LinkedIn Company / Business Page Best Practices w/ Examples

A LinkedIn Company (or business) page is an excellent way to keep people informed about your company, brands, products and services and job opportunities. Creating a page for your business is fairly straightforward. But, like any platform, you’ll be much more effective if you dig into the manual, apply best practices, add your own creative touches, analyze then improve.

Why You Need a Company Page

LinkedIn is the premier social network for business professionals. The platform has over 460 million users throughout the world. Depending on the business your company is in, LinkedIn offers access to a key demographic.

In some ways, LinkedIn is nowhere near as sexy as other social networks. Day to day, it can feel like a haunt for recruiters and weird spammers.

However, it appears that LinkedIn users are more interested in your company, compared to other networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. A study of referral sources found that LinkedIn was responsible for 64% of all homepage referrals from social channels.

And if you are a B2B business, in the market for talent, or simply looking for new partnerships – these visits can be very lucrative. In fact, LinkedIn’s ad rates certainly confirm this idea. If you can generate free, organic traffic – then all the better.

Requirements to Create A Company Page

Creating a LinkedIn page for your company is straightforward. First, you’ll want to make sure that you meet the following criteria.

  • A personal LinkedIn account with your actual first and last name.
  • Your personal LinkedIn account must be at least seven days old.
  • Your profile has several connections on it.
  • You’re a current employee at the company you wish to create a page for.
  • You list the company in the experience section of your profile.
  • You have a company email address listed on your LinkedIn profile.
  • Your company email address is linked to a domain unique to your company (no Gmail, Yahoo, etc. email addresses.)

Unless you are the CEO setting up your page, you will need to set internal policy guidelines for access.

How to Create A Page

Assuming you meet all the requirements above, you can create your page in a few simple steps.

First, log in to your LinkedIn account. Click the link for Work at the top of your page, and then select Create a Company Page.

Create a LinkedIn Company Page

Next, add the name of your company and your company email address. Check the box to verify that you’re an official representative of your company with the right to act on its behalf by creating this page.

Add LinkedIn Company

Once you’ve entered that information, LinkedIn will allow you to begin editing your company page. Fill out every field as accurately and in as much detail as possible. Our goal is to create a dynamic, engaging place for followers of the company to come and interact with the company. The first step in achieving that goal is going to be a solid foundation of information about the company. Keep that in mind as you fill in each field.

LinkedIn Company Page Setup

Optimizing Your Business Page

So, you’ve created an engaging page for your company. Now, let’s look at some LinkedIn company page best practices. These tips will help you develop a rich, full featured LinkedIn page for your company, which will be more likely to generate organic traffic,

Add Images

The first thing you’ll want to do is add some strong imagery to your page, starting with your company logo and banner photo. LinkedIn accepts JPEG, PNG or GIF image files. For the logo, you’ll want a square image. The minimum size for a logo is 300 x 300px, but the image can be much larger than that if you wish. The logo can be up to 4mb in size.

The minimum size for a banner image is 646 x 200 pixels. It can be larger as well, with a maximum size of 2mb.

Take time to make sure that these aspects of your page look great, and that the images you’ve chosen are optimized for display on LinkedIn. Consider recruiting a member of your staff that’s familiar with programs like Photoshop or Illustrator for help creating professional looking imagery for your page. You can also look at online tools like Canva, Stencil or Pixlr.

Add A Keyword Rich Description

When adding your company description, you’ll want to focus on adding relevant keywords to your copy. LinkedIn pages are SEO friendly with permalinks, and Google and other search engines will preview up to 156 characters of your description copy. You’ll want to lead with some relevant keywords, if possible.

Optimizing your LinkedIn page is a great way to grab additional real estate in your brand search results.

You won’t be able to rank #1 for brand term w/ modifiers, but you will be able to consistently appear in the mid-section of search results for most brand + modifier searches. Since you control the content – doing this can be a solid, easy win.

LinkedIn members can search for your company by name, or they can use keywords. So, be sure to include keywords that describe your business, industry and specialties.

Create Showcases Pages Where Appropriate

One useful feature of company pages is the ability to create showcase pages. Showcase pages allow you to highlight individual brands or initiatives that fall under the larger banner of your company. Creating showcase pages for your company is one of the LinkedIn company page best practices.

Let’s use “Company X” as an example. Company X manufactures a wide range of consumer electronics products. So, within the LinkedIn company page for the company, there may be several showcase pages for the individual brands that fall under the larger umbrella of Company X.

Not only do these pages make it easy to shine a light onto the different brands your company offers, but it creates a better experience for LinkedIn users as well. Let’s go back to the Company X example again. Let’s say I’m a LinkedIn user interested in following Company X on LinkedIn. I’m interested in some of the brands Company X manufactures, but I’m not interested in all their brands. With showcase pages, I’m able to select the portions of the company I want to receive updates from. So, I could receive updates about the brands I like, without having to see updates for the brands I don’t.

Creating a Showcase Page is simple. From your company page dashboard, click the Edit icon on the right side of the page. Next, select “Create A Showcase Page” from the drop-down menu. Now, you can begin adding content to your showcase page. Be sure to add a banner image, company logo and as much relevant information as possible about the brand.

Keep in mind that your showcase pages function just like your company page. To keep followers of your company page engaged, you’ll want to share meaningful content with them. The same holds true for your showcase pages. To truly leverage the LinkedIn platform to engage with your followers, you’re going to need to make sure you’re sharing lots of meaningful content.

Go Global

LinkedIn allows you to set up your company and showcase pages in more than 20 different languages. If your business has a global audience, take advantage of this feature so that your page is easily accessible for people in other countries.

If you are testing a new market, this can be a simple way to test responsiveness, especially if you are looking for new employees and/or partners.

Set Goals

Set reasonable goals for the growth of your following on LinkedIn so you can create a plan to achieve those goals. The analytics data LinkedIn provides will make it easier for you to set goals and put your plans into action.

