Ahrefs Review — All the Key Pros and Cons

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Ahrefs review (logo plus review tag)

With so many SEO apps on the market, it can be really hard to work out which one is right for your projects. Ahrefs is one of the best-known options available — but is it actually the best SEO tool for you? Well, in this in-depth Ahrefs review, I’m going to help you find out.

I’ll examine how the solution stacks up in terms of:

  • Domain analysis
  • Keyword research tools
  • Rank tracking
  • Backlink analysis
  • Link building features
  • Site auditing
  • Ease of use
  • Pricing and value for money
  • Support

…and more!

By the end of this review you’ll have a much clearer idea of the pros and cons of Ahrefs, and what alternatives to consider if you feel the tool is not right for you.

Let’s start with an important question…

What is Ahrefs?

In short, Ahrefs is a product that helps you optimize your website for search engines.

Founded in 2010 by Dmitry Gerasimenko, it is now one of the best-known SEO tools available, with a client base that includes Netflix, LinkedIn, Uber, Pinterest and Facebook.


Ahrefs works by crawling search engines and websites for data, and giving you tools that you can use to:

  • find out what people are searching for on Google and other search engines
  • create web content that is likely to generate traffic
  • identify link-building opportunities
  • tweak technical aspects of your site content so that it achieves a higher search ranking.

For example, based on phrases that you give it, Ahrefs can provide keyword suggestions that can be used as the basis for writing copy that is likely to perform well in search results.

It can also tell you how difficult it will be to rank for specific search queries.

It can suggest websites that it could be worth approaching for backlinks.

And it allows you to perform a technical SEO audit on your website to see if there are any technical improvements you can make to it that will help you get better search results.

That’s just scratching the surface though — there are many other features provided by Ahrefs that are designed to help you improve your search rankings.

Let’s go through these now, starting with a look at domain analysis.

Domain analysis

The starting point for many SEO projects is domain analysis.

This simply means getting a basic overview of the ‘quality’ of a domain —how highly it ranks for certain phrases, roughly how much traffic it gets etc.

Generally speaking, you perform domain analysis either on your own website — to see where SEO improvements could be made to it — or on a competitor’s, to see how hard it will be to outrank them in search results (and identify ways to do so).

Ahref's Site Explorer feature
Ahref’s Site Explorer feature — you use this to perform domain analysis in Ahrefs.

You might also perform domain analysis on a website in order to see if it’s worth approaching its owner for a link from that site to yours (a ‘backlink’). This is because attaining backlinks from high-quality websites can bring significant improvements to your rankings.

It’s very easy to perform domain analysis in Ahrefs — you just enter a domain into its ‘Site Explorer’ tool, and you get an immediate sense of its backlink profile and how it’s performing in search results.

(You can do this for whole domains, or individual pages on a domain).

Ahrefs domain analysis results
Ahrefs domain analysis results

Now, the results page you see after entering a URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer contains a lot of information. Key metrics provided include:

  • A ‘domain rating‘ (DR) score
  • An estimate of the total number of visitors to the website per month
  • The total number of external links / domains (‘backlinks’) pointing to the URL entered
  • The total number of keywords the URL ranks for
  • Anchor text commonly used in links to the URL
  • The ‘traffic value‘ of the URL — the equivalent sum of money you’d have to pay on pay-per-click advertising to show links to your site at the top of Google search results
  • Historical information about the number of referring domains and the website’s domain rating over time.

(Clicking on most of these metrics will take you to detailed breakdowns of the statistics provided, which you can use to really drill down into the data.)

Of the above metrics, the one that gives you the quickest understanding of site quality is the ‘domain rating’ (or ‘Ahrefs DR’ for short). Ahrefs calculates this score based on the number of domains that point to a website (and their quality).

The domain rating metric in Ahrefs
The domain rating (‘DR’) metric in Ahrefs

The higher this score, the more likely a website is to rank for competitive search terms, and the more valuable a ‘backlink’ from it to your site will be.

Now, what’s important to remember about Ahref’s Site Explorer statistics is that while they are based on hard data, they are ultimately estimates based on that data.

In most cases, this is absolutely fine. Since nobody really knows the inner secrets of search engines’ algorithms (other than the engineers working for the relevant companies!), search engine optimization is always a process that involves working off best guesses.

