Ahrefs Tutorial: How to Use Content Explorer for Beginners

Ahrefs’ Content Explorer can be a great tool to layer on top of your existing methods for doing competitive research on content. So in this article, I’m going to be digging into how to use Ahrefs’ Content Explorer tool for beginners to help you understand the three core views of Content Explorer.

So the first thing we need to do before we even start using Content Explorer is to have an idea for content. In this case, I’m going to imagine that I’m writing some sort of post around how to learn a piano. So that’s exactly what I’m going to type into Content Explorer as I hop into Ahrefs. What you’re going to notice is you’re going to notice a few things as you type in. You’re going to be redirected to a page, which is our first main view of today, which we’ll call pages.

Pages View

Right before we dig into the pages view, what I want to talk about is what this chart is. What this is showing you is the different pages that have been covering this particular topic over time. So what I like to look at when I look at this is whether or not this is a topic that is getting covered more and more over time because what that typically also means is that this is a topic that’s increasingly more popular over time.

And you can actually compare this against something like Google Trends if you want to look at the potential macro trends around a topic that you have in mind. Aside from that, though, what I also like to do is I like to dig into this pages view and sort things by the page traffic. So right off the bat Ahrefs is going to show you things by relevance.

However, I like to actually look for things based off of page traffic first. And the reason why I like to do this is because this is going to tell me which pages in the results that Ahrefs Content Explorer has dug into are actually getting the most traffic on a regular basis for this particular long tail phrase of how to learn piano.

So as I sort through this, there’s a few key statistics that are being shown to me. The first thing that’s being detailed to me is what the domain ranking are for some of these pages that are getting a ton of page traffic. So in this case, this page by flow key on learn how to play piano online is getting a ton of traffic.

You can see on average 88,000 visits, and the reason why that’s meaningful is because what you’ll notice is that there’s actually a ton of referring domains for this particular page. So this tells me that if I’m going to just tackle something like learn how to play piano, the very general long-tail phrase, it might be super competitive because you’ll notice that some of these top ranked pages actually have tons of referring domains behind them.

So this is something to factor in as you’re working away through the pages view is how many referring domains are there on the particular topic that you’re looking at. If I were to actually just hop further into a tool, like AnswerSocrates, which I went over in a recent article of mine, I could maybe find a longer tail phrase, than the one that I started with here with how to learn piano.

So maybe I’m going to go with something like how to learn piano by yourself. This way I can actually look for something that’s a little bit more specific and potentially more long tail and less competitive than the normal phrase here.

And what you’ll notice here is that as I do this more refined search, the results are completely different, right? In this situation, the one that Ahrefs has returning for me is learn how to teach yourself piano at home, easy guide for beginners, and you’ll notice that while the page traffic is significantly lower here at 3.4K the referring domains is also significantly lower in which instead of the over 1K referring domains, this one has only 36.

So this is a bigger opportunity for me if I am running a smaller site, because this is something in which I actually stand a chance. Whereas in the first example, we were looking at something that had way more domain rank as well as more referring domains. And so it’d be really hard to outrank that particular post.

The other thing that I find helpful is just going through these results for some of the top pages and looking at exactly how long the content is. So, this is helpful because if you’ve ever done some SEO content designing, or just some creation of content briefs for writers, or for yourself, it’s always helpful to look at what are some of the top ranking posts and how many words do those posts cover.

So, something I like to do is I like to just look at some of these posts. I can see that this one’s 2300 words. I can see this one’s 5,500 words. This one’s 1200. Generally, what I’m seeing here is that in order for me to even stand a chance, when it comes to this topic, it’s probably going to take me at least a thousand words of content, if not 2000 words of content to be competitive with the existing posts.

As we work our way further into this pages view, the other thing I’d like to do is actually just open up some of these links. That way I can better understand exactly what’s going on in this content. So let’s take a look at this first one from the Miriam School. In this situation, I can see that this post was made in 2020, and you’ll notice that there are the use of some headers, like how to teach yourself piano in 10 steps.

And it looks like they’re just using some standard headers in terms of the 10 steps and then wrapping things up. So pretty standard post overall, nothing too special here. There is a nice YouTube inclusion of a video. As we go to the next page, you can see that this one was updated in 2021, and it’s covering picking the best way to learn piano in 2021.

And again, as we scroll away through what I’m looking at is just the way that they’re using different headers. So I’m looking at things like choosing your learning pathway, right or self-teaching, do it yourself method. So you see how they are trying to cover the different intent behind these particular phrases and giving the pros and cons for each of these different things.

So it’s really helpful for you to get a sense as to the topic you’re looking to research in Content Explorer, and then actually dig into the sites and try to get a feel for exactly how the intent is being answered right now with some of the other posts that are doing well. So in this case, you can see here again, another example in which this one is talking about some steps you can take to learning piano by yourself.

So what I’ve learned by looking at just these top three examples is it seems like the overall search intent is really focused on having some form of steps in terms of how to learn piano at home. And then the other thing that can be really helpful is evaluating different pros and cons of methods to learning piano at home and how to teach yourself.

So these are the two big takeaways from just investigating the top three results here in the pages view. Aside from that, though, what I also like to do is I like to sometimes sort by when something was first published or when something was published in the last few months or so, and the reason why this is super helpful is because it’ll tell you how popular this phrase is.

And also potentially it’ll give you a signal as to some of your competitor, and whether or not they are regularly refreshing their content. So something that I can see here as I go into the last 90 days is that there is some general stuff in terms of how to learn piano by yourself.

