Ahrefs vs SEMrush

Ahrefs vs SEMrush is the main topic of this article. SEMrush and Ahrefs have been two of the best SEO tools for:

  • Discovery of new keywords i.e. keyword suggestions for your specific niche/industry.
  • Evaluation of your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) work through a complete SEO audit.
  • Monitoring of your website’s SEO keyword rankings (or positions) in the Google SERP.
  • Analysis of backlinks for your website and your major competitors’ websites.

Below is the summary between Ahrefs and SEMrush as SEO tools.

Backlink Analytics

Ahrefs

  • Basic backlink analytics includes finding all the backlinks with their referring domains for your website and competitors’ sites.
  • Additional information includes reporting of broken links and recently lost backlinks.
  • The user interface reporting all the data of backlinks is simple to navigate.

SEMrush

  • SEMrush lets you get your website’s backlinks and your competitors’ backlinks so you can perform analysis on backlinks.

Which SEO tool wins on Backlink Analytics?

  • Ahrefs wins.

Keyword Research

Ahrefs

  • With Ahrefs, enter a domain (into Site Explorer) and you will get all the keywords that the domain (or website) are ranking organically on Google’s SERP.
  • Or enter a keyword (into Keyword Explorer) and you will be shown a list keyword variations that is based on your entered keyword.

SEMrush

  • With SEMrush, enter a domain (into Organic Research Tool) and you will get all the keywords that the domain (or website) are ranking organically on Google’s SERP.
  • Or enter a keyword (into Keyword Magic Tool) and you will be shown a list keyword variations that is based on your entered keyword.

Which SEO tool wins on Keyword Research?

  • Ahrefs & SEMrush have tied.

Keyword Rank Tracking

Ahrefs

  • Add a website domain to a new project, and add all the target keywords to the project, so Ahrefs can start tracking the Google SERP positions of the keywords. SERP features, volume, (estimated) Google SEO traffic, keyword difficulty, and CPC per keyword are reported.
  • You can set up in a single project to track keyword rankings with multiple locations (i.e. Hong Kong, United States, etc.
  • However, Ahrefs reports the keyword ranking data only once every few days.

SEMrush

  • SEMrush tracks the Google SERP positions of the target keywords and reports SERP features, volume, (estimated) Google SEO traffic, keyword difficulty, and CPC per keyword per location.
  • SEMrush can track and report the keyword positions everyday which gives SEMrush an edge over Ahrefs.

Which SEO tool wins on Keyword Research?

  • SEMrush wins.

SEO Audit (of Websites)

Ahrefs

  • Ahrefs breaks down all the pages by error types, and provides suggestions on how you can fix each error. Not only showing the errors that are compulsory to fix, Ahrefs also shows the warnings and others.

SEMrush

  • SEMrush breaks down all the pages by error types, and provides suggestions on how you can fix each errors. Not only showing the errors that are compulsory to fix, SEMrush also shows the warnings and others.

Which SEO tool wins on Keyword Research?

  • Ahrefs & SEMrush have tied.

New Content Ideas

Ahrefs

  • Ahrefs Content Explorer reports on which blog articles (i.e. page URLs) are recently popular in social media including Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Like the data you can get from Buzzsumo. This data gives Ahrefs an edge over SEMrush.

SEMrush

  • Semrush has Topic Research Tool, but can only shows the number of Facebook engagements (as a metric) for your new content creation’s consideration.

Which SEO tool wins on Keyword Research?

  • Ahrefs wins.

Google AdWords / PPC Data

Ahrefs

  • Not much Google AdWords data you can get from Ahrefs. Ahrefs is not exactly designed to report on PPC data.

SEMrush

  • With SEMrush, you can track competitors’ Google Ads i.e. ad copies, etc. If your business involves in SEO and PPC (especially Google Ads), SEMrush will be more useful.

Which SEO tool wins on Keyword Research?

  • SEMrush wins.

Who Wins?

SEMrush and Ahrefs have scored 2 wins each with 2 ties.

What’s next?

We are to go through both SEMrush and Ahrefs in more details with focus especially on search engine optimization.

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SEMrush

SEMrush

SEMrush is a set of SEO tools that can provide SEO data (including website SEO audit, keyword research and keyword suggestions, Google organic rankings, backlinks, etc) to webmasters and SEO specialists.

Webmasters and SEO experts / specialists can use SEMrush to create a complete SEO strategy/plan for a specific website which requires optimization in SEO.

The SEO (search engine optimization) data available can be the data of the webmaster’s own website, or competitors’ websites.

Register SEMrush Free Trial Account

Sign up for a new SEMrush free trial account, whether it is for a length of 7 days, 14 days, or 30 days, depending on which free trial is offered at the time.

  • https://www.semrush.com/

With a new free trial account, you will have to enter your credit card details. But you will not be billed for a monthly fee as yet, until your free trial period is over.

If you are not planning to continue after the free trial, please cancel the account at least 1 day before the free trial period ends.

But if you have found the SEO data and reports provided by SEMrush are very useful for your website and/or business, you may continue by upgrading your SEMrush account to one of the paid plans.

SEMrush Paid Plans

SEMrush offers 3 paid plans: Pro, Guru, and Business.

Pro

  • Costs US$99 per month

With the Pro plan, you will get the basic features of SEMrush.

Domain & Keyword Analytics

  • Results per report: Up to 10,000 data rows will be reported in each analytics report (for reports in both raw and exported formats).
  • Reports per day: Allows 3,000 requests to be made to the analytics reports per day.
  • Keyword metrics updates per month: You can get 250 times of fresh metrics for your target keyword in Keyword Manager per month.

Competitive Intelligence add-on

  • Competitive Intelligence add-on includes Market Explorer, Traffic Analytics, Competitor Benchmarking, Bulk Traffic Analysis, and Top Pages. The add-on will cost US$200 per month.
  • Market Explorer: Key market players, market shares, audience age, gender and behavior, seasonal peaks, etc.
  • Traffic Analytics: Any website traffic, visitor engagement, traffic sources, desktop and mobile, audience overlap, historical data, all regions, etc.
  • Competitor Benchmarking: Comparison up to 5 websites
  • Bulk Traffic Analysis: Web traffic data up to 200 prospects
  • Top Pages: Most popular pages of any website

Projects

  • Projects: Can create up to 3 projects. Projects allow you to get all the necessary data regarding your site’s performance so you can develop an effective marketing strategy.
  • Keywords to track (with daily updates): Can track up to 500 keywords for all your projects simultaneously using the Position Tracking tool.
  • Mobile ranking: Can track mobile rankings in Position tracking tool.
  • Pages to crawl per month: Can crawl up to 100,000 pages for all your projects per month using the Site Audit tool.
  • Pages to crawl per project: Can crawl up to 20,000 pages with your Site Audit campaign per audit.
  • SEO Ideas Units: Can run up to 500 keyword analysis per month using SEO Content Template, SEO Writing Assistant and On Page SEO Checker.
  • Pages per OTI campaign: You can get data for the 30 most visited pages per each Organic Traffic Insights campaign.
  • Social profiles for monitoring: Can track up to 50 social media profiles for all your projects simultaneously using the Social Media Tracker.
  • Social profiles for posting: Up to 10
  • Sharing with “edit” access is available.

Reporting

  • Scheduled PDF reports: Up to 5 reports you can schedule to be automatically generated and sent (if necessary) in PDF format to multiple email addresses on a regular basis.

User management

  • One user account is available for the plan.
  • You can purchase up to 1 additional user login account for the plan, and each additionally purchased user will cost US$70 per month.

Content Marketing Platform

  • You get limited access to the Content Marketing Platform including limited access to Topics to research, SEO content template, Pages to audit, Countries to track, and Posts to track.

Other

  • Traffic Analytics API Access: Can be available upon request.
  • Listing Management: Get your business data correctly distributed to dozens of authoritative directories. The tool is only available for the United States, Germany, France, United Kingdom and Australia, and will incur an additional cost of US$20 per month.

Guru

  • Costs US$199 per month

With the Guru plan, you will get more features than the Pro plan.

Domain & Keyword Analytics

  • Results per report: Up to 30,000 data rows will be reported in each analytics report (for reports in both raw and exported formats).
  • Reports per day: Allows 5,000 requests to be made to the analytics reports per day.
  • Keyword metrics updates per month: You can get 1,000 times of fresh metrics for your target keyword in Keyword Manager per month.
  • Historical data: Go back in time to gain insights from the historical data of your website and/or competitor sites that have been gathered since year 2012.

