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My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

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My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

I’ve used Ahrefs since 2016. I thought I was a power user, but since joining the team, I’ve discovered a bunch more use cases that I can’t imagine living without.

Here are five of my favorite ways to use Ahrefs for content marketing:

Let’s be honest: we all snoop on our competitors to see what’s working (and isn’t). But today, a lot of the most exciting content strategies live outside of the company blog: free tools, app integrations, programmatic content, you name it.

For most websites, you can use the Site structure report in Site Explorer to quickly see how the website is structured, and which parts generate the most organic traffic.

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In the example below, we’re looking at Copy.ai’s site structure. We might expect their blog to drive most of their organic search traffic, but according to the Site structure report, it only accounts for 4% of organic traffic. Instead, their /tools subfolder drives almost 60% of their traffic:

Click deeper into the site structure, and you can see the individual pages generating the most traffic. In this case, three tools alone account for an estimated 20% of the entire website’s organic search traffic:

1708502174 559 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502174 559 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

We can even compare metrics from today to a point in the past and see how their strategy has changed. Compared to a year ago, Copy.ai has grown traffic to its /tools subfolder but removed 195 pages from its blog:

1708502174 652 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502174 652 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

It’s easy to track the performance of any blog as a whole. Add the URL into Site Explorer, and a second later, you’ll see key metrics:

1708502174 4 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502174 4 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

But for big blogs (ours has some 2.5k indexed pages), it’s harder to answer questions like:

  • Which authors are driving the most traffic?
  • How does link acquisition differ between SEO content and thought leadership content?
  • Does updating our articles with an on-page SEO tool improve performance beyond just updating them normally?

Enter Portfolios. Portfolios allow you to group a list of URLs together and view their aggregated metrics. I use one portfolio for tracking the performance of my articles:

1708502174 611 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502174 611 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

And another for tracking recent articles published by my team:

1708502174 920 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502174 920 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

And another still for monitoring the search performance of some of the biggest “parasite SEO” publishers (to see whether or not Google is really doing anything to combat it):

1708502175 763 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502175 763 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

In every case, you can click into your portfolio and see the same detailed metrics you’re used to from Site Explorer:

1708502175 207 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502175 207 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Portfolios has become my default way of using Ahrefs, and there are tons of use cases:

  • Compare articles written by freelancers, in-house terms, and (dare I say it) AI tools
  • See which article topics drive the most traffic
  • Analyze the performance of different content types (helpful for separating out the impact of search content and thought leadership content)
  • Monitor the performance of key competitor articles
  • Measure the impact of newly updated or rewritten articles
  • Track experiments (create one portfolio as a control and another for the articles you want to experiment on)

The hardest part of keyword research (at least for me) is always generating seed keywords.

When you have a few terms to explore, it’s easy to find long-tail variations, matching terms, related terms, you name it. But coming up with those first few topics? Not always easy, and it becomes even harder once you’ve exhausted obvious topics.

But now, we can just use a little AI brainstorming power to turn a blank page into dozens and dozens of seed keywords. In Site Explorer, just ask our little AI friend for help:

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1708502175 13 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502175 13 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Let’s use the bog standard keyword “content marketing” as an example. Here are technical and specialized terms related to content marketing:

1708502175 654 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502175 654 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Here are emerging trends:

1708502175 42 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502175 42 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

And now controversial and debate-generating keywords (“quality vs quantity”—going right for the meaty topics):

1708502175 266 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502175 266 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

With our big list of seed keywords, hit “Search” and we’ll see the estimated search volume, keyword difficulty, and a bunch of other data points for our ideas. Click the Matching terms or Related terms reports and our list of possibilities will grow massively:

1708502176 245 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 245 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Not every idea will be a home run in terms of significant search volume, but many will—and they might be ideas you wouldn’t otherwise have considered.

It’s pretty tricky to refine a list of 300 target keywords to a realistic selection of article ideas. Many keywords will have overlapping intent, others might be subtopics that make more sense to mention as part of another topic. Tricky!

Here we’ve used AI to brainstorm seed topics and used the Matching terms report to find even more ideas. We’ve wound up with 1,622 keyword ideas in about 30 seconds of research:

1708502176 487 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 487 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Great, but also totally overwhelming. But we can make life much easier by using the Cluster by Parent Topic tab.

Parent topic aims to cluster keywords with similar or the same search intent, so you can target them all on one page instead of many.

If we wanted to target the keywords “content marketing audit” and “content audit definition”, we could instead target the parent topic “content audit”—and also rank for “content marketing audit” and “content audit definition”.

Three keyword rankings, one article.