Traffic estimates in Ahrefs
Traffic estimates in Ahrefs

In my experience, the only area where you might need to treat the Ahrefs’ results with a bit of extra caution is traffic statistics.

Based on the analytics data that I have access to for various websites, the ‘organic traffic’ figures provided by Ahrefs can sometimes be quite inaccurate.

So, it’s best to treat the traffic stats in Ahrefs as something that gives you an indication of site popularity. You can use these figures to help you put your site into context against those of your competitors, or identify websites that clearly generate enough traffic to make it worth approaching them for backlinks (or other marketing collaborations).

You can access some of the Ahrefs data on a per-country basis — by using the ‘countries’ dropdown provided, you can view organic traffic, keywords and traffic value for your chosen country.

Toggling data by country in Ahrefs
Toggling data by country

Overall, the domain analysis features of Ahrefs are very strong — no complaints here.

Now, let’s take a look at its keyword research features.

Keyword research using Ahrefs

Keyword research generally involves four main things:

  • finding out how many people are searching for a given keyword
  • establishing how difficult it is to rank for that keyword
  • identifying who is already ranking for that keyword
  • getting suggestions for other ones.

Let’s take a look at these key aspects of keyword research with Ahrefs.

Getting keyword data in Ahrefs

To get keyword data in Ahrefs, you need to use its ‘Keywords Explorer’ tool. This is accessible via the main navigation.

Using Ahrefs ‘Keywords Explorer’ tool to research target keywords

Before conducting your research, you’ll need to choose a search engine to get the data from — Ahrefs provides keyword information from 10 different search engines, namely:

  • Google
  • Youtube
  • Amazon
  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Yandex
  • Baidu
  • Daum
  • Naver
  • Seznam

It’s worth pointing out that the availability of data from such a wide range of search engines is one of Ahrefs’ strongest selling points.

Many other well-known SEO tools, including Semrush and Moz, only really give you data from Google.

Choosing a search engine in Ahrefs
Finding keywords with Ahrefs — the platform lets you access data from 10 different search engines

In most cases, given its huge market share (92.4% of all search queries worldwide!), Google search data is what you’ll be most interested in — but there are times when getting an understanding of what’s happening on other search engines will come in really useful.

For example, having access to YouTube search data is obviously valuable to anyone who is interested in generating more views for their video content; online merchants will potentially find the Amazon data useful etc.

(It should be said, however, that the most comprehensive data in Ahrefs is reserved for Google searches.)

Once you’ve entered a keyword into the keyword explorer tool, you’ll see:

  • its ‘keyword difficulty’ score
  • the number of searches per month for that keyword
  • some suggestions for alternative keywords to target
  • list of the sites that are ranking for it.

This information is presented in a simple dashboard format; but clicking on individual items will let you drill down into the data in more depth.

Keyword research results in Ahrefs
Keyword research results in Ahrefs

As with domain analysis, Ahrefs lets you perform this research on a per-country basis, with a dropdown menu letting you view keyword research data for individual territories.

Per-country keyword research

Keyword difficulty scores

The most important metric returned by Ahrefs’ keyword explorer is probably the keyword difficulty score.

Ahrefs uses a score out of 100 to indicate this — with a higher score letting you know that it’s going to be harder to rank for a keyword.

As you can see from the below screenshot, Ahrefs can also give you an indication of the number of backlinks (links from other sites’ content to yours) that you will need to source in order to start ranking in the top 10 results for a particular phrase.

Estimate of the number of backlinks needed to rank in top 10
Estimate of the number of backlinks needed to rank in top 10

This is a great feature, and one of my favourite things about Ahrefs’ keyword research tool.

However, you should note that this backlink target is only provided for Google keyword research — you won’t get a similar link estimate for YouTube, Bing, Yahoo etc.

Search volumes

Another key metric returned by Ahrefs is the search volume for a particular phrase — the number of people searching for a keyword per month. Knowing this is key, as there is generally not a huge amount of point in trying to rank for a keyword that nobody is searching for!

Search volume
Search volume

In addition to the topline monthly search figure (highlighted above), Ahrefs also gives you an indication of the number of times per month that people click on organic results for that keyword.

In the screenshot above, you can see that of the 92K searches that are made for ‘hot chocolate’ each month on Google, 34K lead to clicks on the organic results.

You also get to see how much it would cost to generate a clickthrough using PPC advertising ($0.90 in the example above), and a ‘clicks per search’ ratio (the proportion of people who search for a phrase then click an organic result — 0.37 in the example).

