitors accurately helps in maximizing the results from your SEO efforts. It also lets you keep updated with the things that are going in your industry. You can also spy on the strategies that your competitors use and replicate the best of them for your online success.

Content gap

Analyze the screenshot properly once again.

This one is my favorite trick to find blog topic ideas that don't suck!

Content gap helps you find the keywords that you are not ranking for, but most of your competitors do. It lets you know the key areas you must be improving in terms of content.

If ALL of your competitors can rank and bank from a particular keyword, why can't you?

This is a great feature that only Ahrefs has.

Best Pages - Why I use this feature a lot?

Best by links

Ahrefs also returns the top performing pages according to the backlinks. As you can see in the above screenshot, top 3-4 results are obviously the root domain and their HTTP variations.

Then comes the top pages on my site that have a good number of backlinks. If you want to avoid the pages with 301 redirections, you can use the "HTTP codes" filter at the top.

This feature helps me easily carry out the skyscraper technique to build backlinks quickly by publishing proven content that attracts links.

Rather than going through the keywords your competitors are ranking for, all you have to do is just go through their "top pages" and you'll instantly get the pages that are getting the most traffic on a site! How cool is that?

Social share count

This feature lets you identify the top pages of a domain when it comes to social shares. This feature may be quite similar to the content explorer feature of Ahrefs, but less powerful.

Don't worry I'm gonna walk you through content explorer shortly!

Outgoing links - What domains a site link to? (Unique Ahrefs Feature)

Outbound links

This feature truly sets Ahrefs ahead of the competition. No other tools like MajesticSEO and SEMrush have this feature.

In fact, someone asked SEMrush to implement the feature of getting outbound links. Below is the reply he got.

Semrush feedback

SEMrush doesn't have outbound links feature till now (2017).

Broken backlinks


In order to take the feature of outbound links to the next level, the Ahrefs also reports all the broken outbound links of a domain. This is very helpful in doing broken link building.

When you notice a broken link on an authority domain, you can reach out that blog owner. You could then ask him to fix the link and suggest the replacement link of a similar content on your site. Below is the broken link building email template you can use to outreach.

Email outreach

Hey (first name),

I was checking out (their site) today and noticed that a few links weren't working on this page: (page with broken links) These two pages that you linked to don't seem to exist anymore:

(broken link #1) (broken link #2)

If you need a replacement resource, I saw this post last week and thought it was awesome: (your page).

Hope that helps and keep up the awesome work with the blog!

Cheers,
(anything but your real name)

Manually searching the Google for some resource pages, and running "Link checker" extension to scan for broken links takes a lot of time. The Ahrefs broken link feature does this job a cakewalk for you.

Paid search - A boon for PPC marketers

Paid keywords

If you are running PPC campaigns, Ahrefs is there to increase the ROI you get out of your ad investment. You can spy on your competitors, get to know the ad keywords that they target.

You can literally view the ad copies that they are running for the keywords. You can also spy on their location specific ad campaigns without using any VPNs!

Top ads

It also returns the top landing pages that you competitors are bidding. By this, you can clearly get to know, what are all the pages that convert great for your competitors.

This is indeed a great feature if you invest in advertising.

Top landing pages

Content explorer - Research proven well-performing content

Content explorer

This feature alone replaces the entire BuzzSumo tool. This feature lets you know the top shared content in any specific niche. Once the results are displayed, you can filter the results based on publish date, languages, the number of shares on various social networks, domain ratings, referring domains, organic traffic, word count, etc. These filters are highly powerful.

Using the referring domains filter, you can find content that's both viral and attracting great links. This feature is very helpful in getting content ideas for your blog posts that are proven to earn links and social shares by going viral.

Top sharers

Ahrefs will return you all the Twitter people who have tweeted a particular content on Twitter. This will be very helpful in getting to know about the social media influencers and building relationships with them.

Pro tip: Viewing the people who have tweeted the content, and do influencer outreach via email or via a tweet.

​Email template

Hey (first name),

Today, I came across your Twitter profile. I noticed that you shared - (viral content URL). It's a nice article. I've created something more updated and detailed on by blog. Here's the URL - (your post). Hope you spread a word about it.

Cheers,
(your name)

If you are in a niche where you need to cover the viral news and content quickly, Ahrefs is the tool that lets you identify the viral content in any niche in a matter of hours.

