You should use ahrefs Webmaster Tools to stay on top of your website links.
It's free and easy to use.
But you should avoid giving Google Search Console data to them.
Doesn't matter how many visitors you have, ahrefs Webmaster Tools will help you with backlinks and technical improvements.
There are a lot of good reasons to use this tool that takes 10 minutes to set up.
Keep reading to know what you can use it for.
- Ahrefs is expensive, but Webmaster Tools is free;
- You shouldn't connect ahrefs Webmaster Tools to Google Search Console;
- Ahrefs Webmaster Tools is helpful to know all the backlinks to your site, even the one Google doesn't consider important;
- Ahrefs Webmaster Tools will give you better chances of improving your rankings;
- Ahrefs Webmaster Tools can be used as a free rank tracker.
What is ahrefs Webmaster Tools?
In case you don't know, ahrefs is one of the best SEO tools on the planet. And is used by huge companies to do keyword research and improve their SEO.
Ahrefs is excellent, but prices start at $99/ month aren't for everyone.
So the solution is ahrefs Webmaster Tools (I'll use AWT to refer to this tool from now forward).
First and foremost, you should use AWT to compliment Google Search Console (GSC from now forward).
AWT main features are checking:
- Backlinks to your website;
- SEO issues + how to solve those issues;
- Domain metrics (domain authority, etc);
- Identifying broken links on your website;
- Organic keywords rankings
This makes a lot of features from their paid plan available for free.
Why you should be careful or avoid ahrefs Webmaster Tools
What's the catch? Why is AWT free?
Ahrefs answer to this is:
And technically, there can be a catch.
But first, a quick context.
To use AWT, need to verify website ownership with one of two methods:
- Automatically with Google Search Console (bad idea);
- Manually with an HTML tag or a DNS record.
The catch is right here: connecting GSC to AWT.
By doing so, you're giving ahrefs full access to your website rankings.
Which ahrefs will use to improve their metrics to their paid users.
You should not at any point give GSC data access to anyone you don't trust at 100%.
This will be the most sensitive information about your website. And as a rule, you shouldn't share it if you intend to make money online.
I've read this article from Internet Folks saying that you should not use AWT, but I disagree in part.
That part is the DNS records.
Let me explain.
So, why do I still think AWT is worth it even if you can expose your website rankings?
Because you can use AWT without giving GSC access.
I verified my website with a TXT DNS record. This way, ahrefs don't have access to my search rankings.
Actually, I don't think they can access any data from my GSC with this method.
So, the method I used was adding a bit of text (TXT) to my website records (DNS records) to prove that I am the actual owner of the website.
Benefits of using AWT
There are several good reasons to use AWT.
Here is a summary of the things I use AWT for:
- Discover broken links;
- Discover backlinks to my blog;
- Optimize image and page descriptions;
- Find orphan pages.
The case I make is for using AWT in addition to GSC is because they treat links differently.
GSC will only show you up to 1000 links. But it won't show you some links you have.
Basically, if a link doesn't appear in GSC, it's not considered relevant for Google.
But why should you care if Google doesn't consider those backlinks relevant?
Because you might be getting good links that are not yet considered.
I like to watch all the links I have versus the links being considered relevant for my rankings.
Currently, I have a good backlink that GSC is not showing, which is a shame, but I only discovered that link because of ahrefs.
Also, it's essential to talk about your website health score (an ahrefs metric about how well optimized the website is).
If you have a high health score, it's not guaranteed to rank for more keywords or improve Google rankings.
Free keyword rank tracker
GSC will show you the impressions you get for keywords, and if you click on each keyword, it will show you the average position.
As Google rankings suffer a lot of average fluctuation, the position is okay.
But by using AWT, you get a free rank tracker.
As ahrefs crawl the search page results, it will detect your website's ranking for some keywords and record it.
And this is a compliment to the data you can see on GSC.
Basically, you have more data points about rankings, and ahrefs shows actual data from search results.
Plus, ahrefs will tell you the rankings you are getting in different countries.
For me, this is a plus because keyword tools usually focus on USA volume, but there is much more than that.
So, this isn't groundbreaking, but nice to have a free rank tracker.
Improving website health is one of the most important things I use AWT for.
When I started using AWT, I had broken links I didn't know. After all, who has time to manually check all the links on the website?!
So, as time went by, I fixed that.
Also, I added alt text to all images on the website and improved the meta descriptions for each page.
This is a boring thing and doesn't feel important in the grand scheme of things.
But consider this.
By optimizing these descriptions, you make it easy for web crawlers to understand the page's content.
At a minimum, this won't hurt your rankings, and at most, it can give you a considerable boost on search rankings.
My reasoning is:
- If I optimize my pages and others don't, there is a big chance of outranking them;
- but if everybody optimizes their websites and I don't, there's a poor chance of competing with them.
How to verify ownership with DNS record
After you create an ahrefs account, click on add new project.
Step 1 - create the project
Enter your website URL, give the project a title and press continue.
Then you need to copy the code from the TXT record field.
Step 2 - add DNS record
I'm going to show you this step using cPanel. But if you use Cloudflare, Godaddy, Namecheap or other companies go find how to add a DNS record to your domain.
Go to DNS editor on cPanel.
Click on manage for the domain you want to add to ahrefs.
Add a new record and select TXT.
Then paste the code from ahrefs.
And in the "name" field put your domain name.
Now, go back to ahrefs dashboard and press verify ownership. If at first it doesn't work wait a couple of minutes/hours for the DNS records to propagate.
If it still doesn't work contact me.
AWT can help many people with small budgets get a taste of ahrefs tools, but it can come at the cost of giving valuable data away.
And you should not give your data away in exchange for convenience.
So, don't give them GSC access.
Instead, use DNS records.
The benefits of using AWT can be noticeable if you keep removing the errors on the site and making the minor improvements suggested.
It won't guarantee you to rank higher but will give you better chances.
If you have questions about how to verify ownership of AWT with DNS records, let me know.