The SEO’s Toolbox: Ahrefs

ahrefs-logoHello, hello, hello! Welcome to the 6th installment of the SEO’s toolbox series! Today I’m speaking to the CEO of one of the most exciting SEO and link analysis tool around, Dmitry of Ahrefs.

A little over 12 months ago a piece was written about Ahrefs titled, “the best link building tool you’ve never heard of”, fast forward to the hear and now, it’s safe to say most people are well aware of this tool!

Many thanks go to Dmitry for doing this interview, which needed to be translated for our English speaking audience  also to Iana for organising and making this happen. Very much appreciated…

First of all welcome and thank you for agreeing to do this interview. To kick off I’d like to know a little more about you and how you first became involved with Ahrefs?

Hi, we appreciate the opportunity to tell you and your readers more about Ahrefs SEO tools!

I’m Dmitry, Ahrefs founder and CEO. Coming from a web development background, I’ve specialized in building complex systems simply and effectively.

A number of the web development projects I managed were related to Internet marketing, PPC, automating services for blackhat SEO. About 4 years ago my professional interest shifted to search technologies and big data. I consider this moment the initial stage of Ahrefs creation.

Our team spent almost a year on developments and experiments with data and crawling techniques. As soon as it became obvious that technically we were leaving other backlink services far behind, we hurried up to launch the first version of our service.

Ahrefs tools crawl and index links faster (about 6 billion pages per day) than others did at that time. As the result, this advantage still gives us a competitive edge.

Tell us more about Ahrefs itself?

Ahrefs SEO tools are built around our index of backlinks offering an opportunity to analyze backlinking profile of any domain / URL or catalog.

Ahrefs key tool is Site Explorer. You just enter a domain / URL and see a data-rich overview: a number of backlinks, domains, IPs where these domains are located, graphs showing number of links, domains and anchors. Other tabs offer more detailed analysis per every parameter.


For example, one of the most popular tabs is New / Lost (for backlinks and referring domains). Each tab shows the dynamics of changes per a selected date – this means it’s quite easy to see new links for a specified domain discovered just today, for example. I’ve heard his page sees many refreshes 🙂

Anchors tab shows the info on frequently used anchors, domains which contain links including these anchors, percentage ratio, etc.

Top Pages tab displays those pages of the domain we are aware of, number of external links, referring domains, etc.

By the way, Linked Domains tab shows outbound links as well. This info is essential to discover links which shouldn’t be on site, like spam ones.

Those options above – it’s just the top of the information that can be pulled by Ahrefs Site Explorer. For example, it also measures all Facebook, Twitter and Google+ actions (likes, shares, retweets) per every URL.

One more direction we are actively exploring – SEO Reports. A huge amount of data is accumulated in the process of our crawler’s work. We plan to use this information to find possible errors on sites. This gives us a tool able to detect any SEO issues and display possible solutions to fix them. SEO Reports are still in beta but they are already very helpful for a great number of our users.

In addition to the key tools, Ahrefs includes Batch Analysis – you can enter several domains / URLs at the same time and get stats on them with the option to sort and export.

All data received in Ahrefs SEO tools can be exported in .CSV.

If there anything exciting coming up in the next few months? What does the future have in store for Ahrefs? Do you have a vision of where you see Ahrefs heading in the short to medium term?

We have a lot of plans and are actively developing the system. February was quite productive, we made live some useful features: updated Top Pages and New / Lost tabs for referring domains. But the main changes were related to the work of our crawler – the code was updated to steadily crawl about 6 billion pages per day. It is only three times less than Google bot does.


While it’s the upper limit of the servers we use at the moment, it’s in no way the limit of our technologies – it’s where we keep the leading positions. A certain amount of time and effort will be invested into marketing which was pretty much abandoned until this time.

Let me try to explain the essence of our technical advantages briefly. In Google, they had 3 important stages:

Stage 1 –  a huge index which was rarely updated. Compare it to SeoMoz‘s index which is updated 1-2 times per month.

Stage 2 –  a fast index, which was frequently updated, and  a supplemental one with less frequent updates – this is the current stage for MajesticSEO with their Fresh and Historic indexes.

Stage 3 – Google Caffeine – an index updated almost in real time. Ahrefs was at  this stage from the very beginning.

Ahrefs SEO tools can show links with a delay of several seconds, crawl and index very fast. While our competitors are still very much behind us in terms of technology, they compensate it by investments into their marketing

Our plans for the near future include:

improving SEO Reports;
new tool based on fulltext index;
creating a new API;
developing an iPad app;
rating update – we plan to make our metrics the best among available at the market now;
UI optimization.


The way I tend to find out about the best tools (both new or old) is via blogs or presentations from other SEO’s who’ve often been using them for a while. Is there any post or slide decks featuring your tool you’d recommend?

Sure, there are such posts, a few of them are listed in Reviews section of our website.

I don’t think I could recommend any one right now. The services are being updated regularly and at the present moment there are no reviews with the actual data. The quickest way to get the idea of what our tools can do and check all options is to register a free account and look through all tabs and tools available at Ahrefs, everything’s in there is quite straightforward.

(From Gaz – Here are a few of the more interesting and useful pieces I’ve read over the last 12 months or so)


How about some headlines, give me a couple of interesting facts about Ahrefs?

As per today, we have more than 145,000 users. During 2012, the number of subscribers increased by 10 times.

Ahrefs index contains the data on the links from 103,000,000,000 pages and this value grows 1,000,000,000 per day.

We started with 6 servers for indexing – today we use a 25TFlops cluster.

Our crawler analyzes 65,000 pages per second, this is approximately 5.6 billion per 24 hours, about 8% of them are redirects.

Each second Ahrefs finds:

220,000 new links

95,000 lost links

We can update the index every few seconds but do it every 15 minutes for convenience.

What about pricing models?

There are several service packages available, Professional being the most popular at the price of $79. The options included into it cover the needs of the majority of users. For those who work with very big websites we offer the packages with increased limits. Give our service a try with a free account registration, it’s very simple.

Thank you for your ‘The SEO’s toolbox’ series and for your questions about our tool!


  1. Anthony Pensabene says:

    yo Gaz, i’m digging your approach as a producer beyond an author and the toolbox series.. one suggestion i may lend is having the interviewees provide you with a picture, so we get a visual of who is speaking.. *cough* i read a great Kaiser the Sage post recently.. the guest author mentioned videos.. maybe the owners can send you a brief video intro.. just a thought caught in my mind’s tape..

    • StokedSEO says:

      Hey Man, thanks for that, I think it’s a great idea! The picture is certainly doable, not sure about the video but I’ll try. Thanks!

  2. Interesting interview with the founder of my personal favorite “seo” tool. I liked hearing about how ahref’s index was updating itself in near realtime from the beginning! Would love to hear more on the technology behind that. I always wondered how they had such up-to-date link data. And I’ve always found it to be pretty accurate – way better than trying to rely on GWT.

    I would like to see them add to their SEO Reports service by providing an easy way for webmasters/agencies to spit out branded seo reports for clients. That’s something I think people would definitely buy as that can be a nice value-add for clients as well as make life a little easier for the service provider.