SpyFu vs Semrush: Which One Is Best for SEO In 2024?

Choosing the right keyword research and SEO analytics tool is essential for any digital marketer or webmaster. SpyFu and Semrush are two of the most popular options that do the heavy lifting for users with their robust SEO features and accurate data. 

However, they differ in some key aspects that can cause a user to have trouble picking between them.

So, I have decided to test both tools to understand the differences myself.

In this article, I’ll cover:

  • Overview of both tools
  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Differences (Side-by-side comparison with a verdict)
  • Customer support
  • Accuracy
  • Pricing 

By the end, you’ll know which tool suits your SEO needs the best. 

With that, let’s get started. 

SpyFu vs Semrush: Quick Comparison

Here is a quick comparison between SpyFu and Semrush that’ll help you determine which tool is better.

Comparison CriteriaSpyFuSemrush
User InterfaceEasy-to-use interface, quick overview of websitesSemrush has a unique, well-designed interface, slightly complex for new users
Keyword ResearchGives you a complete overview of any keyword and related search terms (But the database is undisclosed)A database of 25.4 billion keywords, advanced keyword filtering option 
Backlink AnalysisAnalyzes the backlinks of your and your competitor’s domains (with the backlink gap)Advanced backlink tools like connection-building and monitoring.
Rank Tracking Keyword tracking with historical data (Weekly reports)Advanced keyword tracking with additional features (Daily reports)
Social Media ManagementSpyFu does not have any social media management tools.Semrush offers tools like a social tracker, social analytics, social media posters, influencer analytics, and social inbox.
Customer SupportLive chat, email, phoneLive chat, email, community forums 
Free TrialFree plan with very limited accessibility (no free trial)14-day free trial
PricingStarts at $39/monthStarts at $129.95/month

Spyfu vs Semrush: Pros and Cons

Before we can dive deep into our comparison of SpyFu and Semrush, it will be better to take a quick look at the pros and cons of both. So here we go:

Pros Of Spyfu

  • A huge database of over 80 million domains and five billion results, making it one of the most comprehensive competition research tools.
  • User-friendly interface and intuitive dashboards to aid customers in swiftly accomplishing their objectives.
  • 24×7 email and live chat support. In addition, there is a video tutorial archive and real-time, individual webinar support.

Cons Of Spyfu 

  • Incorrect PPC Reporting. Many users have raised concerns about the reliability of SpyFu’s PPC data, particularly regarding the information provided about the competition.
  • It lacks on-page SEO features.
  • It lacks local SEO features. 

Pros Of Semrush

  • One-stop solution for everything. With Semrush, website owners can quickly see where they stand in the search results, which keywords generate traffic, and how their competitors stack up.
  • Streamlined process of launching PPC campaigns, which includes access to detailed data and using a wide variety of helpful tools.
  • Robust content marketing features. It can be used to optimize the content side of marketing campaigns, the effectiveness of keywords, content, and even the user experience.
  • Detail-oriented reporting tools. Simple to build, customize, and shareable reports. Useful monitoring tools to analyze a brand’s presence and activity across all social media channels, from organic channels to paid promotions.

Cons Of Semrush

  • Steep learning curve. It may take some time for newbie users to find their way around the tool.
  • Single-user login. It allows only one user to log in at a time.

SpyFu vs Semrush: Overview

Despite sounding similar and having many overlapping features, SpyFu and Semrush are slightly different. Let’s learn more about both tools. 

SpyFu Overview

SpyFu is mainly a competitor research tool that is used by digital marketers to collect data through competitive intelligence and keyword research. The tool offers many of the features offered by Semrush, but its USP lies in the fact that you can use it to “spy” on the keywords used by your competition, whether it’s for PPC or SEO. 

It allows you to look up any domain and quickly discover the keywords it has been ranking for and the backlinks it has received. It can also provide access to your competitors’ AdWords expenditure, ad variations, and historical ranking, as well as PPC ad data from the past 16 years.

