SEMrush vs SpyFu 2023: Which is Better SEO Tool?

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SEMrush and SpyFu are among the most popular competitor analysis and keyword research tools on the market today. With these tools, you can easily unearth hidden keywords and backlinks that your competitors are profiting from, so you can beat them at their own game.

Other comparisons in this series:

In this SEMrush vs SpyFu comparison, we’ll put both tools head to head against each other to see which one is truly worth your money.

Let’s go!

SEMrush Vs SpyFu | Overview

To start with, let’s look at a quick overview of both SEMrush and SpyFu to see where they are coming from. We will also highlight some of their most essential features in case you want to quickly see what each of them offers.

SEMrush Overview

Founded in 2008 by a small group of IT and search engine optimization specialists, SEMrush is one of the best and the most popular competitor analysis and keyword research tools out there.

A decade of continuous experiments and improvement has seen to the tremendous growth of SEMrush, positioning itself as a complete digital marketing management suite.

SEMrush provides lots of valuable data that you can leverage to inform your search engine marketing tactics. You can also use it to easily spy on your competition, to monitor their campaign success, traffic trends, well-performing ads, keywords they rank for, etc.

All these features are what made SEMrush a very attractive SEO tool today. As of the time of writing, SEMrush is currently:

  • Used by more than 3 million users
  • Has access to 100 geodatabases
  • Has over 800 million keywords
  • Tracks over 130 million domains
  • Tracks about 300M mobile domains and 80M mobile keywords along
  • 450M desktop domains plus 340M desktop keywords

It’s also worth noting that SEMrush recently announced a huge update to its link index, which is indeed remarkable:

That said, here are some of the critical features of SEMrush:

  • Keyword research tool
  • Position tracking
  • Domain vs Domain comparison check
  • Website Audit
  • Backlink audit
  • Social media tracker
  • On-page SEO checker
  • Brand monitoring
  • Content analyzer
  • PPC keyword tool
  • Analytics report
  • Ad Builder
  • Listing management
  • AdWords competitor analyzer
  • Ads budget analyzer
  • Listing Management

SpyFu Overview

SpyFu was introduced to the market in 2006 by Mike Roberts as a solution that digital marketers can use to transform their SEO and PPC strategies for success.

Ever since then, SpyFu has grown to become a big player in the industry, providing outstanding technologies and data for search engine optimization (SEO) specialists.

SpyFu does not only focus on keywords and search trends, but the tool also provides competition intelligence, organic search, and paid ads. All these via a single, user-friendly dashboard.

Although not as famous as SEMrush, SpyFu is undoubtedly a tool to look up to in the industry. It can also help you monitor your competitor’s SEO and PPC campaigns to know what they are doing at any particular point in time. This will enable you to always beat them and remain on top of the game.

Below are some of the most important features you will enjoy from SpyFu:

  • Keyword research
  • Competitor backlinks
  • SEO competitor analysis
  • Domain comparison
  • Keyword grouping tool
  • Rank tracking
  • AdWords competitors
  • SERP checker
  • Ad history
  • AdWords templates

As you can see, SEMrush and SpyFu have similar features, which is somewhat interesting. But SEMrush is more robust with much better analytical tools, giving it the name “all-in-one marketing platform”.

SpyFu, on the other hand, is more of a competitor research tool – and as its name suggests, it was explicitly designed with competitor research in mind. It’s also worth noting that SpyFu started out as an AdWords tool – not as an SEO tool.

In the next section of this post, we will be looking at the various features offered by SEMrush and SpyFu in detail. We will be comparing the tools against each other in terms of these features.

SpyFu vs SEMrush | User Interface & Ease of Use

It’s usually very easy to get overwhelmed by all the features of an SEO tool at first, which is why I want to start from the user interface and ease of use.

The more intuitive and easier-to-use these tools are, the less time it will take you to figure out how to walk around it.

When choosing tools like these, I usually look at how intuitive the dashboard is and the available onboarding process that will guide me.

