SEO tools are ruling the roost online. Irrespective of the domain a website belongs to – be it real estate, IT, healthcare, or even just a content blog, tools like SEMrush, Spyfu and Ahrefs are sought-after by websites across all domains.
Now it is worth knowing for a website owner as to which of these tools can serve their website thoroughly. But before we get into that, many website owners would drop off at this point, with an opinion that they don’t require any SEO tools to start with, by their website being of a specific kind of fulfilling a particular purpose. So let us go ahead and bust that myth. It is a well-known fact that SEO tools are useful for all types of websites – content heavy or consisting of only a few short copies.
Let us explore why you need SEO tools for your site.
Data is the new creed that businesses of all sizes have started to swear by. While making data-driven decisions is a phenomenon that has crept into all aspects of companies across all industries, website management, in particular, has benefited a lot. Those webmasters who have not yet waken up to the virtues of data are lagging because, quite frankly, they are shooting in the dark.
Running and maintaining a website is a lot of hard work. While you cannot be skimping on the hours and quality invested, but some tools make your job relatively easier and, more importantly, much more rewarding. SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Spyfu are some tools that help website owners gain terrific insight into how their website is faring and what are its shortcomings so that well-informed decisions can be made to pitch their website for best organic rankings.
As a website owner, you need to be constantly aware about who your users are, where they are coming from, what queries they are entering into Google before landing on your website, what is the typical user behaviour on the site, how long before they bounce off, which pages have the greater or lesser exit and bounce rates, and so much more. While Google Analytics does give you a lot of access to such type of data, but when you use Google Analytics in combination with the other SEO tools, that is when you genuinely get the deepest of insights that can go a long way to give you complete control of the data you are seeing and how relevant it is for you.
In this post, we aim to highlight the best SEO tools you can get your hands on. While they do provide the limited free versions too, you are required you to invest a decent sum if you wish to acquire their services as a regular user. In case you want to know about other similar tools like HitTail and Wordtracker check it here.
If you have been part of the web in a business capacity, there is very little chance you haven’t heard of Ahrefs. It is a name to reckon with among website owners and SEO professionals who want to give their website a great opportunity to rank on Google by providing you access to a variety of data that serves both as a benchmark and as a baseline for webmasters to work upon. Let’s dig into some of the best features that Ahrefs offers, which include Site Explorer, Content Explorer, Rank Tracker, and more. Here’s how the dashboard looks when you are logged into Ahrefs:
These features as standalone can do so much:
- Site Explorer helps you dig deeper into competitor websites by providing you report of the top pages of the competitor website so that you get to know which of their page draws in the most organic traffic. This is a useful insight since it can give you a lot many ideas for your website. This part of the report breaks the calculations country-wise. So it shows by default the country that sends maximum traffic to the site, and you can change or customise this view and see the names of all the countries where the traffic comes from to this website.
- It helps you keep an eye on your competitor’s traffic by highlighting their high traffic pages. Ahrefs comes with a Competing Domains option which can be used to check websites that are performing great for the same keywords your business is targeting. This feature goes even further by letting you enter your site URL in site explorer to find sites that are competing with your content.
- Another advantage of this feature is that you can find out how many backlinks does a page have. If you find a page with fewer backlinks but great organic traffic, you can use the tool to find out the keywords that the given page is ranking for in the, let’s say, top 50 Google search results. Of course, once you have those list of keywords, you can use them to your advantage by using the same while targeting the audience that you and your competitor have an overlap on.
- Ahrefs’ Content Explorer can scan the internet for places that have your brand mention but do not contain links to your website or other online portfolios. As and when you find mentions where someone has forgotten to place your website’s link, you can reach out to them and have the necessary links placed.
- Another handy tool that Ahrefs provides is keyword explorer, which can be your go-to tool for anything ‘keyword’ related. With this tool you can: Look up thousands of keyword ideas, along with their search volume. The tool can generate ideas based on ‘phrase match,’ ‘having the same terms,’ ‘also rank for,’ and ‘search suggestions.’ Difficulty score means how much competition revolves around a particular keyword. So, if you are planning to rank for that keyword, how difficult it is going to be, is decided by the difficulty score. With Keyword Explorer, you can check that score for keywords easily.
- With the SERP report, you get to see top-ranking results for a keyword. You also get to fetch all the SEO metrics of these top results. So, in a way you know what is ranking for a keyword AND why.
- Advanced metrics in Keyword Explorer is a fantastic feature! Metrics you get numbers for Clicks, clicks per search, % of clicks, % of paid clicks, and return rate.
- Lastly, you can easily save all your keyword ideas in a list format. Makes work so much simpler!
Below is a small snapshot of Ahrefs audit tool:
Ahrefs makes it a seamless job to integrate its tools with other applications or building applications that use Ahrefs index data. Ahrefs allows developers to access their API for free of cost so that people can use their data and integrate with their applications to customise it to their particular and unique needs. Authorising an application is only a matter of a single click of the mouse.
