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SpyFu vs. Ahrefs: Ultimate Comparison (2023)

July 25, 2023
Irina Maltseva

Unlocking the power of SEO is key to thriving in the digital landscape. But with a plethora of tools like SpyFu and Ahrefs available, how do you choose the right one?

In this article, we're putting these two SEO titans head-to-head in the ultimate showdown. We'll explore features, pricing, and everything in between to help you decide which tool is your ticket to online visibility. 

Ready for the clash of the SEO giants? Let's dive in!

SpyFu vs. Ahrefs: A quick overview

Before we dive deep into a complete comparison, let's look at some fat things that stand out completely:

What is SpyFu? 

SpyFu is a cloud-based digital marketing suite that allows you to “spy,” as they put it, on the ranking history of your competitors. With just a few clicks, you can check out where your competitor’s domain has ever appeared, all the keywords they have bought on Google Ads, and all the ad variations they have published over the years. 

But that's not all! SpyFu also comes with some of the most powerful SEO tools that help you shape your marketing strategies more effectively. It provides in-depth keyword details and powerful PPC research tools to take your campaign to the next level. 

Additionally, SpyFu is also known for its excellent keyword research capabilities, with tons of details and a highly intuitive interface. Other notable features include SERP analysis, backlink research, list building, and in-depth keyword ranking reports. 

What is Ahrefs? 

Ahrefs is a complete SEO toolkit widely used by marketers and businesses to boost their website rankings and online presence. It provides you with all digital marketing essentials, from effective keyword research tools and website audits to solid backlink analysis and everything in between. Other notable features of Ahrefs include rank tracking and competitor analysis. 

One unique feature that I love about Ahrefs is the Site Explorer. It is basically a combination of three powerful SEO tools in one single interface. With Site Explorer, you can check: 

  • The keywords your competitors are ranking for and what amount of traffic they are generating. 
  • The overall backlink profile of your competitor’s sites. 
  • The type of traffic they are getting, e.g., if they are running paid search advertising. 

What makes them unique?

Both tools come with unique features that make them preferable in their own right. While both are great tools for what they do, here's where they deviate from each other:

  • SpyFu's primary focus is competitive intelligence and keyword research. At the same time, Ahrefs is a complete SEO toolkit with many features.
  • SpyFu is not great at backlink analysis, although it does offer the feature. On the other hand, Ahrefs has a huge database with the most robust backlink data in the market.
  • SpyFu is significantly cheaper than Ahrefs, standing at $39/month, which also aids in its popularity among small businesses. On the other hand, Ahrefs starts at $99/month and is best suited for medium to large businesses (or businesses with a decent SEO budget).
Tool Ahrefs SpyFu
Price (starts from) $99/mo for 1 user $39/mo for 1 user
Keyword research - Giant database with 22.1 billion keywords
- Supports 189 countries
- Accurate monthly search volume data
- Competitive keyword research
- Advanced SEO and PPC keyword research capabilities
- Smart keyword grouping
Competitor analysis - Advanced competitor analysis
- Content gap analysis
- Advanced metrics and data on competitor sites
-Competitor ad history
- Competitor backlink analysis
- Competitor ranking history
Backlink analysis - Huge index
- New, lost, and broken backlinks report
- Link intersect tool
- Smaller index
- Competitor backlink analysis
- Inbound links report
Content marketing - Content explorer
- Content gap analysis
- Content performance analysis
- Competitor content analysis
- No specific content creation or content strategy tools
Rank tracking - Track keyword rankings
- Ranking progress
- Mobile rankings
- Track keyword rankings
- Ranking history
- Unlimited updates and reports
PPC features - PPC keyword research
- Competitor PPC analysis
- Competitor PPC analysis
- PPC keyword research
- Ad group and ad copy recommendations
- Ad testing and monitoring
- Ad budget and ROI analysis
User interface 5/5 4/5
Customer support 5/5 4/5

Ease of use

Both tools are unique and come with a learning curve for beginners. It comes down to individual experiences and how and what you use them for. Here's how they generally compare:


Compared to SpyFu, Ahrefs is more advanced. This means it will have a steep learning curve for someone who has just started with SEO. However, once you get the hang of it, it's one of the most straightforward tools in its league— better than even SEMrush.

ahrefs dashboard

You get a visually appealing dashboard that provides a detailed overview of all the important metrics related to your site’s performance. In the navbar, you can easily access the most useful and popular Ahrefs tools, including a robust Keyword Explorer, Site Explorer, Site Audit, Rank Tracker, content Explorer, and more.

It's not the interface that makes Ahrefs overwhelming; it's the amount of information it has. For someone just starting, many things would need to be clarified. But as you advance in SEO, Ahrefs may become your favorite tool.