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In the image below our 1,622 keywords are grouped by their parent topic. We’ve gone from 1,622 keywords to just 162 clusters—much more manageable:

1708502176 236 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 236 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Just one of these clusters, content audit, contains 43 keywords. So by writing one article targeted at content audit, we stand to rank for 43 of the keywords we were interested in:

1708502176 706 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 706 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Competitive SERPs are usually a never-ending game of content optimization and updating. Competitors publish new articles, or update their existing ones, and you have to update your content to avoid sliding down the rankings.

When you formulate your plan for updating an article, it’s useful to see exactly how competitors have updated their articles.

Here’s the organic traffic graph for Zapier’s most popular blog post, How to Use ChatGPT. We can see a huge increase in organic traffic starting in November 2023:

1708502176 649 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 649 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

This begs an obvious question: what happened in November? What caused the massive traffic increase? Is it something that we can learn from?

Well, good news: we can use the Page inspect report to find out.

By default, you can see the current HTML and page text for your chosen URL:

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1708502176 871 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 871 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

But more importantly, we can use Page inspect to compare the on-page text at specific points in time: like just before and after their big traffic surge in November 2023. In a couple of clicks, we can actually see if Zapier updated the page in a way that might have triggered the traffic increase.

In this case, we can see entirely new sections of text that were added to the article around the time of the traffic increase, like this collection of “how to” content:

1708502176 729 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 729 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

There are plenty of factors that can improve search performance, but this is a powerful way of isolating the impact of on-page changes. If we were writing an article on the same topic, or refreshing an article Zapier had dethroned, this is exactly the kind of section I would consider adding.

Final thoughts

I’ve used Ahrefs for keyword research, link building, and reporting since forever, but these new-to-me workflows have made my life much easier. If you’re a content marketer, they might help you too.

Got any interesting Ahrefs workflows to share? Let me know on X or LinkedIn!



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Google Limits News Links In California Over Proposed ‘Link Tax’ Law

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A brown cardboard price tag with a twine string and a black dollar sign symbol, influenced by the Link Tax Law, set against a dark gray background.

Google announced that it plans to reduce access to California news websites for a portion of users in the state.

The decision comes as Google prepares for the potential passage of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), a bill requiring online platforms like Google to pay news publishers for linking to their content.

What Is The California Journalism Preservation Act?

The CJPA, introduced in the California State Legislature, aims to support local journalism by creating what Google refers to as a “link tax.”

If passed, the Act would force companies like Google to pay media outlets when sending readers to news articles.

However, Google believes this approach needs to be revised and could harm rather than help the news industry.

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Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s VP of Global News Partnerships, stated in a blog post:

“It would favor media conglomerates and hedge funds—who’ve been lobbying for this bill—and could use funds from CJPA to continue to buy up local California newspapers, strip them of journalists, and create more ghost papers that operate with a skeleton crew to produce only low-cost, and often low-quality, content.”

Google’s Response

To assess the potential impact of the CJPA on its services, Google is running a test with a percentage of California users.

During this test, Google will remove links to California news websites that the proposed legislation could cover.

Zaidi states:

“To prepare for possible CJPA implications, we are beginning a short-term test for a small percentage of California users. The testing process involves removing links to California news websites, potentially covered by CJPA, to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.”

Google Claims Only 2% of Search Queries Are News-Related

Zaidi highlighted peoples’ changing news consumption habits and its effect on Google search queries (emphasis mine):

“It’s well known that people are getting news from sources like short-form videos, topical newsletters, social media, and curated podcasts, and many are avoiding the news entirely. In line with those trends, just 2% of queries on Google Search are news-related.”

Despite the low percentage of news queries, Google wants to continue helping news publishers gain visibility on its platforms.

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However, the “CJPA as currently constructed would end these investments,” Zaidi says.

A Call For A Different Approach

In its current form, Google maintains that the CJPA undermines news in California and could leave all parties worse off.

The company urges lawmakers to consider alternative approaches supporting the news industry without harming smaller local outlets.

Google argues that, over the past two decades, it’s done plenty to help news publishers innovate:

“We’ve rolled out Google News Showcase, which operates in 26 countries, including the U.S., and has more than 2,500 participating publications. Through the Google News Initiative we’ve partnered with more than 7,000 news publishers around the world, including 200 news organizations and 6,000 journalists in California alone.”

Zaidi suggested that a healthy news industry in California requires support from the state government and a broad base of private companies.

As the legislative process continues, Google is willing to cooperate with California publishers and lawmakers to explore alternative paths that would allow it to continue linking to news.

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Featured Image:Ismael Juan/Shutterstock

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

Every week, we share hot SEO news, interesting reads, and new posts in our newsletter, Ahrefs’ Digest.

If you’re not one of our 280,000 subscribers, you’ve missed out on some great reads!

Here’s a quick summary of my personal favorites from the last month:

Best of March 2024

How 16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

tl;dr

Glen’s research reveals that just 16 companies representing 588 brands get 3.5 billion (yes, billion!) monthly clicks from Google.

