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How to Perform Expert Content Research Using The Ahrefs Content Explorer

Content Explorer by Ahrefs is the kind of tool that you can’t afford to ignore if you’re involved in content marketing.

This is a sponsored post.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGkpZyp2UY0&w=560&h=315]

These days it’s hard to underestimate the power of content.

We see companies like Groove, who go from zero to $100k/month in just 2 years, attributing a major part of their success to blogging. It’s enough to make you want to revisit your own content strategy.

Writing new posts on your company blog doesn’t seem like rocket science, but it’s gets more complicated when you want to measure the ROI of your content. If you want to make every article count, you have to know exactly what works best in your niche and what your target audience is hungry for.

That is where a solid content research comes in handy.

Introducing: Ahrefs Content Explorer

The Content Explorer by Ahrefs is the kind of tool you can’t afford to ignore if you’re involved in content marketing. You’ll have a better chance of creating a truly outstanding piece of content if you find every worthy article published – and then outperform all of them.

That’s just what Content Explorer does – helps you find top performing content for research and inspiration.

Screenshot 2015-05-26 16.01.51

Type any keyword into the search bar and the tool will show you a list of most popular web pages based on these keywords.

How good is that list?

Well, according to Ahrefs CEO Dmitry Gerasimenko, they crawl the web at a Google scale, so their index should pretty much satisfy any needs you have. Here’s some basic steps to help you do solid content research using this awesome new tool.

Step 1: Research Your Niche

Start with broad searches like:

  • “content marketing”
  • “content promotion”
  • “content strategy”

And then move on to more specific terms like:

  • “content syndication”
  • “repurposing content”
  • “visual content”
  • “viral content”

PRO TIP: Content Explorer uses the same advanced search operators as Google does. You can learn more about it by clicking on the “Advanced Search” button.

By default the tool will order the list of articles by the median of social metrics – giving more weight to articles that spread on all social networks. But, you can easily rearrange it by a variety of metrics, including:

  • Publish date
  • Number of referring domains
  • Number of tweets
  • Number of Facebook likes, etc.

Don’t miss the chance to play with these filters. Like I said, Ahrefs operates a monstrous index, and you never know what may pop as you filter the list by different metrics.

This will also give you some great insights on what types of content perform best on each of the social networks. You can then use this knowledge to adjust your content strategy accordingly.

I like to start my research with filtering the list by the number of referring domains. Huge platforms like Mashable and Techcrunch easily get thousands of shares on every article they publish, but that doesn’t mean all their content is notable.

Links are still hard to earn, even for the big guys. So the referring domains filter gives you a great outlook on link-worthy content that didn’t necessarily get a lot of traction on social media.

Step 2: Research Your Competitors

Your competitors are likely spending a lot of their time and resources trying to figure out what kind of content works best in your niche. Well, you can easily track their wins and learn from them.

Just use the “site:” operator to browse the most popular content of any domain. Then, play with the filters to see where they are getting traction:

Screenshot 2015-05-26 16.02.16

Step 3: Research Trends

The “Trends” tab of Content Explorer gives you a nice breakdown of the topic you’re interested in.

Here’s how trends for “copywriting” look like:

Screenshot 2015-05-26 16.02.54

Grey bars represent content that didn’t get at least one share on three social networks. As you can tell from this graph, most of the time content on the topic of “copywriting” doesn’t get any traction at all.

You can study the content that worked well and write your piece based on these insights. Then, you might want to reach out to all people who didn’t get traction and show them your piece.

Another way to research content trends is to simply filter your search results by date. This way you can see which content was getting traction in the past 24 hours, week, month, etc. This is a great way to find some fresh content for your social media updates.

Step 4: Research Linkers

If you’re creating content for the sake of getting people to link to it, the referring domains filter will be invaluable to you:

Screenshot 2015-05-26 16.04.21

Filtering your list by the amount of linking domains will help you identify the common traits of content that attract links. Additionally, since that’s an Ahrefs tool, you can easily browse all incoming links of any content piece, which allows you to gather a list of prospects to reach out to once your own article is published.

Step 5: Set Alerts

Any search you perform on Content Explorer can be easily saved as an alert with the click of a button.

Once you do that, the tool will email you every time it discovers a new piece of content that meets your criteria:

Screenshot 2015-05-26 16.08.09

I was worried all these alerts would send a lot of “search spam” my way (because that’s how Google Alerts work for me), but Dmitry of Ahrefs assured they have a lot of filters to prevent that from happening and their algorithm keeps getting better all the time.

Rethink Your Content Marketing

Tools like Content Explorer by Ahrefs make it easy to think more strategically about our content marketing efforts. Why would you want to blindly guess whether or not your next piece of content will take off, when you can do some quick research and come up with a piece that is guaranteed to get a lot of traction instead?

Have you tried Content Explorer yet? What aspect of the tool did you find most helpful? 

All screenshots are provided by Ahrefs.com


Laura Cruz Freelance Writer | Consultant at Laura Cruz Speaks

Laura Cruz is a freelance writer, speaker and online marketing consultant. She has been in the affiliate marketing world for ...

How to Perform Expert Content Research Using The Ahrefs Content Explorer

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