If you want to refer traffic to your website, then define that goal. If you want conversions on LinkedIn (ie, recruit contacts) then define that. If you want engagement from companies in your industry (ie, potential clients or vendors) – then define how you will measure that.

Delegate

If possible, identify the members of your team that are best suited to help with your company page and recruit them to help with the development of your page. Growing your team is probably going to be necessary as you begin producing more content for your page (more on that later).

Again, here is where defined goals are useful. If you can delegate management with explicit goals, then that will naturally define the type of content. You can also quickly judge return on time invested.

Create A Content Calendar

Creating a calendar for your LinkedIn updates is a great way to organize your efforts. It’s another one of the LinkedIn company page best practices. Stick to the timeline as much as possible, but feel free to deviate from it, depending on current events.

A calendar or simple editorial process allows you to have items in the “pipeline” so that they can be improved, revised and approved before a deadline arrives.

Analyze

LinkedIn provides a range of different analytical tools for you to learn more about your audience and the way they engage with your business page. These tools are invaluable when used correctly and will be very helpful to you, especially as your following grows. We’ll discuss these features in greater depth a bit later in this post.

Growing Your Business Page

Now that you’ve created your company page, you’ll want to start connecting with members of the LinkedIn community. The goal is to create a page that encourages people throughout LinkedIn to engage with your company. But, we’re going to be taking baby steps to get there. These tips should help you get your page off the ground as you begin to grow your audience.

Remember that you are more likely to to get engagement with people who use LinkedIn rather than getting your audience to engage with you on LinkedIn. That said, you do need initial traction. To get that – you can of course, pay for ads – or you can use the following groups to find people who are already on LinkedIn and are interested in your company.

Recruit Your Employees

Getting your employees on board is an easy way to get your following started. Encourage them to connect to your business page and interact with it. Beyond interacting with your page, they can also add the link to the page to their email signatures.

Tell Your Customers

Use your other marketing channels to let your customers know you’re on LinkedIn. Create a blog, include the update in a newsletter, even go the old-fashioned route and tell them over the phone that you’d like to connect with them on LinkedIn.

This tactic is not to pull customers to your LinkedIn channel, but instead to find customers in your existing audience who already use LinkedIn.

Add A Follow Button

LinkedIn makes it easy to add a follow button to your website. That way, when LinkedIn members visit your company’s site, they’ll be able to follow you with a single click.

Join LinkedIn Groups

These days, there’s a group on LinkedIn for almost anything. Identify the groups that are relevant to your business and join them. You can search for groups by keywords, which makes it easy to find the ones most important to your business.

Contribute your insight in these groups. Aim to be helpful and supportive of the community. If you’re only using groups on LinkedIn to promote your company page, it will appear transparent, and the members of the group are not likely to engage with you. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to use these groups to promote your page if the members of the group see you as a helpful member of the community.

Like Facebook Groups, these usually have either the most attention or the most spam. Find groups that truly make sense, and add to the conversation rather than viewing it as a promotion opportunity.

Content

Content is going to be the key to growing your audience on LinkedIn beyond the initial connections you make. The more useful and engaging the content on your LinkedIn page is, the easier it will be for you to expand your page far beyond the initial connections you’re able to make.

What Is Content

Content is anything you post on your company’s page. Company updates, infographics, articles and think pieces and even cute cat videos are all examples of content. On LinkedIn, the content that you share will appear on your company page as well as in the timeline of all of your followers.

Sometimes, someone within your company creates the content you’ll be sharing. Other times, you’ll be sharing content that was created by someone else but has value to your company and your followers.

What to Share

When it comes to sharing, you’ll want to make sure that the things you’re sharing make sense for your company as well as your audience. The most successful company pages on LinkedIn share content which seamlessly marries the interests of the company with the interests of their followers.

Of course, you’ll want to add any relevant updates about your company. Beyond that, you’ll want to share things that are useful to your audience. Things that are useful for your audience can include things like articles about your industry, think pieces and current events.

Your ultimate goal is to share content that engages your audience and gets them involved in the conversation. Empower your followers to weigh in on the things you share by asking open-ended questions that encourage a dialogue. When your audience engages with your company in the comments section, be sure to get in on the action!

Share “Top [X]” Lists

If you’ve spent any time on the internet in the last five-plus years, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the huge amount of top 3, top 5, top 10, etc. lists. Believe it or not, there’s calculated reasoning behind these types of posts. Simply put, people love them.

LinkedIn studied company page updated that received 1,000 impressions or more and found that top content lists received 40% more amplification than other posts. So, creating or sharing top content lists is going to be a great way for you to reach new people, and expand your audience.

Share Videos

LinkedIn and Youtube are seamlessly integrated, which means that if you share a video from YouTube, it will play directly in your follower’s feeds when they click the video. LinkedIn found that not only do posts with videos result in more likes, comments, and shares, but they’re also more shareable than other types of content. Posts with videos receive a 75% higher share rate than posts without them. So, sharing videos can be another great way to up your engagement and expand your audience.

Ask Questions

Within your updates, ask your audience open-ended questions. These questions encourage your audience to engage with you. According to LinkedIn, updates that include questions are 50% more likely to receive comments from your followers.

When your posts receive comments, engage with your following. Getting into the comments is an excellent way to develop relationships with your audience, and it’s one of the LinkedIn business page best practices.

When to Share

LinkedIn’s users are on the site primarily in the morning. LinkedIn also says they experience a bump in traffic in the early evening, around the time most people are leaving their offices for the day. LinkedIn users also primarily use the site during the week and less on the weekends.

To give your updates the best chance for success, you’ll want to do most of your posting on weekdays, in the morning or the late afternoon. If you can, avoid posting at other times, especially on the weekend.

Sharing content often will encourage your followers to engage with your content while also fostering familiarity with your company. If you can, share content more often.

Some of the most engaging and well followed LinkedIn business pages post as many as five times each day. Just make sure that what you’re sharing is relevant to both your company and your audience.