My takeaway

Glen pointed out some really actionable ideas in this report, such as the fact that many of the brands dominating search are adding mini-author bios.

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Example of mini-author bios on The VergeExample of mini-author bios on The Verge

This idea makes so much sense in terms of both UX and E-E-A-T. I’ve already pitched it to the team and we’re going to implement it on our blog.

How Google is Killing Independent Sites Like Ours

Authors: Gisele Navarro, Danny Ashton

tl;dr

Big publications have gotten into the affiliate game, publishing “best of” lists about everything under the sun. And despite often not testing products thoroughly, they’re dominating Google rankings. The result, Gisele and Danny argue, is that genuine review sites suffer and Google is fast losing content diversity.

My takeaway

I have a lot of sympathy for independent sites. Some of them are trying their best, but unfortunately, they’re lumped in with thousands of others who are more than happy to spam.

Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updatesEstimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updates
Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele’s site fell off a cliff after Google’s March updates 🙁 

I know it’s hard to hear, but the truth is Google benefits more from having big sites in the SERPs than from having diversity. That’s because results from big brands are likely what users actually want. By and large, people would rather shop at Walmart or ALDI than at a local store or farmer’s market.

That said, I agree with most people that Forbes (with its dubious contributor model contributing to scams and poor journalism) should not be rewarded so handsomely.

The Discussion Forums Dominating 10,000 Product Review Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

Tl;dr

Glen analyzed 10,000 “product review” keywords and found that:

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My takeaway

After Google’s heavy promotion of Reddit from last year’s Core Update, to no one’s surprise, unscrupulous SEOs and marketers have already started spamming Reddit. And as you may know, Reddit’s moderation is done by volunteers, and obviously, they can’t keep up.

I’m not sure how this second-order effect completely escaped the smart minds at Google, but from the outside, it feels like Google has capitulated to some extent.

John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...

I’m not one to make predictions and I have no idea what will happen next, but I agree with Glen: Google’s results are the worst I’ve seen them. We can only hope Google sorts itself out.

Who Sends Traffic on the Web and How Much? New Research from Datos & SparkToro

Author: Rand Fishkin

tl;dr

63.41% of all U.S. web traffic referrals from the top 170 sites are initiated on Google.com.

Data from SparktoroData from Sparktoro

My takeaway

Despite all of our complaints, Google is still the main platform to acquire traffic from. That’s why we all want Google to sort itself out and do well.

But it would also be a mistake to look at this post and think Google is the only channel you should drive traffic from. As Rand’s later blog post clarifies, “be careful not to ascribe attribution or credit to Google when other investments drove the real value.”

I think many affiliate marketers learned this lesson well from the past few Core Updates: Relying on one single channel to drive all of your traffic is not a good idea. You should be using other platforms to build brand awareness, interest, and demand.

Want more?

Each week, our team handpicks the best SEO and marketing content from around the web for our newsletter. Sign up to get them directly in your inbox.

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Google Unplugs “Notes on Search” Experiment

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Google unplugs Notes On Search Experiment

Google is shutting down it’s Google Notes Search Labs experiment that allowed users to see and leave notes on Google’s search results and many in the search community aren’t too surprised.

Google Search Notes

Availability of the feature was limited to Android and Apple devices and there was never a clearly defined practical purpose or usefulness of the Notes experiment. Search marketers reaction throughout has consistently been that would become a spam-magnet.

The Search Labs page for the experiment touts it as mode of self-expression, to help other users and as a way for users to collect their own notes within their Google profiles.

The official Notes page in Search Labs has a simple notice:

Notes on Search Ends May 2024

That’s it.

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Screenshot Of Notice

Reaction From Search Community

Kevin Indig tweeted his thoughts that anything Google makes with a user generated content aspect was doomed to attract spam.

He tweeted:

“I’m gonna assume Google retires notes because of spam.

It’s crazy how spammy the web has become. Google can’t launch anything UGC without being bombarded.”

Cindy Krum (@Suzzicks) tweeted that it was author Purna Virji (LinkedIn profile) who predicted that it would be shut down once Google received enough data.

She shared:

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“It was actually @purnavirji who predicted it when we were at @BarbadosSeo – while I was talking. Everyone agreed that it would be spammed, but she said it would just be a test to collect a certain type of information until they got what they needed, and then it would be retired.”

Purna herself responded with a tweet:

“My personal (non-employer) opinion is that everyone wants all the UGC to train the AI models. Eg Reddit deal also could potentially help with that.”

Google’s Notes for Search seemed destined to never take off, it was met with skepticism and a shrug when it came out and nobody’s really mourning that it’s on the way out, either.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Jamesbin



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