Surfer SEOStarts from $59 per month
Features & Functionality8.5/10
User Interface & Ease of use9.0/10
Customer Support & Documentation9.0/10
Value for money8.5/10
- Excellent user interface that is easy & intuitive to navigate
- SERP Analyser gives you a lot of in-depth data to optimize your posts
- Very useful chrome extension for the keyword editor
- Built-in Keyword Research Module
- No NLP Analysis available in the Basic plan
- No free trial although there is a 30-day moneyback guarantee
- White label reporting available only in the $199 per month Business Plan
With running profitable and scalable running getting more and more competitive in any niche or industry type, organic traffic through SEO is getting harder as well as more big brands have started investing in content marketing and search engine traffic.
If you are a small business owner or an agency managing SEO for SMB's it is absolutely vital to stay on top of the game to outrank your competitors.
It needs an effective combination of off-page and on-page SEO optimization to give the maximum chance to rank as high as possible.
There are several SEO tools that you can use to achieve this in addition to the free ones from Google like Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Surfer SEO is one such tool that is primarily an on-page SEO tool that promises to help you in the whole content generation process from content ideation, editing, and auditing of the content for the best SEO optimization.
Is it as good as it claims to be and will it help in your SEO efforts? Let's find out in this review.
Dashboard, Interface & Features
The first part of Surfer SEO that you can use for content marketing is to generate keyword ideas for you to write posts on.
You can just enter the primary seed keyword you want to target and click on Content Planner for that keyword.
It takes quite some time to process the query and at the end of it, you get a specific number of keyword clusters that are grouped based on many keyword ideas.
For example, in my case, I got 103 keyword clusters for the primary seed keyword of "How to build a highly converting sales funnel".
You can filter the clusters based on the average search volume, intent, and the number of keywords in each cluster. The intent could be a local search, informational content, customer investigation type posts like listicles & product comparisons, etc.
If you click on any single keyword cluster, you will be able to see all the keywords you can rank for keywords related to that cluster with the average search volume for each keyword.
The list of clusters could be huge to go through each of them, therefore it is important to set the primary see keyword right. Quite naturally, topics on the top of the list are more related to the seed keyword, and the relevancy decreases as you go through the bottom.
You can plan an article for each of the keyword clusters to completely dominate the ranking for that space. If you do not like any specific keyword in a cluster, you can just unselect it before proceeding.
You can also choose whether to use NLP analysis or not. Using NLP makes the content generation guidelines and the process easier as it uses AI.
The next step is to proceed with the Content Editor once you have selected the keyword cluster you want to work on.
It takes some time for the editor to load up with all the keyword data fed in. Once loaded, you can either open it directly or get a sharable public URL that you can share with team members if you are going to work collaboratively to build out the content for the post.
The Content Editor opens up as a blank document with the details of all the keywords that can be included in the post, the number of headings, paragraphs, images, etc., to boost the content score.
It is a very seamless environment where you have the editor on the left-hand side and the guidelines & content score on the right-hand side to see the real-time effects of the changes you make to the post.
The guidelines and the content score takes into consideration a lot of parameters from the best ranking competitors for your target keyword.
The editor is quite easy to work with with all the typing essentials. You can add alt text for images which significantly increases the content score depending on the competitiveness of the keyword.
If you prefer using Google Docs as your editor, you can still have the guidelines and content score by using the Content Editor chrome extension.
The guideline also shows the ideal number of times the keyword can be used in the post so that you can avoid keyword stuffing.
For example, for my post, the guideline asked to use the term "Funnel Conversion" ideally 5 to 22 times. Anything less than 5 times might not be enough keyword density and anything more than 22 might not be desirable and it will be an overloading of the keyword.
As you write the post with all the suggested keywords included, your content score improves consistently.
At any point, you can have a look at the pages of competitors that rank as the top 10 search results for your target keyword.
It is also possible to view the content score of each of the competitor's post, their authority based on the backlink profile, and the number of words the posts contains.
Please note that the input for the guidelines in the Content Editor is taken from these posts of the competitors. Therefore, if you do not like any specific post from a competitor, you can just remove it and it won't be taken into account.
You can also see the suggested structure of the content you need to write which will give you a maximum chance to rank high.
You can make changes to the number of words you can possibly write and other parameters get adjusted accordingly.
Surfer SEO also gives you a list of suggested topics and questions that you can include in the post that could help you rank for the questions.
This is very helpful to get ranked for featured snippets for questions related to your primary keyword.
Surfer SEO also lets you build the whole outline of the post with the Content Bried feature. You can get AI-generated content suggestions for the H1 title tags, H2, H3, etc.
