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Ahrefs Tutorial

This Ahrefs tutorial explains how to use Ahrefs as your main SEO tool for improving your website SEO ranking on Google, and other search engines.

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.

In this Ahrefs tutorial, we are going to demonstrate the use of Ahrefs with four practical examples, including the topics below.

Ahrefs Tutorial

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Sign Up New Ahrefs Account

Ahrefs user interface

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://app.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://app.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://app.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://app.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://app.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://app.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://app.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.

Regarding Ahrefs SEO tool, I have written an article in Chinese version.

ARTICLES ON SEO TOOLS TOPICS

Ahrefs and SEMrush are the most powerful SEO tools. Both SEO tools let you discovery new keywords for your niche, run SEO audits for your website, monitor the Google organic search rankings of your SEO keywords, and extract and analyze the backlink data of your competitors.

Find new keywords. Find top pages of competitors. Find new content ideas. Analyze backlinks of competitor websites. Get SEO & AdWords data from Ubersuggest, and quickly optimize your website to grow traffic with higher Google rankings.

  • SEMrush Tutorial – 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.
  • KeywordTool.io – Get 2x more keywords & more accurate keyword data than Google Keyword Planner (AdWords keyword tool). Free & paid versions.
  • Google Keyword Planner Tutorial – Official Google keyword suggestion tool for SEO & PPC.
  • Google Search Console Tutorial – Official Google webmaster tools for SEO.
  • Bing Webmaster Tools Tutorial – Webmasters and/or website owners can use the free Bing Webmaster Tools to improve their websites for Bing SEO ranking.
  • Rank Math Tutorial – Powerful & reliable WordPress plugin for webmasters to optimize all details of on-page SEO.
  • Yoast SEO Tutorial – With this plugin, assign a focus keyword, and implement on-page SEO elements to each page of your WordPress site.
  • SimilarWeb Tutorial – Compare web traffic data of competitors’ websites for free.