Ahrefs was founded by Dmitry Gerasimenko in 2010. The company operates the biggest commercial Web crawler called AhrefsBot that constantly adds and updates links in its 12 trillion link database.Ahrefs' main tool, Site Explorer, is used to analyze backlinks and search traffic of any website or URL. It allows users to uncover new link building and keyword opportunities and reverse-engineer SEO tactics that work for their competitors.
In 2010, the founding team started working on a web crawling and indexing system. It was developed into the paid service focused on link analysis in 2011.
During the first years of service, Ahrefs got traction in the marketing community by having a competitive edge on unique SEO data. They focused solely on product development and had no marketing or sales team.In 2017, Ahrefs launched Site Audit, a tool that crawls any website and reports what's wrong with it from an SEO perspective. This concluded the focus shift from a link analysis tool to a toolset covering all stages of SEO processes from keyword research to reporting.
As of 2018, the company reported $40M of annual recurring revenue with 60% annual growth rate and a team of less than 50 people.In 2019, Ahrefs ranked on 29th place in the list of the fastest growing Singaporean companies based on CAGR from 2015 to 2018.
In 2019, Gerasimenko announced building a search engine to compete with Google. The main differentiator is focus on privacy similar to DuckDuckGo, and profit sharing where 90% of profits would go to publishers of the indexed content.
Reactions to the announcement were generally positive. Some search marketers expressed skepticism due to the focus on the search engine's publishers rather than users.