And finally, you get a quick at-a-glance view of trend data — the graph accompanying the keyword volume metric shows you when there were particular spikes or declines in searches for the phrase in question.

This information is all laid out in a pretty digestible way, and makes it easy to see if a keyword is worth your time.

In terms of how accurate the information provided is, this is ultimately quite hard to say, as each SEO tool uses its own data sources and algorithms to surface the data.

Keyword suggestions

Although a few keyword suggestions will be surfaced when you enter a keyword into Ahrefs’ keyword explorer tool, to get detailed suggestions based on a phrase you’ve entered, you need to use its ‘Keyword Ideas’ section, which is located to the left of the main keyword overview dashboard.

Keyword ideas menu

Within this there are three types of keyword suggestion reports to choose from: matching terms, related terms and search suggestions.

Keyword ideas reports
Keyword ideas report types — you can choose to view matching keywords, relevant keywords or Google’s autocomplete suggestions.

The ‘matching terms‘ report gives you a list of keyword suggestions that include your target keyword; the ‘related terms‘ report shows you a list of keywords that might not include it, but which Ahrefs thinks might be relevant anyway; and the ‘search suggestions‘ report gives you a list of relevant Google ‘autocomplete’ suggestions.

Google 'autocomplete' suggestions
Google ‘autocomplete’ suggestions

Which set of suggestions is for you will depend on the type of keyword research you’re doing — but all will give a comprehensive range of keyword suggestions that you can drill down into.

The trick here is to identify phrases that have both reasonably high search volumes and a low keyword difficulty score.

A ‘traffic potential’ score (pictured below) helps you further evaluate the merits of a particular keyword — this figure includes traffic generated by searches for a keyword which involve variations of that phrasem and lets you know roughly how much traffic you’d get if you ranked number one for a given term.

Traffic potential data in Ahrefs
Traffic potential data

Below is an example of Ahrefs’ ‘traffic potential’ metric in action. You can see that although the ‘online store builder’ keyword has a search volume of 1,000 per month, when phrase variations are factored in, the term actually has the potential to generate 4,000 visits per month to a site that ranks number one in Google for it.

'Traffic potential' data in Ahrefs
‘Traffic potential’ data in Ahrefs

As things stand, this sort of data isn’t available from leading competitors Moz and Semrush — it’s a really handy metric and something of a USP for Ahrefs.

(I’d go so far as to say it’s possibly my Ahrefs favourite feature).

In each type of keyword suggestion report, you’ll find useful filters that let you spot the ‘juicy’ or ‘untapped’ organic keywords that it might be possible for your site to rank for.

Keyword research filters in Ahrefs
Keyword research filters in Ahrefs

While not particularly hard to use, one thing that could make these filters slightly more user-friendly would be a more straightforward keyword difficulty score filter — the one provided requires you to enter in numerical ranges.

Ahrefs' keyword difficulty filter
Ahrefs’ Keyword difficulty filter

This is good from a granularity point of view, but some users (novices, perhaps) might prefer a simple ‘very easy / easy / hard / very hard’ style dropdown, like you get in Semrush:

Semrush's keyword difficulty filter
Semrush’s keyword difficulty filter — due to its more obvious categorization, it is a little more straightforward to use than Semrush’s

Another omission in Ahrefs is data around search intent — again, something that you’ll find in Semrush.

Search intent data gives you the context about a keyword — for example, a particular phrase might be being entered into Google for ‘navigational’, ‘informational’, ‘commercial’ or ‘transactional’ purposes — and you can use this information to decide whether or not to try to rank for that phrase.

(There are workarounds you can use to ‘infer’ search intent in Ahrefs — but they’re a bit clunky.)

These omissions aside, Ahrefs gives you a wealth of keyword data to use when planning an SEO campaign or creating an inbound marketing strategy (and from a wide range of search engines too).

Ahrefs keyword research video — quick demonstration

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Competing domains

When conducting keyword research, you obviously have to keep an eye on the domains that already rank for the phrases you’re targeting — if a bunch of really high-authority websites are already ranking for your chosen keyword, it will obviously be much harder to rank for that phrase.

Domains that are already performing well for a particular search phrase are really easy to identify in Ahrefs — you just scroll down to the bottom of the Keyword Explorer > Overview screen, where you’ll see a list of them, along with their domain rating scores, the URLs of pages that are ranking, the number of backlinks they have pointing to them and more.