Competitive Intelligence add-on

  • Competitive Intelligence add-on includes Market Explorer, Traffic Analytics, Competitor Benchmarking, Bulk Traffic Analysis, and Top Pages. The add-on will cost US$200 per month.
  • Market Explorer: Key market players, market shares, audience age, gender and behavior, seasonal peaks, etc.
  • Traffic Analytics: Any website traffic, visitor engagement, traffic sources, desktop and mobile, audience overlap, historical data, all regions, etc.
  • Competitor Benchmarking: Comparison up to 5 websites
  • Bulk Traffic Analysis: Web traffic data up to 200 prospects
  • Top Pages: Most popular pages of any website

Projects

  • Projects: Can create up to 15 projects. Projects allow you to get all the necessary data regarding your site’s performance so you can develop an effective marketing strategy.
  • Keywords to track (with daily updates): Can track up to 1,500 keywords for all your projects simultaneously using the Position Tracking tool.
  • Mobile ranking: Can track mobile rankings in Position tracking tool.
  • Pages to crawl per month: Can crawl up to 300,000 pages for all your projects per month using the Site Audit tool.
  • Pages to crawl per project: Can crawl up to 20,000 pages with your Site Audit campaign per audit.
  • SEO Ideas Units: Can run up to 800 keyword analysis per month using SEO Content Template, SEO Writing Assistant and On Page SEO Checker.
  • Pages per OTI campaign: You can get data for the 40 most visited pages per each Organic Traffic Insights campaign.
  • Social profiles for monitoring: Can track up to 100 social media profiles for all your projects simultaneously using the Social Media Tracker.
  • Social profiles for posting: Up to 30
  • Multitargeting: Can gather rank tracking data for multiple devices and locations within the same project. For example, desktop vs. mobile.
  • Sharing with “edit” access is available.

Reporting

  • Scheduled PDF reports: Up to 20 reports you can schedule to be automatically generated and sent (if necessary) in PDF format to multiple email addresses on a regular basis.
  • Branded PDF reports: Create PDF reports in which you can place your own company logo and your company name in the report header.

User management

  • One user account is available for the plan.
  • You can purchase up to 2 additional user login account for the plan, and each additionally purchased user will cost US$140 per month.

Content Marketing Platform

  • Access to the Content Marketing Platform is available.
  • Topics to research: Limited access
  • SEO content template: You can generate up to 800 templates using SEO Writing Assistant and SEO Content Template. Every time you generate a template for one keyword, one SEO Ideas unit is charged. The number of SEO Ideas units are shared between three tools which are SEO Content Template, SEO Writing Assistant and On Page SEO Checker.
  • Pages to audit: You can audit up to 20,000 pages per project using the Content Audit tool.
  • Countries to track: Can track mentions in 5 countries per project through the Brand Monitoring tool.
  • Posts to track: Track up to 50 posts per project with the Post Tracking tool.
  • Calendars: Create 1 calendar in the Marketing Calendar tool.
  • Plagiarism checks per month: Perform up to 5 plagiarism SEO checks with SEO Writing Assistant.

Other

  • Traffic Analytics API Access: Can be available upon request.
  • Listing Management: Get your business data correctly distributed to dozens of authoritative directories. The tool is only available for the United States, Germany, France, United Kingdom and Australia, and will incur an additional cost of US$20 per month.
  • Import your rankings from third-party tools is only available upon request: Easily switch to Position Tracking with no risk to lose your existing historical keyword data. Import your keyword data from a broad range of external services that you’ve ever used.

Business

  • Costs US$399 per month

With the Business plan, you will get full features of SEMrush.

Domain & Keyword Analytics

  • Results per report: Up to 50,000 data rows will be reported in each analytics report (for reports in both raw and exported formats).
  • Reports per day: Allows 10,000 requests to be made to the analytics reports per day.
  • Keyword metrics updates per month: You can get 5,000 times of fresh metrics for your target keyword in Keyword Manager per month.
  • Historical data: Go back in time to gain insights from the historical data of your website and/or competitor sites that have been gathered since year 2012.
  • Product Listing Ads: SEMrush provides you with PLA data to optimize your Google Shopping campaigns.

Competitive Intelligence add-on

  • Competitive Intelligence add-on includes Market Explorer, Traffic Analytics, Competitor Benchmarking, Bulk Traffic Analysis, and Top Pages. The add-on will cost US$200 per month.
  • Market Explorer: Key market players, market shares, audience age, gender and behavior, seasonal peaks, etc.
  • Traffic Analytics: Any website traffic, visitor engagement, traffic sources, desktop and mobile, audience overlap, historical data, all regions, etc.
  • Competitor Benchmarking: Comparison up to 5 websites
  • Bulk Traffic Analysis: Web traffic data up to 200 prospects
  • Top Pages: Most popular pages of any website

Projects

  • Projects: Can create up to 25 projects. Projects allow you to get all the necessary data regarding your site’s performance so you can develop an effective marketing strategy.
  • Keywords to track (with daily updates): Can track up to 5,000 keywords for all your projects simultaneously using the Position Tracking tool.
  • Mobile ranking: Can track mobile rankings in Position tracking tool.
  • Pages to crawl per month: Can crawl up to 1 million pages for all your projects per month using the Site Audit tool.
  • Pages to crawl per project: Can crawl up to 100,000 pages with your Site Audit campaign per audit.
  • SEO Ideas Units: Can run up to 2,000 keyword analysis per month using SEO Content Template, SEO Writing Assistant and On Page SEO Checker.
  • Pages per OTI campaign: You can get data for the 50 most visited pages per each Organic Traffic Insights campaign.
  • Social profiles for monitoring: Can track up to 300 social media profiles for all your projects simultaneously using the Social Media Tracker.
  • Social profiles for posting: Up to 50
  • Multitargeting: Can gather rank tracking data for multiple devices and locations within the same project. For example, desktop vs. mobile.
  • Sharing with “edit” access is available.
  • Sharing with “read-only” access is available.

Reporting

  • Scheduled PDF reports: Up to 50 reports you can schedule to be automatically generated and sent (if necessary) in PDF format to multiple email addresses on a regular basis.
  • Branded PDF reports: Create PDF reports in which you can place your own company logo and your company name in the report header.
  • Whitelabel PDF reports: Take full control of the look-and-feel of your PDF reports. You will be able to remove any mention of SEMrush from reports and emails, so that your clients will never know that you use SEMrush to do your work.
  • SEMrush enables the integration of reports with Google Data Studio.

User management

  • One user account is available for the plan.
  • You can purchase up to 9 additional user login account for the plan, and each additionally purchased user will cost US$140 per month.
  • SAML Single Sign-On: SAML SSO allows users to sign in to SEMrush with their existing login credentials managed by their organization.

Content Marketing Platform

  • Access to the Content Marketing Platform is available.
  • Topics to research: Unlimited number of topics are available when you generate content ideas using the Topic Research tool.
  • SEO content template: You can generate up to 2,000 templates using SEO Writing Assistant and SEO Content Template. Every time you generate a template for one keyword, one SEO Ideas unit is charged. The number of SEO Ideas units are shared between three tools which are SEO Content Template, SEO Writing Assistant and On Page SEO Checker.
  • Pages to audit: You can audit up to 20,000 pages per project using the Content Audit tool.
  • Countries to track: Can track mentions in 10 countries per project through the Brand Monitoring tool.
  • Posts to track: Track up to 50 posts per project with the Post Tracking tool.
  • Calendars: Create unlimited number of calendars in the Marketing Calendar tool.
  • Plagiarism checks per month: Perform up to 10 plagiarism SEO checks with SEO Writing Assistant.

Other

  • Traffic Analytics API Access: Can be available upon request.
  • Other APIs Access: Available
  • Listing Management: Get your business data correctly distributed to dozens of authoritative directories. The tool is only available for the United States, Germany, France, United Kingdom and Australia, and will incur an additional cost of US$20 per month.
  • Import your rankings from third-party tools: Easily switch to Position Tracking with no risk to lose your existing historical keyword data. Import your keyword data from a broad range of external services that you’ve ever used.1

SEMrush Main Features

SEMrush Position Tracking

Position Tracking offers you the ability to:

  • Monitor the Google organic search ranking of your keywords, including mobile and desktop ranking data.
  • Monitor the changes of positions of your target keywords over time.
  • Find out which Google SERP Features your target keywords have occupied, and the gains and loses over time.
  • The reports can be exported in multiple formats such as PDF, CSV, Excel, etc.

With Position tracking, you can build a full set of Google SEO position/ranking report with trends and insights.

Collect accurate Google ranking data

When collecting Google ranking data, you may:

  • Monitor the rankings of any domain, subdomain, subfolder or URL for the keywords you track on a daily basis.
  • Check your position at the national or local level, on mobile or desktop devices.

Analyze SERP features

You may:

  • Filter your data by any of the 16 SERP features.
  • Find out which of your keywords trigger which SERP feature.
  • Find out if your domain or the domain of your competitor ranks for any SERP features.
  • Get Google SERP position zero opportunities with special featured snippets.
  • Add your local business name to get accurate local map pack rankings.
  • Find out which landing pages are mode on AMP.

Discover major competitors

For competitor analysis, you may:

  • Discover all the domains that rank for your target keywords.
  • Identify who your real competitors in organic search are through the Discovery tab.
  • Exclude ubiquitous domains such as wikipedia.org from your list of competitor websites.

Organize your keywords

When organising keywords, you should tag your keywords. Allocate your keywords into multiple segments for subsequent in-depth keyword data analysis.

You may even filter all your keyword data reports by tags for a focused view.

Get notified

You may get notified of keyword position changes.

If you are to review all your keyword rankings on a daily basis, it will be too time consuming. A much better approach is to create triggers that will alert you in case of critical position changes that may require your immediate action.

Reporting

SEMrush is a tool that offers good reporting.

