Ranking high on search engines is crucial to a business’s success. It gets you in front of your exact target audience and those looking for products and services like yours. This is the reason keyword research is vital and, with the right tools, is indispensable in your brand’s journey to top listing. One of the best to use is Ahrefs, and below is how you can do your keyword research using it:

Step 1: Log in to Ahrefs

Ahrefs interface

Go to Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer and sign up for an account. 

Step 2: Go to the Keyword Explorer Tool

Ahrefs interface

After logging in, access the Keyword Explorer tool under the Tool tab dropdown menu. 

Step 3: Enter Your Seed Keyword

Ahrefs interface

Start with your keyword research by entering your “seed” keyword. This is the word or phrase relevant to your niche or the topic you’re working on. This is the starting point of the research process. These seed keywords define your brand and help you identify who your competitors are. 

When you enter a seed keyword, Ahrefs will generate a long list of keyword ideas you can use. If you’re in the fitness industry, some examples of seed keywords would be fitness, exercise, gym, and workout. Note that these seed keywords aren’t what you’ll be using and targeting on your website. They will serve as “seeds” that will lead you to the right keywords you need to rank on search engines.

Step 4: Review the Keyword Ideas

Ahrefs interface

Ahrefs will then provide you with keyword suggestions. These keywords will be related to your seed keyword and come with valuable metrics such as search volume, keyword difficulty, and other essential data. These will help you determine a keyword’s average monthly searches and competitiveness, among other vital factors.

Step 5: Analyze Metrics

Ahrefs interface

You can now analyze metrics to help you assess each keyword’s potential. A high search volume will indicate a demand, whereas a low keyword difficulty can mean a better chance of ranking. You should consider the right balance between search volume and difficulty in discovering the most valuable keywords.

Step 6: Use Filters

Ahrefs interface

Ahrefs has filters you can use to narrow down your keyword list. You can filter them by search volume, difficulty, and other factors. This will help you keep the keywords most aligned with your SEO strategies. 

It also has sorting options to help you pick priority keywords based on your specific goals.

Step 7: Analyze the SERPS

Ahrefs interface

Check the results and identify individual keywords that will help you understand your competitors. Find one and click on it to see the search engine results pages (SERPS) for those keywords. Next, analyze the top-ranking pages, the featured snippets, and other features to learn about the type of content that ranks well for that specific keyword.

Step 8: Explore Your Competitors’ Keyword Rankings

Ahrefs interface

Get insights into your competition’s keyword rankings by analyzing their websites and finding which keywords they are ranking for. A competitor analysis will help you get valuable insights into your industry and discover opportunities for better keywords.

Step 9: Create Your Keyword List

Ahrefs interface

Organize your keywords by creating keyword lists. Group them based on the topics, content types, or criteria that will help your SEO strategy. These lists will help you maintain a system that enables you to target specific keywords with your content.

Step 10: Export Keyword Data

Ahrefs interface

You can now export your keyword data for quick reference and analysis. You should include metrics and keyword lists in a format convenient for you and your team for further research.

Step 11: Map Your Keywords

Ahrefs interface

Assign your keywords to specific pages of your website. This is what’s known as keyword mapping. This ensures that each keyword aligns with the right webpage or content piece. This also helps you optimize your website structure and content.

Step 12: Track and Monitor Your Progress

Ahrefs interface

Track and monitor your site’s rankings. This will help you know when and where to adjust your strategies. Ahrefs can help you do this as you improve and tweak your SEO strategies based on your site’s performance and the ever-changing SEO trends and updates.


Why is Ahrefs popular with keyword research?

Ahrefs has gained a reputation as a powerful keyword research tool thanks to its extensive keyword database and accurate search volume data. Many SEO experts use it because of its robust features, such as backlink tracking and competitor analysis.

How is Ahrefs different from other keyword research tools?

Providing its users with extensive backlink analysis and valuable competitor insights on a user-friendly interface, it’s no wonder Ahrefs stands out from the competition. It provides a holistic approach to SEO that goes beyond keyword data that SEO experts are accustomed to.

Can Ahrefs help me find long-tail keywords for my business?

Yes, Ahrefs is effective in finding long-tail keywords through its large keyword database and related keyword suggestions. It has features like content gap analysis, which helps you find specific and niche terms relevant to your business.

What is competitor analysis, and how can Ahrefs help me with it?

Competitor analysis is the process of evaluating the strategies and performance of your direct competitors. Businesses do this to gain insights and help you improve your own strategies and marketing campaigns. To help you with competitor analysis, Ahrefs provides valuable information, such as the keywords they rank for, their backlink profiles, and the gaps in their content. This data will help you identify opportunities, understand market trends, and refine your own SEO strategies.

How does the keyword difficulty metric in Ahrefs work?

Ahrefs’ keyword difficulty metric analyzes how hard it would be to rank for a specific keyword in search engine results. It considers certain factors, such as the number and quality of the backlinks and the current high-ranking pages for that particular keyword. It presents the metric as numerical scores ranging from 0 to 100. A high score means high difficulty. With this, you can gauge the competitiveness of your keywords and help you decide which ones to target.

How often do I need to perform keyword research using Ahrefs?

You can perform keyword research using Ahrefs, depending on the nature of your business. You also need to look into the industry trends and the level of competition. A general rule of thumb would be to conduct keyword research regularly, especially if you’re publishing new content, entering new markets, or when a shift in industry dynamics occurs. Most businesses do it quarterly or monthly but keep in mind to be flexible. Monitor the changes in search trends to help you determine when to do it and keep your keyword strategies relevant and effective.

Are there common mistakes I need to avoid when using Ahrefs for keyword research?

The following are some of the most common mistakes you should avoid when using Ahrefs for keyword research:

Ignoring user intent: avoid focusing on search volume without looking into user intent. Make sure that the keywords you’ll use align with the intent behind user searches.

Not using long-tail keywords: don’t forget to use AHrefs to discover long-tail keywords. Failure to do this can result in missed opportunities.

Focusing on keyword difficulty: while it is a valuable metric, it should not be your sole focus. A good balance of user engagement, content relevance, and website authority is what you should aim for.

Not doing competitor analysis: you can get useful information when you do competitor analysis. If you forego doing this, you may not find keywords from which your website could benefit.

Ignoring seasonal trends: keyword search volumes vary throughout the year. Ensure that you identify trends per season to allow you to create more strategic content.

Not staying informed about algorithm updates: search engine algorithms are always evolving, so be sure to stay informed so you can adjust your strategies accordingly.

Overlooking local SEO: Ahrefs can geotarget your keyword research and local SEO insights. Ensure that you take advantage of this helpful feature.

Don’t disregard mobile search: more and more people are searching through their mobile phones. Make sure that your SEO strategy includes keywords targeted at mobile phone users.

Ignoring user experience: you might fall into the trap of focusing on high-ranking keywords only. This is a big mistake, as you should also think about user experience when searching for keywords. Optimize them to align with your content and provide a positive user journey.


Ahrefs is a powerful tool many SEO strategists and business owners use. And since keyword research will be an ongoing task to help boost your website, it will be an indispensable tool. Learning how to do keyword research with Ahrefs is an investment worth every penny.

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