How You Can Use Ahrefs “Content Explorer” (With Advanced Filters) to Accurately Hunt for Unlinked Mentions

We all know that backlinks are a ranking factor. In fact, Google recently updating some of their guidelines on nofollow, while adding 2 more attributes hints even further at how much they value backlinks.

When it comes to building inbound links, tools can certainly help! One of the most renowned, prominent, and my favorite, is Ahrefs. I use Ahrefs for all my SEO needs. The flexibility and functionality it offers has earned my utmost respect. Not only that, it’s quite accurate when it comes to QA-ing their results with Google Search.

In any event, forcing myself away from the praises, let’s jump right in to learn how you can use Ahrefs “Content Explorer” (with advanced filters) to accurately hunt for unlinked mentions.

Step 1: The Setup

ahrefs content explorer initial setup

This is probably one of the most crucial step. What you do here will decide how you get your results. Let’s go over all the items in red, and the why behind it.

  1. “Sound of Music” in double-quotes: So while writing this post, I just learned that “Best Buy” used to be known as “Sound of Music” before — a perfect example for me because I was looking for a brand name with more than 2 words.
    In any case, the use of encapsulating Sound of Music in double-quotes is because it forces the tool to search for an exact match. Meaning, it will look for the words Sound of Music in the same order.
  2. In content: The In content filter will look for Sound of Music within the body of the page, and nowhere else. This almost guarantees you mentions inside the article body.
  3. Published once: Pretty much will look for pages that are only published once, and haven’t been updated since. While not a good idea, but if you couple it with:
  4. Published: Last 30 days, it paints a better picture into the recency of the content.
  5. The “English” filter will ensure that the results you get are in the English language. Great way to narrow down further. And say for instance you’re looking for your brand mentions in the Spanish language, you can use that too. This functionality can be used to target international link building.
  6. Only Live filter will give me results that are working properly/a.k.a has a 200 HTTP response code.
  7. Words: From 500: I feel that this filter is extremely useful because chances are, if a page has at least 500 words, it’s likely a blog post.

If all of that sounds inelegant to you, the combination of everything translates into this: Show me mentions of “Sound of Music”, within the article body for the landing pages/articles that are only published once within the last 30 days, the page is working properly, is written in English, and has at least 500 words.

The way you do your setup will vary depending on your need, but I wanted to show you all of these filters in cohesion, so you can inspire ideas for your own research.

P.S. – Note that for “published once” filter, you also get the option to only look for republished articles, or a combination of both.

Step 2: Enter Your Domain for Unlinked Mentions While Applying Two More Filters

ahrefs unlinked mentions feature
Sites who mention the term you searched for, but aren’t linking to you, will be highlighted
  1. The “one page per domain” secures the guarantee that you’ll only see 1 page per domain. This is a handy feature for when you have a larger outreach team.

    Typically what happens is that you may end up finding multiple points of contacts for the same website. And it could get weird if you or your other team members reach out to two different people about the same URL, or reach out to the same person for different URLs; awkward either way.

    Using this indicates that you’ve already reached out to this website, and that’s it! No one else will reach out to the same site. (This is assuming you’re maintaining some kind of system as to who has reached out to who, and for what website).
  2. Unlinked Mentions is pretty much where you’ll enter your domain name. What this will do is further filter out the results to only websites who mention your brand name, but aren’t linking to it.
  3. Lastly, sort by “newest first” to get a list of pages from arranged by publish date in descending order. In other words, the most recent post shows up on top.

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Step 3: Export Your List, Find Point of Contacts, and Begin Outreach

The first two steps are pretty much used for research. The last step is where you make use of that research, export/download your list, arrange it in whatever preferred format you like, etc. Then, you’d find points of contacts at those organizations/websites, and begin your outreach for links.

You can also leverage some of the extra data points Ahrefs provides, such as traffic trends, referring domains, social metrics, and more, to prioritize your list even further.