But you notice how this is really low contentious six words. So it’s not super competitive in terms of any of these phrases. And then the other thing is if I just go by page traffic, you’ll notice that none of the pages in the last six months I’ve actually really tackled this particular long tail phrase. So in general, what this tells me is that if I were to guess, some of these other posts that I opened up here were actually published even earlier than what they currently say.

And you can tell that this was last updated in 2021, but it was likely published actually much earlier than that. And if I were to dig into that, if I were to just do any time in place, I’d probably be able to figure out specifically when that was published. So you can see in that case, this one was published on January 25th, 2019, and then this one was 2018 on September 9th.

So just as a refresher, as we were working our way through the pages view, it is really helpful for you to sort by page traffic and then to sort by the publication date in the last few months, or so. Then open up a few of the pages, look at what they’re doing well and what they’re not doing.

Look at their domain rank as well as the number of referring domains and see whether or not your site has a chance at doing well on this particular topic, and if it’s worth your time in terms of actually choosing to write on that particular topic.

Now that we’ve gone over the pages view, I want to dig into some of the sub views of Content Explorer that you can dig even deeper into some of the results that you might be looking at.

Author’s View

All right, so the next thing I want to dig into in Content Explorer is the author’s view. So this is the second panel in Ahrefs Content Explorer, and all you need to do here is you just need to look through specifically who might be some of the big authors that have talked about this particular topic.

And the reason why I say this is because this can just be helpful for you to learn specifically who might have some sort of social presence that you have to compete with as well as whom I have already written a ton of different pages on the topic that you’re thinking about.

So in this case, what I’m looking at is I’m seeing that Simple Learn Play Music, as well as Learn to Play Music and Music School have created quite a few pages on these particular topics. And if I were to click into some of these as well, what would it be able to see is I would be able to see which of the pages the Content Explorer believes are very similarly related to the phrase that I am looking at.

So you can see here that in this case this particular domain has covered things like the best ways to learn how to play music, piano in 21 days, five reasons every musician should learn to play piano, live and learn piano, simple learn play music, and teach yourself piano.

So all these are different phrases kind of around how to learn piano by yourself, or just learning piano in general. This author section, to be honest, in this situation for some of the results here is not super meaningful to me.

However, what I will sometimes look at is I’ll look at the folks that have followers and the reason why is because these are folks that sometimes I can reach out to and potentially share my resource and get them interested to potentially share that with either their followers or to give me a backlink to their particular own resource on the same topic.

So something I love to do is to just dig through this results section for the followers, look at who might have a number of followers, and then reach out to these folks so that I can potentially tell them, “Hey, I just made a great resource on a topic that you also seem interested in. So I wanted to get your thoughts on it”. And then maybe later on, if they think it’s valuable, they can add it to their own existing posts. This can be a great way for you to pick up some low-hanging fruit when it comes to backlinks.

So when it comes to the author section, the main things to remember are, use it to figure out who has a follower base, that you can potentially reach out to them and establish a relationship with them and share your resource, and also use it to figure out who specifically has potentially the most domain authority or relevance around the topic that you’re interested in covering.

Then from there, you can do some deeper research into specifically what they’ve covered around the topic and try to identify gaps in their strategy and, or try to directly compete on every single front with them.

Websites View

Now that we’ve covered the pages and the author’s view, let’s dig into the last few of Content Explorer, which is the websites view.

The websites view is kind of interesting because it’ll give you everything that you’ve already looked at, except from the website domain standpoint. So what this might give you insights to are things that you already kind of know, but it’s just in a different format than the original pages view.

You’ll be able to tell things like who has the most traffic in terms of organic traffic around this particular topic and who might have the most domain rank or the most referring domains in terms of other people linking to the resource. This will just give you at a high level, who might be your biggest competitors when it comes to the content that you’re thinking about digging into on your own site.

So from here, what I can tell is that Miriam Music has really dug deeply into how to learn piano in general as a topic. They have 11 total pages by Ahrefs estimate, and you can also see their total traffic value is quite large versus everything else on this page. So they would probably be my biggest competitor.

But also, you might notice that Piano Dreams might be one as well, and you can always click this drop down arrow. And what I like about that is it’s going to give you a snapshot view as to that particular domain and what it is that’s going on here. So things to look out for when you dig into the snapshot view is what is their domain rank.

We can see 47 here, they get a ton of organic keywords in which at 64.1. What I’m typically looking at when I look at the snapshot view is I’m comparing it to the traffic value on the page, as well as the total traffic here. And so what you’ll notice is that in this situation, the traffic value is 67K for piano dreamers here.

However, you’ll notice that the traffic value for the topic that I’ve put into Content Explorer is estimated around 4K. And so what that tells me is that give or take it’s about 8% I think if my mental math is right.

And so this is something in which this is clearly meaningful to their overall site, right? So you can tell that this page is probably pretty meaningful to them, and if I were to dig more deeply into this, then I might be able to really siphon off a meaningful level of traffic for my own site, if I were to make a better piece of content around that.

So that’s what I want you to look at when you’re looking at the domain section. I want you to be comparing it in relation to the overall traffic of that site. And again, the best way to do that is when you are in that websites view, what I want you to do is look at that snapshot, and then what I want you to do is compare what their traffic value is overall as a domain, compared to the tracking value of what Content Explorer is telling you is related to that particular topic.

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