Ahrefs' Homepage

The Ahrefs new homepage was created by hiring 3 different copywriting agencies, spending over $33k. The final results were then mixed and matched according to what they liked about each one to come up with what you see now. CMO Tim Soulo explained the behind the scenes story of how it came to be in a YouTube video (https://youtu.be/lJVn_iwe1ho) which was used to source the content of this teardown.

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The Ahrefs homepage previously hadn't been updated since December of 2015. It was very straightforward and minimalist. But they felt there was a lot of room for improvement to rethink the main message and position themselves to reflect how the product had evolved in the last five years. They felt that the main screenshot made the product look complicated and intimidating. There's too much going on with the screenshot to make it helpful. Instead, it makes it very unclear and doesn't help visitors' ability to understand what they do any better.
They also felt that the tabs with the descriptions of the tools were very generic and too wordy. This is a bad combo: generic + wordy = confusion. If you're going to be wordy, it should be to add clarity through specific details.
Back in 2015, one of Ahrefs' main differentiators was their "Big Data" and the sheer volume of what's available to use for research. Since then, the data has been commoditized and is no longer something that customers look for when making a purchase decision.
There's nothing wrong with these sections necessarily, but it's clear that they're outdated. Uninspiring might be a good way to describe what's going on here. The small sections for each "perk" makes them feel like an afterthought rather than a core value prop.
Again, bland and uninspiring sections on the site. Clearly some room for improvement, especially considering what's changed in the last 5 years and the value props they wanted to surface on an updated version of the page. So, armed with market research, customer interviews, and calls with the Ahrefs product and marketing teams, each agency drafted new copy for the page which would then be mixed, matched, and designed by Ahrefs.
Two important notes before we continue: (1) Market research showed a strong indicator that "backlink research" should be prominent and be the key positioning factor. But this is actually outdated to what the company offers and the way they want to position themselves. They want to dictate the way customers view them, not the other way around. And (2) They really struggled with the tension between design and copywriting, sort of a chicken and egg problem. In the end, it's an iterative process that requires collaboration from both ends. You'll see bits and pieces of this throughout the teardown.
Previously, the headline was very "solution-aware" in that they catered to visitors who were looking for an edge up on their competitors and were likely familiar with SEO software. The new headline aims to cater to "problem-aware" visitors and have broader appeal. Notice: "...you don't have to be an SEO pro..." This is likely because they've grown so much that to keep acquiring customers, they need to expand beyond SEO pros and appeal to other types of marketers at various levels of experience.
The CTA, user count, and logos are rearranged, but they're still the same basic elements. Notice that there's no hero screenshot. Instead, they prioritize the supporting CTA elements and even added icons in the headline to draw more attention to it. The icons also introduce a pattern they can continue throughout the page.
One of their biggest objections and questions of prospective customers is: "Am I going to figure it out?" Well yes, with an all-in-one tool, free learning material, and community! It's an objection-buster.
Benefits over features. They focus on what the tools do rather than what the tools are. This way they can choose what to explore. OR they can click on the video for an in-depth explainer. Again, since they're aiming to cater to a broader audience that may not care about a bunch of features without knowing what it can do for them, they focus on building curiosity.
Another example of their desire to balance the variety of use cases and levels of sophistication: "Junior marketer *and* SEO expert"... "advanced features *and* easy to master". They're positioning themselves for a wider market.
They hide the main three USPs for the product in an expandable section, so as not to dominate the page with the product, because they want to focus on the value of the learning materials and community. Very unconventional to hide the product like this, but that's Ahrefs' MO!
Now a really unique section: A quote from Tim, the CMO, discouraging visitors to sign up! They do this because for someone to find value in the trial, they need some basic SEO knowledge and familiarity with how to use an SEO tool. There's a learning curve, which the blog and youtube channel proactively work to get you past. This is actually right in line with what I have personally recommended to others in the past. It's not crazy if it's in line with how successful users are already behaving.
Links to the free learning materials are now made first-class citizens as opposed to the brief section devoted to them in the last page version.
At first, they wanted to showcase pictures of employees but then decided in favor of customer pictures. Much better social proof... Makes them very friendly.
Their dedication to their community and support is also now a first-class citizen.
Testimonials are broken up into different use cases because they have such broad use cases. Each testimonial is personalized to what that persona cares about.
A final CTA urges visitors to start a trial, and might I say a refreshing organization of information here to catch the eye.
To introduce the footer, they have a small section devoted to giving a bit of information about the company and a quote from the CEO.
Tim reported that there has been no major change in signups since the homepage update. Does that make it a success? I think so, since their goal was more about positioning than it was about conversions. An increase in conversions and/or conversion rate would likely come later and in a much less quantifiable manner.
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