SpyFu: A Comprehensive Review (2021)

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When you’re in the market for an SEO tool there’s a lot to think about.

How much are you willing to spend? What data do you need the tool to provide you with? What experience level do you need the tool to cater for? What can it tell you about your competitors?

If you’ve been asking yourself that last question then you might have found SpyFu as a potential answer to your SEO tool needs. SpyFu is an SEO tool that scrapes the internet for data on keywords, backlinks and competitor intelligence.

If you’re not sure if SpyFu is the right tool for you then look no further. This review will explore everything that SpyFu has to offer and how it performs against some of its key market competitors such as SEMrush.

Looking to head straight into the data? Visit https://www.spyfu.com/#trialnow and run an immediate report (with no strings)

Table of Contents

SpyFu: An introduction

Founded back in 2005, SpyFu is a web scraping tool that can present the user with various analytics and data on key SEO functions in order to offer digital marketing experts the intelligence they need to make their search campaigns a success.

Like the name might suggest, one of SpyFu’s standout features is the ability to “spy” on your competitors, identifying the most profitable keywords and search terms in your competitors' paid and organic search campaigns. Whilst other SEO tools on the market do offer similar functions, SpyFu is one of the only tools to specialise so well on this “spying” or reviewing of competitor data.

If your business operates in a competitive market or you’re an agency whose clients do, then SpyFu can offer invaluable intel into the keywords and phrases that are generating the most traffic for competitors, allowing you to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Within its data intelligence, SpyFu focuses on two key areas: keyword research and competitor analysis. SpyFu is a particularly good option for those just starting out on their SEO journey who need a tool to help them level up against their competitors who may already be lightyears ahead when it comes to optimising their websites.

SpyFu also contains years worth of historic data, allowing you to track both the progress you’re making in your SEO and PPC campaigns as well as giving you the opportunity to monitor the SEO journey your competitors are on too.

Using the data and stats that SpyFu provides, you are able to formulate an SEO strategy that will see your website rank for your target search results and catapult you past your competition.

SpyFu's Key Features

  • SEO Research
  • PPC Research
  • Keyword Research
  • Keyword Rank Tracking
  • Backlink Building
  • Competitor Analysis

Pricing and Plans

Arguably one of the things that really helps SpyFu to stand out from its competitors is its pricing. A basic plan starts at just $39 per month, rising to $69 for a professional plan and hitting $129 per month for an unlimited plan.

Compared to its direct competitors, SpyFu is arguably the budget-friendly option when choosing an SEO tool.

So what does each plan offer and which one is the right one for you?

A basic plan ($39 per month) includes:

  • Unlimited search results
  • Unlimited data exports
  • Unlimited domain overview PDFs
  • 500 weekly tracked keyword rankings
  • 5 projects

If you’re a new startup or a smaller company with a limited online presence then the basic plan is all you’ll need to be able to get the most out of SpyFu.

A professional plan ($69 per month) includes:

  • Unlimited search results
  • Unlimited data exports
  • Unlimited domain overview PDFs
  • 1500 weekly tracked keyword rankings
  • 15+ years of historical data
  • Custom branded reports
  • 15 projects

The professional plan is targeted at companies or small agencies who need to be able to regularly track a large amount of keywords.

A unlimited plan ($129 per month) includes:

  • Unlimited search results
  • Unlimited data exports
  • Unlimited domain overview PDFs
  • 20,000 weekly tracked keyword rankings
  • Custom branded reports
  • 15+ years of historical data
  • 5 user log-ins
  • API access

The unlimited plan is aimed at large businesses with an extensive web presence (e.g. a large e-commerce store) or agencies with multiple clients and team members who need to access SpyFu daily.

SpyFu also offers the ability to create a fully customised plan depending on your needs. There’s no set feature or price list for this and instead you’ll be assigned a member of the SpyFu team who will work with you to create a comprehensive and personal data dashboard.

SpyFu Dashboard

SpyFu’s dashboard is clearly laid out and easy to navigate, making it an ideal choice for SEO novices who have next to no experience with using technical tools and data software.

The dashboard features multiple tabs along the top which gives users quick and easy access to their domain overview, SEO research, PPC research, keyword research, backlinks, link builder, tracking and reports. This alone is a win for SpyFu as often SEO experts will all agree that the downside to many SEO tools is the navigation and time it can take to uncover ‘hidden’ data.

Once you’ve accessed your SpyFu dashboard you’re met with a large search bar at the top where you can enter a keyword or domain and instantly get your searches underway.

At a glance you’ll be able to access data such as organic and paid inbound clicks, organic keywords and the number of keywords competitors are ranking for.

The SpyFu dashboard features various data cards and graphs, allowing you to clearly digest each piece of information much more easily than if you were presented with a long list of numbers and percentages.

