Ahrefs Review (From the Inside)

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already seen a few other Ahrefs reviews. I would like to offer you something slightly different.

I’m Tim Soulo, the Chief Marketing Officer at Ahrefs. I’ve been working with the company since 2015, and many of Ahrefs’ features and reports have been developed based on my suggestions or those of our marketing team. And yes, we’re heavily using our own toolset for content creation and SEO.

Of course, my review will be super biased, but if you’d like to look at Ahrefs from the inside and delve into our data, infrastructure, and the reasons behind some of our decisions, you’ll enjoy this article.

Data that Powers SEO Tools

There are various SEO tools on the market serving different purposes. However, only a few are capable of conducting comprehensive competitor analysis, especially backlink analysis. These tasks require collecting, processing, and updating huge amounts of data on links, keywords, and SERPs.

Creating and, more importantly, keeping these databases up to date is quite challenging and very expensive.

What powers ahrefs

We’re truly proud of the data that powers Ahrefs. From the beginning, Ahrefs has been renowned for its data quality and remains the gold standard for backlink data.

And backlink analysis is one of the most important aspects of SEO for many reasons, primarily because, despite all the advancements Google has made in its systems, backlinks remain one of the most important ranking factors.

We’ve invested millions of dollars in hardware, enabling AhrefsBot to remain one of the most active crawlers in the world. This allows us to discover new links faster than any competitor — we crawl 5 million pages per minute! It also helps us maintain a database of 270 billion linking pages and, what’s even more important, regularly verify the links.

As for data relevance, unlike other backlink checkers that can report links removed many years ago, Ahrefs only shows backlinks discovered or verified to exist (read: recrawled) in the past six months.

No links older than 6 months in Ahrefs

In addition to the enormous backlinks database, we store and update information on:

  • 20 billion keywords for Keywords Explorer suggestions
  • 650 million keywords for organic keyword research
  • 14 billion pages for Content Explorer and Web Explorer

This should answer the question: “Why is Ahrefs so expensive?” :)

The Main Use Cases of Ahrefs

Now, let me highlight the most important tasks that you can accomplish with Ahrefs, along with some unique features that no other SEO tool offers.

1. Checking any website’s organic search traffic

Every business owner or product marketer needs to know how their competitors are doing.

Site Explorer allows you to estimate any website’s organic search traffic, see its evolution, and check how it compares against up to 10 other websites.

Traffic graphs

For multi-national websites, you can also see the traffic distribution by country.

Traffic graphs - countries

2. Unveiling the most traffic-rich pages of your competitors

The Top Pages report lists the website pages with the highest organic search traffic. Having this information at hand is very important when choosing topics for your own website or planning a content strategy.
Top pages report showing the pages by traffic

3. Find the best keywords for your business

Keywords Explorer tool helps you make informed decisions about the keywords that you should target.

It can generate thousands of keyword suggestions based on a single seed keyword. And if you don’t have the seed keywords yet, Keywords Explorer’s AI can generate them for you based on a topic.

The actionable keyword metrics, such as Search Volume, Keyword Difficulty, and Clicks per Search, enable you to identify the most promising keywords and prioritize your efforts.

Keyword Metrics in Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

With the latest update, Keywords Explorer now can group keyword suggestions into clusters for you.

Keyword clusters

The available data covers more than 200 countries.

4. Predict a topic’s search traffic potential

Web pages tend to rank for multiple keywords. That is why, in today’s world, it is important to optimize your pages for topics, not single keywords.

Our Traffic Potential metric shows you how much traffic the page ranking in position #1 for a given keyword is receiving from all keywords that it ranks for.

Traffic potential in ahrefs keywords explorer

You won’t find this metric in any other keyword research tool.

5. Discover your competitors’ PPC keywords

Similar to the Organic Keywords report, the Paid Keywords report in Site Explorer shows the keywords for which the target website appeared in Google’s search ads, along with the samples of their actual ads.

Paid keywords

6. See the full history of search ads for a keyword

Do you want to run some PPC ads on a popular keyword but need to figure out its relevance and competitiveness?

Our Ads Position History report will show you all the websites that have advertised for this keyword in the past and the actual ads they ran at any given time.

