Once you start searching for some best SEO tools, you come across tools like SEMrush, SpyFu, and Moz. With the wide variety of SEO tools available in the market, you may be overwhelmed and struggling to choose between these tools.
As a full-time digital marketer, I’ve used premium versions of all these tools in and out. I would be the right guy to review these SEO tools and help you decide between them.
In this post, I’ll be comparing the three most popular SEO tools in the market right now - SpyFu, SEMrush, and Moz. As you’ll be spending monthly money on these tools, it would be crucial for you to make a wise decision according to your needs.
These tools are gaining good popularity due to the fact that they help you to research the keywords and backlinks that are making a great difference in your competitor sites. Life’s too short to research your own keywords and build backlinks being clueless. If you are willing to get a competitive edge and also growth-hack your success very fast, one of these tools will be absolutely useful for you in the digital world.
Let’s get started.
SEMrush - Competitor Research SEO Tool
SEMRush is the most popular tool when it comes to competitor keyword and backlink research. Let us know some of the features of the tool and also the pros and cons.
Features of SEMrush
Organic Research: This section helps you find out the keywords that a particular site is ranking for.
When you go to the positions section of the Organic Research, you’ll be presented with all the keywords that a site is ranking for.
You can make use of these keyword filters only to show the keywords that match the parameters you give. After you’ve filtered the keywords that can make a difference to the traffic of your site, you can export the keywords by selecting those in your convenient file format.
Position changes enable to see the keyword rankings that have been lost or improved since a specified period.
The competitor section enables you to find out the competitors of a particular site based on the amount of the common keywords. If two sites are ranking for more common keywords, then those two sites will be considered as competitors by SEMrush.
Backlinks: SEMrush also returns a good amount of backlinks that a site or URL has.
As like that of keywords section, you can easily sort the backlinks you want using various filters as shown in the screenshot.
In the backlinks section, there are several tabs like overview (helps you get a glimpse of the nature of the backlinks profile of a site), backlinks, anchors, referring domains, referring IPs, indexed pages, and comparison to make your job easier of finding powerful backlinks that can make a real difference in your rankings.
Advertising research: This will be helpful if you are interested in knowing what are all the keywords that your competitor is bidding on to display advertisements on Google.
This section is very similar to the “organic research” section, but instead of displaying organic keywords, it displays the paid keywords. This will be helpful only if you are running paid advertisements on SERPs via AdWords.
PLA Research: This refers to the product listing ads in Google. These are the shopping ad Carousel that comes with various ads of eCommerce sites.
If are into eCommerce, this feature of SEMrush will be very helpful for you to know what are the keywords your competitors are bidding for to get displayed in shopping ads in Google.
Video advertising: This lets you know what channels and videos your competitor is running video ads on YouTube. The data displayed will be of only last month.
Display advertising: This displays you the banner ads and display ads that are run by a site in various other sites through Google AdSense.
You can view the ads that they are running and also the landing pages for which they are running their ads for.
Traffic Analytics: This will be a very helpful feature of SEMrush. It displays you the graph of the organic traffic, along with that it also displays you the amount of traffic you get from different channels like organic traffic, social media sites, referral, and also direct traffic.
It also displays you the percentage of traffic you are getting from different countries.
Domain vs Domain tool: This tool helps you to compare various domains with one another and also lets you know the common keywords that they are ranking for.
This will be very helpful for you to know what are all the keywords that all of your competitors have published on, but not you.
This section is really great when it comes to keyword research. It helps you brainstorm the keywords and also the related keywords for you to use in your articles.
For the keywords you’ve entered, the tool will display the related and phrase match keywords. This will be very helpful when you research LSI keywords for your articles to boost your rankings for secondary keywords.
In addition to this, after making a list of some of the potential keywords to target in your blog posts, you can check the difficulty of those keywords using the SEMrush keyword difficulty checker tool. Although the difficulty score won’t reflect the actual keyword competition, it gives you a fairly accurate measure of the competition. Manual competition review is still required.
The Keyword Magic Tool is a recent addition to SEMrush.
This will be the ultimate keyword brainstorming tool that you’ll ever come across. It comes with various powerful metrics and also tons of filters you to only display the keywords that can make a significant difference in your organic traffic.
The average difficulty score displayed by this tool will also be very helpful for you to determine the overall competition of a niche.
This is an awesome tool for coming up with hidden gems, that you can find in no other SEO tools.
SEO Content Template
With this feature, you just need to enter your seed keyword. The tool will automatically create an SEO template of the article, which you can follow to increase your organic traffic.
This will analyze the content on the top 10 results for the keyword you entered. After the analysis, it will suggest you some of the things you can incorporate in your article so as to make your content more SEO friendly than others.
Rather than going manually through each of the pages and noticing their on page SEO, this is a great timesaving feature for you to craft great SEO friendly content on the go.
Lead Generation Tool
This feature is most unique and something you rarely see in most SEO tools. This feature lets you create an embed code for site audit. You can insert this embed code in your site.
It will display a form to your website visitors to enter their email and in turn get their site’s audit report. The collected emails will be sent to your specified email address. Those leads can be later added to your email marketing software manually.
