SpyFu: Useful But Can Be Better

I had written about SpyFu before in one of the very popular posts on this blog: p2w2-SBL: 5 Good (Marketing, HR and Other) Websites for a Small Business. I had a chance use SpyFu recently. I wanted to check how useful it is to design a Google Ads campaign.

If you don’t know what SpyFu is, here’s an introduction from SpyFu. (I couldn’t find “About us” in their website. I got this in their “Manual” after a long search)

SpyFu is a website that allows you to “Spy” on your Google adwords competitors.  We run over 2 SpyFumillion terms through Google every month and index the search results and advertisements that come back.  In addition, we do pricing lookups on all the terms we run.  A bunch of number crunching and roll ups and we can tell you what a domain or company is doing on Google.  The final ingredient is some category and industry mapping of those domains and companies and you have SpyFu.

Here’s a better one from KeywordResearching:

SpyFu is an online competitive intelligence application that allows you to browse competitors’ PPC keywords, daily budget, bid prices, clicks/day, and other interesting PPC facts & figures.

As on Jan 28, 2009, SpyFu claims that it’s currently indexing 508 million results on 2.1 million keywords across 9.6 million domains.

Features I Liked

1. You can check out competitor’s ads that get them most clicks.

2. You can view landing pages of competition (or for that matter, other companies) and learn from their landing page strategies.

3. You can check out data like competition’s estimated ad budget,

4. I like their 3 day trial offer that costs $18.95. It seems like a low risk option.

What I Did Not Like

1. The biggest issue I have is that they provide you with a dump of data. It’s very difficult to mine the data to get insights. The only way to figure out which is working better is to sort by clicks. This by itself is not useful. If you pick up competition’s keywords and out bid them, it’s going to prove expensive to you.  That’s not how small businesses work! I think they would like to get more bang for the buck and not want to out bid competition in advertising!

2. I am not sure how accurate their data is. To quote KeywordResearching,

I compared some of the competitive data that SpyFu provides with my actual campaign statistics, and noticed that SpyFu is not really accurate. For example, one of my clients spends about $300/day on Adwords, and SpyFu says the daily budget is $3.32. I performed another search for a different domain and also noticed inaccuracies with the reporting.

What I Would Like to See in SpyFu

Very few small businesses are just looking out to publish content around most expensive keywords. In my case, that’s the least priority. To me, offering valuable content to my readers is of higher priority. But I would like to sell my services and I am interested to know the following:

1. The best performing ads for a set of keywords so you can understand how to increase your click through rate (i.e. how many clicks per 100 impressions of the ad).

2. The least expensive keywords on a topic so I can bid for them.

3. I am not sure if it’s possible to do it, but I would like to know which ads have higher conversion (how many finally bought)!

These are what I am interested in first because higher click through rate shows that the ad copy got your prospects interested and second because it affects ad position. In my opinion, many small businesses, who have their products and services to sell, need similar information.


Here’s a training video that I found interesting. It oversells SpyFu but tells you everything about SpyFu in a short time.

Do you know any other keyword research tools that can help design better ads or find less expensive keywords?

About the author: Chaitanya Sagar is the Co-Founder and

CEO of p2w2, which helps small businesses outsource services like writing, software, graphic design, virtual assistance, business consulting and research. He is fascinated by entrepreneurship and the difference technology can make in people’s lives. Chaitanya blogs at p2w2 blog (RSS) and tweets at www.twitter.com/Chaitanya.