Lesson 1: Getting Started with Ahrefs — 4 Things to Automate Now
Here at Ahrefs, our aim is to provide an SEO toolset that makes your marketing efforts 10x more effective.
But marketing success isn’t only about executing smart strategies (like SEO), it’s about tracking your progress so you know what’s working and what isn’t.
After all, you don’t want to invest your time and money in things that don’t work. Nor do you want to miss hidden opportunities that would be obvious if you had the right reporting.
Then there’s competitive research. While focusing on your own strategy, you also want to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing.
But all of that can add up to a lot of hours. Just tracking what’s going on in your own marketing, in your industry, and with your competitors can easily occupy all your working hours—keeping you from actually executing on your findings.
So it makes sense to automate it all.
Which is exactly what you can do with Ahrefs.
In this tutorial, we’ll cover 4 things tracking of which you can automate RIGHT NOW to get the most from Ahrefs.
- How well you rank in search for your selected keywords;
- New keywords that improved their positions in search results;
- New & lost backlinks on your own website (and your competitors’ sites too);
- Mentions of your brand or your target keywords around the web.
Best of all, it’s super easy to do, and you can have it all set up by the time you’ve finished this lesson. Let’s get started.
Automation #1: Ahrefs “Rank Tracker” Reports
Generally, you want to rank for the top-level keywords related to your business, the terms that let people know who you are and what you sell. And since these are the general keywords people tend to search for, you need to closely monitor your ranking progress for them.
But you probably don’t have time to hunt down that information on a regular basis, which is why Ahrefs sends the Rank Tracker report directly to your inbox, saving you time and effort.
And setting it up is super easy.
If you’re new to Ahrefs, start by adding your website to the dashboard.
Once you do, we’ll prompt you to enter all the keywords you’d like us to track for you.
Click “Add to list,” and we’ll add those keywords to the “Keywords to track” list. Then add the locations your visitors will be searching from.
Google relies heavily on location services when interpreting people’s searches. The same keyword, searched from different countries or locations, can deliver different search results.
That’s why you need to enter geo-regions for local searches, or countries for broader targeting, as well as the keywords you want to track. Your report will show you positions for the geo-location you’re targeting.
Once you do that, we’ll keep an eye on your ranking progress for these keywords and send ranking reports right to your inbox.
So let’s say I have a flower website, and for now, we’ll pretend it’s Teleflora. The top-level keywords I want to track might be:
- Buy flowers online
- Order flowers online
- Flower delivery
I’ve been tracking these keywords in a spreadsheet, but now that I’ve added my website to the Ahrefs dashboard, I can automate my efforts.
You can change the frequency of your email alerts by clicking the green envelope icon beside the heading, “Tracked keywords.”
Then click on the number of keywords (in this case “3”) or the link above it to access the Rank Tracker tool. Here, you can see where you rank for the keywords you entered—or add new ones.
You can even open some fancy graphs showing your historical positions for a keyword.
Now let’s look at the email report you’ll get.
This report ONLY shows you the movement of keywords you’ve specified. You’ll see both the keywords that have improved their positions and the keywords that have declined in their ranking. So you don’t have to open Ahrefs Rank Tracker every day—we’ll notify you of all the gains and losses.
Now Do It
If you haven't added your website to the dashboard yet, add it now. Be sure to add the top-level keywords that you need to be monitoring, plus the location your visitors will be searching from.
Automation #2: "New Keywords" alert
The Rank tracker alert will only track keywords that you specifically add to the tool, but your website is ranking in Google for hundreds or even thousands of other keywords.
To easily learn what those keywords are, you need Ahrefs’ New Keywords alert.
As you can see, your website is automatically listed here after you add it to the dashboard.
And since Ahrefs monitors over 130 million keywords for the United States alone, we’ll monitor your site and send you a weekly email alert with any notable changes in how your website ranks for the keywords in our database.
Here’s what that email looks like….
In this alert, we group new keywords into 3 categories:
- Top 3 positions
- Positions 4-10
- And positions 11-50
First, you’ll see some helpful graphs that plot, historically, how many keywords were seen in each ranking group.
Then you’ll see a list of keywords that are new to each of these ranges, so you can track your progress on autopilot.
Website owners often focus on the rankings of a few highly competitive keywords that are insanely hard to move. This alert shows you the keywords we see your website ranking for. Odds are, these will include keywords you never thought about targeting and hidden opportunities that could bring new search traffic to your website.
For instance, let’s say you see positions like these in your alert.
With a little work, you might be able to move a keyword ranking #2 into the #1 spot, or a keyword ranking #11 onto page1. You’ll know exactly which keywords are worth targeting for some easy wins.
Check our what we learned about long tail after analyzing 1.4 billion keywords.
