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12 Things That Only Ahrefs Can Do

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12 Things That Only Ahrefs Can Do

What makes Ahrefs better than the competition?

It’s a fair question but a tough one to answer because there are just so many things to compare.

So instead of filling out one of those classic “us” vs. “them” comparison tables, we decided to go a different route and showcase some of Ahrefs’ unique features and functionalities.

Note

These features were selected by comparing Ahrefs to other similarly priced all-in-one SEO tools. It’s quite possible that some of the lesser-known, more specialized SEO tools have one or more of these features.

1. Compare historical data

With Ahrefs, it’s possible to specify an exact date when working with historical data. This opens up the space for a handful of actionable use cases.

The first use case is to access the Organic keywords report to see how ranking fluctuations have affected search traffic over time.

For example, going up three ranking positions for the keyword “affiliate marketing” has brought us ~3,000 more search visits in a matter of three months. 

Organic keywords report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Second, you can open the Top pages report and filter for newly created pages to see how much content your competitors are publishing each month.

For example, our content team has created over 200 pages for our blog in the past three months.

Top pages report in comparison mode, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Tip

Use this last use case as an argument for a budget raise.

2. See your competitors’ top-performing pages globally

While the Top pages report is not a feature unique to Ahrefs, what’s unique is that we show top pages for all countries.

Most other SEO tools have either data for only one country or hide the additional data behind a paywall.

Top pages report with countries selector, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

For example, our article about “top google searches” surprisingly ranks #1 in the Netherlands.

Ahrefs ranking #1 for "top google searches" in Netherlands, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Note

Use this information with caution when replicating your competitor’s success. It might be that most of their traffic comes from the U.K. when you’re looking for visitors in the U.S.

3. See backlink growth or decline over time, with daily granularity

Thanks to our continued investment in web crawling technology and infrastructure, Ahrefs is the only tool to update referring domain graphs daily.

Referring domains performance chart, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

One glance at our blog’s link profile tells us that it gained three times more links from unique referring domains (36,000) than in 2021 (12,574).

This level of granularity allows you to accurately compare your own link acquisition pace with your competitors to see if you’re on track to catch up.

4. Spot which subfolders attract the most organic traffic for your competitors

The Site structure report helps you understand a competitor’s website structure in a tree-like format without having to run a crawl.

Use it to analyze their top-level folders and see which ones generate the most organic traffic.

Site structure report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Here are a few key things you can learn about our SEO strategy by skimming this report:

5. Gauge the full traffic potential for a keyword

Most SEO professionals look at the search volume of their target keyword to predict a page’s organic traffic potential.

Search volume alone can be misleading, though, as pages rarely rank for one keyword.

A better (and more insightful) way to estimate search traffic is to use Traffic Potential, which shows you how much search traffic you’d get if you were to rank #1 for your keyword.

Traffic potential of "whipped coffee recipe," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Please note that the traffic is not coming from your target keyword but from all the keywords the top-ranking page is ranking for.

SERP overview for "whipped coffee recipe," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

6. Find out if you can target multiple keywords with one page

Let’s say you’ve got the following keywords on your list.

Keyword metrics for "whipped coffee" related keywords, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

All of them seem to be targeting the same topic. But how do you know whether you should target them with a single page or create separate pages for each of them?

We can find this out by looking at how Google “sees” them. If Google is ranking similar pages for all of these keywords, it means they probably belong under the same topic. 

We can see how Google “sees” them by using the SERP comparison feature under the SERP overview.

You’ll be able to compare SERPs side by side for the same keyword on different dates. You could also compare them for different keywords, which is what we’re going to do.

Let’s compare the search results for the keyword “whipped coffee” with “whipped coffee recipe.”

SERP similarity score between "whipped coffee" and "whipped coffee recipe," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

The top-ranking pages for both keywords are nearly identical (8/10 common results), a thing also indicated by our SERP similarity score.

This typically means that Google sees the search query “whipped coffee recipe” as a subtopic of a more general query, “whipped coffee.” Which means you can likely rank for both keywords with a single page.

If we compare “whipped coffee” with “whipped coffee without sugar,” we’ll notice there’s no similarity between the SERPs.

SERP similarity score between "whipped coffee" and "whipped coffee without sugar," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Which means you’ll need to create two separate pages if you want to target both of these keywords.

TIP

You can also evaluate whether or not you should target similar keywords with the same page by going to the Traffic share by pages report in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

This will show you how much their SERPs overlap. Not so much in our latter case, as we’ve concluded before.

Traffic share by pages report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

7. Group keywords into topic clusters

Generating keyword ideas has become fairly easy with Keywords Explorer. Just type in a broad seed keyword, say “espresso,” and open one of our keyword ideas reports.

Matching terms report for "espresso," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

But how do you see the most popular topics under a broad term when there are so many keywords to begin with?

