The Internet is a gold mine of information, and stock market news, analysis, and research websites like The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha make it easy to invest and trade like the pros. Whether you’re looking for stock picks, ETFs to invest in, or broad investing and retirement strategies, both The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha can help.
Although both resources are geared toward audiences in a similar space, they are noticeably different from one another at even a quick glance at their homepages.
While The Motley Fool offers recommendations for new, intermediate, and advanced investors alike, Seeking Alpha generally targets the intermediate to advanced investor with in-depth, analytical news and market analysis.
Whether you’re just beginning to research stocks and investments or you’re an old pro, it’s worth considering both of these content-rich platforms. You can decide whether you want to browse each for free or spring for a paid subscription to an even richer trove of analysis and specific investment picks.
Pro Tip: One of The Motley Fools’ premium products is Motley Fool Stock Advisor. This is one of the best stock picking services available for investors. Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks have returned 397%, far more than the S&P 500 (128%).
Both The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha are packed with content, including much that’s available for free, as well as premium content behind a subscription paywall. Here’s a closer look at the platforms’ key features.
Audience and Voice
Although both are stock market news, analysis, and research websites, these two platforms differ markedly in their intended audiences and editorial voice.
Seeking Alpha provides in-depth analysis and a good deal of crowdsourced content from expert authors geared to intermediate and advanced retail and professional investors.
The Motley Fool caters to all types of investors, from beginners to advanced traders, broadening its appeal with a humorous bent to its content.
The Motley Fool’s Audience and Voice
The Motley Fool’s stated purpose is “to make the world smarter, happier, and richer.” To empower all types of investors, it takes a fun and lighthearted approach to financial education, investing ideas, and trending news.
The site’s content includes:
- Articles about current stock picks
- Investing basics
- Stock and industry news and trackers
- Retirement resources
- Personal finance resources
- Trending news
Visitors to The Motley Fool find relevant, targeted, and academic content laced with a bit of humor that makes the material more accessible to beginning and intermediate investors.
Seeking Alpha’s Audience and Voice
Seeking Alpha aggregates crowdsourced content to broadcast the latest stock news and analysis. That means a large number of individuals and companies submit content to the site, typically written by experienced analysts and investors.
Seeking Alpha, in general, seems to be geared more to traders who are already somewhat knowledgeable in stocks and investments.
Visit the Seeking Alpha website, and you’re greeted by a rather bland page that highlights the latest stock numbers, trending articles and news, dividend investing highlights, stock ideas, and links to several newsletters, without all the bells and whistles. The presentation is largely algorithm-driven, making it easier to get an overview of the entire market.
In addition to having different editorial tones and catering to different audiences, The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha contain different kinds of content and advertising. Seeking Alpha emphasizes the most current developments and analysis from Wall Street and always features the latest news and trending content.
Active investors and day traders may not find the content on The Motley Fool as timely or actionable as they need or want. However, the evergreen content and featured analysis and recommendations are high-quality and intelligent, and The Motley Fool has a solid history of performance with their investment picks.
The Motley Fool’s Content
What you won’t find at The Motley Fool are market-timing tricks or get-rich-quick schemes. Instead, you’ll learn how to invest for the long term.
Over time, The Motley Fool has recommended dozens of outperforming stocks that have delivered outstanding gains for investors, including Amazon, Starbucks, Mastercard, and Netflix. The content generally has the long term in mind when recommending when to buy or sell stocks.
No company can choose the right investments every time, and The Motley Fool is no exception. Investing in stocks is inherently risky. There are dozens of online reviews about The Fool’s picks that performed poorly. However, there are just as many that say the investment recommendations users received was right on the money.
Some users are turned off by The Motley Fool’s advertising of its premium services. It’s not shy when it comes to promoting its past successes through email or on-site ads that sometimes make it sound like anyone who uses their services will come out a winner. Although their advisory services can help make you a more successful investor, there are no guarantees of investing success.
Seeking Alpha’s Content
For the most part, Seeking Alpha’s content targets intermediate to advanced investors, with articles that provide an in-depth view of investment valuation theory and market opinion. The site is also a source for news on earning calls and news for individual companies
One of the best features of Seeking Alpha is the vast amount of financial data on the site, which spans years. You’ll find a wealth of suggestions and strategies stretched across multiple categories, detailed company information and earnings estimates, and a huge number of free news pieces and articles.
Seeking Alpha also allows you to create your own portfolios for filtering content by investments relevant to you. The site includes historical ratings for its authors and allows you to select and follow contributors with an excellent track record.
