Getting your online marketing and SEO right starts with having the right SEO tools.
SpyFu (founded in 2005) and Semrush (founded in 2008) are two of the oldest SEO tools available. They’re also the most powerful digital marketing and SEO tools available to content marketers, business owners, and SEO bloggers.
So there is only one question.
If it comes to SpyFu vs Semrush, which one should you choose?
Here is a side-by-side comparison of SpyFu vs Semrush to help you decide.
SpyFu vs Semrush: Summary
SpyFu focuses specially on providing detailed competitive analysis reports, while Semrush provides all the SEO features of Spyfu, along with extra features such as site auditing, backlink tools, and content marketing. Naturally, Semrush costs more than SpyFu, but unlike Spyfu, it offers a 14-day free trial.
Both tools offer good value for the set of features they provide.
While Semrush is expensive, with its pricing plans starting at $129 per month against SpyFu’s $39 per month, you can see how valuable it is to your SEO efforts by taking advantage of their free trial on the Pro and Guru plans.
What is SpyFu?
SpyFu is a competitive intelligence tool for digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). As the name implies, it helps you spy on your top competitors to discover their online advertising strategies and organic search performance, enabling you to improve your marketing efforts.
SpyFu enables you to carry out the following:
- SEO competitive analysis
- PPC competitor analysis
- Keyword research
- Site audit
- SERP analysis, etc.
Spyfu’s unique selling point is that it helps expose the marketing and SEO strategy of your most successful competitors.
To do that, it has comprehensive data on every domain in the last 17 years. All you need to do is key in the domain, and you’ll have a record of every place it has shown up on Google, from all the keywords it has purchased on Google Ads to every organic rank and every ad variation it has recorded.
That doesn’t erase the fact that SpyFu is also an amazing tool for backlinks building, rank tracking, SERP analysis, and keyword research. It’s also one of the few tools that provide white-label, PPC, and SEO reports, allowing you to track your progress at all times and make necessary changes.
What is Semrush?
Semrush is an all-in-one online marketing tool that offers SEO, content marketing, competitor research, pay-per-click (PPC), and social media marketing services in one platform.
It’s in fact, the most comprehensive marketing toolkit for content marketers, small business owners, and SEO bloggers who are looking to increase the visibility of their website, attract quality leads, and convert them to customers with ease.
Semrush enables you to perform the following:
- Keyword research
- Competitive analysis
- Site audit
- SERP analysis
- Backlink analysis
- Advertising research
- Social media marketing, etc.
Spyfu vs Semrush – Detailed Comparison
Can’t match Semrush’s backlink database
43 Trillion +
Site Audit (Page Crawl)
Social Media Managament
Now that you have a summary of the two tools, let’s look more in-depth into their features and how they compare.
Here, we’ll dive deeper to compare the common and unique features of SpyFu and Semrush, helping you choose the tool that better fits your needs.
SpyFu and Semrush have these tools in common:
- Competitor analysis
- Keyword research
- Backlink analysis
- PPC campaign analysis
SpyFu vs Semrush: Competitor Analysis
SpyFu and Semrush have excellent competitor research features and functionalities, enabling you to learn from competitors’ mistakes and copy their best strategies.
SpyFu Competitor Analysis
This is SpyFu’s area of strength, as it allows you to conduct detailed PPC and SEO competitive research and uncover the deep marketing secrets of your competitors.
With SpyFu PPC competitor research, you can keep track of every keyword your competitors have ever bought on Google and every ad test they’ve run. The tool’s SEO competitor research allows you to see every keyword your competitors rank on, the content they rank with, and the backlinks they have on that content.
Here are more details on what you can do with the SpyFu competitor analysis tool:
- Download your competitor’s PPC and SEO keywords and track their clicks and how much they spend on each keyword.
- Monitor all the domains bidding for your Google Ads.
- Analyze your competitor’s bidding history and get recommendations for the most profitable keywords you’re not buying yet.
- Monitor every website in your SEO niche and observe changes in rankings and content over time.
- Track the influencers whose backlinks will help you rank on specific keywords, etc.
You can do much more with your SpyFu competitor analysis tool. Check out the tool to see them.
Semrush Competitor Analysis
Semrush’s competitor analysis tool allows you to identify organic and paid competitors and gain valuable insights from their SEO and PPC practices. The Semrush Competitive research toolkit is divided into five categories:
The domain overview tool on Semrush allows you to get valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your competitor. Simply type in the domain you want to examine.
It displays vital information such as the domain’s authority score, organic search traffic, paid search traffic, backlinks, countries where the traffic comes from, and more, as you can see in the image below for CNN.com.