Rank tracking

‘Rank tracking’ (or ‘position tracking’) is the process of monitoring how your content — or that of a competitor’s — performs in search engines for particular keywords over time.

It’s easy to set this up in Ahrefs — you go to its suitably-named ‘Rank Tracker’ section, enter a domain name and the keywords you’d like to track, and you see a report showing you how that site is currently ranking for those keywords.

The 'Rank Tracker' feature
Using the ‘Rank Tracker’ feature in Ahrefs to keep tabs on keyword rankings

You can also track on a per-country or, remarkably, even a town/city basis. (This is a more granular approach to position tracking than you’ll get in competing platforms).

Rank tracking by location
Rank tracking by location

As time goes by, and more data about the site you’re tracking comes into Ahrefs, you’ll be able to monitor the progress of your attempts to rank more highly for your chosen phrases.

Viewing search position changes over time in Ahrefs
Viewing search position changes over time in Ahrefs

If you like, you can set up email notifications about your current ranking status — and schedule these to be sent out automatically to you or clients on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

(Note that daily updates are only available if you upgrade to Ahrefs’ ‘Rank Tracker Pro‘ service — more on this later).

An Ahrefs weekly rank tracking notification email
An Ahrefs weekly rank tracking notification email

All in all, the rank tracking features in Ahrefs are strong. However, one thing that you should note about them is that they are only available when you assign a domain to one of your Ahrefs ‘project slots.’

I’ll come back to project slots in more depth shortly, but basically you only get a limited number of them as part of your Ahrefs subscription (with the number available depending on how much you pay per month).

So, particularly if you’re on an entry-level Ahrefs plan, you may find yourself unable to perform quite as much rank tracking as you might like.

Banner advert for Microsoft 365

How strongly a piece of content performs in search results depends heavily on how many ‘backlinks‘ — links from other sites to it — point to it.

To perform backlink analysis in Ahrefs, you enter a URL into its ‘Site Explorer’ tool. This then gives you access to detailed ‘backlink profile’ data that lets you see:

  • who is linking to that URL
  • what anchor text is being used in those links
  • what sort of domains (.edu, .com, org etc.) link to it
  • if any links pointing that URL are broken.

The point of having this data is usually so that you can ‘reverse engineer’ the SEO success of a competitor — by knowing who’s linking to their site, you can approach the same websites, asking for a link to yours.

The Ahrefs 'Referring Domains' report
The Ahrefs ‘Referring Domains’ report

Ahrefs’ backlink data provided is laid out clearly, and lets you see when a particular domain has gained or lost links, along with the value of the links in question (i.e., the ‘domain rating’ and ‘URL rating’ scores for each linking URL).

How accurate this backlink analysis is, of course, depends on the size and quality of the Ahrefs link database.

At time of writing, Ahrefs claims to have 30.8 trillion links in its database, which makes it a bit smaller than those of key competitors Semrush (43 trillion) and Moz (43.1 trillion).

Latest statistics on the Ahrefs link database
Current size of the Ahrefs link database

(Ahrefs argues that size isn’t everything and that each tool counts links differently — you can learn more about Ahrefs approach here).

I was curious however to see how this played out in some real-world tests, so I performed some backlink analysis on some well-known sites (domains for the ecommerce platforms we typically work with) to see how Ahrefs fared against leading competitors Semrush and Moz.

Here are the number of referring domains for these sites that I found with each tool:


As you can see from my results, if there was a trend to be discerned, it wasn’t that the smaller link database always led to a smaller number of backlinks being surfaced: in 5 out of 8 of my tests, Ahrefs returned the more comprehensive data.

Now, it should be said that this piece of backlink research involved only a few domains.

But the results do hint at the fact that Ahrefs’ smaller link database won’t always translate to ‘smaller’ data. It will depend on the domains and research involved.

Semrush trial details

Many prospective users of Ahrefs will be interested in using it for backlink building. After all, the more high-quality links that point to a website, the better it typically performs in search results.

There are three core tools provided by Ahrefs that faciliate backlink building:

  • its Site Explorer tool, which gives you a list of backlinks to any domain you specify
  • its Content Explorer, which lets you identify sites that are authorities about particular topics
  • its Alerts feature, which can let you know when one of your competitors has acquired a new backlink.

Let’s discuss each briefly in turn.

