Ahrefs may enjoy a reputation as one of the best all-round SEO tools on the market, but it’s also just as well known for its higher-than-average pricing, all of which begs one fundamental question:
Is Ahrefs worth the money?
In this comprehensive Ahrefs review, I’ll weigh the pros and cons of this popular Search Engine Optimization platform, dive into its key features, and answer your most burning questions to help you decide whether Ahrefs is a suitable investment your blog, brand, or business.
What is Ahrefs?
Ahrefs is a SaaS (Software as Service) platform that packs in a range of tools, all designed to help you to achieve one clear goal:
Boost your search rankings to drive more organic traffic to your website.
The service began life in 2010 as a simple backlinks index, helping users to carry out practical analysis of their backlinks and seek out opportunities for generating new backlinks on high authority sites, a move that we all know is an essential part of any effective SEO strategy.
Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength, adding more helpful SEO tools to its arsenal and developing a robust web crawler that processes no less than 8 million pages daily to bring the most comprehensive keyword research and backlink analysis tools to customers.
This enormous well of invaluable data has helped Ahrefs earn a reputation as the go-to SEO tool of choice for a veritable Who’s Who of major brands, boasting a client list that includes Facebook, Netflix, Adobe, Uber, Shopify, Linkedin, and scores more.
Still, the data alone isn’t the only thing that helps Ahrefs stand out as one of the top keyword research tools on the market.
Unlike its nearest competitor, the ever-popular SEMRush, Ahrefs doesn’t just draw in data from Google. It covers all major search engines and even eCommerce platforms like Amazon, making it a top choice for those looking to track their success across the entire web.
Who is Ahrefs For?
Ahrefs may be the preferred tool for some of the world’s biggest brands, but that doesn’t mean it’s an enterprise-exclusive solution.
Far from it.
Its tools are designed to be accessible and easy enough for small and medium businesses, bloggers, content marketers, and anyone serious about driving more traffic to their website, regardless of their current size.
Is Ahrefs Hard to Use?
One of the things I love most about Ahrefs is that, despite its advanced features, it’s by no means difficult to use.
If you’re new to growing your online presence and words like backlink analysis, keyword research, and rank tracking are all unfamiliar to you, don’t panic.
The platform comes with a highly-intuitive user interface that’s as beginner-friendly as you could possibly hope for, while detailed tutorials and supporting documents are only ever a click or two away if you get stuck.
That’s not all.
Another reason why Ahrefs is such a good SEO tool for beginners is because it combines everything you need to take complete control of your Search Engine Optimization efforts from one central dashboard.
This means none of the overwhelm and expense of using multiple different services to optimize your website, blog, or online presence.
So far, so good then, but what can you actually do with Ahrefs?
Let’s take a look:
Ahrefs Key Features
1. In-Depth Dashboard
Before we get into any specific tools, it’s worth looking at the well-designed dashboard, which gives you a complete overview of all the key metrics you need to know.
Once hooked up tour site, Ahrefs crawls your site and presents you with all of the following details through your dashboard:
The Ahrefs health score is the percentage of your site’s internal URLs that don’t have any errors.
The higher the score, the better the condition of your overall site.
The best part is that if your health score isn’t a perfect 100%, you drill down to see exactly what errors are affecting it so that you can work on a solution.
The domain rating is a score from 0 – 100, which measures the strength of your backlink profile. In other words, it looks at all the domains that point back to your website and analyses them in terms of quality and quantity, with the former making a much bigger impact on your score than the former.
When you know your domain rating, you can compare your efforts with competitors with a similar domain rating and then use the keyword analysis tools (more of which later) to identify any gaps that would allow you to get ahead of the competition in search results.
When you know the domain rating of other websites (which Ahrens allows you to look up), you can determine which sites are worth reaching out to for guest posting and other backlink-generating opportunities.
Referring Domains and Backlinks
The referring domains metric shows how many websites are linking back to yours, while the backlinks metric shows how many backlinks are generated by those websites.
If the same website links to your content multiple times, you’ll likely find that the number of backlinks is significantly higher than the number of domains.
