SEMRush vs SpyFu: Which Is Better for Boosting Your Rankings & Search Engine Visibility?

By Shane Haumpton November 29, 2019

For years, SEO (search engine optimization) tools have become a staple for online businesses to establish authority on the web.

And while there are a lot of SEO and Digital Marketing tools that have sprouted up over the years, there are two that remain the top picks for beginners and experts alike.

They are SEMRush and SpyFu.

What is SEMRush?

SEMRush is a popular online application tool that allows you to analyze massive SEO data for your marketing campaign.

What is Spyfu?

Spyfu it’s an online tool that shows you keywords that websites buy on Google Adwords as well as the keywords that websites are showing up for within search results.

Both these tools offer in-depth analysis on multiple areas that can provide a budding online business the edge to claw its way to the top.

However, similar to most things, there can only be one true king in this niche, the bigwig that puts everyone else beneath it.

In this piece, we’ll be pitting SpyFu against SEMRush to find out which of them is the best analytical tools for a business looking to rank on top of Google’s search result page.

For the sake of conciseness, we’ll only be including a limited number of categories since one offers extensive data on multiple fronts, while the other’s strength lies in a specific classification.

You can probably tell which is which judging by the tools’ name alone.

With that being said, let’s dive right in.

1. Spying on the Competition

As its name suggests, one of SpyFu’s main strengths is the ability to provide its users the tools to spy on its competition.

Resource obtained from this research holds so much value, especially for fledgling businesses, as they can see what their competition is doing and what campaigns are yielding the best results.

For instance, SpyFu’s PPC (pay-per-click) Research allows people to comb through what type of keywords their competitors are bidding on and for how long.

If businesses have been paying for a particular keyword for, let’s say, a year.

That keyword is providing a lot of traffic for the site and businesses should absolutely use it on their SEO campaigns to pull in organic viewers.

But while SpyFu is adept at analyzing competitors, SEMRush is also performing at the same level.

But there is a slight difference between them. The former allows users to comb through competitor’s data in the last decade, while the latter only dates back to 2012.

SEMRush offsets this by providing researchers in-depth information to the PR campaigns and social media activity of other businesses.

Thus, both tools are actually tie on this front as they heavily deliver better performance. Pitting them against other SEO tools in this regard would only result in a one-sided victory.

Of course, pitting tools against each other is actually counterproductive. The best way is to use them to complement each to further enhance their effectiveness.

For instance, using SpyFu or SEMRush in tandem with the iSpionage tool can bolster your spying power and yield more significant data, as opposed to only settling on one of them.

Granted, you’ll have to learn to navigate iSpionage too, but given that the SEO ecosystem is an ever-evolving market, you might as well familiarize yourself with what’s out there to stay ahead of the race.

2. Tracking Keywords

Keyword tracking is also another tool that SpyFu and SEMRush offer. Keywords are one of the major foundations of SEO campaigns and having the tools to monitor their impact on your site is beneficial to your journey on top of the search engine result pages.

SpyFu offers a plethora of tracking capabilities, including paid keywords and SEO keywords that are performing on different search engine platforms like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Users are also able to track competitors that are launching aggressive campaigns, which can offer great insight into what sort of new strategy they’re employing.

SEMRush offers the same level of tracking capabilities mentioned above although there are subtle differences between the two. Among them are the changes in keyword ranking over the years.

Again, SpyFu offers up to 10 years of data, while SEMRush doesn’t go back that far. Another difference is that SEMRush tracks keywords daily, while SpyFu monitors them on a weekly basis.

In this category, SpyFu and SEMRush are performing at the same level despite the slight differences.

As a side note, you might also want to check out MOZ for keyword tracking as it has made a name for itself in the SEO tool department following its arrival on the scene.

3. Keyword Research

SpyFu is adept at keyword research and is maintaining everything fairly straightforward with a single seed keyword.

Searching for a specific keyword will yield a lot of significant metrics, one of which is the average ad CTR.

Put simply, this data shows you how much people click on an ad when they’re actively searching for a particular keyword. This data is directly taken from Google Adwords.

SpyFu will also tell you how much organic clicks a given keyword will give you on a monthly basis.

All in all, SpyFu is a solid choice for conducting keyword research for your future SEO campaigns.

But SpyFu’s keyword research capabilities pale in comparison to what SEMRush offers.

Although it might be overwhelming for you to comb through the analysis that is being produced, best believe that most of them offer significant information about a keyword’s performance.

The only problem that’s been brought up again and again in this regard is SEMRush needs you to list your competition before starting on your keyword research.

Other than that, the SEO tool does a remarkable job of providing a trove of useful data.

If you’re planning for an SEO campaign but has no idea what sort of short-tail or long-tail keyword you’re targeting, SEMRush got you covered from top to bottom.

And with the help of the Keyword Magic Tool, you can acquire a lot of other related keywords that you might have overlooked when you were brainstorming.

What’s more, the filtering option for SEMRush is just so in-depth that it just leaves SpyFu miles behind.

