Ahrefs SEO platform review

A full SEO suite with good price points and great web index

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(Image: © Ahrefs)

TechRadar Verdict

Ahrefs gets much right for managing and growing your online presence, with an industry-leading link index, powerful features, and a wealth of resources to get you started.

Pros

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    Largest and fastest commercial web link index

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    Documentation, free tutorials, and knowledgeable user support

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    Advanced filtering tools for power users

Cons

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    No desktop or mobile apps

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    API integration needs improvement

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    Lacks direct phone support

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Since its initial release in 2011, Ahrefs (opens in new tab) has quickly become one of the most popular SEO tools (opens in new tab) on the market, and it is used by web developers and content creators around the world to grow their online presence. Current notable clients include Facebook, Netflix, Adobe and eBay. 

Ahrefs indicates that it has the largest backlink index of top SEO tools- over 295 billion indexed pages, and more than 16 trillion backlinks. As if that was not enough, toss in an upgraded keywords explorer, tools for monitoring the competition, plus a serious amount of user documentation, and it’s plain to see why Ahrefs may be the tool you need to rank better and increase your traffic. 

Ahrefs: Plans and pricing

Ahrefs offers four plans with monthly billing, with the option of annual billing, at a discount. Ahrefs Lite is the least expensive option, and costs $99 per month. Standard and Advanced profiles come in at $199 and $399 respectively, while Enterprise subscriptions cost $999 per month. Annual billing comes with a 16% discount (two months free). There is no free trial, but it is suggested to sign up for Ahrefs Webmaster Tools, which is free for website owners, and offers functionality to improve SEO performance. 

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(Image credit: Ahrefs)

Plans progress in the number of users and projects, access to features such as the duration of the history, reports per month, frequency of updates, and depth of analysis. More expensive plans offer a greater number of SERP updates per month, plus increasingly frequent alerts for new and lost links, web mentions, and keyword movements. All plans grant access to the entire Ahrefs product suite. 

Ahrefs: Features

Ahrefs has all the tools you need for exploring and growing your online presence. A central dashboard gives the overview of your projects’ ranking, traffic, and backlinking. From the landing page, then easily access each of the five core Ahrefs elements, outlined below:

 Site Explorer

Prior to moving into keyword analysis, Ahrefs started with Site Explorer. The result is one of their most robust and useful tools. From a single page, you can see information for organic traffic, backlinks, and relevant keywords. Also, check out competitors’ ad strategies and ranking per keyword with paid traffic and organic keywords research. In summary, Site Explorer is all about understanding your position relative to others- and then capitalizing on opportunities. 

 Keywords Explorer

Critically important to driving growth is knowing which keywords are important to your domain. Therefore it follows that Ahrefs provides a complete suite of keyword research tools. Also included are innovative metrics to help you make better decisions. As an example, clickstream data, allows you to better understand how users interact with relevant search engine result pages. Topping it all off, Ahrefs’ data comes from 10 major search engines, including Google, Yahoo, and Amazon.

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(Image credit: Ahrefs)

Site Audit

Beginners looking for direction and agencies that manage multiple sites will find Site Audit useful, as it performs a real-time crawl of your domains to find errors and opportunities. An additional benefit is that it’s cloud-based, freeing up computer resources. Site Audit benefits you by letting you quickly locate broken links, 404s and redirect chains, along with detailing information on page speed or social tags. Furthermore, through leveraging powerful filters, you will target specific problems and also see recommended solutions. 

Rank Tracker

Another feature is Rank Tracker that lets you track changes in keyword visibility and traffic. It can compare your performance to competitors, and also easily monitor how your content is shown to users. By way of example, search elements like Google’s featured snippets show relevant content from your site at the top of a search page. Rank Tracker informs you which elements to focus on so you can optimize your content including those that represent an opportunity for better visibility. 

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(Image credit: Ahrefs)

 Content Explorer

Content Explorer opens up access to Ahrefs’ massive web index, which is second only to Google with over 1.1 billion indexed sites. Using the powerful filters lets you explore the web’s content and identify opportunities for growth. For example, go ahead, target high-performing pages and analyze similarities between them, or locate topics with little to no competition- but with high potential. In summary, Content Explorer enables you to leverage the web’s content for helping to keep your site be relevant. 

Ahrefs: Interface and In Use

Like a lot of software these days, Ahrefs is used through a web browser, and we like the robust online interface, however it has no dedicated desktop program or smartphone app. The web app puts a ton of information into each page, with explanations for important features available via convenient info-bubbles. You can rely on The Dashboard to give you an overview of your projects, with each of the five core components having its own landing page. Finally, most elements provide more info via clickable links making them interactive for greater insights into the many graphs, charts, and metrics. 

Ahrefs: Support

Ahrefs has customer service that users report to be friendly, prompt, and knowledgeable. This is critically important for a product with high information density, especially for beginners and small businesses. Unfortunately no telephone number is listed, but both in-app chat and email support are available 24 hours a day, from Monday to Friday. 

 There is no in-person or online training offered, but a wealth of useful documentation is available for both beginners and power users. A help center contains over 300 articles on a wide range of topics, organized into categories. The Ahrefs YouTube channel and on-site blog includes video tutorials such as “SEO Checklist: How to Get More Organic Traffic (Complete Tutorial),” and guides on SEO best practices. Finally, the ‘Ahrefs Academy’ has online video courses for marketing and blogging including basic content for novices, on up to certification courses for more advanced users. 

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(Image credit: Ahrefs )

Ahrefs: The competition

Ahrefs provides similar functionality to other major SEO tools like SEMrush and Moz, and they all offer similar price points for basic plans. Historically Ahrefs has been the more expensive option, recent pricing updates have made it more in line with its competitors.

Carefully consider which features and data limits work best for your budget, because different products prioritize different features at different price points. SEMrush’s basic plan, for example,  offers 10 times the page crawls as Ahrefs’, but no API access or historical data, unlike the latter. 

Ahrefs: Final verdict

Boasting a number of powerful features that help set it apart, Ahrefs includes a proprietary web crawler second only to Google in size and speed. With price points broadly aligned with those of similar products, best-in-class link analysis, powerful research tools, and knowledgeable user support Ahrefs becomes one of the best options towards a better understanding with the goal of improving the online presence of your domain. 

Christian is a freelance writer and content project manager with 6+ years' experience writing and leading teams in finance and technology for some of the world's largest online publishers, including TechRadar and Tom's Guide.

With contributions from