Creating Original Content

Creating your own content is one of the best ways to engage with your audience. Often, when you share content from other sources, it’s already been optimized with a lovely image or video, and a clever headline. When you create your own content, you’ll need to do that legwork on your own.

You’ll want to start by creating a clever headline and intro for your content. Be as concise as you can be while still making sure that your headline is informative. Ask thoughtful, open-ended questions that encourage your audience to engage with your post.

Next, add some rich media to your posts, like a photo or video. Posts that include rich media are far more likely to engage your audience. According to LinkedIn, updates that include rich content are 98% more likely to receive comments. Updates that include video are 75% more likely to receive shares from your followers.

Lastly, double check the language you’re using in your post. You want to come off as a friendly company that came to LinkedIn to engage with people who are interested in your business. Sales-y language or promotional messages typically don’t do very well from an engagement perspective.

A final note on creating your own content: More so than any other type of content on the site, LinkedIn users want to see updates that provide industry insight.

Take pride in the content you’re creating. Not only is it useful to your LinkedIn following and essential for your growth on the platform, but it’s also highly useful for your other marketing channels as well.

Repurpose What You Already Have

Chances are, your business has been producing useful content already as part of your other marketing efforts. Don’t be afraid to optimize this content for LinkedIn and use it there as well. You’ll provide the LinkedIn community with valuable industry insights, while also getting the most use out of your existing content.

Use The 4-1-1 Rule

The 4-1-1 rule is an excellent way to make sure that your page is striking a balance between the needs of your company and the needs of your audience. It’s also one of the LinkedIn business page best practices.

For every one piece of content you share which directly relates to your company, you’ll want to share a piece of content from another source and four pieces of content written by others that your audience is likely to be interested in. If you follow the 4-1-1 rule, your page will feature a nice mix of important updates about your company as well as compelling content focused on the needs of your audience.

Again – this is an example of a best practice to start with and revise as you gather your own data.

Tailoring Your Content to Specific Audiences

One useful aspect of LinkedIn company pages is the ability to tailor posts to specific segments of your audience. Sometimes, you’ll find that a particular update only resonates with a portion of your audience as opposed to your entire audience.

By tailoring your posts to specific segments of your audience, you’re able to ensure you’re serving your audience with only the most relevant content. Content that they’re sure to find interesting and engaging.

Pin Your Most Important Content

LinkedIn allows you to pin your most important updates to the top of your page. That way, the most important content on your page receives the spotlight. It will be the first thing people see when they visit your page.

Keep It Short

There’s tons of content vying for your audience’s attention in their LinkedIn feed. You’ll want to keep your intros short and sweet. Pretend you’re working under the same limitations as Twitter; craft an intro that’s packed with value in under 160 characters.

For your intro, try pointing out a key benefit of the content you’re sharing or ask a thought provoking question designed to engage your audience and elicit a response.

Include A Call to Action

Last but certainly not least is your call to action. You could spend time crafting the most thoughtful and engaging piece of content of all time, but it’s all for naught if you don’t include a call to action.

Make sure you’re sharing content with a purpose and that your audience has clear instructions on what to do. Should they click a link? Watch a video? Answer a question in the comments section?

Whatever the purpose may be, make sure you’re communicating that clearly to the audience – and meeting your goals.

Analyze

You’ve created your page, developed an audience and added tons of great content to your page. Next, we’re going to use LinkedIn’s semi-robust set of tracking tools to analyze and refine our posts.

These tools can provide valuable insight into what your audience likes and doesn’t like, as well as what they’re most likely to respond to in the future.

Acting on the data you receive may prove vital to the success of your business page, so careful analysis is one of the LinkedIn business page best practices.

Updates

The first analytics tool LinkedIn provides is the updates section. In the updates section, you’ll see some valuable analytic information related to each of your updates.

LinkedIn Page AnalyticsPreview

This section shows a short preview of each of your posts.

Date

When each of your updates was posted.

Audience

This section shows which segments of your audience saw each update.

Sponsored

LinkedIn offers you the ability to advertise your posts to reach a larger, highly targeted audience. If any of your updates were sponsored, it would display in this section.

Impressions

This is the number of times your post showed up in your follower’s feeds.

Clicks

This metric indicates the number of times your update, company logo or company name was clicked on.

Interactions

LinkedIn defines interactions as likes, comments or shares. Interactions are a vital statistic as they show the amount of people that engaged directly with the content you’ve posted. The interactions metric provides valuable insight into how engaging your content is.

Followers Acquired

This metric shows the number of new followers you’ve acquired as a direct result of updates you’ve posted.

Engagement

LinkedIn displays this metric as a percentage. LinkedIn calculates that number by dividing the number of impressions your post received by the number of interactions your post received. The higher that percentage, the more engagement your post received per impression.

Followers

This section provides valuable analytics data that’s related to the people following your page.

LinkedIn Page Follower Demographics

Type

  • Total – This number displays the total number of followers of your LinkedIn company page.
  • Organic – These are your followers who were acquired organically. Your organic followers are the followers you gained naturally, without advertising.
  • Acquired – These are followers that you’ve gained through LinkedIn advertising campaigns.

And note that like StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Reddit and other social networks – you can often generate organic traffic with engaged acquired traffic. So if you pay to acquire an influential reader, that can lead to organic shares which lead to organic traffic.

Follower Demographics

You’ll find some of the most valuable analytics data LinkedIn collects in the follower demographics section. This area breaks down your total followers based on five types of demographic data.

  • Seniority
  • Industry
  • Job Function
  • Company Size
  • And More

Follower Trends

This graph shows how your number of followers has changed over time. There’s a drop-down menu that allows you to tailor the date range.

How You Compare

This section shows how your page stacks up against similar pages in your industry. This feature is one of the more unique features on LinkedIn.

Visitors Section

The final section of analytics information is the visitors section. In this section, you can garner valuable insight into what the people who are visiting your LinkedIn page are doing once they arrive there.

