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Save time in content ideation and drive traffic to your site with Ahrefs’ Content Explorer

Matthew Finch
Matthew Finch
Senior SEO Strategist
31st August 2017

Producing content with the purpose of driving traffic to your site is difficult and the ideation process is lengthy. Keyword research, SERP analysis and link building are all required and the end result is not guaranteed. Reverse engineer the process with our guide, saving yourself time and energy.


To simplify Mark Johnstone’s narrative, producing ‘good’ content – defined as content that serves a purpose – is not always as straightforward as A to B. There are many stages in the ideation process that take time, including:

  • Initial brainstorming
  • Time spent realising your first ideas are non-starters
  • Time spent exploring ideas relating to your initial idea
  • Communication with the client, to the stage where both parties are happy to proceed

Many see the process of content creation as simply idea to production, from A to B, with none of the necessary steps in between.

This is not the case when it comes to good content unless you are either very good, very lucky or incredibly efficient with your thought processes.

What purposes can content serve?

  1. Content to attract links – needs to be interesting, insightful, unique, relevant, memorable, up-to-date and visually appealing
  2. Content to attract custom – you are trying to sell your product to those already on your website. Understanding your customer’s needs, engaging them and remaining concise are three key factors
  3. Content to attract traffic – ties in with linkable content, however, the difference is you want to produce something that can rank (drive traffic) and to do that, you need it to be linkable. These two do not always go hand in hand.

These three types of content all require different thought processes and methods of execution.

When you are creating content to drive traffic, you can get from A to B quickly and efficiently using Ahrefs.

Content to attract traffic

If your aim is to drive more traffic to your website or blog, then your thought process may be:

  • Come up with an interesting idea or angle
  • Check the search volumes for relevant keywords
  • Investigate your competition (this is where most ideas traffic-driving ideas come unstuck, as for most keywords with good search volumes, the SERP is usually full of powerful competition, all aiming for a space in the top 10)
  • Come up with a relevant, keyword-rich, engaging title
  • Begin to create your content

Which tools can help with the content ideation process?

Tools such as Answer the Public, Google Trends, Uber Suggest, Keyword io, Moz and Ahrefs’ versions of Keyword Explorer can all help with the early parts of the ideation process, but you will still need to cross reference with the competition to work out whether an idea actually has legs.

How to work out the competition for a keyword

The traditional way was to do this manually using the “allintitle:KEYWORD” search modifier, which gives us the number of other pages on the internet using our target keyword in their page titles. We’d then have to cross reference with the average score of the SERP top 10s’ quality metric of our choice (Domain Authority, Trust Flow or Domain Rating) then compare to our own, to give us a rough idea of our chances of ranking (the less powerful competition, the better chance of ranking). This was a very time-consuming process.

The new way is to use Ahrefs’ Keyword Difficulty indicator, which gives you an idea of how many links you will need to build to your page to have a chance of ranking in the top 10. The aim of both of these is to provide you with an idea of how easy it will be, how long it will take and how many links need to be built before you appear on the first page and start driving traffic to your website.

You can be exceptionally knowledgeable about a certain topic and blessed with a great writing style, but if your content does not stand a chance of ranking in the top 10, the whole exercise is fruitless.

Based on average click through rates in Google, even if you are ranking 9 or 10, you will only attain around 2-3% of traffic from those searching for your target keyword:


Image source


Producing content with a purpose – in this instance, traffic-driving content – takes time and effort. For those who simply don’t have the time or energy available to dedicate to a lengthy process, or those that do but would like an easier resolution, there is a solution. We know there is little value in producing content that is not going to be seen by anyone, so would it not be easier if we could work from the end point backwards?

Reverse engineering the content ideation process

We know our aim – to drive traffic to our website. We know we need to only operate in an non-competitive marketplace or one in which the strength of our domain matches that of those already ranking or one within reach of our link building capabilities. We know we need to choose a keyword, title or theme that has large enough search volume to drive the desired traffic. We know that ranking 9th or 10th in the SERP will only attract 2-3% of the total search volume.

We know a lot, and now thanks to the new filtering system on Ahrefs’ Content Explorer we can use this information to our advantage.

How to easily create traffic-driving content for your website

If I owned a hiking blog and wanted to drive people to my site, I would:

  • Open Content Explorer and type the keyword ‘hiking’. This brings back over one million pieces of content currently on the internet (taking into context social media shares, links built, traffic driven, Domain Rating and word counts). This is useful for the initial research purposes as well as this process


  • Next, we want to find out what content is attaining a good amount of monthly traffic. For this, we simply filter by your desired number of choice – I have chosen 1,000 visits per month

  • We now have 5,000+ pieces of hiking-related content that each bring in over 1,000 visitors per month to their respective sites. The next step is to find out which pieces of content are doing so in a non-competitive marketplace. To do so, filter by Referring Domains (the number of links each piece has attained)


  • We are now left with 1,119 pieces of content that are driving traffic, yet doing so with less than 5 links pointing at them
  • Links correlate directly with ranks. The more quality, relevant, powerful links you can build to a page or piece of content, the higher it is going to rank
  • After using these filters, we have left to us a list of content that is driving traffic with a low number of links attained. Were I in the hiking blogger market, I would be looking at this range of content and taking inspiration from it
  • An improvement on the old “Skyscraper” technique, whereby you simply took the best piece of content on a topic, tried to improve upon it and hope people would link to it with no guarantee these links would outrank the existing piece, this method gives us a very achievable number in which to aim for with our link building methods
  • In theory, by improving on something in this filtered list – adding insight, making the copy more engaging, updating outdated parts, adding better imagery and then by building links to it –  you should essentially be able to outrank the existing content
  • Effective link building does take some skill and time. If you do not have an SEO background, there are many useful guides available online, such as this in-depth one from Page One Power), which should enable you to build 5+ links before too long

I am certainly not advocating stealing someone else’s content and using it for your own. All content should be 100% unique to your website, but you can always investigate what is already live then, using your insights, create a piece of content that is even better than your competitors’ offerings to drive traffic to your website.

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