Using Ahrefs’ ‘Site Explorer’ feature is probably the simplest way to identify link building opportunities.

You enter a URL into it — typically a competitor’s — and you’ll get a list of all the backlinks that Ahrefs can find which point to that URL (see screenshot below). You can then try to find contact details for those domains, and approach their owners for a backlink.

Accessing backlink data in Ahrefs
Accessing backlink data in Ahrefs

Now, while this Ahrefs feature definitely gives you valuable data for backlink outreach purposes, what you won’t get here — and which you do get from key competitor Semrush — is a way to manage the outreach process.

In Semrush, you are given a CRM-style tool to keep tabs on any link building campaign; this gives you a ‘sales pipeline’ style approach that you can use during outreach. Not only that, but Semrush lets you connect your email account to it, and actually surfaces contact details for the websites you identify as targets.

Semrush's 'domain prospects' feature
Semrush’s link building tool. Unlike its competitor, Ahrefs doesn’t give you a tool to manage the outreach process.

With Ahrefs, you end up exporting a list of links to Excel, researching contact details yourself, and making notes on a spreadsheet regarding who you’ve contacted or not. You might also end up using an email marketing app to send out your pitches.

It all amounts to a more manual process than you might like, and one which involves more a lot more tools / apps.

So the data provided is great — but you’re going to have to be prepared to do stuff with it!

Ahref’s “Content Explorer” feature gives you a really nice, simple way to identify websites that are worth approaching for a backlink.

You simply enter a topic into the tool, and it provides you with a list of high-authority pages and posts about that topic.

The Ahrefs 'Content Explorer' feature
The Ahrefs ‘Content Explorer’ feature

You’ll also get a list of ‘top authors’ that are particular experts on the topic, and where available, their Twitter details, which can help you contact them.

Top authors data

Again, it would be nice if a bit more contact surfacing was available — in the form of some author email addresses being provided — but this is nonetheless a useful way to identify good backlink outreach targets.

Finally, there’s ‘Ahrefs Alerts’ to consider as part of your backlink building toolkit.

This lets you enter a competitor’s URL into it, and you’ll then receive regular email alerts containing a list of all the latest sites linking to that URL.

Ahrefs Alerts

This gives you the opportunity to contact the owner of the linking websites, asking that person to link to your website too.

Advert for Ahrefs

Broken link building is an important SEO strategy.

It involves finding a broken link (one that no longer leads anywhere), recreating the ‘dead’ content that it used to point to, then asking anybody who used to link to the dead content to link to your new content instead. This approach allows you to build up new backlinks to your content.

In order to make the strategy work, you obviously need to be able to identify broken links, and Ahrefs makes it really easy to do this.

You just enter a domain name into Ahrefs’ ‘Site Explorer’ section and click Backlink profile > Broken backlinks. This then outputs a list of all that domain’s broken inbound links, and the sites where these links feature.

Finding broken backlinks in Ahrefs

Additionally, Ahrefs makes it very easy to spot broken outbound links too — i.e., links from your site to other URLs that don’t work any more.

It’s important to ensure that your web pages don’t contain any of these, as they can be interpreted as a sign of poor quality content by Google and other search engines (with negative implications for rankings).

To find these in Ahrefs, you just enter a domain into the ‘Site Explorer’ tool, go to the ‘outgoing links’ section and hit the ‘broken links’ option to view results.

The Ahrefs broken outbound link report

Site auditing

One of the key reasons that SEO professionals use tools like Ahrefs is to stay on top of the technical side of SEO. This is because Google and other search engines increasingly place a high emphasis on technical aspects of websites — like site speed, security, and mobile-friendliness.

Ahrefs helps you improve your technical SEO via its ‘Site Audit’ feature. During a site audit, Ahrefs crawls your site for issues that might be having a negative effect on your search ranking, including:

  • Slow-loading content
  • Missing alt text
  • SSL problems
  • Crawl errors
  • Missing headers
  • Duplicate content
  • Broken links
Site audit results in Ahrefs
Using Ahrefs’ site audit tool to find technical SEO problems

Overall, you’ll get a very useful report from this process and a good picture of your site’s health. And it doesn’t matter what platform you’ve built your site on — regardless of whether you use Wix or Shopify, WordPress or Squarespace etc., you can use the insights provided via an Ahrefs audit to make technical improvements to your site’s SEO setup.