Semrush Overview

Semrush is a comprehensive SEO suite ideal for competitor analysis and all other SEO tasks, including link building, on-page SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing. You can simply analyze your competition and gain an edge using Semrush data, no matter what market you’re in. 

Semrush is mostly used by digital marketers, professional bloggers, content creators (including social media), and large agencies. The tool is versatile but has a learning curve. 

SpyFu vs Semrush: Detailed Features Comparison

Now that you are aware of both platforms, let’s compare their major features in more detail. Each section will explore the strengths and weak points. The verdict in every section will decide which tool excels in certain fields.

User Interface

When it comes to using an SEO tool, having a refined user interface is a must. The platform shouldn’t be too complex to navigate or include messy menus to perform basic tasks. Let’s compare the user interface of SpyFu and Semrush.

SpyFu Dashboard

SpyFu’s user interface is easy to navigate, and its dashboard provides a holistic overview of everything going on with your site.  It tells you about the keywords you’re ranking for, the share of organic vs. paid traffic, keywords for which you made it to the first page, and keywords for which you slipped from the first page.

Spyfu vs Semrush - Spyfu

It also provides a way to export this information quickly. The other features of the tool are organized into numerous tabs in the main navigation bar. There’s also a search bar users can utilize to look up a phrase, domain, or URL. 

Semrush Dashboard

Semrush also has one of the most polished and well-designed user interfaces in the SEO software space. The dashboard is well-organized and provides a quick view of everything that you should know about your site. Other features of the tool are organized in a left-hand-side menu.

Semrush Dashboard

Like SpyFu, there’s a search box that users can use to search for particular keywords or domains quickly. Much information is presented in visually appealing graphs and charts, making things easier to understand.

Which Tool is More Accurate?

Both SpyFu and Semrush aim to provide accurate and up-to-date data to users, but they may differ in certain aspects of accuracy:

  • Keyword volume estimates: Semrush uses a larger sample size, which may make its keyword volume data more accurate than SpyFu. However, SpyFu bases its estimates on actual search engine data, so it could be more accurate in some cases.
  • Rank tracking: Semrush uses a bot to scan search engine results pages for tracking rankings, while SpyFu extracts ranking data directly from search engines. Some users report that Semrush’s rankings data can sometimes be a few days behind or fluctuate more compared to SpyFu.
  • Backlink tracking: Semrush claims to have the largest backlink index with over 3 billion links. This allows it to have more comprehensive backlink data than SpyFu likely. However, SpyFu utilizes direct search engine data for backlink tracking rather than relying on a crawling bot, which could be more accurate.
  • Website traffic estimates: Semrush uses a Chrome extension to collect traffic data from users who opt-in, which provides a sample set. SpyFu reportedly uses direct traffic data from search engines. However, the traffic estimates of both tools may not match up exactly with an internal analytics platform like Google Analytics.
  • Competitor tracking: Semrush lets you track up to 10 competitors for free, while SpyFu only tracks your own site plus top pages for competitors. This allows Semrush to provide more competitor data points likely.

There are strengths and limitations to both tools’ data accuracy. Semrush likely has an edge for backlink indexing and competitor tracking, while SpyFu is more accurate for organic rankings and keyword volume. 

Bonus: I have tested Semrush tools thoroughly for my basic and advanced SEO needs. You can check out the results and their accuracy here.

My Verdict

SEMrush and SpyFu both have well-designed and user-friendly interfaces, but Semrush stands out with a more user-friendly design and more visual nature of displaying information.

Keyword Research 

Without relevant keywords, no one can build a proper SEO strategy. If you want to gain a competitive edge, you must have a list of performing keywords and phrases, including your competitors. Let’s check how both tools perform in this department.