The gist is to group them by Parent Topic. It determines if you can rank for your target keyword while targeting a more general topic instead.

Matching keywords grouped by Parent Topic, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

At a quick glance, we can see that people are interested in espresso machines, specific brands like Breville and Delonghi, espresso martinis, and so on.

A topic worth considering is “how to make espresso.” If we click on it, we’ll get a cluster of long-tail queries with the same Parent Topic (“espresso”) that can be covered as subtopics.

Parent topic "how to make espresso," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

TIP

Clustering keywords by Parent Topic is much better than grouping by terms, as this latter option will group keywords by popular single terms with a particular modifier.

Matching keywords grouped by terms, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

8. See the ranking history of any website for a keyword (and compare with competitors)

Knowing how your pages used to rank for particular keywords can be extremely insightful. Here’s how you can do this in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

  • Open Site Explorer
  • Enter a website and check the Organic keywords report
  • Choose a keyword
  • Click the “position history” chart

Here are our rankings for the keyword “website traffic checker” over the past eight years:

Position history chart for "website traffic checker," via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

By unchecking a few pages on the list, we can see that our guide on how much traffic your website gets was lagging in rankings on position #21.

Position history chart for "website traffic checker," via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This was up until October 2021, when Google decided to rank another one of our pages for this keyword.

Since then, we’ve launched our free website traffic checker tool. The fact that we’re now in the top five positions shows that the tool matches search intent much better than the initial blog post.

Position history chart for "website traffic checker," via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

From here, we can add a competitor to compare our performances.

Position history chart for "website traffic checker," via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

It looks like Moz is not targeting this keyword, which might be better served with a tool rather than a blog post.

TIP: Discover keyword cannibalization issues

Look at Moz’s ranking history for the keyword “local SEO”:

Position history chart for "local seo," via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Five unique pages on its site have ranked for this query over the years but not in the top three. This was a potential “keyword cannibalization” issue, which it’s solved by merging them all into a content pillar.

9. Understand which competitors have the largest share of voice for a set of keywords

Share of voice (SOV) represents a website’s overall visibility in the organic search results for a set of tracked keywords.

At the same time, it’s one of the few vital metrics for measuring SEO ROI.

To see your website’s share of voice for a given set of keywords, first paste them in Keywords Explorer and select the Traffic share by domains/Traffic share by pages reports.

The fun part: You will most likely discover organic competitors that you weren’t even tracking who are sneaking up the same SERPs you’re trying to win.

For example, we write mostly about SEO and marketing. But we never thought Shopify would target similar topics, since our businesses are completely different.

It earns about 9% of the organic traffic for the keywords we pasted. Hence, we can research its top content and reverse engineer any low-hanging SEO wins it has.

Traffic share by domains report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

10. Advanced, flexible SEO audits

SEO crawls are crucial for monitoring your website’s SEO health over time. Yet not every website is built the same, which may require a bit of tweaking to the actual crawl settings.

Ahrefs’ Site Audit has got your back, featuring editable and customizable SEO issues.

At a global level, you can change the importance of an SEO issue and decide whether to apply it to existing projects or not.

Global issue settings, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

While at a project level, you can turn off certain SEO issues.

"All issues" report, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

Both settings are of great importance when calculating a website’s Health Score, as we only take into account links with errors (links with warnings and notices are not factored in). Thus, the higher the number of errors that show up, the lower the Health Score.

Similarly, you can customize your own issues, which will take the specific attributes within the Page explorer report. Like a custom error where meta descriptions are longer than 160 characters.

"Create issue" button under the Page explorer report, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

Speaking of customization, Site Audit also allows you to configure a segment, save it, and return to it in just a few clicks.

This comes in handy because most website owners and SEOs want to isolate issues related to a specific section of a website, such as /blog, /store/, or perhaps a subdomain like es.ahrefs.com.

To set one up, click on Configure > Configure segment.

Segment, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

Note

The segment will be applied to every report in Site Audit.

11. Get internal linking suggestions 

Internal links are crucial to SEO. They help Google discover new content on your website and pass link equity from high-authority pages to low-authority ones.

But let’s face it: Building internal links is time consuming.

Not if you’re using Ahrefs’ Site Audit

Our Internal link opportunities report identifies internal link opportunities by taking the top 10 keywords for your ranking pages—then finding mentions of them on your other pages. 

Including important keyword metrics and the keyword context. How cool is that?

Internal link opportunities report, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

TIP: Find internal link opportunities manually

We won’t suggest a link if one already exists between the pages.

Despite this, you can still find the pages mentioning your terms by going to the Page explorer report and searching for the keyword within the HTML feature.