But worth a particular mention is the fact that Ahrefs now includes detailed Core Web Vitals data in its site audit reports.

Core Web Vitals metrics in Ahrefs
Core Web Vitals metrics in Ahrefs

Core Web Vitals are an important new set of targets from Google relating to the speed, responsiveness and stability of a website, and sites that meet them can receive higher rankings in search results.

In Ahrefs you get two different types of Core Web Vitals stats: ‘field data‘ which is based on real user experience of your website (this comes from Chrome users) and ‘lab data,’ (performance data collected within a controlled environment).

This means that Ahrefs has an advantage over competitor Semrush here, because Semrush only provides Core Web Vitals metrics based on lab data.

Advert for Ahrefs

Interface / ease-of-use

Ahrefs’ interface consists of a horizontal menu of options at the top of the screen; when you click an item, a sub-menu giving you access to more features appears on the left.

The Ahrefs interface
The Ahrefs interface

This is a fairly traditional-style approach to navigation, and one that should feel familiar to most users.

The menu options on the left are grouped together in useful and intuitive categories — backlinks, keyword research, high-performing pages etc.

There is a lot of data to contend with — this may feel a bit overwhelming at first, but you soon get used to it (and the whole point of tools like Ahrefs is, of course, to provide you with a lot of data!).

Increasingly, Ahrefs is taking more of a ‘data visualization’ approach to presenting data than it used to — and its clear graphs and other graphical presentation of SEO data do help make all the metrics provided more digestible.

As with other leading SEO tools, it would be good if the Ahrefs’ interface could be made to work better with smartphones however — it’s not ‘responsive’, meaning that if you log into Ahref on a mobile device, you see the standard desktop interface.

The means having to read very small text and doing a lot of pinching and zooming, as the screenshot below highlights.

To be fair, it’s unlikely you’d want to do an awful lot of SEO research on a phone. However, it would be good if a mobile version of Ahrefs was available that let you access some core data easily on a mobile device — position tracking perhaps, or new backlink notifications.

As things stand, there are no Android or iOS apps available for Ahrefs at all, which puts it at a slight disadvantage to Semrush, which does provide a mobile app (for position tracking).

Finally, the Ahrefs interface, while easy to use, could return data a bit faster. Depending on the type of report you’re pulling, you may find yourself looking at a spinning wheel slightly longer than you might like — competing platforms like Semrush and Moz typically return their metrics more quickly.

Pricing and value for money

There’s no way round it: SEO tools like Ahrefs are, by comparison to a lot of other digital tools, very expensive.

That’s fairly understandable however, as with these sorts of solutions you’re not just paying for functionality, you’re paying for access to huge quantities of data, including a lot of competitor intelligence.

Ahrefs latest pricing
Ahrefs pricing

Ahrefs offers four main pricing plans:

  • Lite — $99 per month
  • Standard — $199 per month
  • Advanced — $399 per month
  • Enterprise — starts at $999 per month.

These fees are fairly comparable to those charged by key competitors Moz, Semrush and Majestic (that said, Majestic offers a lower monthly plan for $49.99 per month, but it is considerably less functional than the entry level plans provided by its competitors).

The key differences between the Ahrefs plans involve:

  • access to core features
  • the number of projects you can work with
  • the number of reports you can pull
  • the number of keywords you can track

Access to core features

Probably the most significant downside of the Ahrefs pricing structure is that its entry level ‘Lite’ plan is very restrictive when it comes to core features. Significant functionality is not bundled with it, including:

  • Content gap analytics
  • Link intersect analytics
  • Broken backlink identification
  • Broken outgoing links identification
  • Broken internal links identification
  • Historical data.

The keyword research data is not refreshed as regularly either, but for me this is probably less of an issue than the missing features listed above.

The main upshot here is that if you are serious about SEO, you will be nudged firmly in the direction of the ‘Standard’ plan — the ‘Lite’ plan will usually be too restrictive for professional SEO applications.

Number of projects

It’s important to be aware that if you want to use Ahrefs’ site audit or rank tracking features, you can only do so on domains that have been added as ‘projects.’

And how many projects you can add depends on the Ahrefs plan you’re on — you get 5 projects on its $99 plan; 20 on its $199 plan; 50 on its $399 plan; and 100 on its $999 plan.

These limitations won’t necessarily be a showstopper for every business — but if you have a lot of sites that you need to manage SEO for concurrently, or do quite a bit of competitor analysis, they might cause problems.