LinkedIn Company Page Analytics Visitors

Page Views

This graph displays the number of times your page was viewed over the given date range. The drop-down menu at the right allows you to adjust the date range of the graph.

Unique Visitors

Similar to page views, the unique visitors graph shows the number of unique visitors your page has received. This graph targets visitors by IP address and removes visitors who have visited your page before.

Career Page Clicks

Chances are, you won’t see any reporting for this section. LinkedIn gives you the option of creating a career page which can be a valuable recruiting tool for your business. However, the career page is a paid feature, and it’s far from cheap. But, it may be something to consider if a specific goal of your company page is to drive hiring efforts.

If you do have a paid career page, this section will show how many times visitors clicked the different elements of your career page.

Visitor Demographics

Similar to the demographic information provided in the followers section, this graph provides demographic data about all of the visitors of your page, not just the ones that follow you. Be sure to use this data to improve your general personas and marketing strategy.

Using the Data

LinkedIn provides all this valuable insight so that you can analyze, interpret and take action on it. Based on the data your page is returning, you’ll be able to learn more about your audience and their likes, dislikes, and interests. This data will allow you to tailor your posts further to make sure you’re serving your audience with the most engaging content possible.

Consider Advertising

LinkedIn advertising could be a great way to drive even more engagement with your most popular content. Based on the data you receive, your updates that are already receiving lots of engagement organically within the LinkedIn community make great candidates for promotion.

LinkedIn provides several advertising options for company pages. These options include traditional display advertising, sponsored inMail, and sponsored content updates. While display ads and sponsored inMail provide additional opportunities for you to grow your audience, you’ll be focusing on sponsored content updates in this case. If you do decide LinkedIn advertising is a smart option for you, you’ll find other tracking and conversion data at your fingertips to help refine your campaigns.

Tracking Conversions

The development team at LinkedIn makes it easy to integrate code into your website or landing pages. This code will allow you to receive more actionable data about the things that visitors referred by LinkedIn are doing on your site.

Refine and React

Let the data you’ve received from your LinkedIn dashboard, as well as your other tracking efforts, inform the decisions you make moving forward. As networks like LinkedIn continue to grow and evolve, companies wishing to keep up with that growth and continue to reach their audience must evolve as well. Tweak your content, your messaging and your goals as needed to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your presence on LinkedIn, and providing value to the members of LinkedIn who follow your page.

Next Steps

Go to LinkedIn and setup and/or revise your own LinkedIn page!

You might also be interested in –

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Ahrefs Guide: How To Use Ahrefs for SEO, Content & Link Building

The biggest problem for website owners and marketers in 2016 and beyond isn’t the tools available. It’s figuring out how to use the tools they have.

Ahrefs is one of the (if not the) most powerful suites of social media & SEO tools that I’ve ever used. Most SEOs know it as a “backlink checker” that competes with Majestic and intelligence/analytics tools with smaller indices like Moz & SEMRush. But “backlink checker” grossly undersells Ahrefs as a marketing suite.

Ahrefs has so many features that you can get lost and resort to simply staring at your own links – maybe rank tracking a few keywords. Here’s the guide to how to use Ahrefs that I wish existed when I first signed up.

*Reader’s Note 1 – this guide was originally published in Oct. 2015. It’s been updated throughout for July 2016 to reflect Ahref’s new design.

*Reader’s Note 2 – all images are clickable if you want to see the full resolution.

Glossary
Dashboard
Site Explorer (Link Data)
Site Explorer (Search Data)
Content Explorer
Keywords Explorer
Ahrefs Tools

Ahrefs Glossary

Every piece of software has its own little universe of jargon. I’ll use these words throughout the guide. So here’s a glossary of terms.

URL Rating – Ahrefs’ measure of the quantity and quality of links pointing to a given URL. Link quantity and quality correlate with higher rankings in search engines.

Domain Rating – Ahrefs’ measure of the quantity and quality of links pointing to an entire domain. Link quantity and quality correlate with higher rankings for all URLs on a domain in search engines.

Ahrefs Rank – Ahrefs’ ranking of a domain’s rating relative to all the other domains on the Internet.

Backlinks – The number of hyperlinks pointing to a URL.

Referring Page – The number of pages with a hyperlink pointing to a URL. A page can have multiple links.

Referring Domains – The number of unique domains with a hyperlink pointing to a URL. A domain can have multiple referring pages and backlinks.

Referring Content – Ahrefs’ measure of the relative traffic that a unique piece of content sends to a given URL based on the popularity of the referring content.

Anchors – The anchor text used within a URL’s backlinks.

Sitewide / Not Sitewide – Ahrefs’ categorization of a link showing whether it shows in the same location on every page of a referring domain or not.

Fresh Index/Live Index – This is a new feature rolled out in an effort to maintain a historical index of links. Here’s the full blog post and here’s the Ahrefs definition:

  • Live Index – contains all links that were “live” on Ahrefs’ last re-crawl;
  • Fresh Index – contains all links that Ahrefs’ has seen “live” in the last 3 months (including those that were “dead” on the last re-crawl).

In the post, Ahrefs also says that they are “going to add a “Historic” index, that would include all backlinks that we seen live starting from 13th of August 2015.”

Top Pages – A given URLs’ top pages based on the criteria that you sort for.

Ahrefs Dashboard

The Ahrefs Dashboard is where you keep track of all your data. You can add a URL to keep a running snapshot of a domains health. It will quickly show you any technical crawl errors, new links, new referring domains, and a snapshot of Ahrefs’ domain rating and URL ranking.

Ahrefs Dashboard

On the dashboard you can also keep track of keyword rankings, any content alerts, and any links that you are trying to disavow.

Key Features

I think the main features of the Ahrefs’ dashboard are keyword rankings and content alerts. Although I don’t think rankings are as important as they used to be back in the days of old school SEO, they can be an interesting diagnostic indicator, and another data point to factor into your analysis. Since tracking is included with Ahrefs, it’s worth adding your critical keywords.