SpyFu Keyword Research

SpyFu’s robust keyword research tool provides data on monthly search volume, number of clicks, cost per click, ranking difficulty, and more to help you find the best keywords for both organic and PPC search campaigns. It also allows keyword gap analysis for both types of search campaigns and historical data regarding the rankings of your competitors.  

So far, so good. But one thing that’s slightly concerning about SpyFu’s keyword research is the size of its database. They are not very clear with their keyword database as, in some places, they claim to have billions of keywords and mention millions on other pages. 

They don’t reveal specifically how many millions or billions of keywords are in the database, which plays a major role in the accuracy of keyword research data.

Semrush Keyword Overview

Semrush also provides all the data about your keywords, but it doesn’t stop there. It also provides semantically related keywords and contextual keyword suggestions that can be included in your content to improve your ranking potential. You can narrow your results by difficulty, number of words, if you need a broad phrase or an exact match, and many other criteria. This is much better than SpyFu, whose filtering capabilities are limited. 

Semrush Keyword

Semrush is also much more precise about the size of its keyword database and claims to have 21.1 billion keywords in its database. This lends credibility to the accuracy of its keyword research data. 

My Verdict

While both Spyfu and Semrush are reliable keyword research tools, Semrush has a larger database size, and it also has better filtering options than SpyFu. This makes Semrush a better choice for keyword research. 

Domain Analysis

Domain analysis is a crucial aspect of website optimization and competitor research. This process identifies the competitive gap between your website vs your competitors’. SpyFu and Semrush both include this feature in their inventory. 

SpyFu Domain Analysis

Primarily as a competitor research tool, SpyFu specializes in domain analysis. The platform extracts website data and compiles reports featuring metrics like:

  • Estimated monthly CTR
  • Monthly PPC clicks
  • Total organic and paid keywords
  • Monthly SEO clicks
SpyFu Domain Analysis

As you can see, SpyFu quickly breaks down a competitor’s domain and provides a historical overview.

When you compare your domain with your competitors’, it demonstrates these sections as well:

  • Shared Keywords: This section provides a list of paid and organic keywords shared by your competitors. 
  • Type of Competition: SpyFu lists your competitor websites into two categories: paid and organic. It helps you find data on your competitors for the keywords you are targeting for.
  • Top Pages: In this section, you will find the top-performing pages of your competitors.
  • Top Keywords: This section provides you with the list of keywords that your competitors are targeting and ranking. 
  • Rank History: In this section, SpyFu shows a summary of recent changes in ranking for specific keywords your competitors are targeting. 
  • Backlinks: The tool discloses the backlink profile of your competitor. It helps you find potential and authoritative backlink sources for your own website. 

Semrush Domain Analysis

Semrush’s Domain analysis gives you a 360-degree view of any domain compared to yours. 

Semrush Domain Analysis

You can add up to 10 domains at a time and compare performance metrics like:

  • Organic/paid keywords
  • Organic/paid traffic
  • Authority Score
  • Total number of referring domains and backlinks
  • Average visits per page
  • Visit Duration
  • Bounce rate 

Semrush also displays sections similar to SpyFu when compared side by side with your competitors. However, SpyFu doesn’t show you the engagement metrics instantly unless you check each of them separately. 

My Verdict

I will give 5 out of 5 to both platforms, as SpyFu and Semrush both provide key indicators of domains featuring the tiniest details. 

SEO Features

Speaking of SEO, there are two things that matter the most: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. There’s also a third thing called Local SEO, which is a different kind of SEO than the traditional one that’s most popular. Let’s see how SpyFu and Semrush fare in these two areas. 

Off-Page SEO Features

Off-Page SEO refers mainly to link building, content syndication, PR management, and other techniques that are leveraged off-site (i.e., on other websites) to increase the authority of your domain. Both Semrush and SpyFu include the following features to assist with it:

Spyfu Backlinks
  • Backlink Profile Analysis: This functionality you to study your backlinks as well as the backlinks of your competitors. You may learn more about the worth of your backlinks, anchor text, referring domains, and more.
  • Rank Tracking: The tool can be used to track your search rankings for all the keywords of your choice. This can help you track how your rankings are improving or worsening.
  • Backlink Gap Analysis: This allows you to see the websites linking to your competitors but not to you so you can reach out to them and seek backlinks. 