However, the good news is that if you can ‘verify’ a domain with Ahrefs, it doesn’t count towards your project limit!

Verification simply means proving that you have editorial rights to or ownership of a website; you can do this by

  • connecting your Ahrefs account to Google Search Console
  • uploading an HTML file to the website’s homepage
  • adding a TXT record to the website’s DNS configuration
  • adding a HTML meta tag to the website’s homepage.

The ability to work with an unlimited number of verified domains means that it’s possible to work with a lot different domains in Ahrefs at a comparatively low cost, and for me, the this represents the best-value aspect of Ahrefs’ pricing structure.

Ahrefs project verification
Ahrefs project verification

Number of reports

Although Ahrefs is fairly generous when it comes to project limits, it is much less so when it comes to the number of reports you can pull per day.

Each Ahrefs plan — regardless of cost — limits you to one ‘power user,’ who can only pull up to 500 reports per month (these reports are pulled via ‘credits’ — a power user gets 500 of these, with a credit being used up every time a report is pulled).

That’s not quite the full story though: you can have as many ‘inactive users’ as you like associated with your account — an inactive user being somebody who pulls five or less reports per month.

If you need more Ahrefs seats, you can either pay $20 per month to add a ‘casual user’ to your account (who can run 5-100 reports per month) or $50 per month to add a ‘power user.’

But overall, this is pretty ungenerous by comparison to the reporting limits provided by Ahrefs’ key competitors.

(And a bit confusing too).

For example, on the Moz entry level plan, you can pull 150 keyword reports, 5,000 backlink reports and an unlimited number of page grader reports per month.

Ahrefs is also ungenerous when it comes to the number of rows it outputs in its reports. For example, while the entry-level Semrush and Moz plans give you keyword research reports featuring 10,000 results, Ahrefs’ equivalent limit on its $99 plan is 2,500.

As you go up the pricing ladder, the Ahrefs row export limits become more consistent with those of competing tools, however.

Number of keywords you can track

Another key difference between Ahrefs pricing plans involves the number of keywords you can track. On the ‘Lite’ entry level plan the limit is 750; this rises to 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 on the Standard, Advanced and Enterprise plans respectively.

(These limits are fairly consistent with those of competing SEO tools).

If you need more flexibility on this front however, you can buy a ‘Rank Tracker Pro’ add-on. This lets you track up to 100,000 keywords (and also lets you get daily email updates on position tracking — the standard Ahrefs plans only gives you updates every 3-7 days).

This upgrade is very expensive though — a 1,000 keyword tracking limit costs $100 extra per month, and a 100,000 limit costs a massive $10,000 per month.

Is there a free trial of Ahrefs available?

Given the that the monthly costs of Ahrefs are not insignificant, you might be wondering if there’s a free trial to avail of.

Well, unfortunately, there isn’t! There is a cut-down version of the product available, however, called ‘Ahrefs Webmaster Tools‘, which gives you limited access to its ‘Site Explorer’ and ‘Site Audit’ features.

But that said, this contrasts poorly with Moz’s offering, a 30-day fully free trial.

And, although Semrush’s trial is normally only available for 7 days, occasionally the company provides a more generous 30-day one too. This is the case at the moment — for a limited period you can access the longer Semrush trial here.

Customer support

SEO tools like Ahrefs can be quite complex to understand, so the availability and format of customer support is often a key consideration for users.

You get two channels of customer support with Ahrefs: email and chat. This contrasts positively with some competing products (Moz and Majestic), which only offer email support; but the lack of phone support contrasts negatively with Semrush, which provides it.

On the plus side, Ahrefs makes its contact details very easy to spot — a live chat box is visible at the corner of each page, with estimated wait times listed on it, too.

Accessing customer support in Ahrefs
Accessing customer support in Ahrefs — the chat window is available at all times in the dashboard

There’s no ‘search our help pages before we show you a phone number’ stuff to go through either — help is pretty immediate.

Ahrefs support is available in several different languages — you can use a language switcher at the bottom of the interface to switch to the one that’s relevant to you.

Available customer support languages
Available customer support languages

However, if you’re on the Ahrefs help resource portal — help.ahrefs.com — it’s not immediately obvious how to find support in a different language, or see which ones are available. It would be better if there was a prominent ‘language switcher’ option available on this too.