Add the fact that SEMRush offers a more precise keyword difficulty score and this category becomes a unanimous win.

This isn’t to say that you should ignore SpyFu, however. The tool is still useful, especially if you’re a beginner and don’t want to spend a lot of money on your first campaign. But more on that later.

Also, look into other products for keyword research like Keywordspy to broaden your approach.

4. Backlink Analysis

For backlink analysis, SpyFu offers a more quality vs quantity approach. By typing in the keyword that you’re interested in, the tool will pull up the top competitions that are performing with that keyword and analyzes their backlink profiles.

Following that, SpyFu will offer quality backlink opportunities that you can explore in your niche.

However, the problem here is that due to the limited approach of Spyfu, you might be missing out on competitors that are also doing well but is getting beat by high authority sites.

Also, you might also want to consider pitting Spyfu vs Ahrefs, as the latter is also becoming one of the most popular tools among SEO researchers. That said, SEMRush isn’t doing so hot on this category either.

Sure, its backlink database is larger compared to SpyFu’s, but pitting it against tools like Ahrefs and Serpstat and the disparity becomes pretty clear.

There’s also the fact that SEMRush will require you to list your competitors before you can analyze the competition.

So while SEMRush and SpyFu do a decent job in this aspect, there is certainly room for improvement.

Hopefully, the people behind the tools upgrade the backlink analysis as this metric is an important element that can provide more leverage for budding sites.

5. Usability

As with any other tool, its user-friendliness may be the make or break factor for some people. Let’s start with SpyFu.

Although SpyFu’s user interface is gorgeous, it’s actually quite difficult for beginners to learn its numerous metrics due to the sheer raw data that it provides.

For anyone who’s just starting out on their SEO campaign, it can be daunting to hop on SpyFu as the information that’s being spit out can be overwhelming.

Making matters worse is the fact that the tool doesn’t have a lot of guides out there, which makes it more difficult to learn them as you’ll have to maneuver through its analytics on your own.

But for anyone who bothers to learn them, the tool can be pretty amazing, especially when using its main strengths for your campaign.

SEMRush, on the other hand, is friendly to both beginners and experts alike. Sure, rookies might get overwhelmed with the amount of information, too.

But it’s pretty easy to familiarize yourself with the second or third time you’re using the tool.

And once you get the handle on things, everything opens up. You’ll be surprised at how much information you’re getting from competitions; from what people are interested in, and tracking capabilities that monitor your progress throughout your campaign.

Thus, SEMRush takes the crown for ease of use.

6. Pricing

 Having laid everything on the table so far, you can probably guess, which of the tools is the affordable choice. SpyFu, while lacking on several metrics, makes up for it for being budget-friendly.

Anyone who’s starting out on their SEO campaign with limited funds can easily jump on SpyFu and start their keyword research.

Of course, as mentioned earlier, you’ll need to navigate the tool all by yourself gave the lack of training materials on the web.

And that’s not mentioning the fact that the data provided isn’t as robust compared to SEMRush.

SpyFu has a starting $39 monthly plan and $33 for the annual plan, with unlimited data available for the most affordable option.

As of this writing, SpyFu isn’t offering any free-trial run.

On the other hand, SEMRush is asking for a hefty price for the services it provides.

Its starting price for the Pro version is $99, which can repel first-timers that don’t have deep pockets for their SEO campaign.

However, there’s no denying that the price is going to be worth it given the amount of data you’ll be able to access.

And since there are a lot of beginner tutorials out there for SEMRush, you can always try to familiarize yourself with the analytics tools that it provides before diving right in.

What’s more, the tool offers a 7-day free trial for the Pro and Guru version, giving you ample time to practice the things you learned from the tutorials before launching your campaign.

 It’s important to note that SEMRush is lacking some features based on the version you’re selecting, with Enterprise providing the most diverse tools.

But if you’re a beginner, there’s no need to pay for the Enterprise version since you’re still starting out.

And if you’re an expert, you already have an idea what you’re getting with each version, so you can always choose based on the extensiveness of your SEO campaign.

My Overall Recommendation Is…

In the end, the SpyFu and SEMRush comparison comes down to what sort of data you want to mine and the tools you need for whatever purpose you have in mind.

If you’re only interested in PPC research, it’s best to settle with SpyFu and allocate the rest of your budget on other aspects.

But if you want a robust analytical tool and unlimited data at the tips of your fingertips, you may want to pick SEMRush for that.

So that’s it for SEMRush vs Spyfu.

And now I’d like to turn it over to you:

What’s your experience with SEMRUSH or Spyfu?

Or maybe you have a question about something in our comparison.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

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Shane Haumpton

Shane Haumpton is a contributing writer for several websites and blogs. She has written on a variety of topics, ranging from lifestyle, photography, travel, and arts and crafts to gadgets, social media, and internet safety. This self-confessed coffee addict and shutterbug manages to do all these while enjoying life as a nomad.

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