Illustration showing Ahrefs logo in the middle surrounded by backlink icons.

Ahrefs For Link Building: How to Unlock Its Full Potential

Lilit Yeranyan

Table of Contents

It will be impossible to underestimate the human factor in link building. Successful link building is all about building successful partnerships. But this doesn’t deny the importance of analytics tools for making a link builder’s jobs even better.
One of these solutions is Ahrefs, which has shifted how SEO professionals work and has been one of their go-to tools for more than a decade.

According to research, Ahrefs is the most active crawler in the SEO industry and has a backlink index with over 3 trillion live backlinks.

With several link analysis features, Ahrefs helps link builders get important insights into a website’s backlink profile and find new opportunities for improvement. Basically, with this tool, they can develop more effective and data-backed link building campaigns.

So don’t miss this one to find out how to use Ahrefs for taking the link building game to the next level.

But first, let’s talk about what Ahrefs is and you should use it anyway.

What is Ahrefs And Why Ahrefs?

Ahrefs is an SEO analytics tool with the goal of helping to improve a websites’ authority and performance.

Its slogan, “Everything you need to rank higher and get more traffic,” clearly shares all the amazing opportunities this tool suggests.

Here’s what you can do with Ahrefs features:
✓ Conduct regular audits of your website
✓ Monitor keyword rankings
✓ Check referring domains
✓ Analyze competitors’ backlinks and their strategies
✓ Uncover new link building opportunities

And so much more. But don’t rush anywhere, and let’s talk about all the features in detail.

Key amazing features of Ahrefs for link building

You are convinced you can’t continue your link-building journey without SEO tools and have learned a little about Ahrefs. Then, it’s time to explore Ahrefs super helpful link building features.

Start using the “Site Explorer”

First and foremost, you can examine your backlink profile with the Site Explorer. There are simple steps you can take at this stage. After entering your Ahrefs account, you can enter your domain in the Site Explorer and see the following metrics.

Using Ahrefs site explorer section to see the most important metrics of a website.

✓ Domain Rating (DR)
Domain Rating (DR) is an extremely important metric by Ahrefs that showcases the strength and authority of a website’s backlink profile on a scale from 0 to 100.

What is interesting to know is that 44% of SEO professionals use Ahrefs’ Domain Rating as their SEO metric of choice.

In this case, the website’s DR is 77, which is quite a great metric. Other websites would prefer to link to this website with high DR. And this website also should try to get backlinks from authoritative websites as well.

✓ Referring domains
By checking referring domains, you find all the backlinks you have from a specific website.
In this particular case, this website has 3K referring domains. And what is important to know is that backlinks from unique referring domains are a sign of authority and trustworthiness for Google. It “loves” websites that have natural and diverse backlink profiles and have links from various websites instead of many from just one.

✓ No follow and Do follow backlinks
In the next step with Site Explorer, you can see the percentage of no follow and do follow backlinks. Do follow links help pages rank better by allowing search engines to point back to your website. On the other hand, no follow links don’t add value to SEO ranking, but they make your backlink profile diverse and natural.

Knowing the balance of do follow and no-follow links on your website or the websites you’re getting backlinks from will help you strategize your link building efforts effectively. In the case of this website that we analyzed, 66% of backlinks are do follow, which is quite a good number.

Do competitor analysis with “Content Gap”

One of the main skills link builders should have is the ability to improve their link building campaigns regularly. One of many ways to reach this goal is by keeping an eye on what your competitors do. It helps to identify their link building strategies and opens room for improving yours.

With Content Gap, it’s possible to find all keywords your competitors rank for but your website doesn’t.

Using Ahrefs content gap feature to see what are some content opportunities.

Here are the steps that you should follow to discover the content gap with Ahrefs:

Step 1: Find Content Gap in the Site Explorer section right in the Organic search field.

Step 2: Then, input the URLs of your main competitors’ websites in the Show keywords that the below targets rank for field.

Step 3: Enter your website URL into the But the following target doesn’t rank for field.

Step 4: Choose the type of comparison you need. You can compare your website against your competitors in terms of keywords, referring domains, or backlinks.

Step 5: You can filter by keyword volume, search intent, or language.