Alerts are useful for both planning outreach and for competitive analysis. Target several phrases that are directly relevant to your website so that you can get a feed whenever a new piece of content is published around that phrase or keywords.

Ahrefs Content Alerts

Fun Hacks

Email notifications are boring, but setting them up is a great way to hack your habits and discipline so that you can use Ahrefs’ data.

Unless you are extraordinarily disciplined, it’s easy to let monitoring and alerts slide. That’s why I love setting up Google Analytics intelligence alerts and Ahrefs’ email notifications. Set them up at a useful interval, and you’ll never miss an issue.

Ahrefs Alerts

Site Explorer (Link Data)

Site Explorer is Ahrefs’ bread and butter. It allows you to enter in a URL and check that URLs backlinks – and, as of 2016, everything from organic keywords to social data to PPC data as well. This section will focus on the Link Data.

Ahrefs gets this data by running a crawler around the Web just like Googlebot. Every backlink checker tries to replicate how & where Googlebot crawls links. No backlink checker is Googlebot. And no crawler can cover the entire Web. According to analysis by some of the best technical SEOs, Ahrefs is at the front of the pack.

Why? With Site Explorer, they not only have a large link index that closely replicates the Googlebot, they also extract & overlay additional data.

They pull out anchor text (the actual text within the link), backlink type, backlink follow status, social metrics, IP Address, and HTTP status. These additional pieces of information – paired with an enormous index of URLs – sets Ahrefs apart and turns it into a marketer’s suite.

Ahrefs Site Explorer

The Site Explorer, however, is also the most daunting of all the tools because there is so much information. So here’s what I think are the key features.

Key Features of Site Explorer’s Link Data

The first key feature is Inbound Links. Search engines use Inbound Links as a proxy for human endorsement. More links from trustworthy sites on relevant pages equals more organic traffic. The links feature allows you to pull all the links to a specific URL and then sift and sort to dig up the information you want.

The second key feature is Top Content. This feature allows to look at how specific pages on a URL perform. You can sift and sort by links, shares, or Ahrefs weighted importance score.

The third key feature is Top Referring Content. This feature shows you what content on the Internet that has a link to the URL you are exploring has the most links/shares or estimated traffic. You can get a ballpark estimate of what links send referral traffic to your URL.

The fourth and last key feature appears in both Inbound and Outbound Links – and that is Broken Links. This feature shows you which links are linking to or linking out to a URL that no longer exists.

What You Can Do With Site Explorer

Whatever you are used to doing with other backlink checkers, you can do with Ahrefs. There’s plenty you can do directly in the main screen, but keep in mind that you can also do an Export to Excel / Google Sheets if that’s your native work environment.

Determine What Marketing Tactics Are Working for Competitors

You can take your competitors – big and small – and see where they are getting their links from. You can go and try to get the same links. Or (and I recommend this approach), you can use the information to understand what has been working in the industry and use it to develop your own unique tactics.

Ahrefs Competitive Analysis

You can also look at Referring Domains, which will group the links by domain.

Ahrefs Site Explorer Link Types

Determine What Content Does Well

We all browse the Internet in a “filter bubble.” Sometimes it’s hard to believe that a site or blog post that you love isn’t more widely shared.

Or at a more higher level, many marketers think that the content that generates shares will also directly generate links. That perception is a myth.

You can use the top content report to understand exactly what works well. Understand what pages actually get links if you are building your organic presence. Understand what gets shares. Understand what types of content gets picked up.

Top Content Report

Do press releases matter? Do infographics actually work? What’s the one piece of content for competitors or industry publications that drives 80% of their links and shares.

Ahrefs Top Content by Shares

You can answer all those questions with the Top Content report.

Identify Low-Hanging Fruit / Easy Link Opportunities

Site Explorer has a Link Intersect report that allows you to input several URLs and learn which websites are linking to competitors (or industry sites), but not your site. You can get this same data by exporting links from several sites and running a few Excel tricks. But the link intersect tool does it quickly.

Does an industry publication have links to all your competitors, but forget to link to you? Is there a reporter that interviews your competitors but not you?

Link Intersect

Link Intersect Results

Find out with the link intersect tool and discover some quick wins that will bring you up to an even playing field.

Identify Influential Marketing Prospects

You can use a combination of the Top Referring Content report and the Inbound Links report to identify influential websites that are already linking to competitors and/or industry publications. But you can take it a step further and sort by Domain or URL Rating to figure out who matters the most. In a world of limited resources and time – priorities matter.

Referring Content

But be sure to note your goals…

Referring Content

Sometimes the influencers are not in the markets you expect. In the example above – REIs biggest influencers are in the travel hacking & survivalist. niches

Conduct A Broken Link Building Campaign

Broken link-building is one of the most effective and consistent link-building tactics in SEO. The idea is to find resources that no longer exist, rebuild them, then pitch to get the links pointing at the broken resource switched to point at yours. Or, on the flipside, correct any broken links that your site has.

Site Explorer Broken Links Report

I’ve written a full guide to Broken Link Building here. You can do broken link building manually, but Ahrefs’ broken link reports allow you to do broken link building efficiently and effectively.

Pro-tip – Jon Cooper of PointBlankSEO built a handy Chrome Extension called LinkMiner that pulls from Ahrefs data, allowing you to prospect quickly as you research.

Fun Hacks with Site Explorer

Quickly Find Worthwhile Broken Links

Take a giant site and look at Broken Outbound Links. You’ll quickly get a list of broken resources. Take all those URLs, and look at Inbound Links. The sites that link to your broken URLs are prospects for a broken link building campaign.

Outbound Broken Link Building

The inverse works also works well. Take a giant site – one that has plenty of resource pages. Pull Broken Inbound Links. Then pull the links pointed to those URLs. That will be your prospect list for a Broken Link Building campaign.

Explore Wikipedia & Top Publishers

Pull link metrics on Wikipedia URLs related to your industry – remember that you can search by subfolder. Create marketing ideas around the results.