One more tip: After you’ve set up a New Keywords alert for your website, set one up for your competitors, so you know the keywords they’re ranking for that you could target as well.
As an example, some competitors for Teleflora.com might be Proflowers.com, FTD.com, or 1800Flowers.com. We’ll give you some suggestions to get you started.
If you haven't added your website or your competitors to track their keywords, try and add a few of them right now.
Automation #3: “New/Lost Backlinks” Alert
Would you like to keep an eye on the link building strategies of your competitors?
Or maybe you’d like to learn who's linking to your website?
We thought so!
Which is why we automatically activate the tracking of new or lost backlinks as soon as you add a website to our toolset—and it’s done almost in real time!
Here’s why this report is so valuable...
Ahrefs has the best backlink tool in the industry. Every 24 hours our robots crawl over 6 billion web pages and we update our backlink index every 15 minutes.
This means no other backlink tracking tool will come close to the quality of the data you'll get with Ahrefs.
The cool thing is you can create an Ahrefs Alert for your competitors’ websites or even specific URLs, as well as your own website.
By tracking links to your own website, you can easily see what people are saying about your site. You can also reach out and nurture relationships—building on positive comments and creating goodwill with people making negative comments. Talk about a smart PR move!
When tracking competitors, just keep an eye on their online activities, including who talks about them and what they say. As a bonus, you’ll know when they do something outstanding, generating a sudden burst of links. This is competitor research at its finest.
So, for example, since Proflowers is my competitor in the flower business, I’ll add them here so I can track their new and lost backlinks as well as my own.
Now let’s look at what you get in your email alert…
At the top of the email is a summary, giving you the total number of new and lost backlinks and a summary of new referring domains. Remember, the higher the Domain Rating(DR), the more valuable the backlink, so you want to see a lot of green here.
For both new and lost backlinks, you’ll see how many are “DOfollow” and how many are “NOfollow.” And you’ll see a list of the links, sorted by their domain ratings (DR).
With lost backlinks, you’ll also get a quick explanation of how the backlink was lost: either “link removed” or “page not found.”
As you can see, this gives you a LOT of data to work with, so link building can be a little easier.
Here’s a tip to make your reports even more useful...
We’ve found that tracking backlinks for an entire website only makes sense if your website is small. If your website is bigger, we suggest you track backlinks to specific pages or sections of your site separately.
For example, we set up an alert to ahrefs.com to track links to our homepage. These are usually general mentions to our brand and are the links our CEO is most interested in.
We also track backlinks to all the articles on our blog. For that, we track ahrefs.com/blog/, using the “Prefix” mode. This tracks backlinks to any URL that starts with ahrefs.com/blog and is especially useful for our content marketing team.
Then finally, we sometimes track new backlinks to a specific page. Our Keywords Explorer landing page is a good example. This is a new tool and we want to keep an eye on what people say about it and who is linking to it.
All of these things would be hard to monitor by reviewing just one report with all the backlinks to every page on our website. By setting up individual reports, each team can review the results that matter most to them and make quick decisions.
Do something similar for your website. Take advantage of this incredible feature and set up tracking of different parts (and pages) of your website separately.
Now Do It
If you haven't added Alerts for any of your competitors to track their backlinks, add a few of them right now.
Automation #4: “Mentions” Alert
Would you like to know whenever someone mentions your brand on their website? How about the brands of your competitors?
Or would you like to know when someone mentions certain keywords that are highly relevant to your business?
Tracking mentions of your brand, your target keywords, and your competitors can
reveal hidden opportunities leading to easy marketing wins.
And we make it easy with Ahrefs’ Mentions alert.
This alert is great for tracking who talks about your brand or your
For example, as the owner of a flower store I need to track mentions of my brand. I might also want to track mentions of competitors and some top keywords:
- “Flower meanings”
- “Flower delivery”
But when I visit the “Mentions” tab (see the image above), I see that “flower delivery” isn’t being tracked yet. Here’s how to add an alert.
Now, every time Ahrefs’ crawlers discover a new page containing a keyword that you’re tracking,
we'll send you an alert.
Let’s look at that email…
This alert organizes mentions by the domain rating of the site mentioning your keyword, with the most powerful domains listed first.
This lets you know at a glance whether high-DR sites are linking to your target keywords, your brand, or even your competitors.
And for each mention, you’ll get the title, the URL, and a short blurb with the keyword highlighted so you can easily see the context.
Now Do It
If you haven’t already, create a mention for your brand (and all your main competitors too). Also, think of some keywords related to your business and set up alerts for each of them.
With just these 4 alerts, you have tons of timely insights to take your marketing to the next level. So make sure you’ve configured all 4 types of alerts for your brand.
It will not only help you stay on top of your online footprint, it will save you tons of time!
Got questions? Let us know in the comments.