You can also get an overview of your domain and your competitors by comparing them in the Semrush Domain Overview tool. This tool also enables you to examine your domain’s progress for the last three to six months or one year.
If you can figure out where your competitor’s traffic is coming from, you stand a chance to compete and outperform them on SERPs.
The Semrush Traffic Analytics tool enables you to track how many visits your competitor’s website gets in a month or chosen period.
It further shows the unique visitors on the site, the pages they visited, the average visit duration, and the bounce rate.
This tool lets you explore the sites your target audiences visited before landing on your competitor’s page. This enables you to find other competitors you can study to optimize your site better.
Spyfu does give you an estimate of traffic, but does not let you get such granular details, and also gives you a traffic overview only at the country level, not on a worldwide basis.
Both these tools are more accurate for sites that have a very high volume of traffic.
The SemrushOrganic Research Tool helps you discover your competitor’s best keywords and their competitors and monitor the positional changes of your competitor’s domain in rganic search.
While SpyFu does this, Semrush does it better, as you get in-depth insights into your organic search tactics and the areas where your competitors are doing better.
The Semrush Keyword Gap tool is one you’d find most helpful in performing a competitive analysis. It enables you to compare up to five domains simultaneously, discovering the unique and common keywords they rank for.
This is important for updating your keyword profile to match your competitors. You can check for organic, paid, and PLA keywords, see how they intersect, and identify the most relevant ones for your SEO and PPC efforts.
This Semrush feature enables you to explore your competitor’s backlink profile to discover opportunities you can leverage to improve your site’s performance. You’ll discover a list of domains to target in your link-building campaigns.
Conclusion: SpyFu vs Semrush Competitive Analysis
While both tools have robust competitive analysis features, Semrush’s is more comprehensive.
It has detailed features that enable you to make an in-depth analysis of your competitors’ strategies, discover their top competitors, and give you insights on how to outrank them.
Besides, for Semrush you can analyze the performance of a domain in 120 countries, but for Spyfu, only 14 countries are covered.
SpyFu vs Semrush: Keyword Research
Keyword research is vital to your entire SEO strategy, as it enables you to understand searchers’ intent, create content that meets their needs, and drive relevant organic traffic to your website. SpyFu and Semrush do these things with ease for you.
SpyFu Keyword Research
SpyFu’s extensive keyword research tool gives you access to valuable keywords for your SEO and PPC campaigns. It also gives you key metrics on each keyword, such as the search volume, CPC, etc.
SpyFu divides its keyword research into seven categories: keyword overview, related keywords, advertiser history, ranking history, backlinks, bulk upload, SERP analysis, and Google Ads advising.
When you enter a keyword into the SpyFu keyword research tool, you’ll see important metrics like the monthly volume, CPC, mobile vs. desktop, difficulty, paid clicks, similar keywords, organic ranking history, etc.
You’ll also see the most successful advertisers and their best ads, giving you an insight into the keywords advertisers are paying heavily for.
The SpyFu keyword research tool also shows you the past keyword rankings of a domain, helping you avoid the mistakes of previous top competitors.
One thing you’d love about the SpyFu keyword research feature is the bulk keyword upload option. Here, the tool allows you to upload your branded and long-tail keywords and then helps you organize them into relevant groups.
Semrush Keyword Research
While SpyFu has an extensive keyword research toolkit, Semrush’s is an even better toolkit you can have in your arsenal. It helps you find the best keywords for your campaigns and provides valuable insights on outranking your competitors.
The keyword research toolon Semrush is categorized into six: keyword overview, organic research, keyword magic tool, keyword gap, keyword manager, and organic traffic insights.
Once you type in a keyword, the tool analyzes and provides relevant keyword data such as search volume, intent, keyword difficulty, CPC, SERP features, etc. You’ll also get millions of keyword ideas and variations, the questions people ask, and solid clusters built around the keyword.
One significant difference between Semrush and SpyFu here is that Semrush’s insights are more in-depth. For example, here you can see a search on the keyword “movies.” Semrush provides information on the global volume, showing the US with the most searches, followed by India and the rest.
It also provides more information on what is required to rank for the keyword, as seen in the keyword difficulty section.
This is different for SpyFu, as it only presents the search for one country at a time.
Furthermore, SpyFu only shows keyword difficulty without providing context on why it’s difficult to rank for.
With Semrush’s Keyword Magic Planner, you can filter out the best keywords for your brand from a pool of more than 24 billion. This is huge, especially when you compare it to SpyFu’s keyword database, which is just above 7 billion.