SpyFu also offers users the ability to download custom branded reports with various different templates that can be invaluable when proving the importance of a solid SEO strategy.

SpyFu Download Report

With just a click of a button you can download an SEO Dashboard report, SEO Rankings report and a Google Ads Advice report which you can use to not only inform your strategy moving forward but also to present your progress and next steps to crucial stakeholders such as clients and senior directors.

Key Features:

SpyFu has various features which can transform your SEO strategy when used correctly. It’s always worth remembering that like with any SEO tool, you’ll get the most benefit out of it if you actually use the data presented to you. It’s no good simply having the numbers and graphs on a screen and not doing anything with them.

Here we’ll take a look at some of SpyFu’s key features and how you can use them to your advantage, giving you a head start against your competition.

SEO Research

SpyFu can provide you with extensive rich SEO data about any website which means you can conduct the below research on both your own domain and your competitors. We always recommend doing both.

If you want to reach SEO success then you need a solid understanding of how your website is performing and where it could be improved whilst having the same knowledge about your competitors websites offers you valuable intelligence to help keep you ahead of the game.

SpyFu’s SEO research features present you with data on things such as your SEO keywords and backlinks as well as an overview of the SEO performance for your chosen domain.

SEO Overview Dashboard

The main SEO dashboard has various data cards which offer you valuable insight into any domain. Here you’ll find information on:

  • Monthly organic traffic
  • Value of organic traffic
  • Number of organic keywords
  • Inbound links
  • Keyword targeting progress
  • Competitor info
SpyFu SEO Research Dashboard

One of the most useful bits of data you can take from the SEO overview is your keyword gainers and losers. Here you’ll be able to see how many keywords you’re climbing the ranks for and how many that are seeing a drop.

There’s also a handy metric which will show you how many keywords you’re ranking on page 1 of Google for and how many aren’t quite making it. You can use this data to track the progress of your SEO strategy, the more successful it is the more keywords you’ll be ranking on page 1 for.

You can also use the SEO overview to monitor how rankings are changing over time which is a great way to spot any competitors who may be slowly moving up the rankings, allowing you to ensure they don’t catch you off guard and overtake you.

SEO Keywords Report

As part of the SEO research that SpyFu provides you can run an SEO Keywords Report in order to discover the top performing organic keywords for your chosen website (either yours or a competitor).

For each keyword the report includes, SpyFu provides you with valuable data such as:

  • Rank
  • Cost-Per-Click
  • Search volume
  • Clicks per month
  • Difficulty
SpyFu SEO research dashboard

One of the best parts about this report feature is the ability to categorise keywords into specific groups, something that is usually a pretty time-consuming process.

SpyFu allows you to sort keywords into different categories:

  • Newly ranked keywords
  • Most valuable keywords
  • Page one keywords
  • Almost there keywords
  • Keyword rank gains
  • Keyword rank losses

SpyFu also provides a keyword group feature which allows you to see a hierarchy of the keywords and topics that any website is ranking for. This is a great way to see what topics your competition rank well for in order to inform your own content marketing strategy.

SpyFu Grouping and Filters
 

Keyword Research

Speaking of keyword research, SpyFu has various features which you can use to help inform your keyword research and understand both which keywords to target and how your current targeting is going.

Once you’ve inputted a keyword into the search bar you’ll be presented with your Keyword Overview dashboard where you’ll be able to discover intel on elements such as monthly searches, click-through-rate and keyword difficulty.

SpyFu Keyword Research

One of the metrics that SpyFu prioritises is the value of a keyword and how much money it’s worth. SpyFu will give you data on not only the monthly cost of a keyword but also a list of the most profitable related keywords as well.

how much a keyword is worth

For the more paid search inclined, you can also see the most successful advertisers who are bidding on similar keywords to the ones you’re opting to target which allows you to predict how competitive ranking both organically and via paid campaigns for target search terms will be.

advertisers on SpyFu

A handy feature of SpyFu’s keyword dashboard is the keyword tracking tool which can be used to track the position of your website for your desired keywords. This allows you to see how your website has ranked for a certain keyword over time as well as giving you the opportunity to see how your competitors have been performing for certain search terms.

There is however a downside to SpyFu’s rank tracking software and to be honest it’s a bit of a big one. It’s only updated once per week. Whereas tools such as SEMrush update theirs daily, you’ll have to wait 7 days for SpyFu to give you updated data on how your website is ranking for a certain keyword. Given how quickly rankings can change this is a bit frustrating.

SpyFu’s historical data is also valuable when undertaking keyword research as it allows you to see which domains have dominated the rankings for certain search terms. If you can see for instance that one domain has ranked in position one for many years you can presume that it will be incredibly difficult to knock them off that top spot.