You may schedule standard reports to be sent over to you.

You may also use Report Builder to create custom templates, add detailed annotations or additional images to your PDF reports.

Keyword Magic Tool

The Keyword Magic Tool is an easy-to-use keyword research tool.

SEMrush claims that the Keyword Magic Tool offers all the keywords that you will need in order to build your most profitable SEO project or PPC campaign (as part of Google AdWords optimization).

SEMrush has a database of 18.9 billion keywords, and 14 million ideas of a single keyword and covers 118 geo-locations (at the time of writing this article).

But you can always assume English keywords form the largest portion of keyword data in the database.

With the Keyword Magic Tool, you can find low-competition keywords with their unique metrics that are based on the proprietary and 3rd party data sources of SEMrush.

The metrics that are used in the Keyword Magic Tool include the following.

Competitive Density: It is the level of competition between all advertisers bidding on a specific keyword in their PPC campaigns (i.e. Google Ads).

Keyword Difficulty: It is the index that illustrates how difficult it is to outrank a specific keyword of your competitors in the Google top 20 organic search results.

Search Volume: An estimation of monthly searches of a specific keyword (or query) that happen on Google.

SERP Features: It is the special search results that are triggered by your keywords, and how many URLs are displayed.

Features in the Keyword Magic Tool:

Auto-grouping: You may explore keywords in topic-specific sub groups, apply quick exclusion (to filter down the keyword list), and get long-tail keywords that are semantically related.

Smart filters: You may use questions-only filter, different match types, related terms, or flexible parameters to narrow down the keywords in the returned results.

Organic Research Positions (for competitor domains/websites)

With SEMrush Organic Research feature, you can enter a domain, sub-domain, or URL of your competitor, in return you will get to see the SEO keywords of your competitor.

Discover the best keywords of your competitors

You may:

  • Explore your competitor’s keyword rankings on desktop and mobile.
  • View your competitor’s landing pages displayed in Google’s SERPs for a specific keyword.
  • Find out how much traffic a search term (i.e. keyword) is bringing organically.

Find new organic search (SEO) competitors

You may:

  • Keep close tabs on the dynamic organic competitive landscape (in your industry or niche).
  • Get a visual representation of where your site stands among other competitors regarding organic search (i.e. SEO ranking).
  • Get a list of domains you are competing against for the first page positions in Google and Bing.

Observe position changes of domains

  • Keep track of how your domain positions of your competitors are changing in SERP.
  • Find out which are the new keywords (of your competitors) that have entered the first two search results pages of Google and/or Bing.

SEMrush Workflow

You may follow this 8-step workflow when using SEMRush.

  • Step 1: Enter your first queries (or keywords)
  • Step 2: Set up a Project
  • Step 3: Audit your website
  • Step 4: Set up Position Tracking
  • Step 5: Gather on page SEO ideas
  • Step 6: Discover & analyze your competitors
  • Step 7: Dive into keyword research
  • Step 8: SEO Content Template & SEO Writing Assistant

Run First Query

In SEMrush, you may enter either a domain, or a keyword (in the search bar).

When you input a domain (e.g. your website domain), SEMrush will display a Domain Overview with all the main overview metrics of the website’s search engine visibility. You can also enter the domain of one of your competitors, and this enables you to do competitive research.

When you enter a keyword, SEMrush will pull a Keyword Overview, showing the main overview metrics about that keyword’s popularity and competition among online advertisers and websites competing for traffic via SEO. Enter a target keyword or phrase that you want your website to rank for.

In the user interface which results are displayed, you may click on links. You will then be taken to other reports (depending on which specific link you have clicked).

Set Up a Project

When you have a website that you need to analyze or improve organic search visibility, set up a project for the website i.e. domain.

After setting up a new project, you may start configuring the 12 Project tools that are provided by SEMrush for managing your online campaigns.

The project tools are:

  • Site Audit
  • Position Tracking
  • Organic Traffic Insights
  • On Page SEO Checker
  • Backlink Audit Tool
  • Link Building Tool
  • Social Media Tracker
  • Social Media Poster
  • Brand Monitoring
  • Content Analyzer
  • PPC Keyword Tool
  • Ad Builder

Website Audit

You can set up the Site Audit tool to crawl your website the same way Google crawls your website. The tool then gives you a report that shows you instant insights of your website.

The results you get from the Site Audit tool are fully cut out for you, and are all the issues that are found related to your website. The issues may include errors, warnings, and notices.

The issues form the to-do list of technical improvements are for you should go through and fix so your website can perform better.

The Total Score is your website’s grade. After you have made the improvements on your website, you can re-run the site audit, and the Total Score should improve.

Set Up Position Tracking

You should start tracking your target keywords with SEMrush Position Tracking. Position Tracking allows you to monitor the organic ranking changes of your keywords across multiple locations (i.e. Hong Kong, or other regions), and across different device types (i.e. mobile and/or desktop).

With the same method, you can also monitor the organic ranking changes of your competitor websites. You can then evaluate the performance of multiple websites with organic search ranking data.

With Position Tracking, you can enable Alerts to be sent to you through emails when your website or your competitor website has some significant keyword ranking changes. An example of such keyword ranking change may be your website has lost the top 3 positions (of a specific keyword), or your competitor website has gained more than 10 positions on a specific keyword.

Get On-page SEO Ideas

With the On-page SEO Checker, you can find out a list of opportunities to improve your website through quick changes.

The On-page SEO Checker analyzes your web pages with your target keywords and provides ideas to optimize each page for its target keywords.

The ideas you get from the On-page SEO Checker may include technical SEO improvements, increasing word count on specific web pages, acquiring backlinks from specific domains, or more.

Analyze Competitor Websites

You can enter your website domain into the search bar in the Organic Research Competitors report. The report will show you the exact domains that are competing the most for the same target keywords as your website.

Run Keyword Research

Enter a target keyword that represents your product or service into the Keyword Magic Tool, and it will return all the related searches (or keywords) grouped by topics.

Create SEO Content Template

Enter your target keyword and location into the SEO Content Template tool, and a content template will be generated. This is a complete content template for creating an optimized piece of content from scratch.

SEMrush Practical Example 1: Build a Keyword List For Your Business

With SEMrush, you get new keyword suggestions and build the keyword list for your business (i.e. products and/or services that you are offering on your website).

You are going to use the Keyword Magic Tool.

SEMrush (Menu) Keyword Analytics

Select Keyword Analytics on the left side menu, and click Keyword Magic Tool.

SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool

Enter a keyword (or query) in the search box of the Keyword Magic Tool. The keyword may be a product or service you are currently selling on your website.

In this example, we are entering “SEO job”.

You have options to select any country/location for your search. If you select Hong Kong, the returned results will be based on the keywords that Hong Kong users have previously entered in search (i.e. Google).

In the example, we are keeping the country/country as U.S. (United States).

Now click the Keyword Magic Tool Search button.

SEO Job (Results) Keyword Magic Tool

You are taken to the next screen where your keyword list (which is based on primary keyword “SEO job”) is generated.

You can retrieve this keyword list, and use the list for your website’s SEO content creation.

Click the “Export” button to download the report. When downloading, you can export with groups i.e. The keywords are separated into groups.

You are given options to choose between the file format i.e. XLSX (Excel), CSV, or CSV Semicolon.

In some cases, a keyword in your keyword list may be a primary keyword for one of your web pages. In the above, we assume “SEO job” is your primary keyword.

In other cases, you will use a group of keywords to form a topic. You will create a new page on your website around this topic (i.e. a group of all very related keywords).

For example, click the group “management” under All Keywords, and the Keyword Magic Tool will show all the keywords that are only related to “SEO job management” which may include “technical SEO manager jobs”, “SEO manager job description”, “SEO content manager jobs”, etc.

Keyword Variations (SEMrush)

If for your business, you need to create a blog article about the topic “remote SEO jobs”, then from your first keyword list, click on “remote SEO jobs”.

You will be taken to the next screen in SEMrush where “remote SEO jobs” is the primary keyword.

Click “View all 70 keywords” to get to the next screen, and then download all 70 keywords.

The 70 keywords of keyword variations have been filtered down for you. Now take the new keyword list, and go on to create your new blog article on the “remote SEO jobs” topic.

SEMrush Practical Example 2: Build Keyword List Using Competitor Website

SEMrush’s Organic Research tool lets you find keywords from your competitor’s website. You can build your website’s keyword list based on the keywords that your competitors are using and ranking well on Google’s SERP.

Domain Analytics Menu (Organic Research Tool)

Select Domain Analytics on the left side menu, and click Organic Research.

Organic Research Tool (SEMrush)

In the search box of the Organic Research tool, you may enter a domain (i.e. root domain of a website), a sub-domain, or a URL.

In this example, we are going to enter “backlinko.com” which is a root domain.

Organic Research (High-level stats) of Backlinko.com

The Organic Research tool returns several high-level number of the website.

SEMrush shows the Backlinko.com website has 64.9K keyword ranking on the Google SERP, and getting 126.2K Google organic search traffic on a monthly basis.

The Organic Research tool further breaks down the traffic in branded traffic (2.6K per month) and non-branded traffic (123.7K per month).