Backlink Checker In Semrush

However, Semrush also offers a number of other unique tools that are not in SpyFu to assist you with your off-page SEO. They include:

Semrush Backlinks
  • Connection-Building Tools: Semrush’s connection Building Tool is an excellent resource for discovering high-quality connection opportunities and organizing backlink outreach activities. You can access over 20 million websites, outreach templates, email tracking functionality, and more to run your link-building outreach campaign.
  • Monitoring Tools: Third, Semrush provides a feature called Business Monitoring, which allows you to monitor your company’s online reputation, collect statistics on how frequently your brand is discussed online, and uncover undiscovered PR opportunities. When used for reputation management, it allows individuals to respond quickly to any remarks posted about them online.

My Verdict

Both tools offer excellent off-page SEO tools that can help a user’s entire SEO strategy. However, Semrush provides some additional and unique features too that are missing from SpyFu, such as connection-building tools and monitoring tools. This makes it better than SpyFu. 

On-Page SEO Features

Unlike off-page SEO, which requires most work to be done off the site on other websites, on-page SEO consists of things done on your site to boost the search rankings. Some of these features include:

Semrush On Page SEO
  • Site audit:  This feature looks for technical issues such as broken links, missing meta descriptions, duplicate content, and more on your site to give you a comprehensive report regarding what can be done to improve the SEO of your site. It also provides suggestions about how to deal with issues included in the report.
  • On-page SEO checker: This tool is similar to site audit, but it looks at individual pages and provides recommendations for optimizing those pages on the website by doing whatever is missing, such as inserting or changing meta tags, making the text more readable, optimizing images, and including internal links.

Now the thing is, these features are completely missing from SpyFu, given its focus on competitor analysis. These are included only in Semrush, and they’re so crucial that sometimes they can be all the difference between your ranking on the first or second page of SERPs. 

My Verdict

Semrush offers multiple on-page SEO tools, while SpyFu offers none. Therefore, Semrush is the clear winner here. 

Local SEO Features

Semrush offers a variety of local SEO solutions, including local keyword tracking, listing management, and citation building. 

  • The local keyword tracking function allows customers to track where they stand in local search results and how they compare to the competition. 
  • The local citation-building tool facilitates the creation of high-authority local citations to improve local search rankings, 
  • Local listing management feature assists businesses in managing their online presence on Google My Business and many other directories.

SpyFu’s local SEO capabilities, on the other hand, are quite limited. There are no specific local SEO capabilities, to be precise, and whatever functionality you have is actually an extension of their keyword research, rank tracking, and competitor analysis tools. They explain that these features can be used well enough for local SEO, but it’s worth noting that they have not been made while keeping local SEO in mind, unlike Semrush. Moreover, some tools, like local listing management, are completely missing.

My Verdict

Semrush is a better fit for local SEO as it includes many tools and features dedicated specifically to the purpose, while SpyFu doesn’t offer any such tools or data. 

PPC Analysis

SpyFu has more than 13 years of data on paid search campaigns of all popular websites. So the first strength of its PPC analysis capabilities is, of course, the sheer amount of data it has collected for the same. With data comprising 80 million domains and 5 billion search results, it’s capable of finding the finest keywords for PPC ad campaigns for any industry. Its keyword grouping feature also makes it easier for the user to organize keywords based on various categories. 