Wikipedia Links

Take a publishing focused site either in your industry or related to your industry and pull a top content report. This will allow you to skip to content that you know works. It will also give you link opportunities that are outside of what your competitors have.

Explore Publishing Site Links

Take an industry publication or industry-related Wikipedia pages. Pull a Top Referring Content report. You’ll likely get list that includes mainstream media publications. Click through and do research on the journalist who linked out to the piece.

Publisher Content

Narrow Results

As I mentioned with Wikipedia, don’t forget that you can search for just a subdomain, a subfolder or a specific URL in Site Explorer.

URL Prefix

Site Explorer (Search Data)

Site Explorer’s Search Data (formerly Positions Explorer) shows what keywords a domain is ranking for, then provides estimates for what kind of traffic that domain and its pages are getting organically.

It also tracks paid positions. Think of it like rank tracking for every domain on the Internet.

Positions Explorer crawls Google search results pages (SERPs) and aggregates the data into something you can search. They also pull search volume from Keyword Planner. Then it triangulates the organic traffic going to a domain based on standard click-through rates per position.

A couple caveats – and this goes for every “traffic estimation tool” including SimilarWeb, Compete, SEMRush, etc – everything in this tool is ballpark estimation. I do not recommend you use it for reporting. There are many variables in play – each with a lot of margin of error. Don’t let the exactness of the numbers lull you into a sense of certainty. Ahrefs pulls keyword data fast & frequently, but be sure to check key rankings manually & against Keyword Planner.

With that said, I’ll go ahead and state that this is Ahrefs’ most underestimated tool. Either that, or the marketers who know about it aren’t talking about it. Regardless, here we go.

Key features

Keyword Site Explorer

The most obvious feature is Ahrefs’ estimation for how many significant keywords (i.e., they have search volume) a domain is ranking for and their estimation of traffic based on those keywords.

That overview feature is interesting, but again, not super-useful without some context.

The feature that provides 80% of this tool’s value is the Top Pages feature under both Organic and Paid sections.

The other notable features are the Top Competitors, which shows what domains most frequently share the same search results as the domain you’re looking for. And also the PPC ads, which shows you a sample of PPC ads in the SERPs.

What You Can Do With Positions Explorer

Understand Top Content for Other Websites

Although the exact numbers in Positions Explorer are not accurate, the relationships and differential among the pages & keywords is accurate.

In other words, even if a given URL doesn’t drive XX visits per month, if it is listed as the Top Organic Page – that position is accurate. The difference in traffic between the top URL and the second URL is accurate as well – both for a couple reasons.

First, because even if the traffic numbers aren’t exactly right, their relative volumes are correct. Head terms show more volume than long-tail terms. Second, because on the landing page level, nearly every site’s traffic will conform to the 80/20 pattern – 20% of pages will drive 80% of the traffic. And so on for every given set of URLs.

Why does this matter?

This data is invaluable because you can discover and build off competitor or other industry websites. You can learn from all their content and go straight for the best terms.

Keywords Competitiveness

In the example above, you’ll see that for whatever reason, this company gets almost all their non-brand organic traffic from a (not so special) Garage Kit category page. It would make an excellent target for anyone in that industry.

Or you get to find out that your favorite website’s biggest winner is a throwaway post that happens to rank for a really broad but noncompetitive term.

Content Traffic

Either way, you get to learn from your competitor’s best (and worst) content. Ahrefs did a video tutorial on this feature –

Do Better Keyword Research

The toughest challenge of keyword research is thinking laterally. Making the jump from different variations of a single obvious keyword to complementary or semi-synonymous keywords that reflect the real intent of your audience.

For example, it’s the insight that helps you make the leap from “winter gloves”…”gloves for winter”…”gloves for cold weather” to “mittens.” Or if you’re in the plumbing industry, making the leap from “outdoor faucet” to “sillcock.”

Those leaps are tough. Google’s Keyword Planner is mediocre at the job. And often it means using tools like Google Correlate in ways they aren’t traditionally used.

But Ahrefs’ Position Explorer solves this issue by allowing you to take top pages and viewing what other keywords those pages are ranking for. It gives you a bigger seed list & introduces more diversity into your keyword research process.

Keyword Research

Steal Ads

You can use the Paid section of Positions Explorer to swipe ad ideas from competitors. If you can see the angle/benefit that competitors are using, you have a direction to either copy or play off or test both.

Steal Ads

Find Competitors for Keyword / Link Research

Most SEOs are familiar with telling clients that their SERP competitors are different from their real-world competitors.

But outside of scraping a few head or vanity terms, it’s fairly difficult to find SERP competitors systematically. You can use Ahrefs’ Positions Explorer to at least add a few new ones to the mix.

Fun Hacks

For marketers who love Excel and/or Google Sheets, you can export keywords under both Top Pages and Organic Keywords.

If you want to remove brand & noisy terms, go to Organic Keywords and filter by phrase length and by keyword included. Longer phrases will often give you more insight.

Long Tail Content

Content Explorer

Ahrefs’ Content Explorer shows the most shared content around any topic. It’s like Site Explorer’s Top Content report…but for the entire internet. For marketers who read a bit – it’s basically BuzzSumo but you get it in addition to Ahrefs’ link data.

But like Site Explorer, the key to Content Explorer is understanding the features’ functionality. That will take it from a trivia tool to a marketing tool.

Key Features

The key – and really only feature of Content Explorer – is the ability to search by topic. You enter a phrase and it tells you the most shared / linked to content about that topic across the Internet.

In the original versions of Content Explorer, you would quickly notice that there’s a wide gulf in the results you get. If you enter a broad topic, you get a lot of meaningless noise (re-posted clickbait stuff). If you enter a specific topic, then you’ll get very few results.

Content Explorer

Ahrefs has dramatically improved the tool so that you can easily find relevant content. However, you can find exactly what you want when you understandhow to narrow & curate the results. And that is where Boolean Operators and Advanced Search filters (ie, “search everywhere / in title / in content”) come in.

