Ahrefs Tutorial: How to Use Content Explorer to Find Backlink Opportunities

If you’re struggling to get backlinks for your website, then Ahrefs’ Content Explorer might be the tool that you need to use. In this article, I’m going to be digging into exactly how you can use Content Explorer to find great backlink potential opportunities in order to build backlinks for your own site.

Step 1: Input your topic into Content Explorer

The first step is to go ahead and input your topic into Content Explorer. In order to think about what topics to put into Content Explorer, I recommend you think about the three to five best posts on your entire website.

These are the ones that you are going to want to be building links for, because it’s going to demonstrate to Google over time that these are the sorts of topics that you are an expert on, and from there you’re going to get more relevance and more traffic. So these are the sorts of things that should be fundamental to the niche that you are working in.

The other way that you can think about this is if you have no idea what pillar posts are working for, you go into your Google Analytics and then sort things based off of the most viewed pages to see exactly what naturally is ranking well on Google. But from here, what I want you to do is I want you to go ahead and go into Ahrefs and plug that topic in to the Content Explorer side of things.

For the sake of this article, I’m going to be using one of our YouTube subscribers Vicki’s website, the Savvy Dollar. One of her top posts is around frugal budget tips. So I’ve gone ahead and put frugal budget tips into Ahrefs’ Content Explorer, and this leads us to step number two. 

Step 2: Refine your results to identify the best fits for you

In this situation, we want to refine our results in order to find the best fits for you. As we start to work our way through this, I want you to consider a few things. One of the things I want you to think about is what is your actual domain rank right now. If for example, you are a domain rank of 30, might not necessarily want to be reaching out to the domain rank of 60 in order to try to get a backlink.

Instead, I recommend you stay somewhere in the range of where you’re at as well as one step above where you’re at. So maybe you might look for sites that are domain ranking 40 or less. And then from there, what I want you to think about is I want you to look at the results here, and I want you to run some filters.

So if you read my recent article on Content Explorer, you should be familiar with how to use some of these filters. But one of the ones that I always like to use is I like to use the ones in which it’s been published in the last X time period. So in this case, I might look for something that’s been published in the last year.

And I might also look for something in which, we have some level of domain ranking in terms of these filters here. So, what I’m looking for here is I’m going to look for some of the results here. As I work my way through the results, what I’m looking at is I’m looking through a few variables. I’m looking at what the domain rank of the other sites are, how many referring domains there might be as well as what the page traffic might be for that other site.

It’s really nice to be able to find another page that is already getting traffic related to the phrase that you want to rank yourself. That way you can kind of ride the coattails of their traffic. 

And so what I’m looking at as I go through here is I’m looking at things like, what is the word estimate for this other post? What is it about this post as well? And I’m just going to keep working my way through and filtering out the ones that might not necessarily be related to my topic at hand. 

So, in this case, I’m going to leave out the things like bootstrapping business, ’cause that’s not really related to Vicki space in which she’s mostly talking about the frugal side from a personal finance standpoint, not from a business standpoint.

But your mileage may vary depending on what exactly you’re looking for. So as I work my way through this, what I’m essentially looking for is just general frugal saving tips and things like that. And you’ll notice that I start to find some of these. 

And for example, there’s ToughNickel that’s twice on this page, where there’s two posts that are in the top results from Content Explorer. So as I work my way through I’m just going through these and I’m just going to take a look through some of these posts to see exactly what’s going on in these posts. 

The goal for me is to identify if this person is potentially aligned in terms of talking about this topic. And the way I can tell that is going through this post and seeing whether or not I even think this content is of good quality. That is something that you will have to gauge for yourself depending on what niche you’re in. But essentially what I’m looking for is I’m looking for the folks that seem to be pretty well-known experts as well in the space, or might be able to speak intelligently about this topic so that I can start to reach out to them.

So as I work my way through this site, what I’m going to see is I’m going to see that they sometimes have some different links to external sites and things like. And I’m also noticing that there’s a pretty active or there has been a pretty active comments section, which is great because what this tells me is that Alison in this situation is probably pretty receptive to outreach. So that’s a good sign as well. 

And I want you to go through the same process as you’re going through your Content Explorer results. I want you to ask yourself questions like, do I think this person would be open to an outreach message? Do I think that this person is an expert? And then these are the sorts of things that you want to work through because that’s going to help you identify who the best fits for you are going to be when it comes to doing some outreach.

So as I work my way through, I’m going to think to myself, oh, this inspired budget website is a potentially really good site for me. And I’ll work my way through these other sites as well. So I can go my work, go through this ToughNickel site. I can see that they’re similarly have some pretty detailed content overall here, and they even have some other resources in which they’re interlinking to their own posts. And you can see that Liz as the author here as well. 

And so what I might look at is I might look for something like an about us page to see if we can find something here. There’s not really all that much there, but what I might do then is I might search for Liz’s contact information directly in Google after I’ve done a few more searches in Content Explorer. 

So just to recap, step number two is to identify which ones of these folks coming out of the Content Explorer initial results are actually the best fits for you. In order to figure this out, you should look at who’s been running about this topic over the last year, who has been writing about this topic over the last few years, as well as who might just be open to outreach based off of looking through the comments section and things like that on there site.

Once you’ve gone ahead and gone through your Content Explorer results, you’re going to want to output those results into some sort of spreadsheet. In most situations, I recommend that you start with a raw export on the results from Content Explorer, and then filter down for the ones that you think are the top 20 to 30% results from Content Explorer. 

Step 3: Scrape key contact information from the filtered results

This leads us to step number three, which is all about scraping the key contact information of the people that you think might be good fits for backlink outreach. In order to start doing this, what I recommend you do is to use a lead gen tool like a Zoom Info, a Hunter.io, or an Apollo.

