In this GrowthBar review, I take an in-depth look at a tool that promises to provide key SEO functionality at a much lower price point than its competitors.
Can you run a successful SEO project with this new app, or are you better off using a more established solution? Read on to find out…
Our overall rating: 4/5
Keyword research and backlink building are absolutely vital aspects of search engine optimization — but they can be very expensive activities.
Many of the leading SEO tools currently cost a minimum of $99 per month; and hiring an agency to work on an SEO campaign can involve a much larger investment than that.
Spotting a desire amongst startups and businesses on a budget to avoid these sorts of costs, growth marketers Hailey Friedman and Mark Spera have come up with a new product, ‘GrowthBar,’ which aims to provide key SEO functionality at a much lower price point — $29 per month.
And in this review, I’m going to look at how well it meets that goal.
Let’s start with a key question…
What is GrowthBar?
GrowthBar is a Chrome extension that provides key SEO metrics alongside a Google search result.
This differentiates it from most of the well-known SEO tools out there — Moz, Semrush, Ahrefs etc. — which tend to be standalone web applications rather than plugins or extensions.
In order to use GrowthBar, you’ll need to ensure that you have the Chrome browser installed on your computer, and a Google account. Then, it’s a case of entering phrases into Google to carry out keyword research or backlink analysis — doing so brings up a variety of SEO metrics alongside your regular search results.
What SEO metrics are available from GrowthBar?
Once you’ve added the GrowthBar extension and entered a keyword into Google, the first thing you’ll see is a ‘keyword difficulty’ score for that phrase. This give you a sense of how hard it will be to rank highly in search results for it (the higher the value returned, the higher the difficulty).
You’ll also see a little strip (the ‘growth bar’ itself) underneath each search result.
This gives you the following data about each website in the results:
its domain authority
an estimate of organic traffic to it
the top keywords that it ranks for
its ‘traffic value’
the top backlinks pointing to it
any paid keywords being used by that site
any Facebook ads being run by it.
In some cases — for example, where domain authority and organic traffic stats are concerned — the data is immediately visible.
In others, you need to click on a plus symbol on the strip to see the data. Doing so brings up a box containing the relevant metrics.
You also see a little ‘WC’ icon beside each search result; clicking on this shows you its word count.
This is very useful data, as there is often a correlation between page length and performance in search results. Knowing how many words are in a top-ranking article can help you craft a piece of content that is of a similarly SEO-friendly length.
It’s worth pointing out that no limits apply to the number of queries you can run — this contrasts very positively with a lot of competing products, which often limit you to pulling a certain number of reports per day.
Trying GrowthBar out for free
Like many competing SEO tools, you can try GrowthBar out for free before committing to it. The company has made a 5-day free trial available, which you can access via this link.
Based on what you enter into Google, GrowthBar gives you a set of suggestions for keywords you could target as part of an SEO campaign; a box on the right of your Google search results displays these along with the monthly volume of searches for each phrase and its ‘CPC.’
(CPC stands for cost-per-click — it basically tells you how much it would cost for each click to a particular keyword if you were using Google’s Adwords service.)
There is something I feel that’s missing here: the keyword difficulty score for each suggestion. While the CPC data does give you an indication about how hard it will be to rank organically for a given phrase, a keyword difficulty score would be more helpful (and accurate).
If you want to see the keyword difficulty score for a suggested phrase, you’ll need to enter that suggestion back into Google, whereupon GrowthBar will give you that data.
So, a workaround exists, but it would be better if the keyword difficulty score was simply displayed alongside each suggestion in the first place.
How well a piece of content performs in search results depends heavily on how many backlinks — other sites linking to it — exist for the content in question.
So a large part of SEO usually involves trying to find out who’s linking to your competitors’ content (so that you can contact those webmasters) and being aware of any links your site has recently lost (so that you can try to recover them!).
You can use GrowthBar to view backlinks that point to a particular website or piece of content easily enough — you enter a keyword, see what the results are, and click the ‘top backlinks’ option underneath the relevant result.
This shows you the links with the highest domain authority; and clicking a ‘see more’ link takes you to a list of all the backlinks GrowthBar can find. You can download this list to CSV for reference or additional analysis.
If you want to find the backlinks for a specific URL using GrowthBar, this is perfectly doable but not immediately obvious how to do — you’ll need to copy and paste that URL into the search box on Google.com. It’s then a case of just clicking on the ‘top backlinks’ link again.
What you won’t find in GrowthBar is data about when a link went live — or if you’ve lost any links. The latter omission is more serious because it means you can’t use GrowthBar to identify people who no longer link to you (so that you can plead with them to reinstate your backlink!).
Another important link building tactic that you won’t really be able to engage in using GrowthBar is broken link building.
Broken link building involves identifying content in your niche that is no longer live, recreating a version of it and then approaching webmasters who had previously linked to that content (asking them to replace the broken link with a link to your new resource).