Ads history report

7. Find SEO issues that hurt your website’s performance in Google

Site Audit tool can crawl your entire website and scan it for over 140 potential issues that might negatively impact your website’s visibility in search engines. Each issue contains a fairly detailed guide on how to fix it, linked from the “Learn more” button.

Issues in Site Audit

If you need to go beyond our predefined list of potential SEO problems, the hundreds of filters in Site Explorer allow you to create and monitor custom issues.

With regular crawls enabled, you will receive email notifications about the SEO health of your website, along with updates on any changes to your website’s pages since the previous crawl.

Overall, our Site Audit tool is one of the most powerful and flexible SEO checkers on the market.

8. Discover your competitors’ linkable assets

The Best by Links report in Site Explorer will help you gain inspiration for link-worthy content by analyzing the pages that attract the maximum number of backlinks to your competitors.

Best by links

9. Dive into the most comprehensive backlink research

While Ahrefs excels in keyword research and organic traffic analysis, it truly shines in backlink analysis.

A variety of filters in the Backlinks and Referring Domains reports allow you to identify the most valuable backlink prospects. For example, you can sort the referring pages by their organic search traffic or find websites with a high Domain Rating that link to only a small number of external sites.

tons of filters in Ahrefs reports

The latest feature we’ve added to the Backlinks report is the pre-configured “Best links” filter, which excludes low-quality referring websites, thus reducing the inevitable “noise” in backlink profiles.

Best links only

10. Seize the opportunities for your website

It’s not an allegory. One of our newest reports is called ‘Opportunities.’

It is a collection of shortcuts to the most actionable reports and tools in Ahrefs that can help you find:

  • Keywords where you’re ranking in positions 4-15 and can potentially improve with little effort
  • Keywords where your website ranks, but not in a featured snippet.
  • Top suggestions from Content Gap (from auto-detected competitors)
  • Pages with declining organic traffic
  • Broken backlinks
  • Unlinked brand mentions
  • and more

It is the best place to start when you’re just getting to know Ahrefs’ toolset.

Updates

The main focus of Ahrefs is deliberately centered around SEO. We’re not trying to expand into Social Media Marketing or Content Generation.

However, we’re very serious about what we do. We released a massive number of updates and new features in 2023, and there are even more to come in 2024.

I don’t think any other SEO tool has seen as many improvements over the past few years as Ahrefs.

Pricing

Let’s get straight to the point: Ahrefs is a premium tool. It’s not cheap, nor is it the most expensive SEO tool out there.

There are many less expensive tools in the “All-in-one SEO Tool’ category, but you get what you pay for. These tools often have significantly lower data quality, fewer features, tend to be slower, have cluttered user interfaces, and/or have poor customer support.

Compared to our main competitors, our monthly pricing is approximately the same and sometimes even a tad lower.

Our cheapest Lite plan is priced at $99 per month, and you can save approximately 17% by opting for an annual payment.

But it’s really hard to say which tool is cheaper in the end. It depends on your needs and usage.

Our usage-based pricing, which ignited so many discussions over the past year, is aimed at agencies and heavy users. Our analysis shows that 80% of our users never reach the monthly allowances included in their plans. Additionally, purchasing an extra 500 credits for $35 per month can satisfy the needs of 95% of our customers.

Wrapping it up

Ahrefs is the tool of choice for tens of thousands of website owners, copywriters, professional SEOs, and agencies.

Is it the right choice for you?

If you’re looking for top-notch SEO data value great user experience, and your main focus is SEO, you should definitely try Ahrefs. The toolset will more than pay for itself, but only if you know how to apply the information from Ahrefs effectively.

If you’re new to SEO, our collection of free SEO tools can help you get started on your journey.

Tim Soulo is the Chief Marketing Officer and Product Advisor at Ahrefs, a leading tool trusted by hundreds of thousands of SEOs and marketers worldwide. His SEO-related data research studies have been cited by media giants, including Inc, TechCrunch, and VentureBeat. He's also a regular speaker at some of the largest industry conferences around the globe, such as PubCon (US), BrightonSEO (UK), and the Digital Marketers Australia Conference (AU).