Organic Traffic and Organic Keywords
The Ahrefs dashboard also shows you the number of organic keywords your website ranks for and the level of organic traffic you generate from those keywords.
Other Key Dashboard Metrics.
- Elsewhere, the dashboard will show you the following:
- Total pages crawled
- Total Redirects
- Total broken links
- Search rankings in multiple countries.
Although there’s a lot of data to take in here, it’s so well organized and easy to understand that even novice users should have no problem using that data to make intelligent decisions about their SEO growth strategy.
2. Site Explorer
The site Explorer is a fantastic tool for carrying out that all-important competitor research.
Unlike the main dashboard, where you need to verify that you own a site before getting any data on it, the Ahrefs Site Explorer gives you a detailed look at the organic search traffic generated by any website or URL.
Type in your competitor’s URL, and Ahrefs will show you the following:
- Which keywords are your competitors ranking for
- Which of their pages are bringing in the most organic search traffic
- Which sites provide backlinks to your competitors’ sites (and the quality of those links).
Why does this matter?
The more you know about how your competitors are performing in search results, the more you can do to improve your own performance.
If they’re doing something pretty well that you’re not doing at all, that’s a good opportunity to consider how you can take what works for them and adapt it to your SEO efforts.
If there are apparent keywords they’re not targeting, or at least not doing very well with, that’s an excellent opportunity to invest in those keywords and work your way to outranking the competition.
Ahrefs’ keyword research tool isn’t the only one around, but it’s undoubtedly one of the most extensive and comprehensive.
Unlike other platforms which only focus on pulling in keyword data from Google, Ahrefs gets its data from a large variety of sources, including:
While there may be some of those that you never use, knowing that you can access reliable keyword data no matter which platform you use for marketing is a significant plus point, in my opinion.
Altogether, this all results in a database with more than 7 billion keywords, meaning that no matter which blogging niche you’ve chosen and what you’re planning to write about, you’ll be able to access thousands of keyword suggestions.
When you do, you’ll get an impressive amount of valuable data about each keyword, including:
Keyword Difficulty Score
This shows you how hard it will be to get a high-ranking position for that keyword. The higher the score, the more work you’ll have to put in and the more high-quality backlinks you’ll need to generate to outrank the competition.
Of course, this is also an excellent option for finding those easy-to-rank-for keywords that some of your competitors may have overlooked.
Most good keyword research tools will show you the search volume of a keyword (how many times it’s searched for), but Ahrefs is unique in that it also shows how many times people actually click on the search results generated by that keyword.
This is more important than you might think.
After all, there could be plenty of occasions when a user types a keyword into Google. Sees nothing in the search results that is relevant and tries another keyword.
Being able to see which keywords get the most clicks can be hugely advantageous when it comes to determining which topic to focus on next.
Paid Search Metrics
Another crucial metric detail is the average CPC (Cost Per Click) price for paid search ads and how many clicks those ads generate compared to organic clicks.
Other Benefits of the Ahrefs Keyword Research Tool
It isn’t just the enormous volume of keyword suggestions that makes Ahrefs keyword explorer such a good deal, nor is it the number of metrics it tracks or the exceptional accuracy of the data.
With this one, you also benefit from the following:
- Keyword tracking across 171 different countries
- SERP overview and position history
- Keywords lists so you can save keywords for future use
- Bulk entry with the ability to enter 10,000 keywords at once
- Filter keywords by search volume, keyword difficulty, clicks, and more.
3. Site Audit
If you’ve recently launched your website but are only just getting around to thinking about Search Engine Optimization, the Ahrefs Site Audit tool may be your first port of call.
Verify your web address, and the tool will audit every last little detail of both your on-page content and off-page technical issues to determine how well you’re doing in terms of having a fully optimized site and, of course, what you could be doing better.
All this is presented visually so you can easily understand where things aren’t as good as they should be.
From there, you can access insights and suggestions on how to solve the problems holding you back from SEO success.
All told, the site audit scans for over 100 common SEO issues, including:
- Page speed
- Issues with HTML tags
- Content quality
- Incoming and outgoing links
- Image issues
- and more.
