Content MarketingLink Building StrategiesLink Building Tools Ahrefs Tool Guide: Site Explorer for e-Commerce

September 23, 2020by Colin Gacek

There are many examples of e-commerce success stories. All of those successes are due to a coherent marketing plan. Online retail success is directly attributable to the right marketing strategies.

Competing with other e-commerce sites takes more than just time and effort. The right research and metrics are vital to building a plan for improving rankings, traffic, shares, links, and sales.

Ahrefs is the gold standard in the industry for SEO research. It offers near-limitless ways to use the Site Explorer tool to optimize your marketing plan and turn your e-commerce site into a successful business.

What is Ahrefs Site Explorer?

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Site Explorer is one in a suite of five tools you get with an Ahrefs subscription.

According to a marketing professionals survey, it’s the most popular and most utilized of Ahrefs’ tools. 

Site Explorer is just what it sounds like: a tool that allows you to explore and research websites and pages in detail.

Site Explorer includes three main SEO tools that you can use in an almost infinite number of ways for marketing your e-commerce business by researching competitors:

  1. Organic traffic: See the pages, topics, and keywords getting the most search traffic and obtaining better search rankings. You can also uncover overlapping keyword opportunities between those top pages. 
  2. Paid traffic: Research the paid search advertising that competitors are engaging in, get a list of PPC keywords they’re using, see the paid ads, and get a list of the top landing pages these ads point. 
  3. Backlink checker: Find out which sites link to your competitors and review the quality of those sites. Learn which links are new or lost, find broken links, get anchor text phrases, and see internal link patterns.

Site Explorer reports on social shares for pages, identifies which pages on a site have rapid link growth, and which sites your competitors link to. It also shows broken links and the anchor text of external links.

This actionable data allows you to analyze e-commerce competitors that sell to the same audience and quickly build a marketing campaign. 

Improve in areas where you see competitors are weak and improve on their ideas that are getting results.

Getting Started Using Ahrefs Site Explorer

There are many ways to use Site Explorer to gain a marketing advantage for an e-commerce site. As you work with the tool and the data it provides, you’ll discover how easy it is to generate more ideas for improving sales:

  • Building links to your pages
  • Getting more organic and paid search traffic
  • Adding content that will draw more search and social shares
  • Reverse engineering competitor strategies
  • How to improve site rankings
  • Targeting the most useful keywords
  • And ultimately, earning more sales

Analyze Competitor Sites

This is what Site Explorer is all about. Submit a competitor URL and instantly receive detailed metrics on that page or domain. 

The data provides insight into how those competitors perform in searches and helps identify the strategies they used.

Here are just a few examples of all the information you get when you input a website or page:

  • Organic, monthly search traffic
  • Keywords the page ranks for over time.
  • Referring domains and backlinks over time
  • The PPC ads they’re using and keywords they’ve bid on for those ads
  • Landing pages PPC ads are directed to
  • Top pages within a domain by search traffic with a list of their top keywords
  • A list of all domains and pages linking back to competitor pages
  • Details on those referring domains, such as those that get the most traffic

This information is invaluable for creating strategies: target pages for backlink outreach, find gaps in your own content, develop a paid ad campaign, optimize keywords for your product pages, and more.

Keyword Research

Search traffic and rankings require using the right keywords. Site Explorer is a helpful tool for finding the best phrases. These are the keywords your target audience uses to find products offered on your site.

E-commerce is particularly dependent on specific keyword phrases, and Site Explorer can help you discover those that are most important in driving traffic to your site. 

One way to research keywords using Site Explorer is to see which terms competitors are using. Input a competitor’s website URL to obtain a list of the keywords it ranks for and which phrases bring the most traffic. See where keywords are working for them, or not, and adjust your SEO strategy accordingly.

Site Explorer can also show which keywords they bid on for paid advertising and if those terms are working or not. 

The tool can also provide a list of other websites that rank for the keywords used by your targeted competitor. That list can then be used to do more research.

Delving Deeper with Ahrefs Site Explorer

Researching keywords and looking at competitor statistics only scratches the surface of what Site Explorer accomplishes for you. Use it to find competitors you weren’t aware of, get ideas for new content, and build important backlinks.

Find Competitors You Didn’t Know You Had

A simple way to find competitors is to put in your target keyword and consider the top pages ranking for that term to be the competition. But with e-commerce, you likely have a wide variety of keywords, so finding competitors can miss opportunities.

