Dominick Sorrentino

Ever wish you could take a peek at your competitor’s digital marketing strategy? SpyFu has been helping its users do just that since 2006.

It’s not corporate espionage, but if you want to pretend you’re a covert agent on a mission of the utmost importance, that’s totally fine with us. SpyFu gives its users a reasonably priced SEO toolkit that will help them get a sense of how the competition is faring on search.

What is SpyFu?

SpyFu is a cloud-based suite of marketing tools that allows you to see (spy on) the ranking history of any domain. With a few clicks, you can easily see every place on Google where the domain has appeared, every keyword its bought on Google Ads (formerly Adwords) and every ad variation it has ever published.

Whether you’re trying to get your blog noticed, increase your organic ranking in Google or you’re just dying to know what your competitors are up to, SpyFu’s selection of SEO tools can provide much of the data you need.

What capabilities does SpyFu have?

SpyFu has been in the SEO game almost since the beginning. That means the platform has a mature set of tools backed by more than a decade of data. Want to see where your competitors ranked yesterday? SpyFu can do that. Want to see where they were 13 years ago? Yep, SpyFu can do that too.

The platform has four distinct sets of tools. Here’s a brief overview of each:

1. SEO research tools

Knowing where your competitors rank is a good starting point, but SpyFu also shows you how to turn those insights into strategy. Its SEO tools let you search for any domain and measure its rank gains and losses.

Plus, you can take a look at your own domain and identify which keywords you should focus on first. For example, if you have several keywords that rank on page two of Google, SpyFu can help you nudge them in the right direction and boost your rankings.

Its SEO tools can help you to:

  • Compare your domain’s keyword rankings with those of your competitors.
  • Group and segment keywords to fine-tune your strategy.
  • Create colorful, insightful reports that can be shared and viewed on any device.

2. PPC research tools

Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns can become very complicated, very quickly. Even if you’re only buying ads for a few specific keywords, you want to ensure that you spend your ad money wisely. SpyFu has dedicated workflows that allow you to drill down into specialized areas such as keyword groups and ad copy to help find opportunities for optimization.

One of the top features SpyFu provides is access to instant advice from its Advisor tool, which provides the best recommendations for keywords your campaign might be missing. If you’ve ever wasted too much time trying to decide if you should spend your ad money on specific keywords, SpyFu can help you decide with buying recommendations.

3. Keyword research tools

SpyFu’s simple interface makes it easy to instantly receive recommendations on which keywords you’re most likely to rank for, which keywords are worth fighting for and which keywords you should avoid.

From SpyFu’s overview tab, you can get detailed information about relevant keywords. Once you’ve picked a few, you can then drill down into the finer details. Easy-to-read breakdowns of keyword information help you make informed decisions about which keywords to target through organic SEO tactics and which might be worth including in your PPC campaigns.

Covering the bases

  • SERP analysis: Every SEO professional has spent more time than they are willing to admit staring at search engine results pages (SERPs) looking for clues. SpyFu helps automate this process.
  • Backlink research: Simply tell SpyFu which keywords you want to target and it will tell you which links will help you rank. It’s that simple.
  • List building: Need custom search marketing lists? SpyFu can use the information it gathers to help you build lists of competitor PPC budgets, the number of paid clicks a domain receives over time and much more.
  • Keyword Rankings: SpyFu helps you stay on top of keyword rankings with intuitive dashboards that display your gains, losses, where you’re close to ranking on Page 1 and other benchmarks. See an example below:

How much does SpyFu cost?

As of 2020, SpyFu offers three pricing tiers, billed monthly or yearly. Prices shown below are monthly costs, billed at the yearly rate:

  • Basic ($33/mo): Unlimited search results, data exports and domain overview PDFs for a single user. Includes 250 sales leads and domain contacts, 5,000 weekly tracked keyword rankings and 10,000 top list results.
  • Professional ($58/mo): Includes everything from the basic plan, plus 500 sales leads, 15,000 tracked keywords, 50,000 top list results, 10,000 API rows returned, custom branded reporting and multiple users.
  • Team ($199/mo): Includes everything from the previous plans plus 2,000 sales leads, 40,000 weekly tracked keywords, 75,000 top list results, 10,000 API rows returned, custom branding and five user logins.

How to use SpyFu as part of your content marketing strategy

SpyFu is most effective as a tool that helps you figure out which keywords your competitors own, and which of those keywords are within striking distance for your website.

With that in mind, here’s an example of how you might use SpyFu as part of a content marketing strategy:

1. Set your goals

Tools like those offered by SpyFu are all about scientifically measuring your campaigns, so you’ll need a goal to measure against. For example, let’s say your goal is to increase organic traffic to your company blog. Use Google Analytics to establish a baseline measurement so you can measure growth as you adjust your strategy.

2. Identify your top competitors

Start by searching for your own domain. You’ll get a list of results that includes your top organic search competitors.

You can also see how you rank against these competitors for specific keywords over time by selecting the “Ranking History” tab.

3. Find keywords

Now it’s time to find keywords that you can create content around. Your competitor analysis will show you which keywords you share with your competitors. For example, below is a list of more than 600 keywords that both of our search competitors rank for that we currently don’t rank for:

You’ll also notice they have search volume and difficulty scores. This is helpful in determining which keywords you should be targeting.

Our recommendation is to export this list of keywords and then further analyze each of them using SpyFu’s SERP analysis function. This will show you an estimated ranking difficulty, as well as the “domain strength” of the websites currently ranking in the top spots for that keyword. Below is an example:

Pay attention to domain strength and estimated clicks. The former is an indicator of how hard a time you may have supplanting a competitor, while the latter helps you decide if it’s even worth it. With only 8 clicks up for grabs in the example above, it may not be worth the time and effort for us to try to rank for this keyword.

As you identify keywords that your competitors rank for, keep an eye on the “similar keywords” and “questions” SpyFu provides in its dashboard. These will give you ideas of other keywords that may be worth targeting on your site. You can find these recommendations directly in the Keyword Overview and Related Keywords tabs.

4. Look for backlinks

Once you’ve determined which keywords you want to target, use the backlink tool to see which sites around the web are sending traffic your way. Backlinks are votes of confidence that your content is trustworthy and authoritative.

Navigate to the “Backlinks” section of SpyFu and search for your domain. This will help you figure out which sites are linking to your content. You can use this information to guide your outreach efforts as you try to try to earn even more backlinks.

5. Track progress

Keep a close eye on Google Analytics and Search Console to see what content is performing well.

You also want to make sure you’re scouting out re-optimization opportunities. This involves identifying pages that are almost ranking on Page 1 and revising them to give them the little extra push they need to get there.

SpyFu has a section where you can identify “Almost There” keywords, which are those keywords that you nearly rank on Page 1 for. You can find these under “SEO Research” and then “SEO Keywords.” Use the drop-down menu at the top left to select “Almost There Keywords.”

You can also look at other keyword selections in this same drop-down menu, such as your most valuable keywords, your gains, your losses, your Page 1 keywords and more.

Closing thoughts

As you continue to work with SpyFu, you’ll find uses for all of the available tools, but it’s best to start with a few and then work your way through the rest as you become more comfortable with the platform. With a set of valuable keywords and useful backlinks, you can get your strategy moving forward – just remember to keep measuring your performance over time.

Read our guide for more actionable steps on getting your B2B content marketing strategy up and running efficiently.

Has your organization used SpyFu to support its content strategy? Let us know about your experience in the comments.