Let’s start with SEMrush:

SEMrush User Interface

There’s minimal onboarding process on SEMrush. You can just sign up for a live demo if you need any help:

You can find this at the bottom of the menu bar; it’s somewhat hidden down there.

Apart from that, SEMrush has a well-designed, intuitive backend/user dashboard.

You can find the primary navigation menu on the left side of your dashboard, with some of the most essential features arranged boldly near the top:

And once you login to your SEMrush account, there’s a search bar clearly positioned on the screen where you can enter a domain or keyword to perform a search.

Apparently, everything is clearly spelled out on SEMrush, and you won’t be needing much clicking around to get the hang of it.

SpyFu User Interface

Upon logging to your SpyFu account, a pop-up will instantly display for you, giving you links that will guide you around the tool:

That’s really an excellent way to start, but apart from that, you are pretty much on your won. So, I would say that the onboarding process is relatively not the best.

However, just like SEMrush, it still has an intuitive dashboard:

The primary navigation menu is located on the page’s header, with some subcategories under the main categories.

And all the categories have the same layout, with most of them having the same search bar at the top of your dashboard where you will enter a domain or keyword to carry out a search.

Overall, SpyFu is easy to use, even without guidance. But I found SEMrush’s layout more intuitive and beginner-friendly.

SEMrush vs SpyFu | Keyword Research

Keyword research is still one of the most important aspects of SEO that can never be overlooked.

The good thing is that with both SEMrush and SpyFu, you can easily find out all the keywords people are using to find your niche, how many times those keywords are searched for per month, as well as the people already ranking for the keywords.

But first, let’s see how they both perform in the area of keywords research, starting with SEMrush:

SEMrush Keyword Research

On the SEMrush keyword analysis tab, you have a bunch of vital metrics you can use to effortlessly gauge the effectiveness of a keyword.

Here are some of the things you will see once you’re on this page:

  • Keyword search volume
  • Keyword Difficulty
  • Paid Search
  • Related Keywords
  • Phrase match keywords
  • PPC competitiveness
  • Etc.

Below is an example for the keyword “how to play guitar chords:”

You will get a lot of insights than you need. And if you want to go even more overboard to uncover more hidden keywords, use SEMrush’s “Keyword Magic Tool.”

Click on “Keyword Magic Tool” under the “Keyword Analytics” tab and then, enter your target keyword into the search bar:

Here, the keywords are divided into broad match, phrase match, related, and exact match keywords, each on its own tab. If you look around this page, you will be able to get lots of other profitable keywords ideas for your site.

SEMrush will also give you “Questions” related keywords in a different tab so you can uncover those easy-to-rank, questions on your niche:

You can also apply more filters on your search in case you’re looking for specific keyword features:

From the screenshots and walkthroughs above, you will agree with me that SEMrush has a whole lot to offer when it comes to keyword research.

Let’s see how SpyFu compares here:

SpyFu Keyword Research

Immediately you log into your SpyFu account, you will notice that they didn’t come to play when it comes to keyword research. And just like SEMrush, everything is neatly broken down on the dashboard.

Using our example keyword “how to play guitar chords,” below is what SpyFu showed:

The two most critical things to pay attention to when performing keyword research are the “total monthly searches” of the keyword and the “keyword’s difficulty.”

Excitingly, these two things are clearly displayed on the keyword result page as you can see on the arrows above.

On this same page, you will be also to see the keywords:

  • Estimated clicks
  • Similar keywords
  • Question-related keywords
  • Paid clicks
  • Also ranked for & also buys ads for
  • Top AdWords
  • Most successful advertisers and their best ads
  • Organic ranking history
  • Etc.

I also found the “Organic Search Ranking Analysis” very useful. It shows you the sites ranking for that keyword on Google plus other vital metrics related to those sites:

The only drawback with SpyFu keyword research tool is that unlike SEMrush, it does not provide much useful search data on related and question-based keywords.

Therefore, I’ll still give it to SEMrush in terms of keyword research feature. It gives you more in-depth data and keyword metrics, with advanced filters for device, country, and date.

SpyFu vs SEMrush | Competitive Analysis

The business landscape is apparently a race between companies offering similar products and services, fighting for the same prospects.