I can feel your excitement.

But really if you’ve ever used Google Search Operators like site: or even putting a phrase in quotes, you’ll know how you use these. Just navigate to Advanced Search in Content Explorer.

Boolean Operators in Ahrefs

The ones I’ve found most useful are exclude a word, filter a site and define date range (especially for seasonal ideas).

To use boolean operators effectively though, you have to approach Content Explorer with a goal in mind. It’s fun – and sometimes useful to just click around – but it’s most useful when you are looking for a specific piece of data to support a strategy.

For example, you want to create a blog post that drives Facebook likes. Or, you want to create an infographic that drives links. Or, you need to understand what type of Christmas content stands out in December. If you have a specific goal in mind, you can mix, match and combine boolean operators to focus your search.

Content Explorer

What You Can Do With Content Explorer

Inform PR Strategy

“Press release and pray” is not an effective PR strategy, especially if you want a quality pick up from a major publication.

The best angle for getting a press pickup is that the piece will bring in readers. You can use Content Explorer to figure out what pieces do well and what type of content a publication likes.

Seasonal Ideas

You can even drill down to figure out what a specific journalist likes to write about – and what content they were most successful with.

Custom PR Pitch

In 2013, I got a personal blog post to go viral with exactly 1 email pitch to a 1 journalist. I knew what the journalist wrote about. And I knew what drove pageviews for them. It was a perfect fit for both of us.

*Note – this feature is still in the early days for Ahrefs. You’ll get the most out of it by pairing it with Google search operators.

Understand a Topic

“The curse of knowledge” is a concept that says the more familiar you are with a topic, the less you understand how to think about a topic from the perspective of those less familiar.

And it’s a huge problem in content marketing. You can use Content Explorer to understand what angles, language and facts resonate with people on any given topic.

Look for Top Performers’ Commonalities

On a related note, you can use Content Explorer to figure what form your content should be in. Many times a text post won’t work but a video will. Or an infographic will work in one industry but not in another. For example, if you run Content Explorer and see that every top performer has a video included…you should probably include a video in your content.

Content Explorer Commonalities

Set Benchmarks

Every company would love for a positive story to “go viral” but that term is basically meaningless because it can mean anything to anybody depending on context and a dozen other factors.

In a study of content by Moz and BuzzSumo, they found that 75% of content got zero shares and zero links. Zero.

And then, on any given day, BuzzFeed will be able to manufacture 1 million plus shares across every platform.

Purina Cat Food might be able to create a piece of content that generates a hundreds of thousands of shares because they are a huge brand operating in the cat market.

Cat Market

GE is an even bigger brand than Purina but they won’t get a million shares because they make stuff like aircraft engines.

Either way, Content Explorer can at least give you a ballpark benchmark for a successful campaign. If your goal is shares and the best campaign in your industry generated a 1000 shares – “success” might be defined as 100, not 10,000.

Pergola Shares

Understand Platform Types & Goals

As Moz & BuzzSumo found in their study, links do not always correlate with shares. And shares on one platform do not always correlate with other platforms, e.g., Facebook Shares vs. Twitter Tweets.

Use Content Explorer to figure out what content fits your marketing goals. For example, if it’s a campaign to drive organic traffic, sort by links – not by overall shares.

Fun Hacks

Click-through to Author

On the Content Explorer results, you can click through to look at a specific writer. This is useful for tracking down guest post opportunities or finding freelance journalist who write at a range of publications.

Export Twitter Sharers

Also on the Content Explorer results, you can view & export people who have tweeted each piece of content in the last 7 days (the 7 days is to ensure you’re only getting people who remember Tweeting it – you can still get a larger export from Topsy). This opens up a whole new world of Twitter marketing opportunities.

Twitter Sharers

But the most immediate uses are to:

  • Create a custom audience for Twitter advertising. If you know they tweeted one piece of content on a topic, they are probably interested in another. I did this for a small giveaway experiment.
  • Create Twitter lists for manual outreach later. If you identify a few highly influential accounts, you can set them aside for further research and outreach.
  • Take the data and send it to one of the dozens of Twitter tools for analysis of personas, related interests, best time to tweet, related followers, etc.

*Note – I’ve found this feature to be amazing but still buggy.

View URL Data

Lastly in the Content Explorer results, there’s a little drop down that will show you detailed link data and the keywords that the content most likely ranks for. That data is invaluable for planning a well-rounded piece of content.

Content Data

Content Keywords

Keywords Explorer

Keywords Explorer is Ahrefs’ tool to pull and manipulate keywords generated in Google Search Autocomplete (aka type a keyword, hit space but not enter). For SEOs who know their tools, it’s like Ubersuggest or KeywordTool.io.

In November 2016, they launched a huge new revision called Keywords Explorer 2.0.

It’s the most useful keyword tool that I’ve seen yet. I’ll cover a few key ideas here, but I highly recommend reading their comprehensive introductory post to get a sense of all the definitions & features.

Key features

There’s one key feature to this tool: pulling a ton of keyword variations straight from the source. Google Autocomplete is one of the most useful keyword research tools because the variations not only give you longer-tail, more specific terms to target, but they also provide a window into user intent.

Ahrefs’ goes a step further and matches the keyword variations with search volume data from Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner. In that respect, it makes the tool similar to the paid version of KeywordTool.io…except for that it’s built into your Ahrefs subscription.

Here’s the catch though with Keywords Explorer – like Ubersuggest and KeywordTool.io, it relies on Google’s Autocomplete API. Google announced that they were going to discontinue public access on August 10th, 2015.

With the launch of Keywords Explorer 2.0 – Ahrefs pulls in ClickStream data. ClickStream data gets a little technical – if you are interested, you can learn more about it here. For our purposes, it’s sufficient to say that Ahrefs’ keyword data is accurate enough to make marketing decisions with.