Page explorer report, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

12. Use Content Explorer to find top-performing content in your niche and high-quality link prospects

Ahrefs’ Content Explorer is a searchable database of 12 billion webpages, complete with these proprietary metrics:

  • Domain Rating (of the parent website)
  • Number of referring domains
  • Organic search traffic
  • Word count
  • Publish date
  • Updated date
  • Live/broken
  • Author

No close competitors for the tool exist, and there are more use cases than I have time to cover in this article. So let me share two of my favorite ways to use it.

A. Find low-competition topics with high traffic potential

Want to get content ideas that are easy to rank for?

Search for a broad topic like “backpacking” in Content Explorer and apply these two filters:

  • Referring domains < 5
  • Page traffic > 1,000

In return, you’ll get a list of relevant pages that get lots of organic traffic and are easy to rank for.

Page over time report with filters applied, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

From here, you can dig further into the keywords responsible for the organic traffic.

List of organic keywords

B. Finding broken link building opportunities

Search for pages with a relevant word or phrase in their title, filter for Only broken pages, then filter for results with at least 50–100 referring domains.

Here’s a dead recipe nutrition calculator with 490 referring domains.

Pages over time report, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

If we have a site in this niche, we can create a similar piece of content on our site, then ask everyone linking to the dead page to link to us instead.

That’s obviously not everything…

Ahrefs has many more unique features and data points.

Perhaps I should write a follow-up article and showcase more of the unique things that only Ahrefs can do. What do you think?

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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

Google removed the Covid-era structured data associated with the Home Activities rich results that allowed online events to be surfaced in search since August 2020, publishing a mention of the removal in the search documentation changelog.

Home Activities Rich Results

The structured data for the Home Activities rich results allowed providers of online livestreams, pre-recorded events and online events to be findable in Google Search.

The original documentation has been completely removed from the Google Search Central webpages and now redirects to a changelog notation that explains that the Home Activity rich results is no longer available for display.

The original purpose was to allow people to discover things to do from home while in quarantine, particularly online classes and events. Google’s rich results surfaced details of how to watch, description of the activities and registration information.

Providers of online events were required to use Event or Video structured data. Publishers and businesses who have this kind of structured data should be aware that this kind of rich result is no longer surfaced but it’s not necessary to remove the structured data if it’s a burden, it’s not going to hurt anything to publish structured data that isn’t used for rich results.

The changelog for Google’s official documentation explains:

“Removing home activity documentation
What: Removed documentation on home activity structured data.

Why: The home activity feature no longer appears in Google Search results.”

Read more about Google’s Home Activities rich results:

Google Announces Home Activities Rich Results

Read the Wayback Machine’s archive of Google’s original announcement from 2020:

Home activities

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Olga Strel

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Google’s Gary Illyes: Lastmod Signal Is Binary

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Google's Gary Illyes: Lastmod Signal Is Binary

In a recent LinkedIn discussion, Gary Illyes, Analyst at Google, revealed that the search engine takes a binary approach when assessing a website’s lastmod signal from sitemaps.

The revelation came as Illyes encouraged website owners to upgrade to WordPress 6.5, which now natively supports the lastmod element in sitemaps.

When Mark Williams-Cook asked if Google has a “reputation system” to gauge how much to trust a site’s reported lastmod dates, Illyes stated, “It’s binary: we either trust it or we don’t.”

No Shades Of Gray For Lastmod

The lastmod tag indicates the date of the most recent significant update to a webpage, helping search engines prioritize crawling and indexing.

Illyes’ response suggests Google doesn’t factor in a website’s history or gradually build trust in the lastmod values being reported.

Google either accepts the lastmod dates provided in a site’s sitemap as accurate, or it disregards them.

This binary approach reinforces the need to implement the lastmod tag correctly and only specify dates when making meaningful changes.

Illyes commends the WordPress developer community for their work on version 6.5, which automatically populates the lastmod field without extra configuration.

Accurate Lastmod Essential For Crawl Prioritization

While convenient for WordPress users, the native lastmod support is only beneficial if Google trusts you’re using it correctly.

Inaccurate lastmod tags could lead to Google ignoring the signal when scheduling crawls.

With Illyes confirming Google’s stance, it shows there’s no room for error when using this tag.

Why SEJ Cares

Understanding how Google acts on lastmod can help ensure Google displays new publish dates in search results when you update your content.

It’s an all-or-nothing situation – if the dates are deemed untrustworthy, the signal could be disregarded sitewide.

With the information revealed by Illyes, you can ensure your implementation follows best practices to the letter.


Featured Image: Danishch/Shutterstock

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How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs Evolve

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How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs Evolve

There’s one thing standing between you and several days of SEO, socializing, and Singaporean sunshine: your boss (and their Q4 budget 😅).

But don’t worry—we’ve got your back. Here are 5 arguments (and an example message) you can use to persuade your boss to send you to Ahrefs Evolve.

About Ahrefs Evolve

  • 2 days in sunny Singapore (Oct 24–25)
  • 500 digital marketing enthusiasts
  • 18 top speakers from around the world

Learn more and buy tickets.

