3 Reasons Why I LOVE Using Ahrefs For Organic Traffic Research

Tim Soulo
Tim is the guy responsible for marketing and product strategy at Ahrefs. But most importantly he’s the chief evangelist of the company. Learn more about Tim

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    Here’s a comment that I saw on Reddit the other day:

    Ahrefs is great for links, but not so much for rankings.

    I couldn’t resist but ask this guy why he thought so, and here’s what he told me:

    Ahrefs has always been a backlink checking tool and I would say you’re the strongest one out there right now. However rank tracking isn’t something that has been there from day one and may need more work.

    It’s great to be perceived as “the strongest out there” backlink checker tool, but at the same time this very perception prevents our users from realizing how robust our “ranking reports” are.

    So let me tell you why Ahrefs is an awesome tool for researching organic search traffic of your competitors.

    What Is “Organic Traffic Research”?

    Let’s say you own a blog about personal development and you want to rank on the first page of Google for keywords like:

    • meditation for beginners”
    • how to be confident”
    • frugal living”
    • motivational tips”

    ..and so on.

    But when you put these keywords into Google, you see one website that consistently ranks on the first page — ZenHabits.net.

    And so you think to yourself:

    Looks like Zenhabits ranks in Google for thousands of great keywords related to personal development. I wish I knew all the keywords they rank for, so that I could plan my own content and outrank them for these keywords.”

    Well, you can do that with Ahrefs!

    Just put “zenhabits.net” domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool and it will show you all the keywords that this website currently ranks for:

    "Organic Keywords" report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer tool

    Organic Keywords” report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool

    Now let me explain to you why I love this tool so much.

    Reason 1: Impressive coverage

    Here at Ahrefs we collect rankings data for over 300 MILLION different keyword searches. And that is for United States alone; we have 14 more countries in our database.

    To the best of my knowledge that is much more than any other similar tool has to offer.

    So what does it mean for you?

    Here’s a great example:

    Let’s say I want to know which threads on the r/Entrepreneur subreddit are ranking on top of Google and the exact keywords that they rank for.

    I put “https://www.reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur/” URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool and go to “Top Pages” report:

    "Top Pages" report shows you which pages of a given website bring the most traffic from organic search

    Top Pages” report shows you which pages of a given website bring the most traffic from organic search

    I was able to find 9,166 reddit threads under r/Entrepreneur subreddit that get search traffic from Google.

    This little “reddit hack” can be your entire content marketing strategy for a new blog.

    Just pick a subreddit relevant to your niche, put it in to Ahrefs and you’ll get a few hundred content ideas along with the exact keywords you should be targeting.

    All in all we have amost 12 Million pages for “reddit.com” domain:

    According to Ahrefs data, over 12 Million pages of reddit.com rank in organic search results

    According to Ahrefs data, over 12 Million pages of reddit.com rank in organic search results

    That’s a ton of data for your content marketing team.

    Here’s another great example of how you can use our coverage:

    The #1 result in Google for “content marketing” is this article:

    http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/what-is-content-marketing/

    Let’s say I want to write my own post and rank it at the top of Google for that keyword.

    Optimizing my article for the keyword “content marketing“ is a no-brainer. But obviously it’s not the only keyword that the above article is ranking for.

    So what are these other keywords that I could rank for with my article?

    Let’s put the URL of that article into Ahrefs and find out:

    Put any URL into Ahrefs' Site Explorer tool and see what keywords it ranks for in search

    Put any URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool and see what keywords it ranks for in search

    In addition to the keyword “content marketing“, this article ranks for quite a few other high-traffic search terms.

    So when writing my own article on the topic of “content marketing” I would surely include many of these keywords so that my article would rank for them in search.

    The beauty of this method is that it can be applied to your existing content as well:

    1. See who is ranking above you for your target keyword;
    2. Find all other keywords that their page is ranking for;
    3. Cover these topics on your own page.

    Reason 2: Daily progress charts

    Did you notice that we have moved Ahrefs blog from “blog.ahrefs.com” to “ahrefs.com/blog”?

    Let’s see how that looks in Ahrefs’ reports:

    Moving Ahrefs Blog from subdomain to a subfolder

    Moving Ahrefs Blog from subdomain to a subfolder

    Because we update the positions on many of the keywords in our database on a daily basis, we’re able to build these pretty accurate graphs that represent the search visibility of a given website over time.

    And not only can we do this for the whole website, we can also do it for individual URLs.

    If we put the URL of our recent on page seo study into Site Explorer, we’ll see these neat graphs:

    Organic search traffic to our study of "on page SEO" was growing pretty fast

    Organic search traffic to our study of “on page SEO” was growing pretty fast

    As of today our article ranks for 211 different keywords and it was published only last month.

    So if you have a hard time pitching your content marketing services a potential client, just take a few screenshots of how their latest articles performed in organic search and I’m sure you’ll persuade them to hire you.

    Reason 3: Rank tracking on steroids

    Here’s how most rank tracking tools work:

    1. you create a list of keywords that you want to rank for;
    2. you put them into a rank tracking tool;
    3. you get daily/weekly updates of where you rank for these specific keywords.

    But let’s get back to my example of article that ranks #1 for the keyword “content marketing” — that’s not the only keyword that this article ranks for, right?

    So how do you keep an eye on any other keywords that it ranks for?

    Just setup an a “New Keywords” alert in Alerts section:

    Ahrefs will notify you of any new keywords that your target website or URL has ranked for in search

    Ahrefs will notify you of any new keywords that your target website or URL has ranked for in search

    Here’s the most recent alert I got for ahrefs.com website:

    alert-for-ahrefs

    Looks great, right?

    Let me explain how that works.

    We monitor the positions of your site across millions of keywords, and send you a weekly email alert with all the improvements that we have noticed since the previous week.

    These “keyword improvements” are broken down in three groups:

    • New keywords that just entered “Top 3”;
    • New keywords that ranked in positions “4 to 10”;
    • New keywords that entered positions “11 to 50”.

    This kind of report is a perfect way to satisfy your client.

    Website owners often focus on the rankings of a few highly competitive keywords, which are insanely hard to move. And our “keyword improvement” alerts help them to understand that their site started ranking for hundreds of longer tail keywords that will bring a lot of new search traffic to their website.

    RECAP

    Like I said in the intro to this article, a lot of people praise us for being the best backlink research tool in the industry and neglect all the other things that we do.

    Well, when I reflect on my personal SEO routines, I realize that I use our organic traffic research tools just as much as our backlink tools (if not even more).

    Thus I strongly encourage everyone to give this part of our toolset a spin and see how much value you can get from it.

    Tim Soulo
    Tim is the guy responsible for marketing and product strategy at Ahrefs. But most importantly he’s the chief evangelist of the company. Learn more about Tim

    Article stats

    • Referring domains 108
    Data from Content Explorer tool.

    Shows how many different websites are linking to this piece of content. As a general rule, the more websites link to you, the higher you rank in Google.

    Shows estimated monthly search traffic to this article according to Ahrefs data. The actual search traffic (as reported in Google Analytics) is usually 3-5 times bigger.

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