This monthly traffic would have cost US$431.6K, if you are to purchase the same amount of clicks from Google AdWords.

Organic Research Trend of Backlinko.com

SEMrush (through the Organic Research tool’s report) shows traffic trend of the Backlinko.com site which has been increasing over the past 6 years and is still growing in year 2020.

SEMrush Top Organic Keywords section

Under the Top Organic Keywords section, click the “View all 64.9K organic keywords” button.

You will be taken to the next screen where the full list of keywords are shown.

Now you can export all the keywords as a file in one of the formats including XLSX (Excel), CSV, or CSV Semicolon.

SEMrush Practical Example 3: Get Competitor Website Backlinks

With SEMrush, you can get a list of your competitor website’s backlinks.

You can analyze this list of backlinks, create a strategy for your backlinks campaign, and decide the types of websites you should approach when getting backlinks for your website.

Domain Analytics - Backlinks (SEMrush)

Select Domain Analytics on the left side menu, and click Backlinks.

SEMrush Backlink Analytics Tool

Enter a domain, sub-domain, or URL into the Backlink Analytics search box. Again in this case, you will enter “Backlinko.com” as a competitor website.

The Backlinks tool shows that  the website Backlinko.com has 23.1K referring domains, and 1.9 million backlinks, with an Authority Score of 69.

The Authority Score is a compound metric that represent a domain’s overall quality and influence on SEO. The Authority Score is based on the domain’s domain score, trust score, quantity of backlinks, quantity of referring domains, quantity of referring IPs, correlation between domain score and trust score, follow vs. nofollow links, organic search traffic (based on SEMrush’s Organic Positions report), and number of users (based on SEMrush’s Traffic Analytics report).

The website (Backlinko.com) has a high Authority Score with a large number of backlinks and referring domains. This large data size makes the website (Backlinko.com) an excellent benchmark when you have a website in the same industry/niche that requires building a backlinks strategy.

Top Pges (SEMrush Backlinks)

Scroll down the screen to the Top Pages section, click “View full report”.

List of titles and URLs (SEMrush Backlinks)

Click the link of this indexed page (https://backlinko.com/on-page-seo) that has 3,339 backlinks (from other websites) pointing to this page, according to SEMrush.

Backlinks overview specific web page URL

While you are at the Backlinks overview screen of the URL https://backlinko.com/on-page-seo, click the “Backlinks” link.

List of all backlinks (for a specific page)

You will be presented with all the backlinks with statistics of the URL https://backlinko.com/on-page-seo.

Export all the backlinks with their information through Excel or CSV format.

Now you can analyze all the backlinks.

If you are going to create a page that has similar content to the https://backlinko.com/on-page-seo page, you should highly consider getting backlinks for your new page that are of similar types to those backlinks that are pointing to the specific Backlinko.com page.

SEMrush User Interface Languages

In your SEMrush account, you can switch the user interface to your preferred language:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • German
  • French
  • Italian
  • Portugese
  • Russian
  • Japanese
  • Chinese Simplified

Ahrefs

Ahrefs user interface

Ahrefs consists of a set of SEO tools which include Site Explorer, Keywords Explorer, Site Audit, Rank Tracker, Content Explorer, and more.

In-house SEO experts or Search Engine Optimization specialists should start with running SEO audits through the Ahrefs Site Audit tool, get a list of all the errors, warning, etc, and build the high-level SEO strategy for the websites that they are managing.

  • Build a SEO keyword list for your website using the Keywords Explorer.
  • Identify the keywords your major competitors already have organic rankings on Google’s SERP.
  • Get a list of backlinks of your competitor websites, and analyze.
  • Get new content ideas through the Content Explorer.
  • Monitor the Google organic search rankings (or positions) of your target keywords (for the target countries of your business).

SEO agencies can use the set of SEO tools in Ahrefs to compile SEO data reports for client websites, and find business opportunities to grow SEO traffic. Through the Site Audit tool, SEO agencies can run full site audit reports for client websites, and create a plan to fix problems on the client websites and improve organic search traffic.

We are going to demonstrate the use of Ahrefs with four practical examples.

Sign Up New Ahrefs Account

Sign-up

To sign up a new Ahrefs account, go to:

  • https://ahrefs.com/

7-day Trial (Not free of charge)

Ahrefs offers a 7-day trial plan which costs US$7 (i.e. $1 per day) for you to test using all the features, before committing to any of the monthly or annual plans.

Ahrefs Paid Plans

Ahrefs offers 4 paid plans: Lite, Standard, Advanced, and Agency

Lite

  • Costs US$99 per month

The Lite plan offers the least Ahrefs features.

User Access & Projects

  • User seats: Up to 5 users can have shared to your workspace. Additional users can be added to the plan for US$30 each per month.
  • Projects: Set up to a maximum of 5 websites for automatic tracking and analysis. Additional projects can be added to the plan for US$10 each per month.

Rank Tracker

  • Tracked keywords: Can track up to 500 keywords in your Ahrefs account.
  • Update frequency: Ranking of keywords are updated once every 7 days.

Site Audit

  • Crawl credits per month: Can crawl up to 10,000 internal HTML pages returning 200 (OK) HTTP status code. Each additional 500,000 pages will cost US$50.
  • Data retention: Crawled data of projects will be stored for 3 months.

Site Explorer

  • Domains per day: You can research up to 25 domains per day. Researching different URLs from the same domains will count as one domain.
  • URLs per day: Can research up to 100 URLs per day.
  • Rows per report: You can view up to 10,000 results in each report.
  • Rows per month: 3 million
  • Live index: Available. This index contains live backlinks only. 
  • Link intersect, rows per report: You can view up to 10 in each Link Intersect report.
  • Backlink index export, rows per report: 100,000
  • Backlink index export, rows per month: 5 million
  • Keyword positions: View your target keyword ranking data when the keywords are in Google’s top 20 organic results.
  • Competing pages / domains: See which websites or web pages are competing for the same keywords in Google’s top 10 organic results.
  • Content gap, rows per report: Can view up to 10 results for each analysis in Content Gap.
  • Top pages / subfolders / subdomains, rows per report: Can view up to 1,000 results for each Top pages, Top subfolders, or Top subdomain report.
  • Ranking index export, rows per report: 10,000
  • Ranking index export, rows per month: 500,000

Content Explorer

  • Reports per day: 50
  • Rows per report: 1,000
  • History graphs, time period: Up to 6 months
  • Trend graphs: Show a preview of the first content result of history graphs for organic traffic, traffic value and referring domains.
  • Content Explorer export, rows per month: 50,000

Keywords Explorer

  • Reports per day: Extract up to 25 reports per day.
  • Keywords lists: Create up to 5 lists of saved keywords.
  • SERP updates per month: Get up to 100 times of fresh data update for a keyword.
  • Rows per report: 1,000
  • Rows per month: 200,000
  • Keywords Explorer export, rows per month: 25,000
  • Newly discovered keywords: View keyword ideas that were recently added to the database of Ahrefs for last month.
  • SERP position history: Interactive graph showing the ranking history of the current top 5 ranking pages for 6 months.

Alerts

  • New & lost backlinks: You can create up to 5 email alerts to get notified of new and lost backlinks. Available for monthly.
  • New keywords: You can create up to 5 email alerts to track new keywords and keyword ranking changes across position buckets. Available for monthly.
  • Mentions: You can create up to 5 email alerts to track new mentions of any keyword, phrase, or search query. Available for weekly.

Extra Tools

  • Batch analytics, rows per month: 25,000
  • Domain comparison: Available
  • Integrations, rows: Up to 50,000 using third-party tools. 

Standard

  • Costs US$179 per month

User Access & Projects

  • User seats: Up to 1 users can have shared to your workspace. Additional users can be added to the plan for US$30 each per month.
  • Projects: Set up to a maximum of 10 websites for automatic tracking and analysis. Additional projects can be added to the plan for US$10 each per month.

Rank Tracker

  • Tracked keywords: Can track up to 10,000 keywords in your Ahrefs account.
  • Update frequency: Ranking of keywords are updated once every 5 days.

Site Audit

  • Crawl credits per month: Can crawl up to 50,000 internal HTML pages returning 200 (OK) HTTP status code. Each additional 500,000 pages will cost US$50.
  • Data retention: Crawled data of projects will be stored for 3 months.