Instead, try the Competing Domains feature in Site Explorer. Start with your own URL and then click on “Competing Domains.” You’ll get a list of domains with some useful information: domain ratings, number of referring domains, backlinks, search volume, and more.

Target Competitors’ Links to Build Your Own

Backlinks are an essential part of search engine ranking. The more high-quality sites that link to your pages, the higher those pages may rank in the search engines. Google uses links as a significant ranking signal.

On Site Explorer, input a competitor page and use the reports to find opportunities for building more links to your own pages. 

Under the Backlinks report, click on Backlink Profile. This will give you a list of the sites that point back to your competitor’s page.

For example, you may see an article about air-purifying plants linking to your competitor’s page selling house plants. That blog author may be open to linking to your content about the science behind air-purifying plants.

Your competitors’ links guide you to linking opportunities. 

Here are a few other ways you can utilize the backlinks feature on Site Explorer:

  • Use the “Best By Links” tab to find the pages on competitor websites that get the most links for new content ideas.
  • “Link Intersect” will show you sites linking to multiple competitor sites, an opportunity for links to your pages.
  • Find broken links related to your products and pages so you can offer to replace them with links to your own site.

Find and Fix Your Own Broken Pages

Links to your site are essential for ranking. But they don’t help if they lead to non-existent pages. You can use Site Explorer to find those broken pages. Just enter your URL, go to “Best By Links,” and click on “Add 404 Filter.”

This will give you a list of broken pages on your site, as well as the links pointing to them. Fix the broken pages to restore the links, or contact the referring domains to request a change in the link’s URL to another page on your site.

Find Content Gaps

The Content Gap feature on Site Explorer will help you find keywords and topics you’re missing. It’s a great way to get ideas for new content to attract links and increase rankings and search traffic. The feature uses competitor sites to find keywords they rank for that you do not.

Input your own domain and go to “Content Gap.” From here, you can enter up to ten competitor URLs. Make sure you turn on the toggle for “at least one of the targets should rank in the top 10.” You’ll get better results this way.

Also, you can use this feature to find the gaps within your site.

Input a specific page from your site, go to Content Gap, and paste in pages that rank high for a particular keyword. This will give you keywords and subtopics missing within your pages. It should also turn up some long-tail keywords, which are great for the specificity you need for e-commerce.

Find Easy Content Ideas

Fresh content is always a good idea, as well as is filling in the gaps where you’re missing content. But Site Explorer will take you one step further and help you find new topics with the potential to rank more easily than highly competitive topics.

Enter a competitor site and click on “Top Pages.” This gives you the list of the pages in that domain with the highest organic traffic. Search the list for pages that have high organic search traffic but few backlinks.

This reveals pages containing keywords that people are searching on, but with low competition. The list of keywords those pages rank for provides topic ideas. 

Now it becomes easier to identify content ideas for new articles that will help increase traffic and rankings.

Unparalleled Competitor Research

There is so much that can be done with Site Explorer, including competitor research. Rely on Ahrefs web crawlers and massive database of links and keywords to determine what the competition is doing. Use their strategies that are working and avoid those that aren’t. Easily create a competitive advantage for building rankings and search traffic for your e-commerce site.

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Jon Lightfoot,

VP of Strategy

Jon Lightfoot was founder and CEO of a successful chemical and fragrance company. Upon exiting that role he spent more than a decade agency side and several years brand side wherein he honed robust marketing, strategy and data intelligence acumen. Jon’s strategic marketing initiatives have stewarded healthcare providers, agencies, learning and education based companies, eComm and Fortune 500 companies alike in meeting or exceeding their SEO, branding, performance and audience expansion goals.

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Content Production Specialist

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Senior Content Manager

April’s position at PureLinq has her overseeing all content production, managing a team of freelance writers and editors, and building out our content guidelines. She has an MA in print and digital journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and a BA in Communication Studies and Marketing from Cazenovia College.

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SEO Strategist

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Senior Outreach Specialist

Steve has over a decade of SEO and link building experience. He focuses on building white-hat links for high-value content and pages with niche audiences.

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Senior Outreach Specialist

Colin performs link mining and outreach for PureLinq’s clients and brings a high level of organization to manage a large number of link placements each month.

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