If however the top positions have been held by various different domains over recent years it's likely that you’ll have a better chance of climbing the rankings and reaching position one.

Overall, SpyFu’s keyword research capabilities are strong and allow you to gain valuable insight into specific keywords. The tool tends to focus on 4 core metrics when analysing keywords: search volume, cost-per-click, keyword difficulty and monthly cost.

Competitor Analysis - Better than SEMRush?

Competitor analysis is where SpyFu really comes into its own. You can use any of the features we’ve already mentioned on your competitors websites but SpyFu also offers various reports and features that you can use specifically on your competition. These allow you to identify who your main competitors are and the target keywords you both have in common.

You can run a trial report, no strings, right now by visiting: https://www.spyfu.com/#trialnow

By simply typing your domain into the search bar, SpyFu will present you with a list of your top organic competitors who are ranking for similar keywords or who have keywords in common with your website. SpyFu will also tell you how many keywords that website is ranking for and where there’s overlap with yours.

Competitor Research on SpyFu

You can use the list SpyFu presents to you to analyse your competitors keyword performance over time and their backlink profile as well as discovering who their main competitors are.

One of SpyFu’s stand out competitor analysis features however is their Organic Kombat report and it's good, really good. Here you can uncover the shared keywords across three different domains. Simply type in your three chosen domains (likely yours and your 2 main competitors) and SpyFu will present you with a venn diagram of how the three websites’ keyword rankings overlap.

Organic Kombat Report SpyFu

The Organic Kombat report shows keywords all three domains rank for and keywords that any one of the three domains rank for. Most beneficial to you however is the information it provides on any keywords that both the other 2 competing domains rank for that you currently don’t (also known as 'missing keywords'). This is a great way to spot any gaps in your keyword targeting where your competitors are ranking for a search term and you’re not.

Missing keywords SpyFu

You’ll also find out which keywords you currently rank for that your competitors don’t, giving you a direct comparison of how your website is performing.

Exclusive keywords SpyFu

When analysing your competitors domains in SpyFu you’ll also have access to a “Top Pages” section which details all of your competitors top ranking pages. Pay close attention to this. You can use this information to identify and plug any gaps in your own content that could help you to move further up the rankings.

Top Competitor pages SpyFu

SpyFu’s competitor analysis features give you invaluable insight into the tactics your competitors are using in their own SEO and digital marketing strategies. You can utilise the data that SpyFu offers you to highlight any glaring gaps in your own SEO work, helping you to prioritise keywords and content focuses moving forward. It's, in my opinion, one of the core things that make SpyFU an awesome SEO tool.

Backlink Analysis

We all know how important it is for the SEO of your website that you have a strong backlink profile and SpyFu offers various features to help you monitor both your own and your competitors.

SpyFu gives you the chance to uncover detailed data on the backlink profile of any website. Admittedly the data they have to offer here isn’t as extensive as what some SEO tools provide but it’s still robust enough to offer you value.

Once you’ve entered a domain into the SpyFu search bar you can navigate to the backlinks tab where you’ll find a list of each individual backlink pointing to that domain. For each backlink listed SpyFu provides you with how strong the referring domain is as well as its monthly traffic and how many organic clicks the referring website receives per month. This information can then act as an indicator as to how much authority the referring domain is passing over.

SpyFU backlink analysis dashboard

A great part of SpyFu’s backlink capabilities is the way the tool sorts the backlinks into categories based on the type of website the backlink has come from. This allows you to see what type of website you’re getting the most links from (e.g. news websites, blogs, forums etc). You can also use this feature to see the types of website that the majority of your competitors' backlinks come from in order to spot any overlap or differences.

Backlink types on SpyFu

SpyFu have also added a Backlink Builder feature to their backlink analysis offering that allows you to find potential backlink opportunities and conduct outreach to hopefully build up your backlink profile.

By entering a keyword into SpyFu you can navigate to a list of websites that all currently link to the top ranking domains for that search term. From here you can refine the list down with various filters including website type and domain strength. You can also opt to remove any domains that already link to your website or select those that are currently linking to your competitors.

backlinks by keyword on SpyFu

Once you’ve filtered down your list you’ll be left with a list of domains who are worth outreaching to in order to build a backlink to your website. If a website is currently linking to the top ranking page for your target keyword then they should be at the top of your backlink wishlist.

SpyFu will provide you with the contact details for each linking domain allowing you to go ahead and contact them. Whilst the database of links SpyFu provides is perhaps smaller than some it does help to identify key link building opportunities and provides you with all of the information you need to begin your outreach.

PPC (Pay-Per-Click)

Unlike some SEO tools on the market, SpyFu offers extensive PPC data which is great news for those who are looking to cut costs and keep everything in one place.

SpyFu provides historical paid search data on all major websites and has various handy PPC features which you can use to help inform your PPC campaigns.