Content analysis

You can also enter the URL of your domain instead of the topic name in Content Explorer. This returns all the popular content of the site. When you click on details button below each of the results, you can drill down the data further.

Ahrefs will further display the backlinks and also organic traffic charts of the content as you can see in the above screenshot. There are also separate tabs for you to explore backlinks, referring domains, anchors, and organic keywords for that result.

Just imagine what you can do by knowing this data of your competitors.

You do also need to note that, only 3 content explorer reports can be fetched daily with the Lite plan ($82/month). Whereas, with Standard plan ($149/month) 100 reports can be fetched.​

Keywords explorer - Research right keywords to target

Keyword research

This feature alone replaces the need for any keyword research tools like Longtail Pro. This feature helps you to do keyword research easily and more quickly. You just need to enter your seed keyword or a topic idea. The Ahrefs will calculate the keyword difficulty level of the keyword. It also gives you the monthly local and global search volume, along with metrics like CPC, return rate, traffic potential, parent topic (beta), search suggestion, and related keywords (LSI keywords).

Let's have a closer look at the keyword filters.

Keyword explorer filters
  • Phrase match: Search for the "exact keyword"
  • Having same terms: Only will return keywords that have words of your seed keyword.
  • Also rank for: Returns the keywords that content which rank for your seed keyword also ranks for.
  • Search suggestions: This is basically like "Google Suggest" or auto complete feature.
  • Traffic share: Returns you the percentage of the seed keyword traffic obtained by each of the top 10 ranking blog posts.

​By default, as you can see in the screenshot, the metrics for all the keyword results will not be available. If you find a particular keyword to be interesting, you can click on "get metrics" button so that the Ahrefs can do the hard work for you on demand.

The basic metrics will be available by default. Whereas, the advanced keyword metrics like ​clicks, return rate, parent topic, needs to be fetched. With Lite plan you get 500 metric credits per day. Whereas with Standard plan you get 500 metric credits per day.

Ahrefs keyword difficulty

The keyword difficulty feature is a very important feature. Above is the chart to let you know what keyword difficulty scores you need to consider while using it in your blog posts. The keyword difficulty metrics is somewhat similar to Long Tail Pro, but according to my experience the score is quite accurate than LTP. But still the accuracy lags behind KWFinder.

Go for keywords that have difficulty scores of below 30. According to my experience, anything below 30 in easy to rank with some backlinks and proper onpage SEO done.

By using these related keywords along with the main keyword in your content, you make your article semantically rich and increase the chances of your content ranking top in SERPs.

Serp overview

SERP overview reports the top 10 results for a keyword, their key metrics like UR, DR, backlinks, traffic, and social shares. Shockingly enough, the Ahrefs also reports if there are any AdWords ads, knowledge graph, and snippets at the top of the SERP for the keyword. This is very helpful in manually analyzing whether it is possible for you to rank for the keyword.

Other useful tools

This review post will be incomplete without describing some of the most amazing features of Ahrefs.​

Alerts - Get useful alerts to your inbox

Alerts

You can add your site as a project, and Ahrefs alerts you every time you get a new backlink. You can setup the same kind of alerts for new keywords and keyword positions. If you have a fairly popular site, the alerts feature can spam or clutter your inbox.

​Being a tool that can index a new backlink in a matter of hours, the "Alerts" feature seems to be great for Ahrefs. No other tool can offer this feature.

Rank tracker - Track your site rankings

Tracked keywords

You don't need to pay for any rank tracker for tracking your site rankings for keywords. With Ahrefs, you can track the position of your site for the keywords. You can also set the tool to notify you about the keyword positions daily or periodically.

Rank tracker graph

It will also present the ranking positions in the form of a graph so that you can determine the position of your keyword back in time. This feature is very essential to get to know whether your SEO efforts are bearing fruits for you.

Quantifying your results, helps you keep motivated.

You can track upto 250 keywords in the lite plan. Whereas in the standard plan, you can track upto 750 keywords. This is quite decent.

Domain comparison - Lets you know the improvement areas

Domain comparison

With the domain comparison feature, you'll be able to compare up to 5 domains against many factors. The feature compares the domain in terms of their DR, UR, social shares, backlinks, etc. as you can see in the screenshot. As you scroll down, the Ahrefs also compares these domains in terms of graphs and traffic that they are getting.

