What it is, how it works and how Ahrefs does it
5 mins read

What it is, how it works and how Ahrefs does it

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that aims to attract customers with relevant and useful content.

Coined by the founders of HubSpot Brian Halligan And Dharmesh ShahThe goal of inbound marketing is to create content to:

  1. Attract possible customers.
  2. Engage and teach you how your product or service can solve their problem.
  3. Joy by doing everything you can to help them succeed with your product.

Together they act like a flywheel.

The Inbound Marketing Flywheel

How to Do Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is our core marketing strategy at Ahrefs. We create helpful content that teaches our customers SEO and digital marketing while promoting our product, just like the post you are reading now.

Here’s how we use inbound marketing at Ahrefs:


Ranking in organic search is the most important way to attract potential customers. We chose this channel for two reasons:

  1. Constant traffic – By ranking for topics people are searching for, we can attract visitors to our content month after month.
  2. Very targeted – By writing about the problems our product helps solve, we attract the right people at the right time.

For example, we rank #1 for “How to Do Affiliate Marketing”:

Ahrefs ranks #1 on a Google SERP for "how to do affiliate marketing"

According to Google Search Console, this post attracted 58,000 clicks in the last three months:

Number of clicks via Google Search Console

All of these people are potential customers because they will struggle to do affiliate marketing without a keyword research tool like Ahrefs.

To find the best topics to write about, we conduct keyword research. Here is the process:

  1. Go to Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter a term that is relevant to your company or product
  3. Go to Appropriate terms report
Terms match report via Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

This report shows you all the keywords that contain the topic, sorted by popularity.

Go through the report and select the ones that have business potential. Business potential is essentially how easy it is to promote your product while addressing a topic.

How the Ahrefs team determines the business potential of a topic

Give these keywords a score from 0 to 3 and focus primarily on keywords with a score of “2” or higher. Then follow the resources listed below to create content that ranks for those keywords.


Engagement is about teaching readers how to solve their problems using your product. To do this, you need to understand their problem and help them solve it.

For example, a searcher wants to know how to find out who is linking to their website. You search on Google and find our content. Guess what? Our product – Site Explorer – solves this problem. That’s why we include it as a potential tool you can use in our article.

Site Explorer made a pitch in an Ahrefs blog post

In fact, this article is about the same thing: we’ll show you how to do inbound marketing our way, namely SEO. And to do that you need a tool like ours.

Understand that this is not forced. Our product is the best way to solve this problem, so of course it’s part of the narrative. If it doesn’t fit, we’ll never record it:

Joshua Hardwick advises a writer to remove a product mention

That’s why it’s so important to prioritize topics with business potential in the attract phase. If your product isn’t a good solution to the problem, it will be difficult to “sell” it in content and engage readers in a meaningful way.


Each delighted customer can spread the word to their friends and colleagues. This will help you gain more customers, who can then recommend more people. But the flywheel only moves if you excel at this stage and delight your customers.

You can’t put lipstick on a pig. Therefore, you can’t make your customers happy with any of the many “delighting strategies” if you don’t have a product or service that delivers results. That is indeed our main focus. We are constantly trying to improve our product and are constantly releasing new features:

But new features mean nothing if your customers don’t know how to use them. You need to help them take advantage of these features and get the results they want. We do that on our blog.

In addition, our “Help” area is available to our customers if they have specific questions about our tools.

Ahrefs' "help" Section

Every new customer is also invited to join our customer-only community:

Ahrefs' community for customers only

If you have feedback or ideas for features you would like to develop, you can discuss them in the community or even submit them on Canny, our feature request board:

The Canny board from Ahrefs


Here are some frequently asked questions about inbound marketing.

What are the benefits of inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing attracts potential customers, teaches them how to solve their problems with your product, and helps customers get the most out of your product. This leads to satisfied customers who recommend your product to others.

What is the difference between inbound and outbound marketing?

Outbound marketing is an interruptive form of marketing where you communicate a message or product to a potential customer through cold calls, cold emails, direct mail, etc.

Inbound marketing is the opposite – you create useful content for your audience that they are looking for when they need it.

Final thoughts

Our specific product, the customers we serve, and the industry we operate in have determined the direction of our inbound marketing strategy.

Your company probably operates in a different industry, targets different customers, and has different resources. The principles of inbound marketing will be the same, but the individual tactics will be different.

Did I miss something important? let me know on X (Twitter).