Ahrefs also provides tons of free resources in the form of blog posts and tutorials. You can always have a look at them as you explore the tool and unlock its potential. 


SpyFu is well-regarded for its intuitive user interface. The home page has a very defined, clean look with a crisp menu bar with all the features categorized in different sections. Although each tool is complex in its own right, navigating it is pretty straightforward.

spyfu dashboard

Below the menu bar is the search bar that allows you to enter a domain, URL, or keyword to fetch related reports. The reports are super-comprehensive and easy to understand once you get the basics and acquaint yourself with all the SEO and PPC terminologies.

Besides, SpyFu also has a decent library of free tutorials related to SEO, PPC, keyword research, and competitor research. Overall, SpyFu has a great interface for a fairly advanced marketing tool and is generally considered one of the easiest for beginners.


SpyFu and Ahrefs are fairly easy to use, with crisp and straightforward user interfaces and many free resources. I call it a tie.

Keyword research

Keyword research is the backbone of any SEO tool, as your search engine visibility depends on it. Here's how Ahrefs and SpyFu stack up against each other when it comes to keyword research:


SEO keyword research

Ahrefs is a tool known for its powerful keyword research capabilities. The Keyword Explorer tool from Ahrefs allows you to identify thousands of excellent keyword ideas to increase your search engine rankings and organic traffic. 

ahrefs keyword research

With a giant database of 22.1B billion keywords across 10 search engines, super advanced metrics, SERP history, and support for more than 189 countries, Ahrefs Keyword Explorer is the most powerful SEO keyword research tool out there!

PPC keyword research

Apart from a great SEO research tool, Ahrefs is also an excellent tool for PPC keyword research, with lots of data to boost your campaign. 

With Ahrefs, you can find the top keywords your competitors are bidding on, the CPC of each, and which gets the most paid traffic.


ahrefs ppc keywords

Ahrefs also allows you to find low-cost, low-competition keywords to bid on, giving you keywords you can rank for, both organically and through PPC. 

By enabling you to understand the commercial value of every keyword, Ahrefs ensures you get the maximum return on ad spend, ensuring an effective PPC campaign. 


SEO keyword research

SpyFu allows you to discover new keywords that are relevant to your industry or niche. You can enter a seed keyword or domain name, and SpyFu will generate a list of related keywords. It provides information such as search volume, cost per click (CPC), and keyword difficulty, helping you identify valuable keywords to target.

spyfu keyword research

SpyFu allows you to organize your keywords into groups. You can categorize keywords based on themes, products, or campaigns, making it easier to manage and track your keyword lists. This feature helps you stay organized and optimize your SEO strategy more effectively.

PPC keyword research

SpyFu is considered arguably the best tool for PPC keyword research, with tons of data to give you insights into your competitor’s PPC campaign.

spyfu PPC keyword research

SpyFu focuses on three key areas; the keywords your competitors are targeting, the total estimated ad spend, and how they have designed their ad copies. 

The tool also offers you various filters that allow you to dig out only specific types of keywords, further facilitating your research. 

Other than that, you also get significant data on all the keywords a domain has ever bought and how long they have been advertising on it.


Ahrefs tops SpyFu at SEO keyword research, and SpyFu tops Ahrefs at PPC keyword research. In the end, it really comes down to your needs. That’s a tie. 

Rank tracking


Like Keyword Explorer, Rank Tracker is another core tool of Ahrefs that provides you with tons of information to boost your SEO efforts. It allows you to monitor your keyword rankings across 187 countries and compare your performance to your top competitors.

ahrefs Rank tracking

As you enter the Rank Tracker, you are directed to the overview page. It is the Rank Tracker tool's main hub and provides many unique reporting features. For example, at the top of the page, you see a few charts that allow you to check your keyword rankings over time instantly, with the help of data like:

  • Share of Voice
  • Average position
  • Search Traffic
  • SERP features

As you scroll a little, you will see completely raw ranking data. It shows your tracked keywords, their recent positions, search volume, traffic, and keyword difficulty. It also provides you with data about individual SERP features that exist for your keywords.

ahrefs tracked keywords

In addition to that, you can also check out the ranking history of each keyword, along with the top 100 Google search results for the particular keyword.


SpyFu's rank tracker is fairly simple and provides all the basic information you need to understand your performance on search engines. Yet, it is nowhere as advanced as Ahrefs.

SpyFu rank tracker

Another major disadvantage of Spyfu over Ahrefs is that its data is significantly less detailed and not always the most accurate. That's because, unlike Ahrefs, which updates its data hourly, SpyFu updates its data weekly. 