This is a creative way to collect emails of your website visitors.
Keyword position tracking
This feature lets you track the rankings of your site for the keywords. This lets you track the progress of your site when it comes to SEO.
It also helps you in knowing whether the backlinks you are building are making a real difference when it comes to rankings.
Unique Features of SEMrush
- Bigger backlink index when compared to Moz and SpyFu
- Most accurate competitor keyword analysis
- Biggest keyword index
- Keyword database of 135 countries on Google
- Keyword magic tool
- SEO Content Tool
- Lead generation tool
- Video advertising research
- PLA research
The Pro and Guru plans are suitable for most of them. The plan I’m using now is the Pro plan. I personally found it very effective. If you want more reports and also resources including historical keywords data, then Guru plan will be suitable for you.
Spyfu - Competitor Research Tool
SpyFu has been around on the web for quite a long time, SpyFu has a great set of unique features in order to make competitor research much easier.
Here are some of the features of this tool.
Features of SpyFu
SEO overview: This lets you to view the essential overview of your competitor site in one page.
It also displays you the organic keywords of any domain based on the number of common keywords that they are ranking for.
Top organic competitors: This feature enables you to find out more of the competitors and compare them to one another.
You just need to select the checkbox next to the competitors to add them to the comparison.
One attractive feature of this tool is it also displays the places in the graph when the Google Algorithmic updates happened. This lets you know the exact reason why the site got a boost or decline in traffic.
Kombat: It is my most favorite feature when it comes to SpyFu. This feature is similar to the domain vs domain tool in SEMrush where it displayed the common keywords that the multiple domains are ranking for.
The SpyFu tool does this more elegantly by displaying this in the form of a venn diagram.
As you can see in the above screenshot, the SpyFu has plotted a Venn diagram which you can use to discover the keywords that are common with these domain by clicking on the relevant pie.
The “weakness” section in the above screenshot is my favorite feature as it helps me find the keywords that other competitor sites are ranking for, but not me. This feature is also helpful to quickly generate loads of content ideas when you are stuck.
Keyword groups: This feature will be very helpful for you to know what kind of keywords are driving traffic to a site.
This will be very helpful for you to drill down the list of keywords based on your interests.
SEO keywords: This displays you what are all the keywords that a specific site is ranking for.
For my site, the results were not quite accurate in case of SpyFu. In fact, the keyword “domain authority” is not the leading traffic generator and also not the “perfect images”. For my site, the SEMrush turns out to be accurate when it comes to keyword research.
The keyword filter feature is not as powerful as SEMrush’s one.
Ranking history: This lets you find out how the rankings of your site for the keywords have changed over time. You can also add new keywords to add to the graph in the future.
You can also view the graph of newly ranked keywords, lost keywords, and others as shown in the screenshot below.
This is similar to the keyword tracking feature in SEMrush, where you need to enter the keywords you need to track in the project.
Backlinks: SpyFu also displays the backlinks of a particular domain. As you can see in the below screenshot, SpyFu has managed to return a decent number of backlinks. But the number is nowhere matched to that of backlinks reported by SEMrush.
The backlinks feature also has a “Backlinks Kombat” feature that enables you to find out the domains that are linking to your competitors that does not link to you. This is a powerful feature. But the sad part is that the number of backlinks reported my SpyFu is very less when compared to SEMrush.
Similar to that of SEO Research feature, the SpyFu also has PPC Research feature. It has all the features that are present in SEO research module, except that it reports only the paid keywords.
There are no options for you to do PLA research, display advertising, and video advertising research like that of SEMrush.
This tool also has a feature called “AdWords Advisor”. It advises you some keywords on which you can bid, by looking at the nature of your current PPC keywords and competitor keywords.
Once you enter your seed keyword, it’ll display you all the essential metrics of the keyword.
In the related keywords section, it’ll display you the related keywords to the main seed keyword.
You can filter the results by making use of some filters present in the left sidebar as you can see in the above screenshot. There are options for you to filter the keywords based on CPC, search volume, difficulty, number of words, clicks per month, CTR, and more.
It also displays you the top advertisers on Google for that keyword. It also displays you the preview of the ads over time.
The feature I loved is the SERP analysis.
It displays you the top ranking pages for a specific keyword, and also displays you some metrics like domain strength. This lets you know the competition of a keyword accurately.
Domain top lists: This list displays you the top domains that spend the most on AdWords ads, with most organic traffic, companies, etc.
Keyword top lists: This displays you the top keywords that have highest CPC, search volume, expensive keywords, much more.
Business leads: This is the most unique feature that you don’t commonly find in SEO tools. This feature helps you research the contact information of people related to your niche easily.
This is quite a great tool to get some leads easily for outreaching purposes. You can export these leads to an excel file to do the outreach process.
The tracking feature enables you to track the rankings of your site for some keywords over time.
For this you need to create a project. After creating a project, you need to enter the domain name and also the keywords you need to track. You can set the tracking frequency to daily, weekly and more.
