Spyfu Vs SEMrush: Which Is A Better SEO Spy on Your Competitors?

spyfu vs semrush

As SEO turns more and more competitive, you need to be more proactive with competitive research and raise your SEO to the next level. 

But you can’t spy on your competitors without the right tools.

So let me introduce you to two competitor analysis tools — SpyFu and SEMrush.

In this Spyfu vs SEMrush comparison post, you will see how powerful they are in their own right. Members of the SEO community put them in high regard. But which one is right for your business and/or website?

What Is SpyFu?

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SpyFu is a SaaS tool that’s designed for SEO and PPC (pay-per-click) professionals. It’s commonly used to analyze a competitor’s online marketing strategies.

The idea is to look at what your competitors do and replicate their strategy so you can fight on equal footing.

Consider this scenario:

You and your competitor have the same target audience. That means you probably publish posts about the same topic. And yet, not only is your competition getting more views, but it’s also receiving more backlinks. What gives?

With SpyFu, you can look at what keywords your competitor targets to rank higher in search engines.

That’s the idea behind using a competitor research tool like SpyFu.

What Is SEMrush?

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SEMrush is a comprehensive digital marketing tool aimed at SEO and PPC professionals.

It’s an all-in-one SEO solution that helps marketers improve site quality from backend optimization solutions to social media monitoring. Like SpyFu, it too can spy on competitors so you can gain a better understanding of their overall marketing strategy.


It’s true that SEMrush has more features to offer than SpyFu. But in the interest of fairness, we’ll only compare both products in their capacity as research competitor tools as that is what this post is all about.

How Are They Similar?

To edge out business rivals, competitor tools continuously come up with features that’ll help you make improvements to your site.

These features address urgent needs such as keyword research and backlink audits. Since both tools spy on competitors, it should come as no surprise that SpyFu and SEMrush share similar capabilities.

Let’s take a look at what both of these tools have in common.

Similarity #1: Site Analysis

A site analysis (or site audit) can help you understand what’s wrong with your website. It looks at the overall SEO health and gives you an idea of what you need to do to improve it.

However, you can also use this feature to look at your competitor’s site health and see how they’re doing.

What can you do with that information?

If you want a better understanding of how your competitors are outranking your domain, you have to investigate how they’re optimizing their sites.

How optimized are their pages? What keywords are they using? How many backlinks do they have?

Both SpyFu and SEMrush’s site analysis features could uncover the reasons why you’re unable to outrank other sites in your niche.

Similarity #2: Keyword Research

SpyFu and SEMrush also have keyword research features that let you look at the terms your competitor ranks for.

This is important because you want to rank for the same keywords. That way, you can both attract the same crowd. And should you rank higher, there’s a good chance you’ll be taking site visits away from your competitor.

Both tools perform admirably well when it comes to keyword research. You can’t go wrong with one over the other in this regard.

Similarity #3: Backlink Checker

Backlinks are what it’s all about.

A lot of factors contribute to a site ranking high in search engine result pages (SERPs). But one of the major ones is backlinks. If your competitor ranks higher in the SERPs, it’s probably because it got a lot of inbound links from high-quality sources.

SEMrush and SpyFu can check competitor backlinks and reveal to you which sites link back to them. 

Why is this important?

Because this opens the door for a link building campaign. Sites that link back to your competitors welcome content from people in your niche. You can reach out to them and earn backlinks through guest posts, interviews, and other similar methods.

How Are They Different?

Of course, SEMrush and SpyFu try to differentiate themselves in a number of ways. While their features are similar, how and what data they give differs in some cases. There’s also a difference in accessibility as pricing comes into play.

These are just some of the ways SEMrush and SpyFu set themselves apart from one another.

Difference #1: Price

There is a huge difference in pricing between SpyFu and SEMrush. SpyFu’s Basic plan only costs $39/month ($33/month if paid annually). 

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In comparison, SEMrush’s plans start at $99.99/month which can be quite pricey for some folks especially if all you want is to spy on the competition.

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SEMrush and SpyFu both have three pricing tiers. Let’s compare each one and see what features come with each plan.