Beyond that, experienced SEO professionals may also love the site audit’s Data Explorer tool, which allows you to completely customize the kind of data points you want to analyze during the audit.
4. Rank Tracker
If you’ve invested all that time, energy, and effort into keyword research and search engine optimization, you will want to know how well your efforts are paying off.
That’s where the Ahrefs Rank Tracker tool proves invaluable.
Enter a list of keywords, and Ahrefs will work on tracking how you and your competitors are ranking for those keywords.
This isn’t a one-and-done process.
The rank tracker keeps monitoring your search results regularly, with frequent reports sent directly to your inbox so that you can monitor your progress.
Each report includes:
- Your average rank position
- Average traffic levels
- The percentage of clicks from organic search results that get people to your website.
Elsewhere, there’s a useful SERP tracker which shows you how well your site is doing at occupying coveted SERP features, including:
- Featured Snippets
- People Also Ask
- Top stories
- Top and bottom ads
- Shopping Results
- Knowledge cards and panels
- Tweet boxes.
The Rank Tracker will also show you which SERP features you’ll be unable to occupy but which are still worth paying attention to, as they can give you valuable ideas for future keywords to target.
Of course, it isn’t just your own ranking positions that matter.
Enter URLs from up to 10 competitors’ websites that target the same keywords, and Ahrefs will also show you how they stack up against you in terms of organic ranking positions, search traffic, and SERP features.
5. Content Explorer
Last but not least, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you about Ahrefs’ Content Explorer, which goes above and beyond basic keyword research to help you narrow down to topics worth writing about.
If you’re new to blogging or content marketing, the ability to find the low-hanging fruit content that is easy to rank for without many backlinks will prove very helpful.
Following these suggestions can be an intelligent move for beginning to get your pages ranked and building some authority in your niche before taking on your competitors for those big, high-traffic keywords.
Keep going, Ahrefs Content Explorer can even help you find guest posting opportunities to start building your backlink profile, boosting your site’s reputation even further.
Further link-building opportunities include searching for online mentions of your brand that don’t link back to your website so that you can reach out and ask for a link.
What’s more, as an SEO tool focused on competitor analysis, the Content Explorer will keep an eye on your competitors’ publishing frequency so that you can beat them to the punch with new, targeted content.
How Much Does Ahrefs Cost?
The features highlighted above are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg regarding what Ahrefs can do. Dig deep into each of the main tools available to you, and you’ll find a host of invaluable features that give you all the power you need to take complete control of your SEO success.
Combined, this complete package of tools makes for an excellent value-for-money offer, even if Ahrefs’ pricing is a little expensive compared to other SEO tools.
Unlike SEMRush, KWFinder, and others, there’s no free trial available here, though you can pay a small $7 fee to try out the service for seven days.
If you find that Ahrefs is the tool for you, you’ll then need to upgrade to one of the following four plans:
|PRODUCT NAME||PRODUCT DESCRIPTION||PRODUCT PRICE|
Unlimited verified projects
5 x unverified projects
500 x reports per primary user per month
100 x reports per additional user per month
2,500 x rows per report
Unlimited Rank Tracker reports
750 tracked keywords per month.
|$99 p/m (paid month) or $83 p/m (paid annually)|
|Standard||Everything in the Lite plan plus:|
Access to Content Explorer
6 months of data history
20 x unverified projects
30,000 x rows per report
2,000 tracked keywords per month.
|$199 p/m (paid monthly) or $166 p/m (paid annually)|
|Advanced||Everything in the Standard plan plus:|
2 years of data history
Google Data Studio integration
75,000 x rows per report
5,000 tracked keywords per month.
|$399 p/m or $333 p/m (paid annually)|
|Enterprise||Everything in the Advanced plan plus:|
Unlimited data history
150,000 x rows per report
10,000 tracked keywords per month.
|$999 p/m or $833 p/m (paid annually)|
Ahrefs Tutorial: How to Sign-Up And Get Started
If you’ve read this far and Ahrefs is starting to sound like a worthwhile deal, but you’re concerned it might be just a little too technical, let me show you how easy it is to sign up and get started.