Semrush is also quite reliable regarding PPC ad campaign data, and it also has multiple tools to help analyze PPC ad campaigns and keywords. Those tools include:

  • Keyword Gap Tool: This tool can not only be used to analyze the keyword gap for SEO but also for PPC ads of your competitors, 
  • PPC Keyword Tool: A dedicated keyword research tool for PPC ads. It can be used to conduct PPC-specific keyword research using parameters such as CPC, search volume, competition, etc. You can also organize your keywords into various lists. 
  • Keyword Magic Tool: This tool allows you to find your PPC keywords in a few clicks using the huge database of 24 billion keywords that Semrush has built over time.
  • PLA Advertising Tool: This one allows you to monitor the performance of other Google shopping advertisers and explores the most successful ads of your competitors.

My Verdict

Both SpyFu and Semrush have robust PPC Analyzing tools to help you analyze and run your PPC ad campaigns successfully. However, Semrush has more tools for the same, so it’s slightly better than SpyFu.  

Rank Tracking

Rank tracking allows you to quickly track the SERP position of pages for a specific keyword. It is important that the tool display the recent position updates and rank history so users can find low-ranking pages and update them. 

SpyFu generates “Groups” and “Keyword Universe” for your website, where you can see where certain pages are ranking for specific keywords. 

SpyFu Rank Tracking

What I like the most is that it clearly displays the rank and click changes over time. You can select one or multiple keywords to get a graphical overview of pages’ SERP positions and traffic. The only problem is that the metrics update every week, not daily. 

Semrush offers an advanced rank tracker. Not only does it include standard ranking measures of every keyword, but also provides infographics and a complete table of all the pages and their ranking. 

Semrush Rank Tracking

Apart from the basic landscape and overview, you can view

  • Ranking Distribution
  • Keyword Cannibalization
  • Featured Snippets
  • Competitors Discovery
  • Devices and Locations

The best part of Semrush’s rank-tracking tool is that it updates the data every 24 hours, so you will be able to see the position changes every day. 

My Verdict

SpyFu delivers a great distribution of keywords and their historical rank changes. However, it misses other crucial features and fails to update the data daily. Comparatively, Semrush provides daily reports, analytics, and other ranking features.

Reporting and Analytics

SpyFu Report Sample

SpyFu and Semrush both offer powerful reporting and analysis features for your website. SpyFu’s reporting functionality is built on top of 2 metrics mainly: SEO analytics and PPC analytics.

Spyfu Report

The reports generated by it include all the relevant data, such as keywords for which you moved up, keywords for which you moved down, how many clicks you received, etc. The reports can also be white-labeled if you’ve got a plan higher than their basic plan.

Traffic Analytics In Semrush

Semrush is also capable of generating detailed reports on what’s going on with your site and SEO campaigns. However, its reports are more detailed in nature and include a larger number of metrics than SpyFu reports. They’re also more visually appealing as they use more graphs and charts to explain the data than SpyFu reports.

Traffic Analytics In Semrush

Some of the data included in Semrush reports include the movement of your site in SERPs, the traffic you received, the traffic share of different sources, the share of organic vs. paid traffic, and so on. White labeling is allowed in Semrush, too, but only in their most high-end plan. 

Semrush can also be integrated with Google Analytics to include GA data in your reports. Finally, the ability to generate custom reports is also provided. 

My Verdict

Semrush is a better choice than SpyFu regarding reporting and analytics because it is integrated with Google Analytics and provides more detailed insights in a visually appealing manner. 

Additional Features

In addition to the regular features explained in the other categories of this comparison, Semrush also has some other features that must be mentioned. They include:

  • Content Gap Analysis: Analyze your competitors’ content strategy to determine what content types work for them but you’re not generating them. 
  • Social Media Management: Link your social media accounts and then manage their posts and engagement from a single tool. 
  • SEO Writing Assistant: A tool to help you write SEO-optimized content easily. 
  • Competitor PR Monitoring: Track the mentions and coverage of your competitors in media and social media.

None of these features or other unique tools are available in SpyFu, so there is little to tell about it on this criteria. 

My Verdict

Semrush offers more additional features than SpyFu, so it has a clear edge when it comes to features other than core SEO. 