SpyFuBasic ($39/month)

Unlimited search results, data exports, and domain overview PDFs
250 sales leads and domain contacts
5,000 tracked keyword rankings weekly
10,000 top list results
Professional ($39 1st month; $78/month thereafter)

Unlimited search results, data exports, and domain overview PDFs
500 sales leads and domain contacts
15,000 tracked keyword rankings weekly
50,000 top list results
10,000 API rows returned
Custom branded reporting 
Team ($299/month)

Unlimited search results, data exports, and domain overview PDFs
2,000 sales leads and domain contacts
40,000 tracked keyword rankings weekly
75,000 top list results
10,000 API rows returned
Custom branded reporting 
5 user logins
SEMrushPro ($99.95/month)

10,000 results per report
3,000 reports per day
250 keyword metrics update per month
3 projects
Limited page audits
Guru ($199.95/month)

30,000 results per report
5,000 reports per day
1,000 keyword metrics update per month
15 projects
20,000 page audits
Business ($399.95/month)

50,000 results per report
10,000 reports per day
5,000 keyword metrics update per month
25 projects
20,000 page audits

But here’s the kicker that could potentially sway you toward SpyFu. Unfortunately, some of the features that let you spy on your competitors are add-on features. That means you’d have to spend more if you want access to them.

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If Market Explorer, Traffic Analysis, Competitor Benchmarking, Bulk Traffic Analysis, and Top Pages are important features to you, then you’d have to pay an additional $200 per user.

For those who are already on a tight budget, handing over that much money is not a viable option. That’s money that could be allocated toward another business need. And if you’re an agency, convincing your client to spend an additional $200 is not an easy conversation to have.

So it’s really up to you to determine if these add-ons are worth the investment.  

Difference #2: Data

Eagle-eyed readers might have noticed that all of SpyFu’s plans include unlimited access to data. This is a potential game-changer since SEMrush puts a limit on how much data you have access to depending on which plan you select.

There’s also no cap on SpyFu data exports and domain overview PDFs.

With SEMrush, you’d have to use some of the features sparingly because access to some data is limited.

But realistically, you have to consider how many reports you’ll generate on a daily or weekly basis. Because if you don’t have to do it as often, then the number of reports both these tools offer shouldn’t affect you too much.

Difference #3: Reporting

If you’re working for a client, then you probably have to send competitor reports frequently. Luckily, both tools have reporting features that make the process a breeze.

Where they differ though is on how many reports you’re allowed to generate.

SpyFu shines in this department. The Basic plan lets you produce 10 small-domain (those with less than 1,000 keywords) SEO reports per month. Pro accounts have access to 30 small-domain SEO reports and 10 medium-domain (1,000 to 30,000 keywords) SEO reports.

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Team accounts have unlimited small-domain reports, 30 medium-domain reports, and 10 large-domain (30,000 keywords and up) SEO reports.

What about SEMrush?

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The Pro plan gives you 5 scheduled PDF reports. That goes up to 20 under the Guru plan. The Business plan raises it to 50 scheduled PDF reports.

Difference #4: Free Trial

I’d normally encourage everyone to try out both tools so you can see for yourself which one is worth paying full-price for. Unfortunately, only SEMrush has a free trial available.

SpyFu, however, is quick to point out that it has a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you ever feel that their product isn’t what you expected it to be, you can cancel your account at any time. 

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But for some people, not having a free trial is a red flag. Even if SpyFu made canceling easy (you can do it through the Account page, email, live chat, phone, Facebook, or Twitter), there are skeptics who wouldn’t want to risk getting billed for a service they’re unsure of.

It’s also worth noting that SEMrush’s free trial only lasts seven days. And for some marketers, that length of time isn’t enough to gauge how SEMrush can factor into their workflow.

SEMrush has a 7-day money-back guarantee. When you cancel your subscription, your SEMrush data will remain accessible for 30 days before it disappears.

SEMrush plans can be upgraded or downgraded at any point in your subscription.

What’s Better About SpyFu?

SpyFu has its strengths as a competitor analysis tool. Some of its features take research to a whole new level. These are some of the reasons why you might want to choose SpyFu over SEMrush.


Kombat is a SpyFu feature that lets you compare your site with two competitors. Yes, SEMrush also has this feature. However, what makes Kombat special is that it displays the results in a Venn diagram to represent how many keywords each site has.

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Why is this important?

Unless you can take in competitor data like a champ, then you’re probably going to struggle with taking in all that information.

Kombat makes understanding your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses that much easier. SpyFu’s visual approach to presenting data is a welcome addition to its many other features.

What else does Kombat provide? Here are a few metrics you can expect to see when you use Kombat.

  • Most Valuable Keywords — This is a list of keywords that have the highest click value based on monthly clicks on the SERPs.
  • Newly Ranked Keywords — These are fresh keywords on your site that got past the top 50 Google searches.
  • Keyword Rank Gains — Shows you which keywords increased in keyword rankings.
  • Keyword Rank Losses — Shows you which keywords that lost their power in the search rankings.
  • Page One Keywords — Displays which of your keywords got to the first page.
  • Almost There Keywords — These are keywords that are on the cusp of making it to the first page of Google.