By clicking Review Results, you will have a report showing the content gaps between your website and your competitors. Look for topics or keywords to which your competitors have gotten backlinks but you haven’t. This is an amazing opportunity to create content around those keywords and have linkable assets that people would love to point to.

Find more opportunities with “Link Intersect”

You already discovered the content gap, but with the help of Ahrefs Link Intersect tool, you can continue to analyze competitor backlinks and find the websites that link to your competitor’s websites but not yours.

Using the Link intersect feature from Ahrefs to see competing domains.

Here are the steps you can take in this phase:

Step 1: Enter your page in the top section.

Step 2: Enter some competitors’ pages in the bottom section.

Step 3: Then click  Show keyword opportunities to see all the referring pages that link to any of these pages but not to yours.

Using the Link intersect feature from Ahrefs to do competitor analysis for link building.

The next page shows the referring domains that link to your competitor domains but do not link to your website or the target domain set.

Using the Link intersect feature from Ahrefs to find new link building opportunities.

By having this information in your hands, you can reach out to these websites. You can get authoritative backlinks by suggesting link insertion or guest posting collaboration that will deliver value to their websites.

Find broken links with “Broken backlinks” section

You don’t want to waste any opportunity to strengthen your backlink profile. On top of this, your ultimate goal is to provide a positive user experience. So, you should avoid having too many broken backlinks that point to a page that does not exist.

Within Ahrefs Site Explorer, you can see the Broken backlinks report under the Backlinks profile section. It shows all the referring pages that link to 404 pages of a target website, along with their anchor texts. You can sort or filter this list of backlinks based on their Anchor text, URL, DR, and more.

Using the Broken backlinks section from Ahrefs to find broken links of a website.

Another way that Ahrefs may help you find broken links is by using its new Best by links feature. Here are the steps you should implement in this stage:

Using the Best by links feature from Ahrefs to find broken links of a website.

Step 1: In the Site Explorer, enter a competing domain.

Step 2: Click the Best by links feature. 

Step 3: Add a  404 not found filter.

Step 4: By clicking on the Links to page dropdown, you can see all the external pages linking to that 404 page.

Later, you can reach out to the website owners and inform them about the broken links on their site. You can suggest they fix the broken links by replacing them with relevant URLs. It will be a win-win situation. Website owners would be happy to improve their user experience, and you will have a fixed link.

Find guest posting opportunities with the “Content Explorer”

It would be a mistake not to leverage the perks of guest posting to improve your backlink profile. Ahrefs Content Explorer can be beneficial in this case as well.

Marketers consider it a content search engine within Ahrefs because it has almost one billion pages and lets you search topics across 14.4 billion pages.

With this feature, you can search and find guest blogging opportunities by entering relevant keywords. Here is how you can do that:

Step 1: Go to Content Explorer section.

Step 2: Enter a keyword or phrase related to your industry.

Step 3: Select In title from the drop-down menu.

Step 4: Run the search by narrowing the list down and applying these filters: (choose metrics that suit your link building goals).

Step 5: Then click on the Websites tab and see potential websites you could offer a guest blog.

In the final step, you can reach out to those website owners and offer them guest posting collaboration. You need to ensure that the content piece that you suggest would deliver value to their readers.

What is interesting is that Ahrefs has a brand new Linking Authors feature which will help to find guest posting opportunities easier.

All you need is to enter Site Explorer again and find the Linking authors feature under the Backlink profile field. After that, you can enter the domain, and discover all authors who contributed a guest post on a targeted website.

The great thing about this feature is that it shows other websites where those authors have guest posts. This opens new chances to start your own guest posting collaboration. More than that, with this feature, you can find out the highest DR out of all referring domains and the total estimated traffic from that author.

Using the Linking authors section from Ahrefs to find guest posting opportunities for link building.

Leverage new “Best by Links” report

Ahrefs new Best by Links feature opens amazing new opportunities for link builders by giving important data about various factors of website performance.

It helps identify linkable assets, which are pages with the most backlinks from other websites.

You can find Best by Links in the Backlinks section. And selecting it you can see the pages on the target website with the most backlinks. 

