While there are many SEO tools available for online marketers to choose from, SEMRush and SpyFu are without a doubt two of the most popular ones out there.
They both offer a number of different features that can help you find the best keywords to rank for, spy on your competitors’ marketing efforts and reverse-engineer their backlink strategy, among many other useful intelligence techniques.
Having said that, each tool has strengths and weaknesses that you need to be aware of. Read on for an in-depth comparison between SEMRush vs. SpyFu to determine which tool will best fit your needs.
Disclosure: Although I receive affiliate compensation at no additional cost to you to support this site that compensation in no way influences my recommendations, which are strictly informed by my 10+ years of online business experience consulting for clients large and small. My aim is to always recommend tools that offer the best return for your investment (for more details, read my Affiliate Disclosure).
Why Is It Important to Have a Good SEO Tool Working for You?
SEO tools are a critical component of a strong online marketing arsenal.
A good SEO tool will give you all the data you need to not only optimize your website so that it ranks high on Google but also to reverse-engineer your competition so you can outsmart them and therefore outrank them.
The reason these tools are a must-have is because 53% of all internet traffic is generated by search engines.
In fact, it’s estimated that Google alone processes almost 5 billion daily searches, taking an 85% lion share of the search market.
The Pros and Cons of SEMRush and Spyfu
While SEMrush and SpyFu share similar features in that they give you access to keyword research information, page traffic volumes and other important SEO data, they each have their pros and cons. Let’s go over both:
- SEO site audit tool: this is a great feature to make sure your site is search-engine friendly. It’ll reveal any broken links, redirects, multiple H1 tags or no H1 present on a page, missing meta titles, missing meta descriptions, etc.
- Backlink analysis: this is a great feature to help you reverse engineer your competition’s backlink strategy and find good candidates for your link building outreach
- Keyword tracking: this feature allows you to enter a list of keywords that you’re currently ranking for so you can track how your page positions in search results change over time
- Content marketing tool: enter a topic and use this tool to get hundreds of content ideas to write blog posts for your target audience
- SEO Writing assistant: allows you to assess the readability of your content and identify words, sentences and paragraphs that may need to be rewritten. You can also use it to check your content for unintended plagiarism so you can fix it immediately
- Keyword gap analysis tool: this is a great feature to help you find keywords that your competition is not currently ranking for
- Keyword search volume is not super accurate, there’s a lot of room for improvement here
- Keyword difficulty is also not as accurate as it could be compared to other SEO tools
- The Content Topic Recommendations function can be a bit hit and miss at times
- Paid search reporting is often inaccurate, this is clearly not their strong suit
- The Social Content Poster is a great addition but it could be a lot more robust
- Usage and training documentation can sometimes be hard to find
- Google Analytics integration is to simplistic and could be implemented a lot better
- PPC Research: SpyFu has one of the best databases of competitors' advertising spend estimates in the industry, which are pretty accurate when comparing against actuals
- Paid keyword research: SpyFu is an excellent resource for competitive paid keyword data, with a lot more granularity and accuracy than many of its competitors
- Affordability: SpyFu is one of the most affordable all-in-one SEO tools out there, feature for feature
- Easy to use: they have an intuitive user interface. Many other SEO tools are so feature-rich that they may feel overwhelming to beginners
- Kombat: this is by far their best feature and it’s unique to SpyFu, where you can easily spot on a Benn diagram if you’re bidding on PPC winners or losers based what your competitors are doing
- Ad copy research: they make it super easy to reverse-engineer the winning ad copy from your competitors so you can pick apart their best copywriting tricks
- Lack of deep organic data analysis
- They’re a little heavy handed on marketing emails and upsells
- Doesn't differentiate between different search engines (other tools have specific dials for Google, Bing, Amazon, etc.)
- Setting up the tool to track your projects is more complicated than it needs to be
- There are some pretty bad layout issues in the pdf report exports
- Their backlink database is not as comprehensive as SEMRush’s
What Is the Major Difference Between SEMRush and SpyFu?
When it comes to organic keyword research, SEMRush comes on top simply because they harvest a much larger volume of information to work with — they just have a lot more crawling servers and bigger databases.
However, their prices are also higher since they have a lot more overhead.
Where SpyFu shines, however, is in the PPC competitive research area — here they’re heads above shoulders compared to SEMRush.
If you’re managing search ad campaigns, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better tool to unearth your competitors' winning metrics and ad copy for virtually any keyword so you can minimize your research losses.
Which One Will Work Best for Your Online Marketing Needs?
That depends on what you 're looking for. If your focus is strictly on organic search results, including keyword and backlink research, you’ll be better off with SEMRush albeit at a higher monthly cost.
But if your focus is on PPC competition, including PPC keyword research and ad copy research, you’ll do much better with SpyFu.
If you’re doing both content marketing and also running paid ad campaigns, then, you’ll be better served by subscribing to both tools.
If you want to reverse engineer your competition’s content marketing and link building strategies, then SEMRush will give you a treasure trove of research data due to their larger databases of organic keywords and backlinks.
However if you're looking to see how well your competitors are performing with their search ad campaigns, then SpyFu would be you best bet due to their superior PPC research feature set.