As a developer, you have to submit your app along with a detailed description of the app to Ahrefs. They can reach out to you to ask for more information. After approval, the authorisation steps need to be performed wherein the authorisation is integrated into your application. Once all of this is done and executed, you can complete the setup using the API data in your app.
As for the pricing of Ahrefs is concerned, they have got different plans for different types of needs. Here are the required details:
- Lite – $99/Month: Provides full access to all features of the plan for seven days. You can run five campaigns as per this plan.
- Standard – $179/Month: Provides full access to all features of the plan for seven days. You can run ten campaigns as per this plan.
- Advanced – $399: This is a more sophisticated plan which gives you the freedom to run more campaigns and get more data in.
- Agency – $999: This most significant Ahrefs plan can help you run 100 campaigns, track 100 keywords and do backlink and ranking index for thousands of links.
In a nutshell, you can look up almost anything and everything with Site Explorer. It is like a magic wand for your competitor research that will make their secrets appear to you in no time. You can research pages, backlinks, paid links, outgoing links and so much more with this tool.
SEO professionals and marketers globally have found SEMrush to be an excellent tool for competitive intelligence. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that SEMrush is among the most popular tool out there, known by most people in this web domain looking to improve their website’s performance on Google. And it is not for no reason.
SEMrush perches you right on top of your own and your competitor’s data.
- Whether it is your internal marketing strategy or your competitor’s, online advertising is something that every brand invests quite heavily in. Then again, shooting in the dark is not recommended since it is your hard earned money. You can only empower your money to make more money if you have the right data to back your strategies up and analyzing competitors’ strategies for paid ads can give you access to the most usable and relevant data for your own business. Using SEMrush, you can get a good peek at your competitors’ strategies for display ads, search advertising, organic efforts, and link building.
- Many webmasters may or may not realise, but if you are aware of the budget that your competitor goes by when it comes to ad spending, it gives you a baseline for your website’s ad spending strategies and targets. SEMrush helps you know not just that, but you also get to run analysis on the copies and keywords being used on the ads.
- Competition is never constant. Just going by the sheer number of websites that pop up every day and the businesses that come into being, you can tell that you are facing a new competitor every time the sun is rising. So that makes discovering new competition a must. SEMrush scans the AdWords and Bing ads across the web and provides you with information on the new companies on the turf.
- Organic research is one of the chief features and highlights of SEMrush. While paid advertising has its perks, but any business or website stands to gain most when it has a high organic presence. And the Organic Research tool by SEMrush aims to throw light on how well your competitor’s website rank when it comes to its organic presence, or what kind of keyword strategy are putting it in a position where it is most optimised for organic traffic. It makes the use of competitive intelligence so that you have access to the SEO keywords that are aligned in the best possible manner for your competitor’s business needs, in context of how they reach the right audience online. It helps you get a clear understanding of how your competitor’s keywords are ranking on desktop and mobile, based on the domain position that groups the searched terms.
- The Organic Research enables you to put a value against a particular keyword. Against the KPIs you have in place – like the incoming traffic, search volume, Cost Per Click estimate, the number of search results, etc. – you can measure a keyword’s value and effectiveness.
- Link building is the key to promoting a website and letting it spread its wings across the web. SEMrush makes the task more comfortable to carry out and in a highly effective way. It gives you a bird’s eye view of all the referring domains to a competitor website. Analysing those can help you get a good grasp over what is working for them regarding the specific link building strategy. You can either use that strategy for your website or mix the insights you have got with the plan you formulated based on the data around your site and customers.
- Analysing your website is an exercise full of rich insights with SEMrush. The backlink checker of SEMrush displays every single link that points to your domain and highlights the link quality – a kind of information that one seeks to uncover when auditing incoming links. You can easily understand the referring domain’s authority so that there are no spammy resources linked to your website; a feature that holds your site in good stead by preventing it from Google penalties.
A small sample of SEMrush reports for a specific URL:
Semrush update: Semrush is GDPR compliant and has updated its privacy agreements and DPA to assure that none of the data protection laws gets violated. You can read the details about how to manage your data subjects, the obligation of the data processors and other related queries on their website.
In its pursuit of innovation and user-friendly features, SEMrush has always been collaborating and integrating with a myriad of third-party tools that make the entire package far more usable and more manageable for a user. The recent integration with DashThis that adds a new dimension to how the marketing data is stored in a report.
SEMrush’s focus on data-driven reporting also ensured that they collaborated with TapClicks for giving users access to data from a diverse set of sources. This integration allows you to access the data on domain analytics of your website or your competitor’s website with wasting away precious time and resources. The integration of SEMrush with Databox is also yielding great results for the tool users.