Unfortunately there isn’t really a way in GrowthBar to identify these broken links — so if this particular SEO tactic is important to you, you’ll need to look elsewhere (other SEO tools like Semrush and Ahrefs do have this as a core feature).
Keyword tracking in Growthbar
In addition to using GrowthBar to find out key SEO metrics for individual keywords, you can also use it to track your site’s performance in search results for those keywords over time.
Clicking on a ‘dashboard’ button allows you to add your domain’s URL to GrowthBar, along with phrases that you want to track — you can then see the relevant data, along with a graph of how your site is performing for that keyword.
You aren’t restricted to using this feature with your own domain of course — you can also use it to track competitors’ websites and search rankings too.
Facebook ad monitoring
In addition to basic SEO metrics, GrowthBar also gives you easy access to information on the kinds of Facebook ads that are being run by your competitors.
Clicking on the Facebook icon on the GrowthBar strip displays the latest data from Facebook’s Ad library for a given website — basically, it shows you all the ads the company who owns that site has been running on Facebook.
To be honest, you could just go direct to the Facebook Ads Library and pull this data yourself — but some users will find this ‘quick link’ approach helpful.
There’s no doubt about it: GrowthBar is ridiculously easy to use.
This is possibly because it’s considerably less feature-packed than most SEO tools — but it’s also down to the fact that a lot of thought has gone into prioritising key SEO features, ensuring that they work in a simple way, and presenting the data provided in an easy-to-understand format.
Using the tool is simply a case of entering phrases into Google and having all the key metrics put right in front of you; whilst other SEO tools usually involve a fairly steep learning curve, it’s hard to imagine new users having too much difficulty learning how to use GrowthBar.
So long as you’ve got a basic understanding of key SEO principles, you’ll find GrowthBar very easy to get to grips with — and this is one of its key selling points.
Ease-of-use aside, the best thing about GrowthBar is probably its price. It’s available for just $29 per month if you pay upfront for a year, or $34 per month if you pay on a monthly basis.
This is considerably less than competing tools like Ahrefs or Semrush, which cost around $99 per month to use (and often more, if you add on additional features).
A 5-day free trial is available if you want to try the product out before committing to it — this is pretty generous given the comprehensive amount of data you can access during this period. You do have to enter your credit card details first to access the trial however — I’d prefer to see these being asked for only when users decide to subscribe.
Probably the biggest flaw in GrowthBar is that it doesn’t seem to provide any obvious way to contact customer support; and there aren’t any links to help resources or FAQs provided within the tool’s interface.
You do get emailed a video walkthrough of the product when you subscribe to it however, which is helpful, along with contact details for the company. So you should be able to get support — it would just be better if the process for doing so was more obvious.
GrowthBar review: summary
Overall, GrowthBar offers a really simple way to get into SEO — it’s cheap, its core functionality is strong and the tool is very easy to use.
The main thing that GrowthBar has going for is that you are getting a LOT of SEO metrics for a fraction of the price of competing products like Ahrefs, Semrush and Moz.
You could argue of course that with GrowthBar, you are also getting a fraction of the functionality of products like these — if you’re looking for features like broken link reporting, link intersect data, technical SEO audits, local SEO data, toxic link reports etc…you won’t find them in GrowthBar.
But to focus on missing functionality too much would be to miss the point of GrowthBar — with this tool, you’re getting cut-down features, for a cut-down price, and the features that are provided are definitely strong enough to let you create or promote content that ranks.
GrowthBar won’t be for everyone, but there’s loads to like about it — and it’s great value. It’s well worth trying out, especially if your needs are simple and you’re on a budget — you can access a five day trial for free here.
I’ll leave you with a summary of the key pros and cons of GrowthBar.
Pros and cons of GrowthBar
Pros of using GrowthBar
It’s extremely easy to use.
It’s very cheap.
It gives you all the key data you need to execute a simple but effective SEO campaign.
The word count feature is extremely useful.
No limits apply to queries — this is in marked contrast to its competitors.
Cons of using GrowthBar
Because of its ‘slimmed down’ nature, it’s suitable for more basic SEO projects only.
The keyword suggestion list doesn’t display keyword difficulty scores.
Backlink monitoring is very basic.
There’s no obvious way to contact customer support.
It only works with Chrome.
You need to enter your credit card details to access the free trial.
Alternatives to GrowthBar
There are lots of SEO tools on the market — the best known ones are probably Ahrefs, Semrush and Moz. You can check out our resources on these below:
These tools all give you much more functionality than GrowthBar — read the above posts for more details on the sort of features you can expect — but at a considerably higher cost.
If you are on a budget, a product called SurferSEO is worth investigating — its $59 per month plan offers a lot of the functionality provided by GrowthBar, plus some very sophisticated content analysis tools.
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