In other words, don’t assume that the exact volumes are correct, but you can assume that they are accurate enough to decide what you should target & prioritize when choosing target keywords.

Thus far, all the tools seem to work accurately. What Ahrefs does with the tool after they no longer have access remains to be seen.

What You Can Do With Keyword Explorer

Either way, in the meantime, you can quickly do a lot of interesting keyword research all within Ahrefs. Take a broad keyword, and run it through Keyword Explorer to get a lot of useful variations on your broad keyword.

Do In-depth Keyword Research

Contemporary keyword research goes beyond finding search volume and modifiers (e.g. “blue winter gloves” has 1000 searches per month, and we should also mention “navy blue winter glove”, “light blue winter glove” on the page).

Those details are important. But more important now are understanding things like –

  • what broad topic is the keyword is a part of
  • what type of page the typical searcher wants to see
  • what lateral & complementary terms are relevant (e.g., “blue mittens”)
  • what type of site the searcher wants to see
  • what terms people also ask before and after that specific query
  • etc, etc, etc

This doesn’t mean that keyword research is difficult or mind-blowing. But it is usually tedious to do it correctly at scale.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer speeds up the process by integrating full SERPs, phrase match ideas, Parent Topic, Search Suggestions, and pages also rank for directly in the Dashboard.

Keywords Explorer Overview

Judge Keyword Difficulty

One of the toughest (and tedious) parts of keyword research is figuring out whether your website could rank for a certain theme of keywords.

There’s no sense investing in new content or high volume topic targeting if there’s no way that you can win. And even if you can compete – it’s critical to know what you’re going to need to compete (e.g., links to that page, answer box considerations, etc).

Judging keyword difficulty is a skill that is not necessarily complicated. It’s mostly just tedious. For non-SEOS, it requires pulling link data and really looking at each SERP. Veteran SEOs can quickly open up a SERP, scroll through and make a quick judgement call. But even that takes time when you are considering thousands of keyword opportunities.

The Keyword Difficulty score is extremely useful to make the “first cut” in your keyword research process. Ahrefs uses a 0 to 100 scale based on their link data to score what it would take to rank for a certain keyword. Ahrefs explains this metric here.

Within the Dashboard, use this feature heavily to sift & sort not only low-hanging fruit but also to create realistic content promotion strategy to get your content visible.

Keyword Difficulty

Estimate Return on Investment

Predicting a return on investment for SEO is notoriously difficult (and arguably impossible). But you have to have something to help prioritize opportunities – even if you can’t say exactly what those opportunities will bring.

Keywords Explorer’s number on Clicks, Return Rate and Clicks per Search are ballpark accurate enough to make these sorts of judgment calls.

With Return Rate and Clicks per Search – you can get a good snapshot of what kind of visibility and traffic levels you’ll get if you rank well for a specific keyword.

Fun Hacks

Find Guerrilla Keyword Angles

The biggest wins in keyword research are when you can make a “lateral” move to a relevant target keyword that is not competitive. I’ve written about how to use all sorts of tools from Google Correlate to Google Books to Wikipedia and more to find these golden nuggets of SEO.

I still use those sources – but Ahrefs makes these finds even easier & faster to find than ever before. You simply have to click to the right places and keep your eyes open.

Guerrilla Hacks

Find SERP Competitors

In SEO, you’ll often find that your industry competitors are not the same as your SERP competitors. And that’s an issue as you continue your search for broader & more in-depth keywords.

Enter Keyword Explorer’s Traffic Share feature. Search for a broad topic that you’re trying to compete in. You’ll get a full list of domains. Now you can take those domains and reverse engineer them for the best keyword opportunities.

Mining Keywords

Toss Broad Nets w/ Include & Exclude Features

This last “hack” is simple, but ridiculously powerful. Instead of searching for a keyword – search for a modifier.

Then use Ahrefs’ menu of include & exclude features to find very high volume keywords (then rank for them).

Broad Keyword

Ahrefs Tools

Ahrefs Labs is Ahrefs’ collection of apps that take Ahrefs’ data and put it into something useful. It includes Ahrefs’ API, the Link Intersect tool, the Domain Comparison tool and others.

Key Features

If you are trying to manipulate data at scale quickly, Ahrefs Labs is where to go. Most of the tools are either specific use, or are mentioned in Site Explorer.

The SEO Toolbar is useful to have installed on your browser, so that you can get a sense of marketing data as your browse the Internet. It’s a great way to get immersed in SEO/Social data and develop an intuitive sense of what matters on a webpage.

The SEO Toolbar also has a SERP overlay function that will pull data and overlay it on your Google Search Results Page.

The Ahrefs Top tool is interesting, but I’ve yet to find a good use for it.

Under Apps, I highly recommend Jon Cooper’s Link Miner app. If you are doing broken link building, it’s a must have. It syncs up with Ahrefs and pulls data straight to your broken link scan.

Next Steps

Ahrefs is fairly pricey, but it has a giant feature set. Like most marketing tools, its usefulness is only limited by your creativity and understanding of the feature set.

Approach Ahrefs with specific marketing goals in mind, and you’ll get a lot of value out of it. Be sure to use it as more than a backlink checker.

If you are curious about other marketing tools, here’s how I categorize the universe of Ahrefs’ competitors. They generally all specialize in 1 channel, but overlap with a secondary channel.

Ahrefs = Primarily SEO with Social components and some PPC data.

Moz = Primarily Analytics/Education with SEO and Social components.

SEMRush = Primarily PPC with SEO components.

BuzzSumo = Primarily Social with SEO components.

Majestic = Exclusively SEO with focus on penalty analysis. Great complement w/ Ahrefs.

SpyFu = Primarily PPC with SEO components.

Raven Tools = Primarily Analytics with SEO and Social components.

If you have any interesting Ahrefs hacks – tweet at me @nshivar

Fun quizzes for SEOs – 

What Superhero Represents Your Off-Page SEO Style?

What TV Character Represents Your Technical SEO Style?

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