SpyFU PPC Dashboard

Within SpyFu’s PPC dashboard you’ll find a competitor's tab which will provide you with a list of competitors that share advertising keywords with your domain. You can then explore each domain individually and export a visual report of their PPC activity over recent years (SpyFu will usually present you with the past five years but you can actually go back as far as the last 13 years if you wish).

PPC Competitors

SpyFu will provide you with information such as your competitors' own competitors, keywords ranked by both budget and traffic as well as historic pay per click ads.

The interface for PPC is almost identical to that of the SEO dashboard meaning once you’ve got to grips with one you should have no problem using the other as well.

The key thing to remember when using SpyFu for PPC research and data is that it’s not just about what information you can retrieve but how you actively use it to improve your own paid search presence and begin beating out your competitors' bids and performance. 

Customer Support

When using a technical tool such as SpyFu it’s important to know that there will be someone on hand to help you if something goes wrong.

The SpyFu customer service team are available to contact via their live chat service on the website or via telephone Monday-Friday. They offer different lines for US, UK and international customers. There’s also a contact form on the website meaning multiple channels are available, allowing you to choose whichever you prefer when contacting the team.

If you’re looking for guidance on a specific area of the SpyFu tool or you’re just hoping to improve your SEO intel then the SpyFu blog is full of great resources. Covering the basics of how to use the tool as well as tips and tricks for getting the most out of it and wider SEO thought pieces, it’s definitely worth a look whether you need help or not.

SpyFu BLog snapshot

If you head to the advice section you’ll also find a series of video tutorials directly from the SpyFu team which will help you get to grips with the various features the tool has to offer.

SpyFU Pros and Cons 

To summarise we’ve put together this handy table of pros and cons to help you to decide if SpyFu is worth the investment for you and your SEO needs. 

Pros of SpyFu

Cons of SpyFu

Database features up to 15 years of Google SEO data.

Keyword research and rank tracking information isn't as in-depth as some leading SEO tools, but great for 'light use'

Offers great ideas for new keywords to target in both organic and paid campaigns.

Limited backlink and site audit capabilities.

Easy to uncover your top online competitors.

Only tracks US and UK rankings.

SpyFu dashboard is easy to use for beginners.

Some of the data analytics can be confusing for beginners.

Competitive price point.

 

Extensive data on competitors keyword targeting and performance.

 

Custom downloadable reports available.

 

 Whilst SpyFu may be limited in some areas, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to the tools usability, competitor analysis features and price point. 

Is SpyFu Right For You?

SpyFu offers two main functionalities: keyword research and competitor analysis. If you’re in the market for a tool that can provide you with either of these then SpyFu should go straight to the top of your list.

It’s budget friendly, especially if you opt for a basic plan, making it the perfect SEO tool for beginners who want to be sure they understand the data and strategy before investing too heavily in SEO and those companies whose marketing budgets may be tight.

It’s not just the competitive price point that sets SpyFu apart from its competitors though. You’ll struggle to find competitor data on the same level from any other tool meaning if you’re dedicated to tracking your competitors online presence and overtaking them in the rankings then SpyFu is an investment worth making.

SpyFu is up against some pretty big players in the SEO tools market but can more than stand its own. It’s extensive competitor analysis capabilities and intel is invaluable and price-wise it comes in considerably lower than many alternatives. In fact the basic plan is one of the cheapest on the market.

Key competitors for SpyFu include SEMrush, AHRefs and Moz. When comparing to these search tool giants, SpyFu is the perfect choice if:

  • You just need a solution for keyword analysis and competitor research.
  • You’re looking for a budget-friendly option.
  • You’re not looking to undertake extensive site audits.
  • Your main focus is understanding competitor traffic and rankings.

If you’d prefer an all-round SEO tool that offers you extensive and valuable data on your backlink profile, link building, site audits and rank tracking then it may be worth considering a different tool, such as SEMrush. In these areas SpyFu’s capabilities are limited.

The Final Word on SpyFu

SpyFu offers users an extensive amount of digestible data on keywords and competitor analysis that can be invaluable to SEO strategies.

With a competitive and sensible price point, SpyFu also ensures that their core service offerings are available on all plans, meaning users don’t face additional charges simply to use the tools basic features.

Couple together SpyFu’s budget friendly price plans with its easy to navigate interface and it’s not hard to see that SpyFu is a particularly good choice for SEO beginners. It takes time and practice to get to grips with all the features of SEO but SpyFu makes it considerably easier to formulate a winning SEO strategy.

Like any SEO tool, it’s all about how you use the data provided, but for those looking to dig-deep into competitor analysis, SpyFu should quickly become an essential part of their designated SEO spend.

Get started with SpyFu > https://www.spyfu.com/#trialnow

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