SEMrush provides the following plans:
- Pro – $99.95/Month: Bloggers or small-time marketers can use this plan.
- Guru – $199.95/Month: This plan is right for medium-sized businesses that are looking for access to historical data and more prominent reports.
- Business – $399.95/Month: This plan is the most ideal for large marketing agencies or companies who have the wiggle room to spend big.
- Enterprise – SEMrush makes it even more interesting with their Enterprise plan which is a solution that can be customised to the specific needs of a business.
Spyfu is a highly capable SEO tool with a vast mix of features, some great integrations, and user-friendly interface that makes it such a sought-after tool among SEO and marketing professionals across the world.
- Right on the homepage, Spyfu gives the facility to enter the URL for a competitor’s website for you to unearth a plethora of data that includes reports on metrics like the organic keywords pertaining to the site, how many estimated SEO clicks they get in a month, how do they fare against their other competitors, what are their top keywords, what are the shared keywords between your website and their’s, etc.
- Spyfu can also list out all the links inbound to your competing website, and it can show those year-wise. You also get to know the ranking history so that it gets even more insightful when tracking the progress of their keywords’ performance.
- Spyfu provides a clean interface to perform tasks like PPC research. This is another useful tool which helps users to get quantitative data on how other players are using ads to drive traffic to their website using the paid channels and what ads are giving the best CPC, etc.
- The SEO and PPC reports of Spyfu add new dimensions to how the data is extracted for a website and how it is easily interpreted for use. You can dig deeper and analyse a domain’s strengths and opportunities in the context of its search engine optimisation and paid ads.
Spyfu also provides the facility to use its API to be integrated with the application developed by individual users or business, which helps them customise the feature to suit their requirements.
In addition to that, Spyfu also integrated with Flamory which lets the users create and use advanced snapshots for Spyfu.
SpyFu provides the following plans
- Basic annual plan for $33/Month and monthly plan for $39/Month
- Professional annual plan for $58/Month and monthly plan for $99/Month
- Business annual plan for $199/Month and monthly plan for $299/Month
What to Choose between SEMrush, Spyfu, and Ahrefs
So, having walked through the features of each of these tools and understood them extensively, a webmaster seeking a solution of this nature must be wondering which one to go for. There is no denying the fact that the three tools above are the best from the herd of SEO tools available in the market. But even though the choice is narrowed down to just 3, you still have to choose the one tool you will use, especially when there is an investment involved here.
Ease of use
Comparing these products neck to neck to neck, we see that the ease of use with SEMrush is unmatched. What a user will appreciate the most about this tool is how the dashboard is put together to execute clarity of understanding. Each feature within the tool is designed and placed in a coherent sequence regarding the pattern a user is likely to follow while using the tool.
Coherence of data
SEMrush keeps the data very precise and reports very tight to be understood. With Spyfu or Ahrefs, the actionable insights are vaguer as compared to what you get with SEMrush. Also in the case of Spyfu, it is a newer player in the market, so while it does boast of a fantastic set of features, there is still a lot to be proven.
Organic traffic collaterals
The organic search features of Ahrefs is outstanding, and it might take brownie points over Spyfu, but at the same time, the Organic Research feature of SEMrush adds a whole new dimension to how you can extract competitive data on organic traffic. The data intelligence associated with SEMrush takes you right into the SEO keyword performance metrics of a given website. You get to know who else are the top competitors of a given company, which keywords are working in the best possible way for them and whether or not are they ranking for some SERP features.
All the tools we have discussed in this post do an excellent job of letting the tool user have a good grasp of what are the best keyword opportunities they can take advantage of. But SEMrush helps you mine the keyword data further by showcasing all the associated keywords or terms that are relevant to you with a quick search or just a few clicks. Also, for the advertising purposes, you need to be sure that what kind of keywords are likely to get you the best CPC, and with SEMrush, when you get a clear report on the keywords you are ranking on, it can show you that which ones from those keywords are giving your competitors the best return on money spent by advertising on those keywords. This insightful information is helpful as it can guide you to choose the best possible set of keywords for your PPC and other paid campaigns.
When it comes to pricing, Ahrefs and SEMrush are quite expensive. But that said, SEMrush does come with a custom plan that lets you choose where exactly do you want to spend your money on and how much. As for Spyfu, it easily is the most economical option you can invest in, and even though the features are relatively unproven, the company has made giant leaps regarding its growing popularity among the webmasters.
All things considered, while it sure looks like a close call, SEMrush does take the honours in quite a few aspects. While you may lean towards Spyfu when it comes to the costing parameter, you can not ignore the fact that SEMrush makes all the extra money spent on it so much more worth.
So whether it is the user-friendly attribute or how data is arranged and seen or even keyword analysis, SEMrush makes it clear that when it finally comes down to taking a call, it is most likely to go in favour of SEMrush.