General overview

SpyFu is a top-shelf tool for doing keyword and competitive research that is a great solution for SMBs seeking to boost their online performance. Although it lacks one of the must-have tools for any comprehensive one-stop SEO shop–the website audit–and might create a learning curve for some users, SpyFu remains a worthy tool.

Pros

  • Multiple keyword research and management tools
  • Detailed PPC and CPC metrics
  • Database with 14+ years of Google data
  • Highlights unlikely competitors
  • Displays rival ROI
  • Unlimited reporting

Cons

  • Ad metrics can be complicated for novice SEO users
  • Keyword research tool lacks data
  • Basic keyword rank tracking
  • No site audits
  • Overwhelming and confusing UI
  • Data only for UK and the US

Founded in 2005, SpyFu grew from a small web-scraping project to the Arizona-based search analytics company it is today. As was mentioned, SpyFu is primarily known for its competitive and keyword research capabilities, and as the name suggests, it lets you ‘spy’ on other online businesses. It’s a great tool for finding target keywords for SEO and PPC campaigns, and understanding what your rivals are up to.

Given the fact that SpyFu doesn’t have a website auditor, it can’t really be a contender for our favorite tool by default. However, it’s slick UI paired with the data it provides provides great value to marketers seeking to boost their online presence. So if you can do without a site auditor and operate mostly in the US and UK, then SpyFu is a bargain.

Pricing & Plans

SpyFu offers a free 30-day trial along with three subscription plans, with the most affordable one costing $39 a month–a great option for SMBs.

The Basic plan in SpyFu comes at a monthly cost of $33, if billed annually, and $39 if you decide to pay every month. But unlike the other tools we reviewed in this round-up, SpyFu doesn’t price its plan by search results. In SpyFu, every plan includes unlimited research for domains, keywords, keyword groups, backlinks, domain comparison, and unlimited data exporting capabilities. In terms of keyword research, an unlimited number of searches sure does come in handy. There are limits however. You get 250 sales leads and domain contacts, 5k tracked keyword rankings per week, plus 10 domain and PPC reports.

Next comes the Professional plan, starting at $78 a month or $58 a month when billed annually. With this plan, you get 500 sales leads and contacts, can track 15k keyword rankings each week, get access to the API and custom-branded reports.

Last, SpyFu offers the $299-per-month Team plan that costs $199 a month when billed annually. Get 2k sales leads and domain contacts, track 40k keyword rankings a week, plus share your access with 5 users.

Rank Tracker

Getting started with SpyFu is very simple. All you have to do is enter a domain or keyword you want to analyze and get a plethora of data.

We will get to competitor data later on in this review, but in terms of keyword research, you get a lot of data from SpyFu, including top domains ranked for the target keyword, search volume, value, daily clicks, keyword ranking dynamics, cached copies of the SERP, similar keywords, and last but not least, URLs of the pages that come up in search for the target keyword. With this data, you can improve your content strategy to better appeal to your audience.

Once you’ve enhanced your content strategy, you can use SpyFu to get an understanding of whether or not you’re getting the desired results. And that means keeping track of your site’s keyword rankings.

Under SpyFu’s Tracking tab, you can do just that. Here, you can take the list of keywords you track in your campaigns and monitor their search engine standings. SpyFu will send out weekly reports to your inbox with data on overall domain rankings and keyword ranking dynamics.

Moreover, you can also set up custom SEO reports. Just enter a domain and decide if you want to get a report on suggested domain keywords. Upon entering custom keywords and choosing competitor URLs, you will get the option to get a report on them now or every month. As is the case with most tools available in SpyFu, and it’s sort of in the name, you can use the tool to keep track of your rivals’ performance in paid and organic search.

Furthermore, SpyFu’s report on rank tracking can let you know where your web pages are ranking for a search query over time. For the time being, SpyFu can track weekly organic and paid keyword ranking positions on Google and Bing.

Given the fact that this is a must-have feature for any SEO tool, SpyFu doesn’t track rankings daily, and hence, doesn’t quite offer the same level of sophistication as its competitors.

Another useful feature in terms of rankings is SpyFu’s Ranking History that allows you to see your or your competitors’ rankings across time, going back more than a decade. Not only will this allow you to know what worked for you in the past, but you can also single out the competition that is doing a fantastic job with their SEO strategy. On top of that, the graph provided in the report will let you know how Google algorithm updates impact competitor rankings.

Site Audit

Since we are reviewing each SEO tool against its keyword rank tracking, website auditing, competitive research, and backlink research capabilities, we couldn’t skip this section, despite the fact that SpyFu doesn’t have any sort of website or web page auditor.

Competitor Research

When you research any domain using SpyFu, you won’t just get data about that website, but about its competitors too. Competitor reports help you find out more about your top direct competitors, send out warnings when a domain is catching up with your keywords in search, provide you with an estimated value of clicks on competitors in SERPs, and even give you an idea of what your competitors will do next.

SpyFu’s Kombat tool deserves a special mention. Using this tool, you can enter your domain along with two competitors, and get recommendations on what keywords to use. To elaborate, you can learn what keywords you don’t rank for, but your rivals do and vice versa, get a list of all the keywords a competitor targets, as well as a list of all the keywords all of the competitors have in common.

On SpyFu’s main SEO dashboard, you get such overview data on a website as the total number of organic keywords, monthly volume of organic traffic and its estimated value, keywords that improved or lost ranking positions, and inbound links by type. As you can see, the website is analyzed from the perspective of keywords.

Next, we have the SEO Keywords report that shows you what keywords are performing best in organic search for any domain. Once again, don’t just use it to understand your site and audience better, but to understand your competition as well.

With regard to keywords, SpyFu provides data on its ranking position, CPC, keyword difficulty score, search volume and clicks. To make it easier to absorb and analyze data, you can sort keywords based on how successful they are.

Besides providing organic data, SpyFu has a strong PPC research module that has more than a decade of data on paid search activity across all the big sites. Once again, don’t just look at your own site, but closely analyze the competitors.

Here you get a bit different data on keywords, like ad timeline, cost-per-click, monthly cost, monthly searches, ad positions, and total number of keyword ads. Going back in time to understand your rivals’ ad campaigns is a great advantage.

Backlink Research

Although SkyFu’s backlink research tool isn’t as powerful as that of SE Ranking or Ahrefs, it still provides a lot of quality data on any website’s backlink profile.

The backlink report provides a list of every backlink linking out to a website. Along with each backlink, you get data on it such as the strength of the referring domain and how much traffic that domain gets each month.

You can also sort the websites that link out to you or a competitor by type. Doing so will make it easier for you to understand where you or a competitor is getting backlinks from most. Are the vast majority of links coming from blogs, forums, news sites, or other website types.

With the help of the data provided under backlink reports, you can locate links that help rivals get more juice, pin down top competitor links. But note that SpyFu only displays backlinks that rank among Google’s top five result pages. SpyFu definitely deserves your attention if you are an SMB and already have a favorite site auditor that you don’t want to replace.

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