Competitor Keyword Discovery for PPC

With SpyFu, you have different ways of analyzing your competitor’s PPC campaign. For example, you can enter three competitors and see keywords they’ve bid on for years, even those that you may not have even thought about before.

You can also enter your domain and let SpyFu analyze your competitor’s bidding history. Based on that, the tool will recommend profitable keywords that you’re not bidding on right now.

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You can even go through your competitor’s AdWords campaign history and see every A/B testing it did. That way, you can see which keywords didn’t work out for them so you don’t make the same mistake.

There’s even a feature called PPC Negative Match Recommendations. It goes through your account to find costly keyword matches that your competitors tried to use but failed to get anything out of.

Complete Keyword Ranking History

Ranking History is a SpyFu feature that shows you a domain’s performance through the years. And yes, you can use it on domains that are not your own. Just how far back can you go? Nine years. You can see how a domain performed on their top keywords for nine years.

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And if you want to track a particular product page or post, you can do that as well.

What’s Better About SEMrush?

SEMrush can compete with SpyFu in its own way. Its backlink analysis feature, in particular, is one of the reasons why SEMrush is regarded as one of the best SEO tools for online marketers.

Check out some of SEMrush’s features.

Keyword Gap

The Keyword Gap feature lets you see similar keywords that you and your competitor share, see the pages that rank for those keywords, and compare your progress. And you do all of this from one location.

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Just enter the domains you want to compare, choose what keyword type you want, select an intersection type, and then go through all the data.

And if you don’t know just who your competitors are, that’s not a problem. SEMrush can figure it out for you.

How does it do that?

It determines your competitors based on the common keywords that you share with them that are ranking in the SERPs.

Backlink Analysis Data

SEMrush has a powerful backlink analysis feature that not only shows where your competitor gets their backlinks from, but it also tells you the total number of backlinks, what type of backlinks they are, if they are do-follow or no-follow, how many backlinks they got from one domain, what country the backlink came from, and the top anchor texts used to link to their sites.

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It’s this level of detail that makes SEMrush one of the most powerful backlink checkers in the market.

There’s even a page score (PS) that lets you know how authoritative the linking domain is. You can use this to determine which sites you’d want to build a relationship with when you launch your link building campaign.

Having the ability to filter the results gives you control over how you consume all this information.

Backlink Gap

Backlink Gap works the same way as Keyword Gap. But in this case, SEMrush looks for domains you don’t have backlinks to but could potentially acquire.

It also uses competitor information to find and suggest backlink sources.

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This is a much easier way of finding link building opportunities. All the information about the referring domains (minus their contact information) is present. You can even tell which domains are high-authority and which ones you could ignore.

Feature Breakdown

Here’s an overview of features that both SEMrush and SpyFu share and how they compare.

Keyword AnalysisKeyword Magic tool for generating keyword ideas
Keyword Difficulty tool to assess how easy or hard it is to target a keyword
Keyword Gap tool to find missing keyword opportunities
Keyword Research tool shows you stats about a keyword you enter such as monthly volume and estimated clicks
Keyword Groups tool organizes KWs into groups and adds search volume and CPC data
Competitor AnalysisSite audit tools give you a closer look at how optimized your competitor’s overall site health.Shows you how your competitor’s keywords performed historically in the SERPs
Backlink AnalysisBacklink Analytics provides relevant information to assess the quality of every backlink your competitor earned
Backlink Gap finds missed backlink opportunities based on your competitor’s performance
Lets you check competitor backlinks by keyword
Shows you backlink opportunities and lets you manage your prospects right from within the tool

Who Should Get SpyFu (and Why)?

SpyFu is purposefully built for analyzing a competitor’s keywords. So if that’s your primary goal, then you can’t go wrong with this tool.

It has all the features you’ll need to find missing keyword opportunities based on what your competitor is doing. This is the kind of information you need especially if you’re launching a PPC campaign in the near future.

SpyFu lets you do research and monitor your competitor’s activity from your main dashboard, making it a convenient option for busy folks.

Who Should Get SEMrush (and Why)?

SEMrush, on the other hand, is more suitable for those who’d like to build high-quality backlinks.

The tool has features that make backlink analysis so easy. When combined with its site audit features, your competitor will get blown out of the water.

You’ll have all the information you’ll need to build a better SEO plan against the competition.