Last Updated on April 13, 2022 by Scott Charleboix
In this post from PinArtwork, Free Ahrefs to improve your SEO I examined how you can use the free alternative to get just as good results from Ahrefs in their free alternative program called Ahrefs Webmaster tools. That way you’re saving yourself a bunch of money but getting some of the main benefits that Ahrefs a leading SEO report has to provide for your site’s SEO overview and for free.
The information that you get is the same as from Ahrefs but at a free cost! In this SEO Ahrefs tutorial I’ll show you snapshots of each of the applicable tools so you can see what they have to offer and then you can pull down the same applicable report for your website.
Free Ahrefs to improve your SEO
The two reports that I want to show you are Overview report #1 simply called Overview (the 1st image below) and the 2nd report you should look at for your website is Overview 2.0 (the 2nd image).
The alternative to which I’m suggesting that you use instead of Ahrefs is called Ahrefs Webmaster Tools which you can get completely for free. To be able to take advantage of this program that’s free exclusively for website owner’s it’s necessary to verify ownership of your website to use the Ahrefs webmaster tools. Ownership verification can be done by:
- Connecting Google Search Console (recommended) – this is what the program recommends as the best way to verify ownership.
- Uploading an HTML file
- Adding a TXT record to your DNS configuration
- Adding an HTML meta tag to your homepage.
To sign up for Ahref Webmaster Tools you can do in one of three ways:
- Sign up with your Google account
- Sign up with your Facebook account or
- Sign up with your e-mail address
Why it’s free?
“Not all websites are created to make money. But quality information deserves to be found. Which is why we want to support website owners who can’t justify investing in a professional SEO tool” Ahref Webmaster Tools.
Going from left to right on the Ahrefs Webmaster Tools are: Dashboard, Site Explorer, Keywords Explorer Site Audit, Rank Tracker, Content Explorer, More, and Academy
A useful feature that you’ll want to check out to get an overview for each of the Tools mentioned above is How to Use Ahrefs located to the far right and says: ? How to use.
When you first pull up the Ahrefs Webmaster Tools the first tab automatically defaults to the Dashboard (pictured below):
One of the very first things that you’ll want to do from this area is to click on the GSC Performance tab located to the right of Overview to get your Google Search Console (GSC) results.
GSC Performance results
July 2021 is the time-frame that I discovered Holistic SEO. Pretty much up until that point I didn’t have a lot of traffic until I started investing my time and focus on improving my site’s SEO. In the same picture below (cropped to July 2021 forward) you can see how the traffic and impressions raised in a period of seven (7) months.
Site Explorer results
In the Site Explorer there’s another report available that you can a different layout of your website in the Overview 2.0 report pictured below
As I’ve pointed out putting efforts into your SEO can have big dividends for your organic traffic that you can see better in the closer snapshot below of July 2021 forward:
Prior to July 2021 I had referring domains but no organic traffic which tremendously shifted after I started using Rank Math SEO plug-in. This graph depicts the importance of using Rank Math SEO vs. Yoast to improve your organic traffic (the blue line).
Keywords Explorer – nothing that you can get here for free so let’s move on to the next topic which is Site Audit.
I didn’t do a full crawl of my site because it was taking forever so I cut the results short and didn’t finish the rest of the crawl which had already been going on for more than 8 hours.
One of the easiest fixes you can readily make is in the Issues Distribution area (located to the far-right hand side) and fix some of the errors that are labeled in red. Click on the errors button (if there are any) and I would like to draw your attention to the 2nd tab called Links – Indexable. The four things that you can easily fix to help bring more traffic are:
- Pages has no outgoing links
- Orphan page (has no incoming internal links)
- Page has links to broken page
- HTTPS page has internal links to HTTP
When you click on the individual areas the program will guide you to the areas (URLs) that you need to improve. By paying attention to these areas if you ensure that you don’t have any orphaned pages and you provide outgoing links on all of your pages, you’re likely to increase your search traffic.
The reason that you don’t want to have orphaned pages is that these pages on your website have no incoming internal links to bring them traffic.
Search engine crawlers can only discover such pages from the sitemap file or from external backlinks. More importantly, website visitors won’t be able to get to this page from any other page on your website. So that’s why you need to take a little extra time to devote to your orphaned posts. For more information about orphaned content please read my post called What new bloggers need to know about orphaned content?
Rank Tracker report
The Rank Tracker report doesn’t provide you anything for free; however, if you keep reading I’ll show you how you can monitor your rankings. You won’t be able to get the scheduled reports to your inbox unless you get one of the paid Ahrefs plans.
Content Explorer report – nothing that you can get here for free. The purpose for this report (when you get one of the paid Ahrefs plans is to discover and analyze top-performing content in your niche, find link building prospects and low competition topics, or reverse engineer your competitor’s content marketing strategy.
More – under the More tab you can get the Ahrefs SEO Toolbar, but I prefer the SEOQuake toolbar.
Another useful feature that I found under the More tab is the Ahrefs SEO WordPress plug-in. What drew me to trying this useful plug-in that I’m trying out for the very first time is that it will suggest to you posts and pages that need certain actions such as:
- Leave as is
- Manual review
- Update or redirect
To use the Ahrefs SEO WordPress plug-in you’ll need to get keys from Ahrefs and your Google Analytics (or GSC) account. It’s relatively easy to setup just follow the instructions. After you’ve installed the plug-in in your WordPress dashboard go way down to Ahrefs SEO to setup your plug-in and run the necessary report which can take some time to run for the very first time to get your Content Audit.
In the last tab is the Academy. The Ahrefs Academy provides you with four video SEO tutorials/courses to improve your SEO. The four featured courses are:
- How to use Ahrefs – Learn practical ways to use Ahrefs’ SEO tools and reports to improve SEO.
