Ahrefs is undeniably one of the most powerful SEO tools in the world. Personally, i consider it amongst the four most powerful SEO tools currently available in the world, the other three being Semrush, Moz and Majestic.
Now this immensely powerful tool has done a big favor on the blogging community by launching a free Webmaster tool. I probably could not have come up with a better word than ‘favor’ considering that this free tool gives a seriously quality data. Being a free tool it obviously has many limitations but again factors like ‘quality data’ and user-friendly interface has left me quite impressed.
This article seeks to give an overview of this tool that I feel every independent blogger should give a try. Especially those independent bloggers who are working on a low budget and are currently taking infancy steps in the SEO world. This free tool will also give a nice head start on how to use paid SEO tools that are known for throwing up lot of Data and SEO metrics.
To get started with Ahrefs webmaster tools, type the URL ahrefs.com/webmaster-tools or simply search for ‘Ahrefs webmaster tools’ on Google.
Now there are two ways to actually access this tool, one is to allow Ahrefs to access your Google search console account and other is to authenticate the ownership of your website by performing manual actions as recommended by Ahrefs. The Google search console (GSC) method is obviously the simplest method. In case if your website or blog does not have a Google search console then you’ll have to create one.
Giving unfettered access to Google search console might compel many to raise concern over data privacy issues. But Ahrefs has claimed that it is not using the GSC’S data for any commercial purposes. However, if one still feels unsure then please do read the terms and conditions properly before giving access to your GSC account.
What is Ahrefs Webmaster tool?
Before I start with overview, I just want brief about what this tool is all about and how it will help your website’s performance in the Google ranking. This tool is a SEO and website diagnostic tool that brings to forth all the issues that are hurting your website’s ranking in Google.
This tool also provides backlink details of your website. But it won’t provide your competitor’s backlink details as it is a purely diagnostic tool.
This tool is basically like Ahrefs’ very own version of Google webmaster tool, now known as Google Search console. But is more feature rich and certainly offers more valuable data than GSC does.
Make no mistake, GSC is a great tool that gives deep insight into clicks and impression. Nonetheless, it still leaves a lot to be desired for.
Once logged in, you’ll see a dashboard that highlights the details about your website’s domain rating, referring domain, backlinks, organic traffic and organic keywords. On the extreme right hand side you’ll find an option called ‘disavowed links’ that properly all manages your disavowed links in one place.
Below I have pasted the screenshot of the dashboard
Now I am coming to the fundamental functions of this tool. This tool basically offers two features, site audit and site tool.
This feature allows you to scan for nearly 100 issues that can potentially hurt your website’s ranking in Google. I just conducted an audit for one of my own sites and below is screenshot of the overview.
At the very center, you can see the health score that indicates the overall health of your site and is measured from the scale of 1-100. My website has clocked the health score of 57, which is pretty decent but not good enough. This clearly shows that my website is certainly facing lot of issues that needs urgent fixing.
To check out these issues simply scroll down and you’ll find breakdown of the all issues along with exact URLs that are facing issues. By the way, fixing these issues won’t be a problem even for SEO amateurs since this tool offers details of the each & every issue and also how to fix it.
The below video shows (click on the play button) how this tool makes it so simple to fix the problems. The video shows that while scanning through the issues I found that my website has lot of orphan pages that is badly hurting my organic traffic. Therefore I clicked on the ‘orphan page’ option and I was immediately provided with explicit meaning of orphan page. Just below I found ‘how to fix option,’ the detailed explanation to which is provided through an external link.
I didn’t click on the external link since I already knew about orphan pages. I directly clicked on ‘affected URLs’ that showed me total 20 URL pages in my website that immediately needed internal linking to fix the orphan pages problem.
Similarly, you can individually check all other issues and fix them accordingly. As I have highlighted from the above example that this tool with its insightful and actionable data makes fixing issues so much easier and simpler.
Another very important feature of this tool is that it also allows you to fix the issues based on categories. On left hand side of the overview page, under ‘Report’ option you’ll find sub-categories like internal pages, inedibility, links, redirect so and so forth.
To get a better idea, check the below video (click on the play button) where you can see I have clicked on the sub-category called ‘on-page’ to check on-page issues with my website. The click has taken me to the on-page subcategory page where all the issues have been highlighted by graphical representation. I clicked on the meta-description chart and this gave me complete details of URL pages where meta description missing.
Now we come to the second part of this tool, site explorer that gives deep insight into your website’s backlink profile and organic data. Just like site audit, site explorer offers quality data in easy to understand and user-friendly way.
Below are some of top the features of site explorer:
- On the very top of Site explorer’s main overview page you’ll see information about your website like domain rating (DR), backlinks, referring domain organic traffic. This information will give a broad idea about the overall strength of your website.
- Site explorer shows interactive graph of your website’s growth in referring domain. This graph will show how fast your website is acquiring unique backlinks.
- There is an option called ‘organic search’ that will show you website’s historic search traffic data. However, I personally think that this data may not be as precise as GSC’s data (this is one of the rare exceptions that this tool has)
- Now coming to the most basic and important function of site explorer, backlinks. Click on backlink option and you’ll be taken to a page that will show complete information about all the links that link back to your site. To give a complete overview picture, these backlinks are divided into subcategories like DR (domain rating), referring domains, traffic etc.
- You can also use the handy filters on top of the page like ‘link type’ ‘language’ ‘traffic’ etc to grind in the data you want to see.
- You’ll also get to know number of do-follow and no-follow links that link back to your website. In fact, this tool shows the exact distribution of do-follow and no-follow links for your website.
- Site explorer also gives detail about organic keyword, i.e. keywords that your website is currently ranking for. Unlike GSC that only shows top 1,000 organic keywords, this tool shows pretty much all organic keywords. Additionally, it also offers handy SEO metrics like search volume, keyword difficulty score and position of the URL page.
- It also gives your website’s top performing pages based on links as well as social media performance. Simultaneously, it offers insight into top competing pages and domains in your niche.
Ahrefs webmaster tools certainly has many limitations (just like any free tool has). However, this is still an awesome tool given that it helps to resolve the issues plaguing your website without you having to spend a dime.
Although most SEO pros may give a miss to this tool but small time independent bloggers must certainly try this tool out. Cash strapped independent bloggers are always in search of free tools and this free tool is simply too good to give a miss. Seriously speaking, I haven’t come across a free SEO tool that gives so much quality insightful and actionable data.