Site Explorer

  • Domains per day: You can research up to 100 domains per day. Researching different URLs from the same domains will count as one domain.
  • URLs per day: Can research up to 500 URLs per day.
  • Rows per report: You can view up to 30,000 results in each report.
  • Rows per month: 6 million
  • Live index: Available. This index contains live backlinks only. 
  • Recent index: Available. This index contains live and recently lost backlinks (i.e. those that were live within the last 3-4 months).
  • Historical index: Available. This index contains all live and lost backlinks.
  • Link intersect, rows per report: You can view up to 30,000 in each Link Intersect report.
  • Backlink index export, rows per report: 1 million
  • Backlink index export, rows per month: 25 million
  • Keyword positions: View your target keyword ranking data when the keywords are in Google’s top 100 organic results.
  • Competing pages / domains: See which websites or web pages are competing for the same keywords in Google’s top 50 organic results.
  • Content gap, rows per report: Can view up to 50 results for each analysis in Content Gap.
  • Top pages / subfolders / subdomains, rows per report: Can view up to 5,000 results for each Top pages, Top subfolders, or Top subdomain report.
  • Ranking index export, rows per report: 30,000
  • Ranking index export, rows per month: 2.5 million

Content Explorer

  • Reports per day: 100
  • Rows per report: 5,000
  • History graphs, time period: Up to 6 months
  • Trend graphs: Show a preview of the first 5 content results of history graphs for organic traffic, traffic value and referring domains.
  • Broken pages: Filter broken pages for a specific topic.
  • Content Explorer export, rows per month: 250,000

Keywords Explorer

  • Reports per day: Extract up to 100 reports per day.
  • Keywords lists: Create up to 20 lists of saved keywords.
  • SERP updates per month: Get up to 1,000 times of fresh data update for a keyword.
  • Rows per report: 5,000
  • Rows per month: 500,000
  • Keywords Explorer export, rows per month: 100,000
  • Newly discovered keywords: View keyword ideas that were recently added to the database of Ahrefs for last month.
  • SERP position history: Interactive graph showing the ranking history of the current top 5 ranking pages for 6 months.

Alerts

  • New & lost backlinks: You can create up to 15 email alerts to get notified of new and lost backlinks. Available for monthly, and weekly.
  • New keywords: You can create up to 15 email alerts to track new keywords and keyword ranking changes across position buckets. Available for monthly, and weekly.
  • Mentions: You can create up to 15 email alerts to track new mentions of any keyword, phrase, or search query. Available for weekly, and daily.

Extra Tools

  • Batch analytics, rows per month: 100,000 
  • Domain comparison: Available
  • Integrations, rows: Up to 300,000  exportable data rows when using third-party tools. 

Advanced

  • Costs US$399 per month

User Access & Projects

  • User seats: Up to 3 users can have shared to your workspace. Additional users can be added to the plan for US$30 each per month.
  • Projects: Set up to a maximum of 25 websites for automatic tracking and analysis. Additional projects can be added to the plan for US$10 each per month.

Rank Tracker

  • Tracked keywords: Can track up to 5,000 keywords in your Ahrefs account.
  • Update frequency: Ranking of keywords are updated once every 3 days.
  • Mobile ranking: Can track mobile rankings.

Site Audit

  • Crawl credits per month: Can crawl up to 1.25 million internal HTML pages returning 200 (OK) HTTP status code. Each additional 500,000 pages will cost US$50.
  • Data retention: Crawled data of projects will be stored for 6 months.
  • JavaScript rendering: Can crawl and render JavaScript.

Site Explorer

  • Domains per day: You can research up to 250 domains per day. Researching different URLs from the same domains will count as one domain.
  • URLs per day: Can research up to 2,000 URLs per day.
  • Rows per report: You can view up to 50,000 results in each report.
  • Rows per month: 12 million
  • Live index: Available. This index contains live backlinks only. 
  • Recent index: Available. This index contains live and recently lost backlinks (i.e. those that were live within the last 3-4 months).
  • Historical index: Available. This index contains all live and lost backlinks.
  • Link intersect, rows per report: You can view up to 50,000 in each Link Intersect report.
  • Backlink index export, rows per report: 5 million
  • Backlink index export, rows per month: 100 million
  • Keyword positions: View your target keyword ranking data when the keywords are in Google’s top 100 organic results.
  • Competing pages / domains: See which websites or web pages are competing for the same keywords in Google’s top 50 organic results.
  • Content gap, rows per report: Can view up to 50,000 results for each analysis in Content Gap.
  • Top pages / subfolders / subdomains, rows per report: Can view up to 15,000 results for each Top pages, Top subfolders, or Top subdomain report.
  • Ranking index export, rows per report: 50,000
  • Ranking index export, rows per month: 10 million

Content Explorer

  • Reports per day: 500
  • Rows per report: 10,000
  • History graphs, time period: Up to 3 years
  • Trend graphs: Show a preview of all content results of history graphs for organic traffic, traffic value and referring domains.
  • Broken pages: Filter broken pages for a specific topic.
  • Content Explorer export, rows per month: 1 million

Keywords Explorer

  • Reports per day: Extract up to 200 reports per day.
  • Keywords lists: Create up to 100 lists of saved keywords.
  • SERP updates per month: Get up to 5,000 times of fresh data update for a keyword.
  • Rows per report: 25,000
  • Rows per month: 2 million
  • Keywords Explorer export, rows per month: 500,000
  • Newly discovered keywords: View keyword ideas that were recently added to the database of Ahrefs for all time period.
  • SERP position history: Interactive graph showing the ranking history of the current top 5 ranking pages for all time period.

Alerts

  • New & lost backlinks: You can create up to 40 email alerts to get notified of new and lost backlinks. Available for monthly, weekly, and daily.
  • New keywords: You can create up to 40 email alerts to track new keywords and keyword ranking changes across position buckets. Available for monthly, and weekly.
  • Mentions: You can create up to 40 email alerts to track new mentions of any keyword, phrase, or search query. Available for weekly, and daily.

Extra Tools

  • Batch analytics, rows per month: 400,000
  • Domain comparison: Available
  • Integrations, rows: Up to 1 million exportable data rows when using third-party tools. 

Agency

  • Costs US$999 per month

The agency plan gets full access to all features of Ahrefs.

User Access & Projects

  • User seats: Up to 5 users can have shared to your workspace. Additional users can be added to the plan for US$30 each per month.
  • Projects: Set up to a maximum of 100 websites for automatic tracking and analysis. Additional projects can be added to the plan for US$10 each per month.

Rank Tracker

  • Tracked keywords: Can track up to 10,000 keywords in your Ahrefs account.
  • Update frequency: Ranking of keywords are updated once every 3 days.
  • Mobile ranking: Can track mobile rankings.

Site Audit

  • Crawl credits per month: Can crawl up to 2.5 million internal HTML pages returning 200 (OK) HTTP status code. Each additional 500,000 pages will cost US$50.
  • Data retention: Crawled data of projects will be stored for 12 months.
  • JavaScript rendering: Can crawl and render JavaScript.

Site Explorer

  • Domains per day: You can research up to 1,000 domains per day. Researching different URLs from the same domains will count as one domain.
  • URLs per day: Can research up to 5,000 URLs per day.
  • Rows per report: You can view up to 100,000 results in each report.
  • Rows per month: 25 million
  • Live index: Available. This index contains live backlinks only. 
  • Recent index: Available. This index contains live and recently lost backlinks (i.e. those that were live within the last 3-4 months).
  • Historical index: Available. This index contains all live and lost backlinks.
  • Link intersect, rows per report: You can view up to 100,000 in each Link Intersect report.
  • Backlink index export, rows per report: 10 million
  • Backlink index export, rows per month: 500 million
  • Keyword positions: View your target keyword ranking data when the keywords are in Google’s top 100 organic results.
  • Competing pages / domains: See which websites or web pages are competing for the same keywords in Google’s top 50 organic results.
  • Content gap, rows per report: Can view up to 100,000 results for each analysis in Content Gap.
  • Top pages / subfolders / subdomains, rows per report: Can view up to 20,000 results for each Top pages, Top subfolders, or Top subdomain report.
  • Ranking index export, rows per report: 100,000
  • Ranking index export, rows per month: 50 million

Content Explorer

  • Reports per day: 2,500
  • Rows per report: 25,000
  • History graphs, time period: Up to 3 years
  • Trend graphs: Show a preview of all content results of history graphs for organic traffic, traffic value and referring domains.
  • Broken pages: Filter broken pages for a specific topic.
  • Content Explorer export, rows per month: 5 million

Keywords Explorer

  • Reports per day: Extract up to 1,000 reports per day.
  • Keywords lists: Create up to 250 lists of saved keywords.
  • SERP updates per month: Get up to 20,000 times of fresh data update for a keyword.
  • Rows per report: 100,000
  • Rows per month: 5 million
  • Keywords Explorer export, rows per month: 2 million
  • Newly discovered keywords: View keyword ideas that were recently added to the database of Ahrefs for all time period.
  • SERP position history: Interactive graph showing the ranking history of the current top 5 ranking pages for all time period.

Alerts

  • New & lost backlinks: You can create up to 100 email alerts to get notified of new and lost backlinks. Available for monthly, weekly, and daily.
  • New keywords: You can create up to 100 email alerts to track new keywords and keyword ranking changes across position buckets. Available for monthly, weekly, and daily.
  • Mentions: You can create up to 100 email alerts to track new mentions of any keyword, phrase, or search query. Available for weekly, and daily.

Extra Tools

  • Batch analytics, rows per month: 1 million
  • Domain comparison: Available
  • Integrations, rows: Up to 5 million exportable data rows when using third-party tools. 

Ahrefs Main Features

Ahrefs consists of the following main features:

Ahrefs Site Explorer

Ahrefs Site Explorer lets you get an in-depth look at the backlink profile and organic search traffic (i.e. Google SEO traffic) of a domain, sub-domain, website, or URL.