One major drawback of Seeking Alpha is the fact that its stock analysis is largely restricted to subscribers. It also requires a lot of reading and self-directed analysis to learn all you need to know about investing in the right stocks.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Seeking Alpha publishes content from a variety of authors, including both professional and individual investors. The variety of opinions is laudable, but it opens the door for the possibility of bias or lack of appropriate disclosures, with some commentators seeming to write in support of their own personal positions.
Contributors to the site must be approved and vetted by the Seeking Alpha editors, but the sheer volume of aggregated content that flows through the site every day is difficult to manually police for adherence to compliance standards. This can make it hard — especially for beginners — to tell the difference between honest and expert recommendations and a one-sided viewpoint with an ulterior motive.
Free and Paid Subscriptions
Both sites offer a host of content for free but reserve some of their best content for paid subscribers. Both sites encourage you to register for a free account to get a taste of the paid content you could be receiving.
The sites have different tiers or types of subscriptions catering to different audiences.
The Motley Fool’s Subscriptions
The content on The Motley Fool’s website, YouTube channel, and podcasts is free, and they share portions of their premium newsletters with readers for free. You’ll also find some free investment recommendations with stock tips focusing on a particular industry or set of companies.
However, to access the latest stock picks and recommendations, retirement portfolios, Social Security tips, and access to the Options University (customized commentary and recommendations for immediate and advanced traders), you’ll have to sign up for a paid subscription. The Motley Fool’s premium subscriptions are tailored to different levels of expertise and interests.
The subscription packages are offered for as little as $149 per year up to $999 per year at full price. Frequent promotions can cut actual pricing by 50% or more during your first year, and sometimes longer.
The list of available paid subscriptions is a bit confusing, and many of the options are extremely pricey. For a beginner just starting out and exploring the world of investments, a paid yearly subscription might be too hefty of an outlay.
Also, even if you’re willing to dole out the big bucks for a paid subscription, many of the high-end options are no longer open to new members.
Here are some examples of paid Motley Fool subscription packages:
- Stock Advisor (SA). SA offers the most current stock recommendations from The Fool community, analysts, and founders.
- Rule Breakers (RB). RB focuses on high-growth stocks and gives members monthly access to current stock recommendations, community and investment resources.
- Rule Your Retirement (RYR). RYR is for investors reaching retirement age. You’ll get mutual fund and ETF recommendations; Social Security tips, tricks, and strategies; and coverage of retirement topics trending today. RYR costs new subscribers $149 per year.
- Options (OPT). OPT is geared to immediate and advanced traders with access to the Options University, options investment recommendations, and options trading news and commentary. OPT costs $999 per year, but this package is currently closed to new members.
- Market Pass (MP). With MP, subscribers get the latest news and stock trades from both Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers, as well as exclusive research on long-term trends. MP costs $1,499 per year but is currently closed to new membership.
A dozen more advanced premium packages are also closed to new membership. Some, such as “Blast Off 2019,” were clearly designed to exist for a limited time and likely aren’t coming back. It’s worth checking the others periodically to see if they’re accepting new members again.
Premium packages range in cost from $1,499 per year to nearly $8,500 per year and offer hand-picked investments selected by Motley Fool analysts in addition to the premium content of the more modest tiers. Each comes with a different emphasis, such as an industry or type of portfolio construction.
Seeking Alpha’s Subscriptions
Seeking Alpha provides a large amount of content to users for free, including the ability to curate portfolios and customize your news feed. However, content that’s older than about 10 days is not available to free users. Plus, some of the information in some articles is hidden behind a paywall.
Seeking Alpha’s free service gives investors access to investing content on individual holdings and Wall Street insights, although the majority of content is focused around stock news.
Free users can see and read the articles, but paid subscribers get a wealth of additional analytical information. This includes charts and statistics about individual stocks and the average analyst rating on specific stocks across Seeking Alpha.
While stock news and articles are the backbones of Seeking Alpha, users can also access commentary and discussions through “StockTalk,” financial tweets that any user can contribute to. All of this equals a vast amount of free subject matter, which is good if you can leverage it but overwhelming if you cannot.
With a Premium subscription, Seeking Alpha grants unlimited access to its huge library of articles and allows you to follow your favorite authors. If you’re not certain whether you want all of the information in the top PRO tier, you can always subscribe to Premium and upgrade if and when you feel the need for more.