Who is this course for?
- Ahrefs users
- Digital marketers
This course is geared towards new and existing users of Ahrefs. However, anyone who is interested in SEO will still be able to learn different tactics to improve their Google rankings and get more search traffic. Consisting of 47 lessons over 7 modules and the total length is slightly over 1 hour (1:04).
2. Ahrefs’ Certification Course – Our certification course is designed to equip you with the knowledge and analytical skills to make intelligent marketing decisions using Ahrefs’ tools and data.
Our certification course is currently in beta. All of the course materials are available to Ahrefs users and a certification exam will be added in the future. 55 lessons that span 7 hours, 4 minutes.
3. SEO Training – It doesn’t matter if you know nothing about SEO. By the end of this free SEO training course, you’ll understand how to apply the basics of SEO like keyword research, on-page SEO, and link building to rank higher in search engines.
It doesn’t matter if you know nothing about SEO. By the end of this free SEO training course, you’ll understand how to apply the basics of SEO like keyword research, on-page SEO, and link building to rank higher in search engines. 14 lessons taking 2 hours.
4. Blogging for business – Learn how to grow your blog past 100K monthly visitors and turn thousands of your readers into paying customers. 40 lessons taking 10 minutes shy of 5 hours (4:50).
Note: I personally haven’t taken any of these free courses yet, but I’ll be making it a point to take all of these free courses and I’m extremely looking forward to taking the last course to grow my blog that much more.
Up until now we’ve been looking at the top of the Ahref’s menu but the fun doesn’t stop there. There’s so much more that you can out of this tremendous program by looking in the far-left hand side and drilling down through some of the various reports that are available to you that we’ll look at together.
In the next few things that we’ll be looking at I’m jumping around a little bit because I wanted to see what will benefit us the most to improve our SEO. So I’ll do my best to provide you with how to get to the reports that I’ll be displaying in this post.
Organic Search > Top pages
Here’s where you can look at your top pages to see where you need to place some more emphasis so that your posts can get higher rankings. It requires a little extra effort on your part so that Google will reward you with a higher ranking because they think others want to see your research that visitors will enjoy.
Also on the Top Pages report are sitelinks notifications
To find what your sitelink looks like it’s as easy as going to do a search and typing in your keyword – in this case it was: “Blogtober?”
The result for typing in the title of the URL, “What is Blogtober” provided this SERP results and its associated snapshot:
Blogtober is an annual event for bloggers. It’s a blogging initiative and one of the best ways for how to grow your Blog. To date I’ve done Blogtober Challenges for Blogtober 2020 and Blogtober 2021.Jun 19, 2021
The result was the image below:
One of the other things that I noticed that I haven’t seen or heard of before is that Ahref provided that I have an image pack for my #1 post 79 Star Trek posters for The Original Series (which is the bread and butter to help bring traffic to my blog).
What is an image pack in Google? “An image pack is a series of images that Google displays in the search results. (Those images come from Google Images).” Wikipedia
“Image packs are results displayed as a horizontal row of image links, which click through to a Google Images search. Image packs may appear in any organic position.”
“Image Packs are special results that appear for specific searches where Google deems that visual content would be valuable. They use ranking rules beyond the core organic algorithm.” Moz
If you have any image packs, you’ll want to promote those. To find the image pack if you’re notified that you have one, type in your title – “79 Star Trek posters for The Original Series” in a search engine.
Below is the image pack for the Star Trek post (depicted below): It appears that I may have more than one image pack for a couple of other Star Trek posts that I did. It doesn’t appear that you can sort the results for the image pack, so my suggestion is that you’ll need to manually go through the list to look for other instances of an image pack.
For example, until today I didn’t even know that I had an image pack that is beautiful for one of my posts called 100+ Faith Quotes about the power of prayer:
I thought for sure that I’d have one of these for my Norman Rockwell paintings post but as mentioned above by Moz, Google uses special ranking rules that are beyond the scope of the basic Google algorithm to make image packs.
Another useful feature to check out in Ahrefs under Pages is > Best by links
The Best Pages by Incoming Links for my website provided this information:
The one report that you’re definitely going to want to check out is the one called Top content (also located under Pages). Pages > Top Content
Another place to find image packs (if they don’t show up in the Top Pages report is in the Organic Keywords Report (located under Organic Search > Organic Keywords)
The image above doesn’t show it really good for other image packs so I’m adding another image so that you can get a closer view of the report. The image pack is the one located to the far right in the URL column that looks like an image.
I’ll need to research the best way to promote your image packs which I’ll discuss in a future post. But what I do know is that you can use the keyword report to look at URL’s that have a high Google ranking position and if they fall around between 2 and 5 you may want to consider promoting them so that you can get a better snippet.
For example, SEO expert Matthew Woodward has a post about Rank Math vs. Yoast that he was using Ahrefs and noticed that it had a position of 4 so he added a new description to it and shortly thereafter Google after reindexing the page rewarded him with a snippet by adding the info below:
The biggest difference is pricing, RankMath is completely free. Yoast on the other hand has a freemium model which means you have to pay to access all of the plugins features. Rank Math allows you to enjoy all of those premium features for free, but that might change in the future if they release a premium version. Dec 2, 2021
You can also sort the parameters so that you can see the posts that are in the top positions. For example, I wanted to see which posts were in the Top 3 positions (positions 1 – 3) and the four keywords in the top 3 positions as of 6 Feb. 2022 are:
- Star Trek Original Series poster
- Star Trek poster original series and (same post as the 1st one)
- Star Trek Pixar
The last one (Star Trek Pixar) also has an image pack as pictured below)
I hope that by the time that you come to the end of this post that you’ve found something extremely useful out of this awesome free program to help improve your site’s SEO.