Ahrefs review conclusions

Overall, Ahrefs is a great solution for most SEO projects. It gives you access to a wealth of information that, used judiciously, can help users significantly increase the levels of organic traffic to their websites and blogs. It’s easy to use, works with more search engines than key competing products, and, thanks to its ‘domain verification’ system, can let you work with a large number of projects cheaply.

A feature worth singling out for particular praise is its ‘traffic potential’ score, which is much better than a straightforward ‘search volume’ metric at telling you how much traffic you can expect from a particular keyword.

Ahrefs is not without its flaws, however. There’s no free trial, its reporting limits are ungenerous; there is only one user account included regardless of plan; and its rank-tracking add-on is expensive.

It’s definitely worth serious consideration as an SEO tool, though — and I’ll leave you with a summary of the key pros and cons of Ahrefs below.

Pros and cons of Ahrefs

Pros of Ahrefs

  • It’s easy to use.
  • You can use Ahrefs to perform keyword research for a wide variety of different search engines including, significantly, YouTube and Amazon — key competitors usually only provide search data for Google.
  • It gives you access to all the key tools typically needed for a SEO project: keyword research, backlink analysis and site auditing.
  • Carrying out broken link analysis (both internal and external) is extremely easy in Ahrefs.
  • It lets you audit Core Web Vitals performance easily, and gives you access to both field and lab data in one place.
  • Its generous ‘domain verification system’ lets you use Ahrefs with multiple sites relatively cheaply.
  • Adding additional ‘seats’ for Ahrefs is fairly inexpensive, especially by comparison to its competitors.
  • Its ‘traffic potential’ metric provides a truly great way to spot ‘juicy’ or untapped keywords – and you won’t find a similar feature available from its key competitors.

Cons of Ahrefs

  • There’s no free trial.
  • The reporting limits are ungenerous.
  • All plans, even the most expensive ‘Enterprise’ plan, only come with one ‘power user’ seat.
  • Its link index is smaller than those of key competitors Moz and Semrush.
  • There’s no phone support.
  • There are no built-in contact surfacing or project management tools available to help you with backlink building.
  • There’s no mobile app for on-the-go SEO work.
  • The interface can be a bit sluggish.

Alternatives to Ahrefs

Ahrefs is one of the best-known SEO tools available — but not the only one! Alternative options for SEO analysis include:

For more information about how Ahrefs compares to key competing tools, do check out our Ahrefs versus Semrush comparison and our Moz vs Ahrefs comparison.

(And you’ll find our full Semrush review here, and our Semrush pricing guide here.)

Finally, if you’re on a budget, you might want to check out a new tool called GrowthBar, which is available at a lower cost than most of the products listed above. A five day free trial of GrowthBar can be accessed here, or you can read our GrowthBar review here.

Ahrefs review FAQ

What is Ahrefs?

Ahrefs is a tool that helps you optimize your website for search engines. It does this by giving you information that lets you establish what people are searching for in your niche, identify opportunities for building links from other sites to yours and improve the technical SEO of your website.

Is Ahrefs free?

Ahrefs is not a free tool. However, the company does have a free product called ‘Ahrefs Webmaster Tools‘ available that gives you access to cut-down versions of Ahrefs’ ‘Site Explorer’ and ‘Site Audit’ tools.

Is Ahrefs worth the money?

Ahrefs is expensive — it costs a minimum of $99 per month to use it — but it gives you an incredible amount of data and competitive intelligence that can prove transformative to a business in the right hands. So whether or not this cost is ‘worth it’ really depends on how you use the product and the data it provides — it definitely helps to have a good understanding of SEO principles before investing in it.

What’s the best alternative to Ahrefs?

Based on the tests we’ve done and SEO products we’ve reviewed to date, we’ve found that Semrush is probably the best alternative to Ahrefs. It beats Ahrefs when it comes to providing project management tools and keyword intent data; but Ahrefs is stronger when it comes to the number of search engines that data is provided for (Ahrefs provides data from 10 search engines, whereas Semrush only provides data from Google).

Comments (3)

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I love Ahrefs for our small agency. The biggest problem is the inability to compare dates – such as quarter over quarter and meaningful time frames for our clients.

Do you know any workarounds ?

Love your articles !

Thanks Bekah! Will look into this, but off the top of my head I guess you could download snapshots of data to Excel on a regular basis, and cross reference quarter against quarter etc. using those spreadsheets?