Semrush’s Organic Traffic Insights tool enables you to leverage Semrush’s integration with Google Analytics to uncover “not provided” keywords in your search. This isn’t available on SpyFu.
Conclusion: SpyFu vs Semrush keyword research
Semrush beats SpyFu hands down in keyword research, as it provides more in-depth data and insights on the features they have in common and additional features SpyFu doesn’t have.
SpyFu vs Semrush: Backlink Analysis
A comprehensive backlink profile will significantly boost your SEO and help you rank better than your competitors on some keywords. SpyFu and Semrush allow you to identify the backlinks driving traffic to your competitors’ websites, enabling you to improve your backlink profile and boost your rankings.
SpyFu Backlink Analysis
SpyFu’s backlink analysis tool lets you discover common links that are already helping your competitors rank on SERPs. It helps you carry out your link-building process in two ways:
Discover the links your top competitors are getting and filter them by keywords.
The Backlink Kombat feature enables you to compare your backlink profile to your competitors, discovering pages that link to your competitors’ websites. You can exclude the pages linking to your website to make it easy for you to filter out the ones not linked to yours.
Get the emails, phone numbers, and social profiles of people behind the websites your competitors are getting links from.
Semrush Backlink Analysis
Semrush has a more robust backlink analysis tool than SpyFu. Its backlink database of over 43 trillion links contains high-quality links from all the top pages in your niche that you can use to build an authoritative backlink profile. Semrush enables you to carry out backlink analysis with these five tools:
Analyze any domain to find all inbound links and their websites. You’ll see something similar to the image below once you enter the domain on the Semrush Backlink Analytic tool.
The image above is a backlink analysis of the domain “worldwildlife.org,” as we have above for SpyFu. You can see how Semrush provides detailed information about the site’s backlink profile, from the referring domains to the actual backlinks, indexed pages, outbound domains, and lots more.
Going further, you can get more information about the domains linking to the website. You can also see the new domains gained and the ones lost within the last six months.
Semrush’s Authority Score feature enables you to access the reputation of a domain. It also suggests to you whether a link from that domain can benefit your site or not.
Backlink Audit Tool
Monitor your backlink profile to fish out and eliminate low-quality or toxic links. With a healthy backlink profile, you’re sure to avoid ranking punishments from search engines.
One thing I find more fascinating about this tool is that it simplifies the toxic link elimination process. Once you fish out toxic backlinks, you can create and send them your disavow list, which you can upload directly from Semrush to Google.
Link Building Tool
This is similar to SpyFu’s link-building outreach tool. However, it is much more extensive.
It enables you to run backlink outreach campaigns in just three simple steps. You start by going through the backlink sources to find link-building opportunities, then proceed to send personalized, relationship-based messages to the prospects you find.
The tool also allows you to track backlinks you’ve acquired to be sure they’re still active and to contact the owners if they’re taken down.
Bulk Backlink Analysis
Analyze the backlink profiles of multiple competitors at once. You can enter up to 200 domains and have this tool help analyze them to discover good link-building opportunities for your website.
Conclusion: SpyFu vs Semrush Backlink Analysis
SpyFu’s backlink analysis feature is just basic compared to Semrush’s. It only allows you to track backlinks and perform basic outreaches to find prospects. However, Semrush’s backlink analysis feature provides detailed insights on your backlink profile, gives you ideas on how to build it up, and makes outreach far easier than what you can get in SpyFu.
SpyFu vs Semrush: PPC Campaign Analysis
Aside from SEO, SpyFu and Semrush have another thing in common – they have tools to aid your Google Ads strategy. These tools enable you to analyze your competitors’ ad strategies, identify the keywords they spend the most on, and access their best-performing ads.
SpyFu PPC Campaign Analysis
SpyFu enables you to carry out PPC campaign analysis with seven amazing tools:
This tool enables you to find any domain’s paid keywords and ad spend history. It also displays the estimated monthly PPC clicks, estimated monthly PPC budget, shared paid keywords, top competitors, and top Google ad buy recommendations.
You can examine keywords’ best performances and weaknesses and dive deeper into the domain’s ad copy and keyword groups.
This tool is dedicated to helping you identify your Google Ads competitors, monitor changes in their ad spending over time, and protect your keywords from them.
You can also view the competitors competing for those paid keywords with SEO.
Compare your domain with your competitors’ to see keywords you bought and didn’t and why your competitors’ ads appear while yours don’t.
This tool shows you all the keywords you should consider buying and those you shouldn’t waste your money on.
Find every keyword your competitors have ever bought, their estimated monthly ad budget, and how long they’ve been advertising on a keyword.