Ahrefs wins this one, square and clear!

Competitive analysis


SEO competitive analysis

Proper competitive analysis is key to effective SEO. To make sure your competitor analysis is up to the mark, Ahrefs provides you with a plethora of effective tools to perform: 

  • Competitive keyword analysis
  • Backlink profile analysis
  • Content gap analysis
  • Paid search analysis
  • Competitors’ top pages
  • Traffic estimation
  • Link intersect tool

ahrefs SEO competitive analysis

These features make Ahrefs a powerful tool for competitive analysis, helping you understand your competitors' strategies and identify opportunities to boost your SEO efforts. With this data, You get to see what's making your competitors successful and reverse engineer those elements to solidify your strategy. 

PPC competitive analysis

Ahrefs is one of the most advanced PPC analysis tools in the market and provides some useful features to aid your PPC campaign. 

For example, Ahrefs provides you insights on all the keywords your competitors are using to advertise their domains and landing pages. Moreover, it lets you know how much it would cost you per single click acquired through your PPC campaign. 

You can also check out the ad history of your competitors. Just head to the ‘Ad position history’ chart, and you will get visual snapshots of all the competitor’s pages that had Google Ads run on for your targeted keyword. 

Besides, you can check out the exact ad copy your competitors are using. While this feature is certainly useful for your PPC campaign, it also helps you improve your organic searches. 

ahrefs ads

For example, you can always learn from your competitors' ad copies when it comes to improving your meta descriptions and title tags. This, in turn, will help you get more clicks and generate relatively better search traffic. 


SEO competitive analysis 

SpyFu equips you with a powerful arsenal of SEO competitive analysis features to give you an edge in the online marketplace. 

With these tools at your disposal, you can unlock valuable insights into your competitor's strategies, uncover hidden opportunities, and refine your own SEO efforts for maximum impact.

When diving into competitive research, SpyFu enables you to explore your rivals' websites in depth. By analyzing their domains, you gain a comprehensive understanding of their SEO tactics and performance. 

Discovering the organic keywords they rank for unveils the pillars of their content strategy, allowing you to identify relevant keywords to target and boost your own visibility.

SpyFu offers a powerful competitor comparison feature. By pitting multiple domains side by side, you can evaluate and benchmark performance, keyword rankings, estimated organic traffic, and more. 

This allows you to identify gaps in your strategy and uncover new opportunities for growth, ensuring you stay ahead of the pack.

spyfu SEO competitive analysis 

To streamline your competitive analysis efforts, SpyFu allows you to generate custom reports that consolidate the data you gather. 

These reports can be shared with stakeholders or used as a benchmark to track your progress over time, helping you visualize the impact of your SEO initiatives and make data-driven decisions.

With SpyFu's SEO competitive analysis features, you gain a panoramic view of your competitors' strategies, unveiling opportunities, optimizing your SEO campaigns, and ultimately propelling your online presence to new heights. Embrace the power of intelligence and put your business on the path to success.

PPC competitive analysis

SpyFu equips you with a powerful suite of PPC competitive analysis features to unlock valuable insights into your competitors' strategies and optimize your own pay-per-click campaigns

With these tools at your disposal, you can gain a competitive edge and maximize your ROI in the highly dynamic world of online advertising.

SpyFu's PPC competitive analysis capabilities allow you to dive deep into your competitors' PPC campaigns, uncovering their keyword bidding strategies, ad copy variations, and estimated ad budgets.

By exploring the keywords they target, you can gain insights into the most lucrative and effective keywords in your industry, empowering you to refine your own keyword targeting for optimal performance.

SpyFu enables you to discover the different ad copies your rivals are using, giving you a valuable reference to create more engaging and persuasive ad content that stands out in the crowd.

Estimating your competitors' ad budgets is another essential piece of the puzzle. SpyFu provides insights into the approximate ad spend of your competitors, helping you gauge their level of investment and identify opportunities where you can optimize your own budget allocation to achieve maximum results.

spyfu PPC competitive analysis


Both tools have some serious features to offer regarding competitive analysis. Where Ahrefs mainly focuses on SEO, SpyFu provides you with many extras in the PPC space as well. Overall, both are great in their own right. It depends on what you want out of your tool.

Backlink analysis


Ahrefs' backlink analysis tool is renowned for its comprehensive and detailed insights. It boasts one of the largest backlink databases in the SEO industry, providing users with a wealth of information about any website's backlink profile. 

This includes the number of backlinks, referring domains, types of backlinks (dofollow, nofollow, etc.), and the anchor text used. Ahrefs also tracks new and lost backlinks over time, providing a dynamic view of a website's backlink profile. 

ahrefs Backlink analysis

However, two things make Ahrefs special. First, Ahrefs is great at sorting and filtering backlinks. This feature is convenient for finding a specific type of link. For example, a website has 1 million links from different pages.