While this may be regulated by some bodies in the offline space, it’s totally different on the internet, which is more or less and an open front for everyone.

No rules apply when it comes to search engine optimization. If you fold your hands, you will be driven out of business by the competition, which is why competitive analysis is something you shouldn’t take for granted.

The good thing, however, is that both SEMrush and SpyFu can be used to monitor the competition and stay on top of the game.

But which of them does it better?

Let’s quickly find out!

SEMrush Competitor Analysis Feature

With SEMrush, the first step to performing a competitive analysis is to find out who you’re competing with.

Login to your account and enter your domain in the search bar to start the analysis. Then, under the “Domain Analysis” tab, click on “Organic Research.”

We will be using for this example.

Once you’re on the result page, look for “Main Organic Competitors” that is located down the page, then click on “View all Competitors.”

Here, you will see the “positioning map of the competition,” which is essentially a graphical representation of your competitors based on their search traffic.

Scrolling down the page, you’ll see an in-depth list of your competitors in a table format. SEMrush will also show you an overview of their performance in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

Apart from your competing sites, you will also see their:

  • Competition level
  • Organic traffic
  • Search keywords
  • Number of common keywords
  • Paid keywords
  • Traffic cost

When monitoring your competitors, you will always want to keep a tab of:

  • Their primary target keywords
  • The sources of their backlinks

The idea is to learn how you replicate what they are doing and do it even better.

Interestingly, SEMrush does not disappoint in this regard.

Going forward, click on “Keyword Gap” under the “Gap Analysis” tab. Then, enter four domain names from your competitors and your domain name.

Once you have entered all the required domain name names, click on the “Compare” button to see all the keywords you can steal from your competitors.

You will see shared, weak, strong, unique, and keywords your competitors are ranking for that you are missing.

Like the keyword gap tool, what if you want to compare your competitor’s backlinks to yours and see what backlinks you can steal from them? Well, that is precisely what the “Backlink Gap” tool will do for you.

SEMrush backlink gap feature lets you enter your domain and your competitor’s domain to see which backlinks they have that you are missing. The tool will also tell you how and where they got the links from.

Still using the domain “” as an example, and also entering four other domains I see as their competitors, below is the result:

I don’t know about you, but this is a very handy feature if you ask me.

Okay, let’s see what SpyFu have got regarding competitive analysis.

SpyFu Competitor Analysis

So far, SpyFu’s domain overview tool quite impressive. You can search for a specific web page of your competitor or just enter in a domain name as I did with the search for

SpyFu will offer you a neatly arranged overview of the domain you searched for. Scrolling down the page, you will find even more useful detail about the domain search performance.

SpyFu will give you information about the domain’s:

  • Competition
  • Competitor shared keywords
  • Top ranking keywords
  • Top pages
  • Top AdWords by recommendations
  • AdWords history
  • Organic ranking history
  • Inbound links (backlinks)

Getting to know your competitors’ backlinks sources is important when you’re trying to outrank them in the SERPs. SpyFu is designed to give you every information about your competitors’ SEO strategies, including their backlink sources.

If you scroll down the page a bit, you will also see a list of your competitors so you can also analyze them individually to get even more data:

Click on the “View All Competitors” link to see everything you need to know, such as the:

  • Keyword overlap (how many keywords you have in common with your selected competitors)
  • Common keywords (how many unique keywords you people rank for)
  • Number of keywords
  • Monthly clicks
  • Monthly value of clicks

The “shared organic keyword” feature also shows you all the keywords you share with your competitors, just like SEMrush keyword gap tool:

The good thing is that SpyFu will always send you notifications whenever your competitors make changes to their tactics. So, you don’t have to be refreshing the reports continuously to stay up-to-date.

Lastly, you will agree with me that both SpyFu and SEMrush have impressive competitor analysis features. However, that of SEMrush seems to offer a more reliable spectrum of data.

Especially with their phenomenal “Backlink Gap” tool, which eliminates a bunch of manual work, making the process of uncovering potential backlink sources painless.