You’d find the keyword filter feature quite helpful, as it helps you hide the keywords you’ve already bought, leaving you with only new keyword opportunities. Here, you can also access mobile and desktop searches, paid, organic, and no-click percentages, and lots more. The image below shows this information for the domain cnn.com.
The other tools are Ad History, Google Ads Advisor, and Google Ads Template.
Semrush PPC Campaign Analysis
Semrush’s PPC campaign analysis tool helps you study your competitors, conduct keyword research, and create compelling ad copy. It does this with three paid marketing tools:
Keyword Magic Tool
Discover billions of related terms and phrases, spot niche topics, and find question keywords to build your PPC keyword list.
Study your competitors’ ad strategies, see the keywords they’re bidding on, and view ad copy examples from industry leaders.
Know how other Google Shopping Advertisers perform, the search queries that trigger their PLAs to appear, and their website positioning.
Conclusion: SpyFu vs Semrush PPC Research
While Semrush has more detailed tools for PPC advertising, SpyFu has more tools that do more, like the Google Ads advisor and template. In all, the SpyFu PPC features appear to be more helpful, especially when your focus is only on paid advertising.
Semrush Additional Features
Semrush has all the features you can access in SpyFu, plus additional features to improve your SEO and digital marketing efforts.
Here are some of the features that I find the most important:
The Semrush site audit tool also shows the overall health of your site and points out issues you need to address to improve it while also giving you a tip on how to do so.
It points out issues like:
- Slow-loading content
- SSL problems
- Duplicate content
- Missing title tags or meta descriptions
- Missing alt texts
- Crawl errors
- Broken inbound links
- Core web vital scores
- Overuse of keywords
With information about the health of your site and what is slowing down your search ranking, you can achieve a lot with your SEO.
However, unfortunately, this is a feature you can’t access on SpyFu as it doesn’t have a tool for it.
Search Intent Tool
Semrush has a search intent tool that makes researching keywords very quick, especially when you’re building topic clusters and analyzing keywords based on the intent.
You can either choose keywords based on the intent directly.
You can also analyze the keywords from a list to determine the intent of each. Just next to the keyword, you see a letter with I, T, N, or C.
Social Media Toolkit
Social media functionality is another feature that Semrush possesses that SpyFu doesn’t.
You can make and schedule social media posts with the Social Media Poster, and use the Social Tracker to track your competitors’ social media activities.
The Social and Influencer Analytics Tools are also available on Semrush to help you analyze your social activities and choose the perfect influencers to partner with. The Social Inbox tool allows you to monitor incoming messages, comments, and mentions and reply to them from a single, easy-to-use interface.
Content Marketing Toolkit
Semrush’s Content Marketing Toolkit presents four distinct tools that let you execute a data-driven content strategy based on your audience’s needs.
The Topic Research tool gives you great content ideas by helping you find popular topics, headlines, and questions online from your target audience.
The SEO Content Template and SEO Writing Assistant enable you to create optimized content easily, while the Marketing Calendar helps you manage your content marketing activities.
Read my full post on how you can optimize your content marketing with Semrush.
The Content Marketing Toolkit is only included in the Guru plan. If you haven’t used it yet, get an exclusive 14-day trial to try it out.
SpyFu vs Semrush: Pricing plans
Now let’s compare the pricing plans of SpyFu and Semrush to determine which is best for you:
SpyFu pricing plans
SpyFu has three pricing plans:
- Basic: The Basic plan costs $39 monthly and $16 if you pay annually.
- Professional: The Professional plan costs $39 for the first month, $79 per month after that, or $36 per month if you pay annually.
- Team: The Team plan costs $299 per month, or $149 per month if you choose the annual plan.
Semrush Pricing Plans
Semrush has three pricing plans:
- Pro: The Pro plan costs $108.33 per month for an annual subscription. Gives you access to 500 keywords and 10,000 results per report. And allows you to add 5 projects for tracking.
- Guru: The Semrush Guru plan costs $208.33 monthly. It allows you to track 15 projects and 1,500 keywords and get 30,000 search results per report.
- Business: The Business plan costs $499.95 monthly. You can add 40 projects and 4,000 keywords for tracking and get 50,000 search results per report.
While the SpyFu monthly pricing plans are more affordable than Semrush’s, you’ll also get discounts if you pay annually.
SpyFu is the best option to get more features with a lower budget. However, if you do a cost-benefit analysis, you’ll find that Semrush offers you more value for what it costs.
SpyFu vs Semrush: Free trial
SpyFu doesn’t offer a free trial on any of its pricing plans. However, there’s a way you can try out their premium tools for free for 30 days.
SpyFu offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all three pricing plans.