Good luck dealing with all of that!

Let's say you want to look at specific links, like no follow, or those from a website with a high domain rating. All you need to do is apply the right filter, and the specific type of links will be right in front of you.

Another thing I like about Ahrefs is its index— it's huge and is frequently updated. In other words, the data is vast and never outdated. Ahrefs is also good at finding new links, with one of the most active crawlers on the internet, just behind Google.

Cutting short, backlink analysis and link building are Ahrefs' forte and will only improve over time.


SpyFu's backlink analysis is quite basic. While you can always check who's linking to your site and who you are linking to, there's no advanced sorting and filtering.

On the other hand, their index isn't that huge, with a relatively weak crawler. So there's that. Overall, nothing special.

spyfu backlink analysis


Ahrefs wins it fair and square.

Unique features

Apart from those above, both tools have some unique features. Here's how they go:


Content analysis

ahrefs top pages

Ahrefs provides strong content analysis features that allow you to analyze the top-performing content on your and your competitors' website. You get deep insights about what is or is not working for your and your competitor's websites, allowing you to identify areas of improvement. It lets you make data-driven decisions and shape your strategy to drive maximum organic traffic.

SEO audit

SEO audit

Ahrefs provide a detailed Site Audit tool that is one of the most comprehensive ones in the market, and it is free. You get all the insights you need about your website with the help of visually appealing charts and numbers. Moreover, each problem pointed out is also accompanied by tips you can use to solve it.


SpyFu is an overall excellent SEO tool with tons of useful data to outrun your competitors on the search engine. However, what makes it even more special are all the PPC competitive analysis tools that come with it. 

spyfu ppc

SpyFus PPC capabilities are even more extensive than market champions like Ahrefs and provide ample data to leverage to your advantage as an advertiser, blogger, and SEO specialist. 

Customer support


Ahrefs provides equal support to all its customers, regardless of their subscription tier. You have 24/7 access to live chat support to ask questions about the Ahrefs services. If you don’t think you can get your answers through live chat support, you can always email Ahrefs. 

Other than that, Ahrefs also has a huge library of free video tutorials to learn from, apart from a very helpful online community. The Ahrefs Academy and Blog is just a cherry on top. All in all, Ahrefs support is as premium as its tools. 


SpyFu provides live chat and phone call options between 6 am-5 pm, Monday to Friday. As per the online reviews, the customer support team of SpyFu is quite responsive and helpful. 

Yet, the time limit and availability on working days' only' puts a barrier to reaching out to them. On the bright side, you can always find useful information on SpyFu’s help center, as you wait for the live chat and phone support to come online. 


Although SpyFu provides live chat and phone call support, their team's availability in specific time frames could be problematic for most users. On the other hand, Ahrefs provides 24/7 availability, which makes things much easier. While it's a tough call, I would give it to Ahrefs.



ahrefs pricing

Ahrefs pricing plans start at $99 monthly, with $30 extra for additional users. There are no free plans whatsoever. However, you can get 2 months of free usage if you subscribe to the annual plan. 


spyfu pricing

SpyFu's pricing plans are cheap compared to Ahrefs. Although, they do not provide any free plan. Here are the packages you can choose from:

  • Basic plan: $39/mo with no API access.
  • Professional plan: $79/mo. Ideal for basic content marketing needs. Allows you to track 15000 SEO keywords, along with API access.
  • Team plan: $299/mo. Allows up to 5 user accounts with all premium features.


As far as pricing is concerned, SpyFu wins it without any questions. The cost difference is ridiculous.

Ahrefs vs. SpyFu: Which one should you choose? 

It comes down to what you are looking forward to doing with the tools. If your priorities lean more towards the advertising aspect of marketing, then SpyFu is your best bet. It has got tons of valuable PPC features, with decent SEO keyword research capabilities to use to your advantage. 

However, if you are primarily interested in search engine optimization and need complete SEO software to catch up with your SEO needs A to Z, then nothing beats Ahrefs. It’s not just better than SpyFu; it's arguably the best SEO tool in the world, right up there with Semrush and Moz.

That being said, both are excellent tools with great value for the money. Once you know what you need out of them, there’s no way you’ll be disappointed. 

See you with another review! 

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Irina Maltseva

Irina is a Founder at ONSAAS, Growth Lead at Aura, and a SaaS marketing consultant. She helps companies to grow their revenue with SEO and inbound marketing. In her spare time, Irina entertains her cat Persie and collects airline miles.

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