Unique Features of SpyFu
- Kombat feature is great to display the keywords that are common for multiple domains in the form of interactive Venn diagram. (in SEMrush this is less elegant)
- List builder tool
- Rest all the features are also present in SEMrush
The basic plan to more than enough unless you are a power user who uses the tool aggressively daily.
Moz - A Popular SEO Marketing Software
Moz is one of the oldest SEO tools out there. It comes with tools for keyword research and also backlink analysis. Let us see how the tool stacks up with other competitors of it.
Features of Moz
Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer is one of the most popular features of Moz, that I bet you’ve used before.
This tool helps you to pull out basic information about the site including its domain authority, page authority, spam score and also inbound links.
The backlinks returned by Moz is poor when compared with SEMrush and somewhat better when compared to SpyFu.
As you can see in the above screenshot, the Open Site Explorer is very slow when it comes to indexation of backlinks, that too big backlinks. Forget the small backlinks I got.
You can filter the backlinks by link equity, follow, nofollow, etc.
Top pages: This feature returns you the top pages of a site with regards to number of backlinks pointing to it.
In this case, Moz has failed to pull the page title for my popular posts. I need to hover over the links to display the actual title of the page. This feature also does not have any filters except the HTTP page status.
Linking domains: This reports you the domains that are linking to your site.
By clicking on the blue plus mark, you’ll further get the actual backlink URL. There are no filters to sort out the domains by PA or DA whatsoever.
Anchor text: This feature will report all the anchor text of the backlinks of a domain. This will be helpful to know what anchor text your competitors are using.
This feature is also available in SEMrush and SpyFu.
Spam analysis: This feature helps you find out the toxic backlinks pointing to your site.
The backlinks that have more spam score are regarded as toxic backlinks. This will be a useful feature.
Link opportunities: This feature is what I found somewhat unique in Moz. The reclaim links, unlinked mentions, and link intersect tools are great. Reclaim Links feature reports you the broken links on your site that have inbound links.
The "unlinked mentions" feature searches for your unlinked brand name mentions anywhere on Google. You can replicate this feature easily with Google Search modifiers.
Link intersect tool helps you find out the backlinks that your competitors have in common that you do not have.
When I look at the less amount of backlinks reported by Moz, I wonder how helpful these features that completely rely on backlink data will be.
Fresh Web Explorer
This feature is very similar to Google Alerts. You can monitor any mentions of any terms on the web, and get notifications when new content matching your criteria comes up.
You can create an alert and specify your email in the settings section.
This feature also enables to display the content that mentioned your term on the report.
This feature will display you the competition of the keywords. It also presents you the SERP analysis report.
The SERP analysis feature helps you find the domain authority and page authority of the top 10 ranking pages for a keyword, which you can easily do with the free MozBar too.
This tool grades a page how well it is optimized for a given keyword.
This feature just checks your page against various on page keyword usage factors and reports it back to you. On the other hand SEMrush SEO template suggests the ways by which you can use the keywords in better ways than your competitors.
Moz also comes with a Rank Tracker like that of SEMrush or SpyFu. But this feature won’t support graph features and is not feature rich.
It is more or less a plain keyword rank tracker.
Unique Features of Moz
- Fresh web explorer (this feature can be easily replicated using free Google search and Google alerts)
For the price, the features offered by Moz are very less when compared to its competitors. The product is not being actively developed like that of SEMrush, and the same old features are piled up in the tool.
When you are looking at getting the best competitor analysis tools, you will be looking to get your hands on the below features.
Backlinks: The SEMrush has a bigger backlink database than that of Moz and SpyFu. When it comes to the amount of backlinks reports, SEMrush is the winner followed by Moz.
Keyword research: Again, SEMrush reports more keywords, and has more keyword filters for you to display the most relevant keywords. SpyFu also reports you the keywords but they are not so accurate in some instances. Moz, on the other hand simply lacks the competitor keyword research features.
For keyword brainstorming, the Keyword Magic Tool by SEMrush is absolutely a gold.
Rank tracker: If you are looking for rank tracking feature the winners are SEMrush and SpyFu. They both have a good rank tracking features. Moz simply lacks many of the key features in its rank tracker.
For this post’s sake, let’s compare the beginner plans of all these tools.
SEMrush - $99.95/mo
SpyFu - $39/mo
Moz - $99/mo
SEMrush comes with more features and charges you for that. SpyFu comes with less features and charges you lesser for it. However, Moz’s pricing is simply ridiculous for the outdated features they offer.
If you want a tool that displays all the metrics from these different services and also various things like heading texts, keyword density, word count, and also age of the domain at one place, you definitely need to try out SERPWorx. I can't imagine keyword difficulty checking without this extension. It does the job so easy. It costs $10/month.
When it comes to winner, you need to decide between Spyfu and SEMrush. The SEMrush has almost triple the features of SpyFu, they’ve plenty of video tutorials and webinars are conducted weekly. The keyword reports of SEMrush is far more accurate than SpyFu and also it reports more backlinks than SpyFu.
The price you pay for SEMrush is absolutely justified for the features you get. If you ask me, although the price is double, you’ll get more value for the money you pay in the case of SEMrush than SpyFu.
SpyFu comes with lesser features than SEMrush and those few features are nothing better when compared to SEMrush.