With the Ahrefs Site Explorer:

  • You can get data for your website, analyze the data, discover insights for growing your business (i.e. growing SEO traffic of your website), and take the required actions for trafic growth.
  • You can get data for your competitor websites, or any websites in your niche/industry. Analyze exactly what has worked well for your competitors, and decide whether you can copy their success.

Site Explorer breaks down the reports under categories including:

  • Backlink profile
  • Organic search
  • Pages
  • Outgoing links
  • Paid search

Backlink profile

Backlink profile reports (for backlinks) include:

  • New backlinks
  • Lost backlinks
  • Broken backlinks

Backlink profile reports (for referring domains) include:

  • New domains
  • Lost domains

Backlink profile reports also reveal:

  • Anchors
  • Referring IPs
  • Internal backlinks
  • Link intersect

Organic search

Under organic search, it shows the following reports:

  • New organic keywords
  • Movement of organic keywords
  • Top pages
  • Top subfolders
  • Top subdomains
  • Competing domains
  • Competing pages
  • Content gap

Pages

Pages reports show the below data:

  • Best by links
  • Best by links’ growth
  • Top content

Outgoing links

Outgoing links reports show the below data:

  • Linked domains
  • Anchors
  • Broken links

Paid search

Paid search reports show the below data:

  • PPC keywords
  • Ads
  • Top landing pages

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Enter your target keyword (or primary keyword) into the search bar of the Ahrefs Keywords explorer, and you will get thousands of relevant keyword ideas with their search volume, keyword difficulty score and other metrics like clicks, return rate, CPC, CPS (clicks per search), SERP features, and parent topic

Ahrefs breaks down the keyword ideas into groups (while showing their search volume by country) including:

  • Having same terms
  • Questions
  • Also ranked for
  • Newly discovered

The key metrics that are used in the Keywords Explorer report include the following.

Keyword Difficulty (KD): This metric estimates how hard it will be to rank in the top 10 organic search results for a given keyword in a given location. It is calculated by taking a weighted average of the number of linking domains to the current top-ranking pages. The result is then plotted on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100 (low difficulty to high). i.e. The higher the value, the higher the keyword difficulty to rank a specific keyword in Google’s SERP.

Search Volume: This metric represents the average monthly number of searches for the keyword in the selected country.

Clicks: The metric refers to the average monthly number of clicks on the search results that people make while searching for the target keyword. Some searches generate clicks on multiple results, while others might not end in any clicks at all.

CPC:Cost Per Click (CPC) shows the average price that advertisers pay for a click on their ad in paid search results for a target keyword in a specific country. Ahrefs displays this metric across all search engines as it provides some insight into the overall commercial value of a keyword.

CPS: Clicks per search (CPS) is the ratio of clicks to keyword search volume. It shows how many different search results get clicked, on average, when people search for the target keyword in a specific country.

Return Rate (RR): This metric is a relative value that indicates how often the same person searches for a specific keyword over a 30-day period. Since it is a relative value, it does not show the exact number of repeated searches and should be used when comparing keywords against each other.

SERP Features (SF): These are the enriched results on a search engine results page (SERP) that are not traditional organic results.

Parent Topic: Parent topic determines if you can rank for your target keyword while targeting a more general topic on your page instead. To identify the parent topic, Ahrefs takes the number one ranking page for your keyword, and find the keyword responsible for sending the most traffic to that page.

Ahrefs Site Audit

Run a site audit for your website, and Ahrefs will show all the issues (with details) of your website, and how the issues may be fixed, under the topics below:

  • Indexability
  • Indexable Links
  • Not Indexable Links
  • Redirects
  • On page
  • Social tags
  • Performance
  • Images
  • CSS
  • Other

Indexability – Canonical points to redirect

Issue details

Similar or duplicate pages of a website must specify the canonical page to instruct search engines to show the most authoritative (canonical) version of the page in search results.

A redirecting URL specified as canonical can be misinterpreted by the search engines; such conflicting instruction can be ignored. As a result, wrong (non-canonical) page version can be indexed.

How to fix

Review the list of pages with canonical links pointing to a redirecting URL.

Replace the redirecting canonical links with the direct links to the valid 200 (OK) page versions that you want to be indexed in search results.

Indexability – Canonical from HTTPS to HTTP

Issue details

HTTPS pages on your website with the canonical link pointing to an HTTP page.

Similar or duplicate pages of your website must have a ‘rel=canonical’ attribute to instruct search engines to show the most authoritative (canonical) version of the page in search results.

How to fix

HTTPS is one of the ranking signals for Google. Make sure the canonical URLs on your website point to HTTPS pages.

Keep in mind that Google prefers HTTPS pages over equivalent HTTP pages as canonical.

Indexable Links – Redirected page has no incoming internal links

Issue details

The destination page of the redirect has no incoming internal links.

In this case, there is no way your website visitors can access it from your website apart from a redirected URL.

How to fix

Where possible, edit the links on the referring pages so that they point to the destination pages directly.

Indexable Links – HTTPS page has internal links to HTTP

Issue details

HTTPS pages linking to HTTP pages on your website.

If an internal link on your website brings people to an HTTP URL, modern browsers will show a warning about a non-secure page. This can damage your overall website authority and user experience.

How to fix

Check the “Internal outlinks” column in this report for the URLs with http://.

Edit the links on the affected pages so that they point to HTTPS versions. Make sure you link to HTTPS pages where possible.

Indexable Links – Page has links to redirect

Issue details

For redirecting URLs on your website, this is not a problem, although Ahrefs recommends linking to the destination page directly.

However, a redirect on an external page you link to requires your attention.

How to fix

It is generally recommended to replace links to redirecting URLs on your website with direct links.

This is especially important when linking to external pages. You should manually review the external redirecting URLs linked from your site to make sure that the destination URL has relevant content.

Not Indexable Links – HTTPS page has internal links to HTTP

Issue details

HTTPS pages linking to HTTP pages on your website.

If an internal link on your website brings people to an HTTP URL, modern browsers will show a warning about a non-secure page. This can damage your overall website authority and user experience.

How to fix

Check the “Internal outlinks” column in this report for the URLs with http://.

Edit the links on the affected pages so that they point to HTTPS versions. Make sure you link to HTTPS pages where possible.

Not Indexable Links – Page has links to redirect

Issue details

For redirecting URLs on your website, this is not a problem, although Ahrefs recommends linking to the destination page directly.

However, a redirect on an external page you link to requires your attention.

How to fix

It is generally recommended to replace links to redirecting URLs on your website with direct links.

This is especially important when linking to external pages. You should manually review the external redirecting URLs linked from your site to make sure that the destination URL has relevant content.

Redirects – Redirect chain

Issue details

Chaining redirects may inflict damage on the user experience, slowing down the page loading speeds. Besides, redirect chains complicate your website’s internal linking for the search engine crawlers.

How to fix

For a given URL, click on the number of inlinks to access the list of pages that have a link to the first URL in a chain. Where practically possible, replace links to redirecting URLs on these pages with direct links to the final destination URL in the redirect chain.

Redirects – 3XX redirect

Issue details

Even though Google announced that any redirection method is good and will pass PageRank, Googlebot is not the only visitor of your website.

Redirects always require caution. They may hurt your website performance, especially for mobile users, or confuse website visitors.

How to fix

It is recommended to replace the links to the internal redirected URLs on your website with the direct links to the destination pages where possible.

Redirects – HTTP to HTTPS redirect

Issue details

URLs using HTTP protocol that redirect to HTTPS.

How to fix

It is recommended to use direct links to HTTPS versions of the pages on your website to avoid unnecessary redirects.

On page – Meta description too short

Issue details

Google sometimes usestag content to generate snippets, if they think they give users a more accurate description than can be taken directly from the page content.

Besides, Facebook, for example, will usetag content for link preview if the page has no ‘og:description’ tag.

A short meta description may not summarize the content of your page in the best possible way.

How to fix

A general recommendation today is to keep your page description between 110 and 160 characters, although Google can sometimes show longer snippets.

On page – Multiple H1 tags

Issue details

Pages that have more than one h1 tag.

It is possible to have multiple h1 tags on your pages.

John Mueller of Google mentioned that you could use as many h1 tags on a page as you need, hinting that Google is smart enough to puzzle out your headers.

How to fix

To avoid any possible confusion for search engines, you should consider keeping the recommended header hierarchy on all of your pages and use only one h1 tag on a page.

Social tags – Open Graph tags incomplete

Issue details

Pages with one or more of the required Open Graph tags missing.

The four required Open Graph tags for every page are og:title, og:type, og:image, and og:url.

How to fix

Make sure your pages have all required OG tags if you want them to look good in social feeds when shared.

Please note that the URLs inside OG tags must be absolute and utilize the http:// or https:// protocols.

Performance – Slow page

Issue details

Pages on your website where HTML code took a long time to load.

The loading speed of a web page is one of the ranking signals for Google.

Besides, page speed affects user experience on your website. Very often visitors won’t wait long for the page to load and will “bounce.”

How to fix

Page’s HTML code loads slowly when it is not optimized or when the web server is slow.

Make sure the HTML code is optimized on all of your pages. If this issue persists, consider moving your website to a faster server.

Performance – Not compressed

Issue details

Pages that do not use text compression.