This is very helpful in pinpointing the areas where you need to improve when compared to your competitors. 

Domain comparison graphs

When doing domain comparison, if you scroll down, you can also see the graphical comparison of the sites. The number of referring domains, referring pages are also denoted with a graph. You can compare the growth of links of the sites head-to-head.

The ratio between dofollow vs. nofollow link, sitewide​ vs. not sitewide links, and other charts are available.

Link intersect feature

Link intersect

This is the feature I use all the time when I'm stuck while building backlinks. If you are struggling to get new backlink opportunities, trust me, this feature alone is enough for you. The feature shows you the backlinks that your competitors have in common, but you do not have.

If all of your competitors are getting backlinks from a particular source, why can't you?

The link opportunities that this feature returns you are low hanging fruits, that you can fuel up your motivation when you got stuck building backlinks.

This feature is very helpful in case of niche sites. For example, you can find out some forum backlink or niche web 2.0 opportunities that all your competitors are leveraging but not you. 

Ahrefs Pricing and Plans

Pricing

You can refer their pricing page for more details.

The pricing of Ahrefs starts from $99/month. If you opt for the yearly plan, you get 20% off. The Lite plan is enough for most of the people. If you intend to share the tool with your other team members, the advanced and agency plans are great.

The Lite plan, when paid yearly, costs you $82 month. This is cheap when compared to $99.95 / month of SEMrush.

Ahrefs vs. Majestic SEO vs. SEMrush - A Comparison

Features 

Ahrefs

Majestic SEO

SEMrush

Backlink index

Yes

9.5/10

Yes

8.5/10

Yes

7/10

Historic Backlinks

Yes
Yes
No

Outbound links index

Yes
No
No

Keyword index

Yes
No
Yes

Keyword databases

Yes

100+ countries

No
Yes

100+ countries

Keyword difficulty

Yes
No
Yes

Rank tracker

Yes
No
Yes

Site audit

Yes
No
Yes

Content explorer

Yes
No
No

PPC research

Yes
No
Yes

Broken links

Yes
No
No

Content gap

Yes
No
Yes

Link intersect

Yes
No
No

Social media shares

Yes
No
Yes

Competitors

Yes
No
Yes

Price starts from

$82 / month

$50 / month

$99.95 / month

Bottomline - Is Ahrefs for you?

As a blogger, I can't imagine blogging without this tool. This tool has been a great help to me in my SEO campaigns. If I was introduced the importance of this tool in my early days of blogging, I would've been 2 years ahead in time.

Ahrefs offers you the most unique features when compared to any other tool. It also has the biggest backlink index in the world. Finally today I got the opportunity to review Ahrefs in detail.

You just have no idea, how much you are losing without having this awesome tool. If you liked Ahrefs, just give it a 15-day trial. It won't hurt you. I'm sure you love it.

Hope you loved this Ahrefs review. If you think this review has helped, you kindly share it with your friends.​

DISCLOSURE
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that if you click on one of the links and purchase an item, we may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). All opinions are our own and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.

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Ahrefs Review
  • Features
  • Ease of use
  • Price
  • Support
4.7

Ahrefs

After reading this post, you may realize that Ahrefs is the best SEO tool you can ever get your hands on. It comes with a boatload of features than any other tools like SEMrush, Majestic SEO or Moz.

7 thoughts on “Ahrefs Review 2018: Ultimate Showdown With Pros & Cons (No Fluff)”

  1. Hi Akshay,

    AHREFS is certainly a great tool for bloggers and internet marketers. You have explained every functionality in great detail. I liked the link intersection part. It provides ou with a great opportunity to get backlinks from sites which are usually linking to your competitors. Further, its adds to the fact that these types of backlinks would be easier to get as compared to the ones that we search manually for any website. Plus, these would be niche specific too!

    Great Post!
    Keep up the good work!

    Regards
    Bhanu

  2. Wohooo! Awesome article, mate! I’m using Ahrefs from 3-4 months, and it is working awesomely for me. Thanks a million for this beautiful review because I was not aware of few features that you mentioned above. 🙂 Keep up the good work. Stay Happy!

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