You should analyze and understand the type of content that attracts links. Typically, these are valuable content or resources that others find helpful and worth linking to. These are content assets that other websites find valuable enough to reference. Then you can focus your efforts on creating your own linkable assets that will make your backlink profile stronger.

Find your brand unlinked mentions with Ahrefs

There are some cases where your business name is mentioned without linking to any of your webpages. Those mentions present a unique opportunity to get new backlinks. But first, we need to discuss how to discover unlinked mentions.

Step 1: In Ahrefs, go to Content Explorer and type your keyword in quotes.

Step 2: Choose  In content from the dropdown.

Step 3: Use the Highlight unlinked filter, and see the pages that mention your brand but don’t have a backlink․

So after monitoring brand mentions, you can reach out to those websites and suggest them to link to a page from your website on that brand name.

Analyze Anchor Text With “Link Intersect” feature

Your anchor text is one of the key elements that give some context about the linked page. One of the myths about link building is that anchor text must be an exact match to your target keywords. Instead of having a variety of anchor text types used for your backlinks, ensure your backlink profile is natural.

So you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to check your anchor texts with Ahrefs Site Explorer. Simply enter Site Explorer, then click  Anchors under Backlink Profile or Outgoing links.

Using the Link intersect feature to analyze anchor text for backlinks.

It’s important to use variations for your backlink anchor text and describe your content from different perspectives in the anchor texts.

Track and monitor links with Ahrefs

You should regularly track backlinks and see the growth and loss of your backlink profile. It’s a vital step you can’t miss in any case. Luckily, Ahrefs can be super useful in this stage as well.

You can do this by clicking on the New and Lost Backlinks report in the left sidebar. This will show you how many backlinks you have gained and lost in the past few days, weeks or months. You can also see the trend of your backlink growth and loss in a graph. 

You can use this report to track your link building efforts and keep an eye on any sudden changes in your backlink profile.
There is another way you can find lost backlinks. All you need is to follow these steps:

Step 1:  In the Site Explorer section, enter your domain. 

Step 2: Click Backlinks and choose the Lost section.

Step 3:  Filter this way: Look for instances of  link removed.

In most cases, you have lost backlinks and website owners decided to delete the article with your link to it. But there are cases when pages get deleted by mistake.

You need to reach out to the site owner and let them know about the problem and ask them whether there is a way to solve it.

In the final step, you can use Ahrefs’ Alerts feature as well. You will receive notifications on your inbox whenever you get or lose backlinks. This way, you will stay informed about changes to your backlink profile in real-time.

To sum up

All you want is a strong and healthy backlink profile, right? It isn’t as easy a task as it may seem.

Luckily there are SEO analytics out there offering so many amazing opportunities for making your link building efforts better and easier. Ahrefs is one of them and the most preferred one for thousands of SEO professionals.

We discussed the main features of Ahrefs with actual steps on how you can use it.

Good luck taking your link building strategies to the next level.

FAQ about using Ahrefs for link building

Can I use Ahrefs for free?

Ahrefs offers several free SEO tools—perfect for those with a tight budget looking to do audits, build links, optimize content, and more.

What is the difference between Ahrefs and Moz?

Ahrefs emphasizes backlink analysis and competitive research, while Moz centers on comprehensive SEO tools and analytics. Ahrefs has a bigger database of web pages than Moz.

What is Ahrefs’ Domain Rating?

Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) is a metric that measures the strength of a website’s backlink profile on a scale from 0 to 100. It indicates the authority and credibility of a domain based on the authority and quantity of backlinks pointing to it.

What is the difference between Semrush and Ahrefs?

Ahrefs offers a strong set of SEO features at a lower overall price point than Semrush. On the other hand, Semrush offers more features than Ahrefs and a free 7-day trial, but comes with a higher cost.

What is the difference between Ahrefs Lite and Standard?

The Lite plan offers limited access to features and data. But the Standard plan provides higher limits on features like the number of reports and data rows, making it suitable for more extensive SEO analysis.

Why does Domain Rating (DR) matter?

Domain rating(DR) matters because it provides a quick measure of a website’s authority and credibility based on its backlink profile. A higher DR often leads to better search engine rankings and visibility.


Receive the latest Saynine Newsletter updates.

Next to the SEO-related results, outsourcing will save you costs, time, resources, and headaches.