It is very useful to get your post up and running within a short period of time and have the complete outline of your post generated easily.
Apart from writing new content, Surfer SEO also helps you in testing and optimizing existing content that has already been published or is ready to publish.
The Content Audit feature gives you a detailed insight into your posts once you input the URL of your article and your target keyword.
You can see the content score of your post and can compare it with other top-ranking competitors to see how much it has to be improved in order to outrank them.
The next part of the audit shows the backlink profile of your competitors and the average traffic they get to get an idea of their authority in the niche.
You can see the list of sites that link back to your competitor's site so that you can do a backlink outreach campaign to boost your website's authority.
It also shows you a list of internal linking opportunities that you can use to boost your website traffic with the existing ranking.
Content Audit gives you all the terms that are needed to be used in the post and the number of times it has to be used in order to achieve the maximum ranking.
If you have already used some of these terms in your terms, it is marked as green so that you can work on other terms.
You can also see the details on the number of words your post needs to be, the number of header tags, and paragraphs in order to rank higher.
Content Audit gives you the exact number of times your target keyword has to be used in the main title, H1 header tags, body of the post, etc. to get the right keyword density.
You get the details on the length of the title meta description and if optimization is needed in that. Finally, the content audit provides you with details on speed including load time and the time to load the first byte of data.
This can be used to optimize the images or any heavy files on the page to make it load faster.
Overall, the Content Audit feature of Surfer SEO gives you a detailed analysis of your posts with a ton of insights you can work on to optimize for better rankings.
By using the Content Planner, you can just enter your domain and Surfer will pull all the posts on the domain with a detailed overview of the content score.
You can get a birds' eye view of all the posts as a listicle and choose the one you want to optimize further with the Content Editor.
You can filter and narrow down the results by toggling on "Low Hanging Fruits". Using this, you can view the posts that you can prioritize based on the best chances to move into the top 10 rankings on search engines.
For example, you can filter the posts that rank currently from 11-to 20 on the SERP's which you can work on to optimize and move up the ranking. You can then sort this list based on the content score to see which article has the lowest score and needs the most optimization.
The SERP Analyser in Surfer SEO is a deep dive into your target keywords if you need more in-depth information in addition to what you can get in Content Planner and Audit.
You can view a graphical representation of all the parameters that affect your ranking. By default, the comparison is between the ranking position and the average number of words.
However, you can select any other available parameters like page speed, images, content score, number of characters, keyword density, exact keyword match, and a whole lot more.
SERP Analyser is pretty useful if you need a lot of data points to analyze and optimize your posts. It is particularly effective in the case of highly competitive keywords as every aspect of your post needs to be optimized perfectly if you have to outrank your competition.
However, for the majority of cases, the Content Audit, Planner & Editor should be fine to do all the optimization as they are much easier to work with.
In a way, SERP Analyser could be used by power users who would like to analyze every fine detail of their articles and optimize it to the maximum limit possible.
Although not a primary feature of Surfer SEO, the built-in keyword research module is useful to do basic research on the keywords that are related to your primary seed keyword.
It is not going to replace dedicated and powerful Keyword Research tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, etc., but to have a quick look and generate some ideas on the go, can be quite handy.
The list can be exported and it also gives the details on the search volume and the level of similarity to your primary keyword.
If you like any of the related keywords, you can directly open Content Editor or SERP Analyzer for that keyword right from the Keyword Research Module.
Keyword Surfer is a free Chrome Extension from Surfer SEO that gives you a lot of useful details on every keyword you search on Google.
You can get information on the monthly search volume, list of related keywords, word count & exact keyword match of the top-ranking pages, etc.
For a completely free tool, it is quite impressive for the amount of data it gives.
There are three plans to choose from Basic, Pro, and Business with the prices ranging from $59 to $199 per month when paid monthly.
The main differences are the number of queries you can run for the Content Editor, Audit, and SERP Analyser. The queries renew daily for SERP Analyser and monthly for Content Editor and Audit.
The top of the Business plan also lets you white label the reports of both Content Editor and Audit which can be very handy for content marketing & SEO agencies.
NLP analysis is only available in the Pro and Business plans. It would have been nice to see at least a few queries of NLP Analysis available in the Basic plan.
Another negative is that there is no team plan available where you can add your team members and other users to work together. This can be very important to mid to large-sized agencies that have a big team and manage multiple clients.
Live chat support is available and I got a very quick response when I contacted seeking a few clarifications.
The written help and support knowledge base is also quite good with each feature covered in detail.
If you prefer to learn through videos, the Surfer Academy has a ton of both short and long-form video tutorials on every aspect of Surfer.