1. Visit Ahrefs
Point your browser to Ahrefs.com and click ‘Sign up for Ahrefs’
2. Pick a Plan
You’ll be invited to pick one of the four available plans on the next screen. To get the maximum benefit from Ahrefs, I recommend the Standard Plan.
3. Create an Account
Enter your email address, accept the terms and conditions, then click ‘continue.’ You can then finish creating your account by adding your name. You can also add your company name and phone number here if you choose to.
Finally, enter your billing information to complete the sign-up process.
4. Configure Ahrefs
Up next, you’ll be asked to complete the onboarding process, which involves verifying your domain, setting a site audit schedule, and configuring Ahrefs to meet your SEO needs.
5. Start Optimizing Your Site
Now that you’re all set up, you can log into your dashboard to get an immediate overview of your verified website, including its domain rating, the number of referring domains and backlinks, and how much organic traffic you generate.
When you’re done exploring all that data, you can navigate to the top menu to begin putting Ahrefs to work on boosting your site’s SEO.
What is Ahrefs Customer Service Like?
Unfortunately, Ahrefs doesn’t offer telephone support, and although that may be off-putting to some, the good news is that the email and chat support options are both pretty good.
In my experience, I’ve found that response times can be a little on the slow side during peak hours, but that’s to be expected with any service. At other times of the day, you’re not only getting a fast response to your problem, but you’re also getting that response from a polite, patient, and knowledgeable expert who will stay with you until the problem is solved.
Suppose you’d rather try and figure things out for yourself. In that case, there’s also an impressively-sized knowledge base with walk-throughs and answers to common questions provided by Ahrefs’ in-house support team and its vibrant community of users.
All in all, this means that while Ahrefs isn’t difficult to use, to begin with, if something doesn’t go according to plan, you’ll always be able to get the help you need.
What Do Other People Say About Ahrefs?
Although I love using Ahrefs for its advanced competitor analysis, rank tracking, and keyword research features, not everyone is as much a fan as I am.
The company has a 2.3 Poor rating on trust pilot, with 41% of its 146 reviews rating it as Excellent, 34% classing Ahrefs as ‘Bad,’ and 9% rating it average-poor.
To be fair, the majority of criticism is levied at the pricing and the use of a credit system that allows you to bump up your plan if it doesn’t provide enough resources.
I’ve already commented on how Ahrefs is a pricey bit of software, so I do emphasize with those reviewers for whom the cost is a drawback.
On the plus side, the majority of positive reviews seem to agree with me that, despite the cost, the extensive range of tools and the high level of data accuracy make it a worthwhile investment for brands, bloggers, and businesses who take their SEO seriously.
Ahrefs Pros and Cons
Frequently Asked Questions About Ahrefs
How does Ahrefs get its data?
Ahrefs uses in-house search crawlers that scan websites 24/7 and combine this with their independent database rather than relying on data from other services such as Alexa.
How accurate is Ahrefs?
In my experience, Ahrefs provides very accurate data. Comparing my Ahrefs data with other SEO services, I found that the platform only missed the mark on about 3% of all the web traffic it analyzed for me.
How do I raise my Ahrefs rank?
By producing high-quality, targeted content. Use the keyword research tool to find the keywords your users are searching for, build quality content around that keyword and work hard to generate backlinks, all of which will ultimately boost your ranking.
Is Ahrefs Worth the Money? My Final Verdict
At the start of this guide, I promised to help you determine whether investing in Ahrefs as your SEO tool of choice is the right move for you.
If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ve got all the information you need to decide for yourself, but if you’re still on the fence, let me give you my final verdict.
If your budget is an issue and you’re looking to spend as little as possible on quality SEO tools, Ahrefs’ high-cost plans mean it’s probably not the right service.
However, if your top concern is to get your hands on an extensive range of easy-to-use SEO tools that can make a real difference to the success of your content, then I have no problem telling you that Ahrefs is worth the money.
The huge amount of accurate data you can access and the ability to manage multiple SEO tasks from one intuitive dashboard make it a valuable tool for everyone, from beginner bloggers to professional marketing and SEO teams.