To reduce the size of data transferred from the web server to the user’s browser, compression should be used for text-based assets: CSS, JavaScript, and HTML.

How to fix

All browsers today support GZIP compression, so make sure your server is configured to enable GZIP.

Other widely supported compression algorithms are Brotli and deflate.

Images – Missing alt text

Issue details

The alt attribute is used to describe your image. Search engines will use it to understand the content of your image files. Also, this text will be shown on your page if the image cannot be displayed.

How to fix

Make sure each of your images has a concise and descriptive alt text.

CSS – CSS file size too large

Issue details

CSS files on your website that are larger than 15 kB.

Although CSS files consist of text only, they may slow down your pages when their size is too big.

How to fix

Review all the CSS files reported and consider optimizing their code.

Other – 3XX redirect in sitemap

Issue details

URLs included in sitemap file that redirect.

Sitemap must list all the pages you want search engines to crawl and index.

Redirecting URLs in sitemaps can result in indexability issues on your website.

How to fix

Replace the redirecting URLs in the sitemaps with the destination URL. If the destination URL is already listed, simply remove the URL that redirects to it from the sitemap file.

Other – Non-canonical page receives organic traffic

Issue details

Non-canonical pages show up in search results.

Similar or duplicate pages of your website must have a rel=canonical attribute to instruct search engines to show the most authoritative (canonical) version of the page in search results.

How to fix

Check if your rel=canonical attributes are set-up correctly for the reported pages.

Ahrefs Rank Tracker

You can add a list of target keywords to Ahrefs Rank Tracker, and let this tool monitor the Google SERP rankings (or positions) of your keywords in the country/region of your choice (e.g. Hong Kong, Taiwan, United States).

With Ahrefs Rank Tracker:

  • You can monitor the list of target keywords of your website domain for your target countries.
  • You can monitor the same list of target keywords but with your competitor websites for those same countries.

Position: It shows the positions (rankings) that a target website or URL holds in Google’s organic search results for all the keywords in the project.

Volume: It is the search Volume represents the average monthly number of searches for the target keyword in the selected country.

Traffic: This metric estimates the monthly search traffic to the web page from the tracked keyword.

KD: Keyword Difficulty (KD) estimates how hard it will be to rank in the top 10 organic search results for a specific keyword in a selected country. It is calculated by taking a weighted average of the number of linking domains to the current top-ranking pages. The result is then plotted on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100 (low difficulty to high). i.e. The higher the value, the higher the keyword difficulty to rank a specific keyword in Google’s SERP.

SERP features: It shows all SERP features present in Google’s organic search results for a specific keyword (if any). If a target website/URL ranks in some of them, they will be highlighted in a blue icon.

URL: It is the URL of a target website that ranks in Google’s organic search results for a specific keyword.

Location: It shows a particular location (country, state/province, or city) that a specific keyword is being tracked in.

To access the Rank Tracker directly, go to this URL:

  • https://ahrefs.com/rank-tracker

Ahrefs Content Explorer

Enter a topic into the Ahrefs Content Explorer, and you will get the relevant page URLs with their social data and organic search data.

The Ahrefs Content Explorer breaks down the data reports into four sections:

  • Pages
  • Authors
  • Websites
  • Languages

Pages

Each web page URL under Pages are revealed with data in:

  • History
  • Referring domains
  • Backlinks
  • Anchors
  • Organic keywords
  • Who tweeted

Authors

A list of authors of the page URLs are displayed, with their other metrics including:

  • Twitter ID: A unique identifier for each Twitter account
  • Followers: Number of Twitter followers
  • Total pages: Total number of pages written by a specific author
  • Last 30 days: The number of pages published by each author in the last 30 days
  • Websites: The number of unique websites that an author has written for
  • Total traffic: The total estimated monthly organic traffic across all the pages of an author
  • Traffic value: The estimated value of all the pages written by an author, based on the monthly organic traffic
  • Average referring domains: The average number of referring domains across all the pages of an author

Websites

A list of top 100 websites are shown, with their other metrics including:

  • Total pages: The total number of published pages discovered
  • Last 30 days: The number of published pages discovered in the last 30 days
  • Authors: The number of authors discovered writing for a website
  • Total traffic: The total estimated monthly organic traffic across all the pages of a website
  • Traffic value: The estimated value of a website’s monthly organic search traffic
  • Domain rating: Domain Rating (DR) shows the strength of a website’s backlink profile compared to the others in the Ahrefs database on a 100-point scale. It is essentially a less granular version of Ahrefs Rank (AR).
  • Average referring domains: The average number of referring domains across all the pages of a website

Languages

A list of languages of the page URLs are shown, with their other metrics including:

  • Total pages: The total number of pages written in each language
  • Last 30 days: The number of pages written in the last 30 days
  • Total traffic: The total estimated monthly organic traffic across all pages for each language
  • Traffic value: The estimated value of all the pages for each language, based on their monthly organic traffic

To access the Content Explorer tool directly, go to this URL:

  • https://ahrefs.com/content-explorer

Set Up a New Project in Ahrefs

After you have logged into your Ahrefs account, go to the dashboard directly with this URL:

  • https://ahrefs.com/dashboard
Create a new project (Ahrefs)

You can add a website to Ahrefs by creating a new project.

Click the “+ New Project” button to create a new project in Ahrefs.

Ahrefs Project Scope (Domain)

Enter a domain (or website) that you need its organic keyword positions on Google’s SERP to be monitored.

When entering a domain, Ahrefs recommends using the “http + https” protocol along with the non-www version of your domain. You will get the most complete backlink profile and accurate tracking data this way.

In this example, we are going to enter “hongkongseo.hk“.

Enter a project name.

Ahrefs will give a feedback on whether your entered domain is accessible or not. In this example, the domain “hongkongseo.hk” is accessible.

Select a scope from the dropdown (where four scope options are available):

  • Exact URL: Only specified URL example.com/path/
  • Path: Path including subfolders example.com/path/*
  • Domain: Only specified domain example.com/*
  • Subdomain: Domain including subdomains *.example.com/*

Click the “Continue” button.

Ahrefs verify ownership

You will be asked to verify the ownership of your website (or domain).

Verification proves that you own the website to be audited. This enables advanced settings for more control over your site audits. You will be able to increase your crawl speed and ignore robots.txt rules.

You can use any of the following verification methods.

  • DNS record (Ahrefs recommended): To verify your site with DNS record, you will have to sign in to your web hosting account, and copy the TXT record to the DNS configuration for website (i.e. hongkongseo.hk).
  • HTML file: Upload the HTML verification file provided by Ahrefs to your domain’s root folder (e.g. hongkongseo.hk/).
  • HTML tag: Copy the meta tag provided by Ahrefs and paste it into the HTML code of your site’s homepage. The meta tag should go in the head section of the home page.

This verification step is option. In this example, we are going to skip the step by clicking the “Continue” button.

Ahrefs Schedule Site Audits

In the next screen, it allows you to schedule site audits to regular check your website for more than 100 SEO issues.

Three tabs of settings are available: Schedule, URL sources, and Crawl settings.

Schedule:

  • You can turn on to enable Ahrefs to run scheduled crawls with a frequency of your choice e.g. daily, weekly, or monthly.
  • Select a start date (from Monday to Sunday), and your time zone.
  • You can start running your first crawl now.

URL sources: Ahrefs can start crawling your website from your selected URL sources:

  • Website (default): The website URL you have entered into your project is used as the starting point for the crawl.
  • Auto-detected sitemaps (default): If you have set up a sitemap (for your website), Ahrefs can start crawling from the URLs in your sitemap.
  • Specific sitemaps: Use sitemap files as the starting points for the crawl.
  • Custom URL lists: With this option, you may enter or upload a list of URLs you want to use as the starting points for the crawl.
  • Backlinks: This starts crawling your website from the URLs that have external backlinks in the database of Ahrefs.

Crawl settings:

  • Speed settings: Crawl speed depends on the number of parallel requests from the Ahrefs crawler and the delay between subsequent requests. To speed up your crawl, increase the number of parallel requests and/or reduce the delay time.
    The higher the crawl speed, the more likely it is to cause a significant load on your web server and slow response times for your visitors. Crawl speed is limited to 1 request per 2 seconds.
  • Settings: You can enable Ahrefs to execute JavaScript, report issues on broken images and/or broken CSS, report on JavaScript-related issues like loading time and script size, follow links on non-canonical pages, follow links with nofollow, ugc, or sponsored attributes, follow external outgoing links on your website to report their HTTP status, and remove URL parameters when crawling.
  • Limits: You can limit your crawl on the maximum number of internal pages, maximum crawl duration (in hours), maximum depth level from seed, maximum folder depth, maximum URL length (in characters), or maximum number of query parameters.
  • Robots instructions: You can enable Ahrefs to ignore disallow instructions in your robots.txt, or choose between user agents to crawl either the mobile or desktop version of your website.
  • Include and exclude URLs: Use fields (including “Only crawl URLs matching the pattern” or “Don’t crawl URLs matching the pattern”) to crawl specific URLs or exclude certain URLs from the crawl. You can use regex for advanced patterns.
  • URL rewrite rules: Use fields (such as “Pattern to match” or “Replace with”) to replace URLs or parts of URLs found during the crawl with other values. For example, you can change all URLs from http to https or remove “www“. You must use regex to create URL rewrite rules.