When you go through all the videos, you should be able to get a fairly good idea of the tool and how to implement it even if you are a beginner in on-page SEO optimization.
The official YouTube channel has all the videos uploaded to easily search and the Co-Founder himself conducts walkthroughs and webinars periodically which is good to see.
Overall, the customer support experience with Surfer is very good and you can learn to use the tool to its best potential for your specific use case.
Tools that can complement Surfer SEO
To get the maximum out of Surfer SEO, you can use a suite of a few other tools to accelerate your SEO process even further. Let us have a look at some of the tools here.
One of the biggest challenges of content marketing and SEO strategy as a whole is to write quality content on a consistent basis that keeps your audience active and engaged.
Although it is extremely rewarding in the longer run, it is equally hard to come up with content. This is where Jarvis as a tool can help you. It is an AI-assisted copywriting software that can assist you in writing content for various channels.
You can write both short and long-form content with Jarvis. Its strength is its vast array of templates covering so many diverse use cases like a copy for PPC ads, email sequences & cold email introduction, blog outline, full-length blog posts, social media posts, and a whole lot more.
The best part about using Jarvis is that it natively integrates with Surfer SEO. Therefore, you can write all your content in Jarvis and optimize in Surfer SEO at one go to completely bring down the time taken for your content generation process.
ClosersCopy is another fantastic and feature-rich AI copywriting tool that can assist in your copywriting process.
Similar to Jarvis, it has a lot of templates and proven copy for ads that you can use as a reference or starting point.
Another plus is that ClosersCopy is available on a Lifetime Deal where you have to pay just once to get access to the tool which is a fantastic value for money.
Once you have written and optimized the content using Surfer SEO, it is important to keep a track of the ranking you have achieved for the target keywords on the SERPs.
Organic search ranking keeps fluctuating depending on various factors like your competitors, algorithm updates by the search engines, etc. and it is important to keep updating and optimizing your content on a consistent basis.
This is where SE Ranking as a tool can help you in tracking and updating you of all the changes your SERP ranking goes through so that you can prioritize your content updating process.
You can get updates on your rankings in various frequencies like daily, every 3 days, weekly, etc. SE Ranking also has other SEO-related features like Keyword Research, Backlink Monitoring, Website Audits, etc.
You can also get white labeling reports which might be very useful if you are running an SEO agency.
If you have a slightly higher budget, then Semrush is an excellent choice for all your SEO needs. It is easily one of the best all-around SEO tools in the market.
Semrush allows you to do Advanced Keyword Research, Competitor Analysis, Rank Tracking, Local SEO, PPC Competitor Research, and a whole lot more. If you need a highly advanced all-in-one SEO tool for your business, Semrush is easily one of the best options.
Wincher is another feature-rich rank tracking tool with affordable pricing plans. You can track rankings of multiple websites and it also supports complete white labeling of reports for agencies.
It also had an API and basic keyword research capabilities making it a very good value for money option.
As good as a tool Surfer SEO is, there are definitely a few alternatives that do a few things better than it. We will have a look at some of the best Surfer SEO alternatives that are available in the market.
Pricing - starts from $44.99 per month for 30 document credits & 1 user seat + $35 per month for the SEO add-on with AI content writer.
Frase is one of the best options if you are looking for a feature-rich and affordable alternative to Surfer SEO.
Apart from having all the features of Surfer SEO including outline builder, content brief, on-page SEO optimization, content analytics & scoring, etc., what makes Frase really stand out is its built-in AI writer.
The AI is built by the team at Frase and is not dependent on other third-party technology like GPT-3 which gives it some unique advantages.
Pricing - starts from $99 per month for 10 content briefs a month and 1 user.
Topic is a similar tool to Surfer SEO that helps you in keyword research and content optimization.
Based on your primary target keyword, Topic will give you recommendations on what are the headings, secondary keywords, and questions you can include in your article to give the maximum chance of ranking the highest.
Pricing - starts from $49 per month for 10 documents, unlimited AI content, and 1 user.
Outranking is another good content optimization and research tool with a bunch of useful features.
In addition to a wide range of on-page optimization features, you can also use it for content writing with its support for GPT-3 based AI writing feature.
To wrap up, if you want to up your game when it comes to on-page SEO optimization for your content marketing needs, Surfer SEO is easily one of the best tools to add to your tech stack.
You get detailed insights on how to optimize your content and a very useful score to keep track of how well your posts are optimized.
Some might consider it to be a bit expensive and the basic plan should have some NLP credits, but for what Surfer SEO offers s a whole for content optimization, it is very much worth a try to improve your overall SEO strategy.