These are all great sites that people often use when it comes to finding the email information of anybody in particular. So if you’ve never used these sites before, I definitely recommend you check these out because they all have some form of a free trial usually that you can use in order to do some sleuthing.

That said, though, in the case where you don’t feel comfortable or very confident in your scraping abilities, what you can always do is hop onto a website like Upwork and then list a job for a scraping job to be done. From there, you’re going to find global talent in which it’s really affordable to find lead information about these folks. And then they will source public information in order to identify the emails of these folks that you can then reach out to. 

Even the case where you do decide to hire somebody in your team to find this information, I always recommend you start by doing it yourself. The reason why is because then you can actually set up the documentation for your scraper to actually know what sort of contact information to collect and what not to collect. 

But typically, what this will look like is there’s going to be some sort of spreadsheet in which you’re going to have the first name, the last name, the email, the site, as well as what URL at the email was found on, and any other important information that you might need to include about the contact, or you might find valuable about that contact. 

The goal here is for you to take that raw list that you took from Content Explorer to identify the potentially good fits for align content collaborations, or just networking in general in order to start outreach with these individuals.

Step 4: Draft and send your outreach message

Step number four is to draft and send out your outreach. If you’ve watched other videos on my channel, you should have a general idea of how to effectively cold email somebody. However, if you haven’t, the high level that I want you to think about is how would you like to get a cold email to today? Most likely the way that you’d like to get a cold email is in the case where somebody actually emailed you some form of value right off the bat.

And so the way that I recommend you think about drafting, this email is instead of using that template email of, “Hey, I saw this resource on your website. I thought that my resource might be helpful. Would you be so kind as to add this?”, try to take things from a more relational-based approach. 

What this means is that for me, I will typically look at the content that Content Explorer found for me from that author. And then find a way to either compliment them about that post or include something new to the conversation based off of something that they may have written about. So maybe for example, they have some sort of frugal budget tip, and it really connected to me, and I could think about something else to build on that frugal budget.

So might just shoot him an email and be like, “Hey X, Y, Z person. I was reading through your posts, and I noticed this tip. I love that tip. In fact, for myself, what I do is ABC. By the way I love your posts and I’d love to connect some time if you’re free.” Right. So essentially by repositioning things from the perspective of, Hey, I need a link from this person and more from the standpoint of, Hey, I would love to actually connect with you and just get to know you as a person, you are more likely to build a lasting relationship and it’s those lasting relationships that are actually going to result in even more backlinks for you later on.

Key things I want you to remember as you start to draft and send your outreach is, do not ask for a link in your very first email to somebody. This is your very first impression. So you don’t want to be the person that just asked for a link right out of the gate for the very first email. Instead, you want to add value in some sort of way, or just open up a conversation.

And then later, once they’ve gone back and forth with you, you can potentially ask for a link later on in a more subtle way. It’s all about having some tact in terms of how you actually build things today. People will always enjoy working with people that they actually like to talk to than the person that they know always comes to them every few months saying, Hey, I wrote a post on frugal budget tips, and I would love for you to link to it in your posts on frugal budget tips. 

That stuff generally might work every few hundred that you sent out. But in most situations, you’re going to be in such a small niche that you’re going to quickly run out of backlink opportunities because you’ve already burned a ton of bridges. Once you sent out about 20 or 30 of these, what I want you to do is then go on to Upwork and then hire a first-line writer to essentially do that personalization going forward.

That way all you need to do is export from Content Explorer, all those good potential backlink opportunity people. And then from there, have your line writers essentially personalize that outreach for those folks that you have a system for yourself as to every single week I know that I am reaching out to another X number of backlink opportunities. 

Step 5: Follow up and continue building the relationship

The fifth step when it comes to building backlinks from Content Explorer is to follow up and continue building the relationship while also making sure that you are adding new relationships to your plan. The entire approach here that I have found super effective is to continue doing this over long periods of time.

If you are establishing just one or two meaningful new relationships every single week taking this approach, then after a while, you’re going to have a strong base of initial folks that you can reach out to whenever you have a new content post. And the reason why this is super powerful is because the next time you write about frugal budget tips, you’ve got five or seven people that you know, that you can count on in order to actually share your posts in either their site or on their social media. 

This is really powerful because by taking this sort of relationship-driven approach, you are actually increasing your odds of success as opposed to having to always send out hundreds of outbound emails in hopes that somebody is going to link back to you because you’ve referenced some sort of frugal budget tips post on their site.

In order to really stay on top of this, I recommend that you take some sort of CRM or task manager to set reminders for yourself, to check in with these folks once every few weeks or once every month, but it can be helpful to stay in touch with these folks so that they aren’t only hearing from you when you have a new content piece to share with them.

Two easy ways to stay in touch with them is to actually just subscribe to their newsletter. That way you’ll get notified when you get new posts from them. And you can comment back to them when they share that in their newsletter. Or another thing you can do is you can find content that’s related to the topic that both of you guys enjoy and then share a helpful post or something you found interesting and share to them why you thought of them when you read that post.

A final way that’s a great way to stay in touch is in the case where you ask them for some feedback in your initial outreach email, you might close the loop a few weeks later when you actually applied their feedback so that you could actually demonstrate to them, “Hey, I really listened to you and I care a lot about what your thoughts were. In fact, I implemented it and I’d love your thoughts. 

If you liked this article, be sure to check out my YouTube channel to get new videos every single week. I’ll help take you from zero to self-starter as you grow your business, get more customers, and hone your business acumen. Also, feel free to share this with anybody that you think might benefit from learning how to build backlink opportunities using Ahrefs’ Conent Explorer.