It’s been said time and again: keyword research and SEO is vital for a blog to succeed. No matter how good your content is, no one will know if they can’t find it.
This is why most bloggers rely on SEO and keyword research to publish content that ranks well in Google and, as a result, helps them achieve business goals like growing an email list or selling products/services through their blogs.
This doesn’t mean you can’t do effective keyword research in a limited budget.
Spyfu is a free tool that enables you to spy on a competitor’s website and see all keywords it is ranking on, its search volume, and even the ads running on Google. It’s one of the best free SEO tools that can help you improve your site’s search engine traffic.
It doesn’t have as many features as other keyword tools, but you’ll get valuable information for much less cost — which is a great deal.
How to use Spyfu keyword research tool
Using Spyfu is fast and straightforward. Signing up for an account is optional.
Step 1: Go to Spyfu
Step 2: In the search bar, type in a competitor’s website in your niche. Hit Enter.
Step 3: On the next page, you’ll get a ton of information.
In the Overview section, you’ll find significant numbers that include historical data of the site. In this example, we used Spyfu’s competitor, Wordstream.
On the left side are the metrics for organic clicks and on the right side are the figures for paid clicks. In this example, the overview reveals that 99% of Wordstream’s traffic is organic.
Further below, you will see a total of keywords that made it to the first page of Google as well as those that fell off the first page.
Each item on the overview has a question mark icon on the top right corner, which you can hover over to see description.
Scrolling down the search results will bring you to the sections for Competition and Competitor Shared Keywords.
Here you can see a list of competitors that advertise or buy ads for the same keywords. You can also see keywords that none of the sites buy but are popular in user searches.
Here you’ll find keyword lists for organic and paid methods. As you can see in the example below, the organic keywords are not necessarily related to the paid keywords.
Top AdWords Buy Recommendations
In this section, a list of keywords is shown. These keywords are proven to have successful ads running and are recommended to use for buying ads and driving traffic.
This portion shows all the Google ads that the site ran for all their keywords. As seen in the screenshot below, Wordstream used the keywords “keyword research” and “retargeting campaign.”
How to do basic keyword research with Spyfu
If you want to start with finding keywords for your site or niche, then simple keyword research takes a few clicks here.
Step 1: Click on the Keyword Research tab.
Step 2: Type a keyword in the search bar and hit Enter.
In the Overview section, you’ll learn:
- Monthly searches – number of times each month users type in the keyword in Google search
- Click-through rate – the number of clicks an ad gets vs. the number of times it was seen. Example: if an ad was viewed 100 times and got 2 clicks, the click-through rate is 2%.
- Ranking difficulty – the level of complexity to rank the keyword on a scale of 1 – 100. The higher the number, the more difficult.
- Cost Per Click – the average amount that advertisers pay Google when someone clicks their ad for this keyword.
- Monthly cost – the estimated amount you would spend on ads for this keyword.
- Advertisers – number of unique advertisers who have used this keyword in the last 12 months.
Beyond looking at the keyword overview, you can click on the adjacent tabs to learn more about your entered keyword/s.
The Related Keywords tab shows a list of similar keywords — some are long-tail keywords — that contain useful stats about each of them.
The Advertiser History tab shows the most successful advertisers for the keyword and their top-performing ads.
The SERP Analysis tab reveals the top search results for the keyword and their current rank status. You also see each URL’s domain strength and estimated monthly clicks.
Most tabs provide an option to export the data in an MS Excel file or PDF, but you need to upgrade to the paid version to proceed with the download.
How to find keyword weaknesses for your site using Spyfu
You can use Spyfu to find out what keywords you are not using that your competitors are.
Step 1: Click on the SEO Research tab and click Kombat.
Step 2: Type your website’s URL on the first box on top and add two competitor websites on the next fields to the right. Click Fight.
You should see a similar graph, as seen below. The orange portion indicates keywords that were used by the two competitors but not by your site.
Step 3: Click on the Weaknesses box to see the list of keywords.
You can now take a look at the list of keywords that are your “weaknesses” and decide if they are relevant enough to add to your keyword planner.
Spyfu can also help you see relevant backlinks to a keyword or competitor site. Simply go to the Backlinks tab and enter the keyword you want to rank for or a competitor site you want to emulate.
You’ll get a list of links. Spyfu finds the top 5000 links found from a keyword and selects the best backlinks from these sites as indexed by Google.
These URLs link to other sites, and it helps these sites rise in the ranks. In short, these are the URLs that give other websites the much needed “link juice” to appear in Google’s top 10 SERP.
Your job as a blogger is to reach out to these domains and request for your content to be added to their outbound links.
You’ll be surprised that most of these sites will grant your request if they find it relevant and useful enough to include in their content.
To the right of each link is an Add button and you can click on this to put it on your list of URLs to perform outreach later on.
The added links are stored in the Projects folder which you can find by clicking on the Projects tab on the right edge of the dashboard.
How to use Spyfu’s Ranking History
In addition to learning about a competitor’s keyword stats, you can also find out a keyword’s ranking history as far back as 7 years.
You can enter a website and see the top-performing keywords over time or enter a keyword and see the top-performing sites for that keyword.
To use this tool, go to Keyword Research>Ranking History.
Enter a website or keyword and hit Enter. You’ll see the Top 10 sites and their historical data in a graph.
You can use this tool to analyze sudden ranking drops or monitor when your site rose in the ranking.
Spyfu uses both calendar days, and the Google algorithm changes to come up with accurate ranking stats.
This tool is excellent to learn from top-performing sites and study their strategies to apply in your own site.
If you manage SEO for clients, it’s a great tool to find out their past performance without having to access their Google analytics.
Pricing: Free vs. Paid
Although you can use most features of Spyfu for free, there are certain limitations.
For instance, the number of keywords you can search for free is limited. With a paid account, you get unlimited search as well as unlimited data exports, domain overviews, and tracked keyword rankings.
To get unlimited SEO reports, keyword data, and domain overview, you can choose one of their paid plans.
If you decide to upgrade, paid plans start at $33/month making it one of the cheapest SEO tools.
When you compare Spyfu to SEMrush or Ahrefs, its pricing seems very affordable.
Sure it might not give some features such as keyword difficulty metrics like Ahrefs but it is 60% cheaper than most of the popular SEO tools.
For beginner level SEO reports and keyword research Spyfu offers a great deal.
SEO and keyword research is an essential part of content creation if you want it to be profitable. While creating valuable content is excellent, pairing it with sound SEO strategies is necessary, so people can find the content in search.
Spyfu gives you an inside look at a competitor website that is already doing well in their rankings.
You don’t have to start from scratch coming up with an SEO plan. You can simply model what is already working for other blogs and websites that are in the same space as yours.
What’s even better is that you can test Spyfu for free — no trial or credit card needed.
If you find that it helps your blog grow, then the basic plan at $33/month should be a reasonable price to pay.