- Seeking Alpha Basic. At this tier, you get stock news and analysis alerts, investing newsletters, new article alerts, the ability to save articles, the ability to leave comments, and access to Seeking Alpha blogs and StockTalk. Seeking Alpha Basic is free.
- Seeking Alpha Premium. With Premium, you get everything included in the Basic service, plus unlimited access to the site’s roughly 1 million articles; access to Seeking Alpha author ratings, author performance numbers, quant ratings, dividend scores, and forecasts; and an ad-lite website experience. Premium costs $19.99 per month, billed annually, or $29.99 if billed monthly.
- Seeking Alpha PRO. With their PRO subscription, you get everything offered in both the free and Premium tiers, plus access to Top Ideas content, PRO content and newsletters, a short-selling ideas portal, and an idea screener that lets you filter investing ideas by various parameters. You also gain access to a VIP Editorial Concierge, where PRO editors work directly with members to help find ideas matching their investing style and interests. PRO members also enjoy an ad-free website experience. PRO costs $199.99 per month, billed annually, or $299.99 if billed monthly.
You can compare each plan on the Seeking Alpha website to get a better idea of which works best for you. Both Premium and PRO subscriptions come with 14-day free trials.
The Verdict: Should You Choose The Motley Fool or Seeking Alpha?
The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha appeal to distinct audiences and offer different paid products, yet they have a fair amount in common.
Both appeal to intermediate and advanced investors, include a wealth of market and trend analysis, and maintain paid subscriptions seasoned investors are likely to find valuable.
You Should Choose The Motley Fool If…
- You Want a Wide Range of Subscription Choices. The Motley Fool offers at least a dozen subscription packages like Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers. Some have broad appeal, while others are tailored to fairly narrow audiences, but all deliver real value for serious investors.
- You Prefer Curated Financial Content. The Motley Fool’s market content is largely produced by subject matter experts and veteran investors. This is especially true behind its vast paywall, where subscribers willingly pay hundreds of dollars per year for insights they can’t find anywhere else. By contrast, Seeking Alpha’s mix of wire stories, amateur analysis, and expert-produced content feels less organized and more uneven.
- You Value Access to a Lively Investor Community. The Motley Fool’s curated content is only part of the story. Its members-only discussion boards and CAPS stock-picking community have long defined the platform’s relationship with the investing community and remain a vibrant, insight-rich resource for serious (and not-so-serious) investors.
You Should Choose Seeking Alpha If…
- You Like News, Opinion, and Analysis From a Mix of Experts and Amateurs. Seeking Alpha published content from a wider array of sources, including newswires and other straight-news publishers, credentialed investing experts (such as CFPs and money managers), industry experts (including corporate executives and analysts), and non-experts whose input may nevertheless be valuable. If you like having as wide a variety of viewpoints as possible before making investing decisions, Seeking Alpha is a great fit.
- You Want Hands-On Guidance. Though pricey, Seeking Alpha PRO is indispensable for investors seeking personalized recommendations and guidance — even if they prefer to make their own investment decisions at the end of the day. The Motley Fool’s approach, by contrast, is more “take it or leave it.”
- You Want a Free Stock Screener and Other Helpful Market Research Tools. Seeking Alpha has some useful market research tools that are absent from the Motley Fool, including a free stock screener.
Both Are Great If…
- You Want Access to Free, Ungated Market News and Analysis. Although they both use it to push their paid products, the Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha still offer plenty of free, open-access market news and analysis. You’re under no obligation to upgrade in either case.
- You Have an Insatiable Appetite for Market-Related Content. You could spend all day on either site and still not consume all of its original content. If you’re of the opinion that more market information is always better, you can’t go wrong here.
- You Prefer DIY Investing (And All That Entails). Neither Seeking Alpha nor the Motley Fool provide formal investing recommendations or manage investments on behalf of members. For better or worse, both appeal exclusively to DIYers.
Despite its reputation as a long-term source of growth, the stock market is highly complex and unpredictable. Having financial advisors available to lean on from the comfort of your sofa is pretty amazing.
The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha are similar, but they have enough differences to set them apart from one another and their competitors.
During the past few years, both have seen an increase in competition from the likes of Robinhood, MetaTrader, MarketWatch, eToro, AlphaStreet, CityFALCON, TIM ALERTS, and other stock market analysis and research websites. But Seeking Alpha and The Motley Fool are holding their own.
As the popularity of DIY online stock accessibility ramps up, services like theirs will continue to be relevant to investors of many stripes looking to level the playing field.