SEMrush vs SpyFu | Backlink Analysis

Every good SEO tool must have a backlink analysis tool as one of its core features, especially if you plan on building links as a part of your SEO strategy.

In this section, we will be looking at SEMrush and SpyFu backlink analyzers to see how they compare.

SEMrush Backlink Analysis Feature

Just like their keyword research tool, SEMrush also has a very neat and beautiful backlink analyzer interface.

With many features and filters boldly positioned at the top of the header as you can see below:

On the SEMrush backlink analyzer page, you will be able to see the total number of backlinks to a domain, all the referring domains, as well as their referring IP addresses.

Scrolling down the page, you will also see the categories of referring domains, top anchor texts, referring domains by authority score, backlink types (image, text, form, frame), link attributes (follow, nofollow, sponsored, UGC), etc.

Clicking on the “view full report” button will provide you with more insight into the specific report you want to see.

To see the actual backlinks pointing to that specific domain, click on the “backlinks” tab on top of the page:

SEMrush also takes into account the first time and the last time it noticed a link. With this report, you will have an estimate of when you got a particular link and when you lost it.

It will also tell you the type of link it is and its attribute – and you can filter to see a particular type of link or attribute. Plus, you will also see the links anchor texts.

And with the referring domain feature, you can track the backlinks TLD distribution (.com, .edu, .net, .gov, .org,, etc.).

Lastly, SEMrush backlink analyzer also allows you to compare your backlinks against that of your competitor’s, thanks to the tool’s comparison feature.

Obviously, SEMrush has a very comprehensive backlink analysis tool.

Now, let’s see how SpyFu’s backlink analyzer performs.

SpyFu Backlink Analysis

SpyFu offers a basic backlink analysis tool that you can use to instantly see all the backlinks pointing to a domain. Their backlinks report is divided into different types; blogs, news, affiliate links, forums, directories, and .gov/.edu.

On the backlink report page, you will see the backlinks, the domain monthly organic clicks, page monthly organic clicks, ranked keywords, domain strength, and outbound links.

All the metrics listed on the page are just figures.

The “domain monthly organic clicks” represents the number of organic traffic a particular referring domains gets per month.

And the “page monthly organic clicks” refers to the number of organic traffic the page where the backlink points to gets per month.

That’s all SpyFu offers in terms of backlink analysis.

Therefore, SEMrush and SpyFu are totally unequal when it comes to backlink analysis. SEMrush is clearly the king here once again.

SpyFu vs SEMrush | Keyword Tracking Comparison

Keyword rank tracking is another vital part of SEO. Keeping tab of your keyword rank positions on the SERPs will always help you to know when your SEO strategies are working, and when you’re wasting time.

You have probably searched for your target keyword on Google to see your current position in the SERPs.

This is something that happens most times, especially when you are really eager to rank for a specific keyword.

The good news, however, is that SEMrush and SpyFu offers a rank tracking feature, which you can use to monitor the rank changes for a particular keyword on your site.

It’s done as a project on SEMrush:

You will be required to enter your domain name and the keyword you intend to rank for, and SEMrush will start tracking the rank changes.

SEMrush rank tracking tool is loaded with lots of features that will make things easier for you, including:

  • More sophisticated filtering
  • Featured snippet report
  • More data visualizations
  • And more

After setting things up, you will always get a monthly report of your website’s performance. And you can also visit the tool to see the changes in your website rankings per week.

Again, SpyFu also does a fantastic job in this aspect – and you will also add it as a project.

Interestingly, with SpyFu, you can easily track both your website’s SEO keyword and PPC keyword rankings.

Just like SEMrush, you can set up a rank tracking project on SpyFu by entering your domain name alongside your target keyword. Once everything is set up, SpyFu will always send you an update of your rankings in the SERPs every week.

It will also interest you to know that you can track your keyword rankings on both Google and Bing with SpyFu; which is indeed an outstanding feature.

Overall, both SEMrush and SpyFu does a pretty awesome job in terms of keyword tracking. However, SEMrush offers more sophisticated tracking tools than SpyFu. But SpyFu also pulled some weight by proving both Google and Bing tracking.

