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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  • Referring domains 92
Data from Content Explorer tool.

    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:


    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:


    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.


    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 92
    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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    • I 100% aggree with Tim about keyword research using Ahrefs. My traffic is skyrocketed. I found an article from a competitor using Position Explorer, then I made a better version (skyscraper technique) . Without any SEO work done, the new blog post gain more than 1,000 organic keywords (mostly on page 2) but bring me tons of traffic to my new site.

      By using Site Explorer tool I know that with few backlinks, I will outrank the competitor on #1 spot for multiple keywords which should bring 10 times traffic to my blog post.

      Will repeat that process to all of my competitors and outrank them 1 by 1.

      The KEY here is find the keywords/topic that your competitor rank with only few backlinks but get high traffic. Position Explorer + Site Explorer here you go. I bet you will never find these keyword/topic from Google Adword.

      • that’s awesome! thanks a lot for sharing your case here, Trung!

    • So many tools, and knowledge … isn’t the whole deal much faster by using PPC ?

      • the best strategies involve a mix of paid traffic and organic traffic — they are not mutually exclusive.

      • Hellsbells

        Speaking as someone who has headed up two PPC departments, I can say it’s a victim of its own success. Clients become so focused on immediate quick wins and ROI that they become too dependent on that quick fix and end up paying more and more to get it.

        They can struggle to widen that view to include the bigger picture of organic and earned traffic to lessen their dependence on paying for clicks forever.

        Also they can become fixated on the immediate sale instead of looking at the whole funnel and nurturing leads, because with standard Adwords that can be much harder to track the value the whole way through, and not everyone wants to invest in tools like Sharpspring or Hubspot because it’s big picture stuff.

    • Hellsbells

      I saw this article and realise I’m in your inbound/remarketing/automation funnel… And it is working — after this article I’m definitely going to go for a free trial. Yay marketing!

      • haha, great 🙂

      • wow.. you should be really cautious with our inbound funnel!!! there’s a danger to become better at marketing 🙂

    • Sayeed Ahmed

      good article, thanks

    • I’ve just taken a paid subscription to Ahrefs and trailling it. I already have Moz & SEMRush but there’s probably not enough reason to justify all 3, but I am quite impressed with Ahrefs so far.

    • Craig

      SEMRush used to be my go-to for this sort of thing, but the Ahrefs database for organic positions when i’m doing KW research has surpassed it by far. Even on the paid KWs i find it picks more up.

    • Great post, need more of these “how to use ahref” type of posts to show us what we’re missing out on. I think the idea of plugging top ranked articles into Ahrefs and seeing what other terms you could rank is great and will be adding that to my content marketing mix, cheers

    • mark wilton

      This series of posts on using ahrefs effectively are brilliant, im learning so much. Please keep up the good work

    • Position Explorer for keyword research is the tool I use most these days, the take away for me here is the comments from Octavian and David McSweeney.. I often see people paying for smaller keywords with a small search volume, would be great to see an article that covers combining Ahrefs with a PPC campaign, perhaps I’m being greedy 🙂

    • Position Explorer/Organic Research is one of my favorite SEO research tools. I, for too long, had the misnomer ahrefs was just for backlinks. I now use Position Explorer to help improve my content, do competitive keyword analysis and more. Follow Tim’s advice above.

    • Great article and images. Long tails the best option for linking if you want to make stronger your broad keywords rankings.

    • Pro SEOer

      Ngon, đi spy keyword, rất thích tool này.

    • Hey Muhammad, I removed your comment, because I completely rewrote the article. You talk about my comparison of Ahrefs VS SEMrush and it’s no longer present in the post. Just didn’t want to mislead other people, that’s it 🙂

    • Another great Article, any chance of an article or can you recommend one that goes through a workflow process for a) researching future posts, b) promoting existing posts

    • Your site is great. I only have a small blog, but I still come here to check on it’s progress. No one else can match ahrefs’ tools.

    • Great Article and thanks for this new feature of Position explorer 🙂

    • assam jobalerts

      Thanks for help us through keyword research

    • Alex Kara

      its’s awesome! thanks a lot for sharing this information

    • Love this position explorer tool.