Customer Support

When talking about customer support, SpyFu offers it in 3 ways. You can chat with them on weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm; or if chat is not your thing, then you can call them at the phone numbers provided on their official website. Lastly, they also provide you with a contact form on their site through which you can write to them about your issues. 

Semrush provides you with a contact form and also live chat support. They generally get back to you within one business day over email, and chat support is usually instant without long delays and waiting times. You can also reach them by the official contact numbers on their website during weekdays. 

Both Semrush and SpyFu have response times of 24 – 48 hours, which means that both of them are quick enough to respond to their customers’ queries. 

My Verdict

The customer support facilities of both SEO suites are at par with each other. Both of them offer their services on weekdays, and both respond to queries in a reasonable time period, so no clear winner here. 

Pricing: Which One is Cheaper?

Semrush offers access to more tools and features for professionals, while SpyFu focuses on individuals. That’s why there’s a major gap between pricing tiers and their upfront costs. You can see it yourself. 

SpyFu Pricing 

SpyFu used to offer three plans to their users. Recently, they removed the team plan from their page for undisclosed reasons. Now, they offer only a Basic and Pro plan to their users. Here’s what the new pricing looks like:

SpyFu Pricing
FeaturesBasic Pro
Monthly Price$39/month$79/month
Annual Price$33/month$58/month
Search Results10,000Unlimited
Data Exports10,000Unlimited
Domain Overview (PDF)100Unlimited
Historical Data6 months10+ years
Sales Leads 250 per month500 per month
Keywords to Track (weekly) 5,00015,000

SpyFu also offers a free plan that allows you to use its basic tools with limited functionality. However, you will require a paid subscription for extensive keyword and competitor research. 

Though it doesn’t offer a free trial, both plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. So you can use its tools without worrying about any financial risks. 

Semrush Pricing

Semrush offers three plans for individuals, mid-size businesses, and large businesses. All the plans are available in monthly and annual subscriptions. 

Semrush Pricing
Features ProGuruBusiness
Monthly Price$129.95/month$249.95/month$499.95/month
Annual Price$108.33/month$208.33/month$416.66/month
Keywords to Track5001,50010,000
Results per Report10,00030,00050,000
Reports (Daily)3,0005,00010,000
Keyword Cannibalization YesYes
Pages to Crawl (Monthly)100,000300,0001,000,000
SEO Ideas Units5008002,000
SEO Content Templates8002,000

The platform offers a free trial on its Pro and Guru plans for new users. Apart from that, you will also get a 7-day money-back guarantee on all its plans. 

Note: If you are new to the platform, I have created a step-by-step guide to claim Semrush’s 14-day free trial. You can check it out. 

Semrush, on the other hand, offers a slightly better proposition despite being costly. It offers a 14-day free trial instead of any money-back guarantee so you can figure out its offerings and their alignment with your goals at zero risk.

My Verdict

SpyFu provides some of the best features at a low price but Semrush is more comprehensive and advanced with its analytics and reports. If budget is not a concern, you should go for Semrush. Otherwise, you can also choose SpyFu to get started.

Related Reads:

Wrapping Up: Spyfu vs Semrush (2024)

As per my tests, Semrush clearly outperforms SpyFu in various fields. It is also important to note that SpyFu is not a complete SEO tool that offers an all-around solution for professional bloggers and marketers. In contrast, Semrush is built for this sole purpose. 

Before I wrap up, here’s my verdict:

  • SpyFu is an affordable option for individuals needing competitor research and basic SEO requirements. 
  • Semrush caters to businesses of any size. Whether you need thorough keyword research, SEO strategies, link-building capabilities, or set up marketing campaigns, the tool will help you with every aspect. 

Also, Semrush offers a free trial on its paid plans, so I would suggest you check its major features before purchasing one of them. SpyFu doesn’t offer a free trial, but you can still use major tools (limited access) with its free plan. 

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