You’re allowed to use the tool for 29 days, and on the 30th day, or before then, if you feel the tool isn’t worth it or just want your money back, you can request it back.
You’ll be refunded 100% without questions or demand for explanations.
Semrush, on the other hand, offers a 7-day free trial on two pricing plans: Pro and Guru. You can also get 14-day trials with my affiliate links:
SpyFu vs Semrush: Pros and Cons
SpyFu and Semrush are two powerful online marketing and SEO tools you’d surely enjoy using.
However, despite their wide range of features, they have different strengths and weaknesses.
SpyFu pros and cons
- At $39 to $299 per month, SpyFu is much more affordable than Semrush, which costs between $129.95 and $499.95 per month.
- Has a better, easier-to-use interface.
- Provides extensive data for competitive analysis.
- Has less data and features than Semrush.
- No social media analytics or brand monitoring tool.
Semrush pros and cons
- Provides more comprehensive features than SpyFu
- Provides more data and reports
- Includes social media analytics and brand monitoring tools
- More expensive than SpyFu
- Has a more complex interface
Who should use which tool and why?
The choice between SpyFu and Semrush depends on your business needs, goals, and resources.
SpyFu is an excellent choice for marketers, and businesses focused primarily on competitive analysis and PPC advertising. It gives you the insights you need to win over your SEO and PPC marketing competitors. And the most interesting part is it comes at a far cheaper price than Semrush.
Semrush, on the other hand, is a comprehensive toolkit suitable for small business owners, SEO bloggers, agencies, and large enterprises looking for a one-stop solution to their digital marketing needs. If you’re looking for the best tool that can cater to all your marketing needs, then you need no other reason to try Semrush.
Alternatives to SpyFu and Semrush
While this article compares SpyFu and Semrush, it’s important to note that you can use other similar SEO tools to achieve the same results. This is essential, especially when you need other features in an SEO tool that SpyFu and Semrush don’t have. Here are some of the top alternatives to both tools:
Moz is a comprehensive SEO tool you can use to perform keyword research, competitive analysis, site audit, backlink analysis, and rank tracking. Its Domain Authority (DA) metric is widely used to assess the authority of a website.
With a database of over 43 trillion backlinks, 1.2 billion keywords, and 100,000 local business listings, Moz is a worthy alternative to Semrush and SpyFu.
2. SE Ranking
SE Ranking is another top competitor to SpyFu and Semrush. It offers a comprehensive suite of SEO tools that enable you to perform keyword research, SERPs audit, competitive analysis, backlink analysis, etc.
You can also use SE Ranking to perform extensive content marketing tasks. Its Content Editor helps you create well-crafted content that yields SEO results.
Another feature you’d find interesting in SE Ranking is its vast database. It has over 4.2 billion keywords, and 2 billion domain profiles gathered from 188 countries.
Ahrefs is an exceptional SEO tool known for its powerful backlink analysis tools. It provides detailed information about a user’s backlink profile and their competitors. Ahrefs also provides robust keyword research, rank tracking, competitive analysis, and website audit features.
With over 14.3 billion web pages in its database, Ahrefs has all the information you need to win the SEO battle in your niche.
You can streamline your workflow and achieve lots more with Mangools as your go-to SEO tool. It’s a simple but powerful SEO suite you can leverage for keyword research, rank tracking, backlink analysis, and competitive analysis.
With a price range of $12-$58 per month, Mangools offers you great value for your money. Its simple user interface is another thing that makes it a favorite for most beginners in SEO.
5. SEO Powersuite
SEO Powersuite is a powerful SEO tool that lets you do much more with just four tools. Its Rank Tracker, Website Auditor, SEO SpyGlass, and LinkAssistant offer you all you need to win in SEO.
You can leverage SEO Powersuite’s 43 trillion backlinks to upgrade your backlink profile and earn a competitive advantage in your niche.
Who are the main competitors to SpyFu and Semrush?
The main competitors to SpyFu and Semrush are SE Ranking, Ahrefs, SEO Powersuite and Moz.
SpyFu vs Semrush – Which one to choose
SpyFu and Semrush are two amazing digital marketing tools with many SEO and PPC functionalities. Both tools are powerful and can offer you incredible opportunities to enhance your website’s visibility, attract quality leads, and convert them into customers.
However, both tools have their strengths and weaknesses, and the one you choose will depend on your specific needs. If cost isn’t an issue, you’d most definitely choose Semrush. However, if you need a simple, easy-to-use tool, you might prefer SpyFu.
I advise you to try out both tools first and decide from your experience using them. Now that you have the information on SpyFu vs Semrush head-to-head comparison, you’ll make the right choice.