SEO is changing at a breakneck pace. Between AI Overviews, Google’s rolling update schedule, their huge API leak, and all the documents released during their antitrust trial, it’s hard to keep up. What works in SEO today?

You could watch a YouTube video or two, maybe even attend an hour-long webinar. Or, much more effective: you could spend two full days learning from a panel of 18 international SEO experts, discussing your takeaways live with other attendees.

How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to AhrefsHow to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs
Evolve speakers from around the world.

Our world-class speakers are tackling the hardest problems and best opportunities in SEO today. The talk agenda covers topics like:

  • Responding to AI Overviews: Amanda King will teach you how to respond to AI Overviews, Google Gemini, and other AI search functions.
  • Surviving (and thriving) Google’s algo updates: Lily Ray will talk through Google’s recent updates, and share data-driven recommendations for what’s working in search today.
  • Planning for the future of SEO: Bernard Huang will talk through the failures of AI content and the path to better results.

(And attendees will get video recordings of each session, so you can share the knowledge with your teammates too.)

View the full talk agenda here.

There’s no substitute for meeting with influencers, peers, and partners in real life. 

Conferences create serendipity: chance encounters and conversations that can have a huge positive impact on you and your business. By way of example, these are some of the real benefits that have come my way from attending conferences:

  • Conversations that lead to new customers for our business,
  • Invitations to speak at events,
  • New business partnerships and co-marketing opportunities, and
  • Meeting people that we went on to hire.

There’s a “halo” effect that lingers long after the event is over: the people you meet will remember you for longer, think more highly of you, and be more likely to help you out, should you ask.

(And let’s not forget: there’s a lot of information, particularly in SEO, that only gets shared in person.)

The “international” part of Evolve matters too. Evolve is a different crowd to your local run-of-the-mill conference. It’s a chance to meet with people from markets you wouldn’t normally meet—from Australia to Indonesia and beyond.

How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to AhrefsHow to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs
Evolve attendees by home country.

If you’re an Ahrefs customer (thank you!), you’ll learn tons of tips, tricks and workflow improvements from attending Evolve. You’ll have opportunities to:

  • Attend talks from the Ahrefs team, showcasing advanced features and strategies that you can use in your own business.
  • Pick our brains at the Ahrefs booth, where we’ll offer informal 1:1 coaching sessions and previews of up-coming releases (like our new content optimization tool 🤫).
  • Join dedicated Ahrefs training workshops, hosted by the Ahrefs team and Ahrefs power users (tickets for these workshops will sold separately).

As a manager myself, there are two questions I need answered when approving expenses:

  • Is this a reasonable cost?
  • Will we see a return on this investment?

To answer those questions: early bird tickets for Evolve start at $570. For context, “super early bird” tickets for MozCon (another popular SEO conference) this year were almost twice as much: $999.

There’s a lot included in the ticket price too:

  • World-class international speakers,
  • 5-star hotel venue,
  • 5-star hotel food (two tea breaks with snacks & lunch),
  • Networking afterparty, and
  • Full talk recordings to later share with your team.

SEO is a crucial growth channel for most businesses. If you can improve your company’s SEO performance after attending Evolve (and we think you will), you’ll very easily see a positive return on the investment.

Traveling to tropical Singapore (and eating tons of satay) is great for you, but it’s also great for your team. Attending Evolve is a chance to break with routine, reignite your passion for marketing, and come back to your job reinvigorated.

This would be true for any international conference, but it goes double for Singapore. It’s a truly unique place: an ultra-safe, high-tech city that brings together dozens of different cultures.

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Little India in Singapore

You’ll discover different beliefs, working practices, and ways of business—and if you’re anything like me, come back a richer, wiser person for the experience.

If you’re nervous about pitching your boss on attending Evolve, remember: the worst that can happen is a polite “not this time”, and you’ll find yourself in the same position you are now.

So here goes: take this message template, tweak it to your liking, and send it to your boss over email or Slack… and I’ll see you in Singapore 😉

Email template

Hi [your boss’ name],

Our SEO tool provider, Ahrefs, is holding an SEO and digital marketing conference in Singapore in October. I’d like to attend, and I think it’s in the company’s interest:

  • The talks will help us respond to all the changes happening in SEO today. I’m particularly interested in the talks about AI and recent Google updates. 
  • I can network with my peers. I can discover what’s working at other companies, and explore opportunities for partnerships and co-marketing.
  • I can learn how we can use Ahrefs better across the organization.
  • I’ll come back reinvigorated with new ideas and motivation, and I can share my top takeaways and talk recordings with my team after the event.

Early bird tickets are $570. Given how important SEO is to the growth of our business, I think we’ll easily see a return from the spend.

Can we set up time to chat in more detail? Thanks!

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