In this example, you can keep everything unchanged as default, and click the “Continue” button.

Add Keywords to Track (Ahrefs)

Add keywords to track.

You can select specific locations, such as United States, Hong Kong, etc for tracking the keywords, with the languages (e.g. English, Chinese, etc).

Click the “Continue” button.

Add Competitors to Analyze (Ahrefs)

You can add up to 10 competitors and have their keywords also tracked alongside your website.

Adding competitor website is optional.

In this example, you can click the “Finish” button.

Website Added to a New Project (Ahrefs)

You have successfully added your website to a new project.

Ahrefs Practical Example 1: Create a New Keyword List

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer tool

Go to the Ahrefs Keywords Explorer directly with this URL:

  • https://ahrefs.com/keywords-explorer
Menu (Ahrefs Keywords Explorer)

Or Select Keywords Explorer at the top navigation menu while you are on https://ahrefs.com/

Search Engines Options (Ahrefs Keywords Explorer)

Enter a keyword, and select a target country.

The Site Explorer lets you choose Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu, Daum, Naver, or Seznam, as the search engine for your keyword search.

In this example, we are going to enter “SEO job” (as keyword), select United States as target country, and keep the search engine as default Google.

For the market (i.e. U.S.) that your website is up against:

  • The keyword “SEO job” is facing a keyword difficulty of 12 on Google’s SERP.
  • You are required to get 13 backlinks pointing to your target page before it becomes possible to rank in Google’s top 10 position (for the target keyword).
  • The keyword “SEO job” gets 250 searches per month or 120 clicks.
  • The CPC will cost US$9.00 (if you are going to place Google Ads for the keyword).

When you include all other markets (e.g. India, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark Austria, etc), the global search volume of the keyword “SEO job” becomes 1,100 per month.

Ahrefs reveals the parent keyword for “SEO job” is actually “SEO jobs”.

All the above information should have given you a good understanding of your target keyword.

Keyword ideas by search volume (Ahrefs Keywords Explorer)

Scroll down to view the “Keyword ideas by search volume”. The suggested keywords (based on your target keyword “SEO job”) are broken down into four groups:

  • Having same terms
  • Questions
  • Also rank for
  • Newly discovered

You may select the keywords from any one of the groups, or select the keywords from all the groups, when building your new keyword list based on your target keyword.

For example, click the “View all 1,454” link, and you will be taken to view all the keywords that are in the first group i.e. Having same terms. From there, you will download the keywords as a spreadsheet file.

In your new keyword list (that you have downloaded), select the keywords that you believe they are appropriate as LSI keywords (i.e. latent semantic indexing keywords).

When you have a page on your website which is about “SEO job”, in the page’s text content, you will try to include the LSI keywords, while keeping the context of your page “making sense” for human readers.

Ahrefs Practical Example 2: Create Keyword List Based on Competitor Website

Ahrefs Site Explorer tool

Go to the Ahrefs Site Explorer directly with this URL:

  • https://ahrefs.com/site-explorer
Menu - Ahrefs Site Explorer

Or Select Site Explorer at the top navigation menu while you are on https://ahrefs.com/

Enter a domain (or website) into the search bar of Site Explorer, while keeping the protocol on “http + https“.

In this example, we are going to enter website “backlinko.com“.

Organic Keywords (Ahrefs)

Ahrefs reveals that the backlinko.com site has 185K organic keywords ranking in the Google SERP.

Click on the number i.e. 185K under Organic keywords, and you will be taken to the next screen.

Organic Keywords - list of all keywords (Ahrefs)

The report shows backlinko.com has ranking for 81,932 keywords on Google’s SERP when searching in United States.

Each keyword’s statistics are shown i.e. Search volume per month, keyword difficulty, CPC (in US$), estimated traffic, and position on Google’s SERP.

The last column reveals the exact page URL that is ranking for the specific keyword.

If your target market (or country) is not United States, you can click on a different flag (e.g. India, United Kingdom, Canada, etc), and Ahrefs will update the report to show the list of keywords of the country of your choice.

You may download the entire list of keywords (by clicking the Export link).

But in practice, assume you are to create a new page on your website with main topic “Buzzsumo”, you will click on the “Buzzsumo” link under the keyword column of this report.

Keyword ideas by search volume (specific page)

Scroll down to “Keyword ideas by search volume”.

The keyword suggestions are all based on your target keyword “Buzzsumo”.

Click “View all 1,245”, and you will be taken to the next screen to export all the keywords (under Having same terms) in a spreadsheet file.

Use this new list of keyword suggestions as the LSI keywords for your new Buzzsumo page.

Ahrefs shows the keyword difficulty of keyword “Buzzsumo” is 26 (medium), and reveals you will need to acquire 30 backlinks before your new page will get an opportunity to rank in Google’s first results page for the keyword search.

Ahrefs Practical Example 3: Analyze Backlinks of Competitor Website

Go to the Ahrefs Site Explorer directly with this URL:

  • https://ahrefs.com/site-explorer

Enter a domain (or website) into the search bar of Site Explorer, while keeping the protocol on “http + https“.

In this example, we are going to enter website “backlinko.com“.

Ahrefs Backlinks high level stats

Ahrefs shows that backlinko.com has 228K backlinks.

Click the number under Backlinks, and you will be taken to the next screen.

You will be able to export all the backlinks via a spreadsheet file, and start analyzing your competitor website’s backlinks.

You will want to go out and acquire backlinks from websites or blogs that are similar to the backlinks that are pointing to your competitor website (i.e. in this case backlinko.com)

Broken link building

Have you heard of the Skyscraper technique in SEO?

From time to time, you will pick up a list of websites that are not your direct competitors but are blogs that are in your niche/industry, or blogs that have sections/topics of your niche/industry.

Ahrefs Backlinks - Broken links report

You will run these sites through Ahrefs Site Explorer, and let it report the broken links.

Export the broken links to a spreadsheet file so you can work on it.

The next step is to go through the Skyscraper technique that was introduced by Brian Dean of Backlinko.

In simple explanation, the Skyscraper technique is about asking the bloggers or webmasters to fix their broken links on the websites/blogs. And you need them to update the URL destination of the broken links to point to a web page URL of your website.

Whether you can be successful with the Skyscraper technique, it depends highly on if you have the most appropriate and the highest quality content of the topic. So the bloggers/webmasters can replace their broken links with your web page URL (for the same topic, but a hopefully a better version of that topic).

Ahrefs Practical Example 4: Run Site Audit on Your Website

Go to Ahrefs Site Audit tool directly with this URL:

  • https://ahrefs.com/site-audit

Enter your website domain or URL, and go through all the steps to set up your site for a new Ahrefs project.

Ahrefs Health Scores

In this example, Ahrefs shows that the website has a health score of only 13% out of 100%.

I have chosen this specific website for the Site Audit demonstration, because when comparing it to most other websites (that have scored over 90% Ahrefs Site Audit Health Scores), a health score of 13% is relatively low, and the website must have many issues.

You can find out the exact issues by clicking the name of this specific website (from the screen with a list of all your Ahrefs project).

Ahrefs Issues (Errors, Warnings, Notices)

On the next screen, Ahrefs reveals within the 1,787 found issues, there are 1,292 errors, 267 warnings, and 228 notices.

Error Distribution: Urls with errors, without errors (Ahrefs)

And we can see the error distribution in which 582 URLs have errors and 123 URLs without errors.

Top Issues Types (Ahrefs)

In the middle of the screen, Ahrefs reveals the top SEO issues that have been found on your website.

The issues are split into different categories.

Errors

  • 404 page
  • 4XX page
  • 4XX page in sitemap
  • 3XX redirect in sitemap

Warnings:

  • 3XX redirect
  • Not compressed
  • Slow page
  • CSS file size too large
  • Title too long
  • Open Graph tags incomplete

You may click the “View all issues” link for the report to expand into a full list of all issue types.

In the example, we are going to click the first type of issue “404 page”, and it will expand to show the explanations of the “Issue details” and “How to fix”.

Issue details

404 – Not Found is one of the most common 4xx errors and indicates that the requested URL does not exist.

Links pointing to the 404 URLs are widely known as “broken links”.

404 URLs on your website damage the user experience, as people cannot access the page or file via a link they click. Besides, internal links to 404 URLs create unnecessary “dead ends” for the search engine crawlers and can waste your crawl budget.

How to fix

Review the list of 404 URLs on your website. Click on the number of inlinks to a given 404 URL to access the list of pages that link to it.

You should review the internal outgoing links to all the 404 pages reported and either remove these links or replace them with relevant links to live pages.

Alternatively, you can set the appropriate 301 redirects. It is especially important for the 404 pages with a decent number of external backlinks.

Actions to take

You must find out which page URLs on the website are returning HTTP 404 errors.

Click the “View affected URLs” button, and you will see the list of page URLs.

Go through the entire list of page URLs that have HTTP 404 error errors, and apply the same methods to get them fixed.

When you have completed fixing all the HTTP 404 errors, you should continue to eliminate all other issues that have been reported by the Ahrefs Site Audit tool.

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