SEMrush vs SpyFu | Pricing Comparison

Apart from comparing the essential features of SpyFu and SEMrush, we also need to know which of them offers more value for money.

This will enable you to ensure you’re not wasting your money when buying any of them.

SEMrush Pricing Plans

1. SEMrush Pro: SEMrush charges $99.95 per month for their pro plan, and the plan features:

  • 10,000 results per report
  • Traffic sources
  • Ranking result
  • 3,000 reports per day
  • Social media results
  • Etc.

2. SEMrush Guru: The Guru plan goes for $199.95 per month, and offers you all the features in the Pro plan, including:

  • 5,500 reports per day
  • 30,000 results per report
  • Extended limits
  • Branded reports
  • Historical data
  • Content marketing platform

3. SEMrush Business: This is their most expensive plan, and it costs $399.95 per month. This plan gives you access to everything feature that comes with the Pro and Guru plans, including:

  • 50,000 results per report
  • 10,000 reports per day
  • API access
  • Extended limits
  • White label reporting
  • Google Data Studio integration
  • Sharing options

SEMrush Enterprise: You will have to contact SEMrush if you want the Enterprise plan. They will give you custom volumes and pricing. The Enterprising plan gives you access to:

  • Special add-ons
  • Custom limits
  • On-site training
  • Custom keyword databases
  • Unlimited crawling for larger sites

Excitingly, you will also enjoy a free plan from SEMrush, but with some limitations. This will let you test the tool before making any financial commitment.

They also offer a 7-day money-back guarantee so you can get your money back within 7 days of subscribing if you don’t like their service.

SpyFu Pricing

SpyFu offers two pricing options, with annual and monthly billing options.

Below are their pricing details:

1. Basic plan: The Basic plan is suitable for beginner SEOs as it’s their cheapest plan. It costs you $33 per month if you’re paying annually, or $39 per month if you are paying monthly.

The Basic plan comes with:

  • Unlimited search results – see all the data
  • Unlimited domain overview PDF’s
  • Unlimited data exports
  • 250 sales leads & domain contacts
  • 10k top lists results
  • 5k weekly tracked keyword rankings
  • Etc.

2. Professional: This is basically their highest plan, and it’s ideal for more serious SEOs. It costs $58 per month if you’re going for the monthly plan, or $78 per month ($39 for your first month) if you are going for annual billing.

This plan comes with:

  • Unlimited search results – see all the data
  • Unlimited domain overview PDF’s
  • Unlimited data exports
  • 500 sales leads & domain contacts
  • 50k top lists results
  • 15k weekly tracked keyword rankings
  • 10k API calls
  • Custom branded reporting
  • Etc.

Interestingly, SpyFu’s money-back guarantee is 30-days, unlike SEMrush’s 7-days. This means that if you’re not happy with SpyFu, they will refund you if you cancel your account within 30 days of your subscription.

So, in terms of affordability, SpyFu’s pricing is obviously more affordable for each of their plans. Their basic plan costs only $39/month, which is much cheaper than SEMrush’s $99/month for the same plan.

Conclusion | Which Should You Choose Between SEMrush And SpyFu?

If you’ve gone through this SEMrush vs SpyFu post carefully, then so you might have already decided on which of them is ideal your website needs and budget.

But if I’m to make a choice for you, then I would say you should go for SpyFu if you want a comprehensive SEO tool for competitor research, but you’re low on budget.

Otherwise, choose SEMrush pro if you can comfortably spend the extra bucks. It is a perfect choice for all kinds of marketers, bloggers, and SEOs. It comes with a truckload of incredibly valuable SEO tools in one place.

And from the feature’s comparison, you can see that SpyFu is no match for SEMrush in terms of overall functionalities, except in the area of pricing.

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Hi, I'm Swadhin Agrawal, founder, and editor-in-chief of DigitalGYD. DigitalGYD is a multiple-times award-winning blog where we aim at helping bloggers how to start a blog and grow it into a profitable online business.

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