If you are looking for a comprehensive Surfer SEO review, you have come to the right place.
In today’s content-driven world, using the right writing software is essential and can be the difference between being first or being last in the race to get readers for your content and drive traffic to your websites. To put it bluntly, the writing tool you use can either make or break you as an online creator.
Surfer SEO is a has been created for the express purpose of helping online content creators and marketers write well-structured, SEO-rich articles and blog posts that include exactly the right keywords and are of the optimal length for attracting and keeping readers interested.
But does Surfer SEO live up to expectations, does it serve its stated purpose, and is it really as great as it seems at a glance? Keep reading for a full overview over Surfer SEO’s features, a breakdown of pros and cons of using Surfer SEO, a comparison of Surfer SEO with other, similar writing tools, and finally, an honest conclusion.
Surfer SEO Review: A detailed look at one of the most powerful SEO tools on the market
Surfer SEO is a one-stop content editor, SERP analyzer and SEO keyword analysis tool. Surfer is even able to perform a basis backlink analysis of your content. In other words, Surfer SEO combines the exact features you need to understand ranking factors and appear in search results.
To boil it down, Surfer SEO gives you a data driven SEO blueprint for any seed keyword you want to expand into a blog post or other written content. With Surfer SEO, you still have to do the bulk of the writing yourself, but Surfer takes care of everything else. Let us take a closer look at precisely what it is that Surfer does and how it all works.
Appear in search engines
The fact that you are reading this probably means that you are rather tech savvy and know that SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO metrics are what drives search traffic to your blog, your landing page or your e-commerce page. In other words, appearing in the top results in search engines can be the determining factor for whether a piece of content, and in a greater sense, a freelance writing career or online business, is successful or gets lost int the flood of content that exists on the internet.
The days where you could type up a well-written piece of content, hit publish and attract plenty of traffic almost by accident are far gone. To stand out in today’s saturated online space, you need to optimize your content creation strategy, so that each piece of content you put out uses the most searched-for keywords, has the right meta tags structure, is of the optimal content length and more.
Only a data driven analysis tool like Surfer can ensure that your content that rises to the top of Google and other search engines where new potential readers, leads and customers are able to find it and engage with it.
Surfer SEO and other tools designed to help you optimize your content are invaluable – and increasingly necessary – for digital marketing agencies and individuals alike. If you want to drive traffic to your written content online, you increasingly won’t be able to manage without it.
Surfer SEO features
Surfer SEO combines an impressive array of on-page SEO analysis tools, including word count, keyword density and other ranking factors, ensuring that you are able to write one radiant piece of content after another, without having to stop or waste any time researching what the optimal keyword usage or content length might be for any given piece of content.
Here is a rundown of all of the different features that Surfer SEO combines, all in one place.
Surfer SEO’s user interface is highly intuitive and very easy to use.
When you log into your Surfer SEO account, the interface lets you move effortlessly between the content editor and the content planner, as well as between the audit, SERP Analyzer and Keyword Research options.
Typically, you would have to subscribe to and keep several different online tools open in different tabs on your computer in order to gain access to the amount of data-driven research and useful metics that Surfer SEO combines in one handy place.
If you are like most content creators, you are going to be spending most of your time in the content editor, which in itself combines keyword research and several other ranking factors to help you streamline your content creation process.
Whenever you put your main keyword into Surfer SEO and create a draft, Surfer automatically populates the content editor with the most searched-for keywords and questions, scoured from search engines and the top pages that appear for the seed keyword you have used. This ensures that you know exactly what to write.
Surfer’s keyword research tool can save you untold hours spent researching manually, or using a different keyword research tool. With Surfer SEO, the research process is completely automatic and all but instant.
Surfer’s content editor tool is going to look and feel familiar to anyone used to writing in Google Docs. In fact, it is possible to integrate Surfer’s content editor with Google Docs as a Google Chrome extension – which is just another way that the team behind Surfer SEO has worked to ensure ease of use.
The content editor lets you type your words directly into the on-screen document, while on the left hand side a bar shows you all of the keywords Surfer SEO suggests, as well as several other ranking factors including word count, suggested number of headings, optimal number of paragraphs and how many images to include.
When you create a piece of content in Surfer, there are two ways to go about it.
You can either take a piece of existing content and use Surfer SEO’s on-page analysis tool to enhance it by optimising keyword density and adding or subtracting words until your content fits the recommended word count, or you can write a new piece of content from scratch.
If you are not use to keeping an eye on any on-page SEO metrics while writing, doing so can seem a little odd to begin with – but as soon as you get used to it, you’ll probably find (like I did) that the suggested word count, keywords and other metrics work as a scaffolding that helps you put together the article you are working on faster and better. Rather than being a hindrance, constantly being able to see the metrics and goals you are working towards keeps you on track, and ensures that your writing is lucid, on-point and precisely what readers are looking for when they are typing a question or a keyword into Google.
By providing you with a comprehensive keyword analysis, keyword usage length number and even basic backlink analysis, including missing common backlinks, Surfer SEO can help you optimize any piece of existing content, or write new content that attracts search traffic and holds readers’ attention.
Surfer’s content planner tool helps you generate a content strategy in a matter of minutes. This is how it works.
In Surfer SEO, everything always starts with a seed keyword, which is the keyword you want to rank for in search engines. If you are ever unsure of what content to write next for your niche, Surfer’s content planner is always ready with an answer.
In the content planner’s search bar, you can put in the seed keyword you want to create content around, hit enter and let Surfer SEO generate a number of related keywords that people are searching for and that you can use as inspiration for individual pieces of content, or use as sub-headers in a single written piece. Surfer SEO’s content planner even shows you the search volume for each related keyword.
In this YouTube video titled ‘Content Planner Explained: Get a Full Content Strategy in Less Than 5 Minutes,’ one of Surfer SEO’s team members uses the seed keyword ‘keto diet’ to generate multiple related content ideas including the keywords fasting keto, ,best keto app, ketogenic diet for epilepsy, is keto dangerous, benefits of keto diet and cancer ketosis. As you can see, this is already quite a few article ideas related to the seed keyword that are now waiting to be written.
All in all, the content planner tool dramatically shortens the amount of time you would otherwise need to spend on content research and planning.
Did you know that you can use Surfer SEO’s content planner to run a full SEO audit of your domain?
The purpose of a domain-wide audit is to improve and optimize your content, so that it works for you as you intended. A SEO audit is likely to make you aware of both your domain’s strengths and weaknesses by giving you an overview over all of your domain’s content, highlighting which keywords you are already ranking for (There are most likely going to be some in there that you weren’t even aware of) and helping you to discover extra data points that aren’t available via Google.
Another great reason to do a SEO audit of your domain is that it’ll help you discover low-hanging fruit. Surfer SEO literally has a filter called ‘Low Hanging Fruits,’ and when you apply it and optimize the pages you get one by one, you are well on your way to super powering your domain.
Because content marketing is never just a matter of a single piece of content, but of the sum total of content you have on your domain. Of course, going through your domain and carrying out a domain-wide SEO audit can be a bit of a chore, to put it mildly.
Thankfully, Surfer SEO’S content planner tool turns this otherwise painful process into a piece of cake. All you need to do is follow these simple steps:
- Select Content Planner from Surfer’s main navigation bar.
- Connect your Google search console to ensure that the most accurate and relevant data is collected. You can choose to create a Content Planner without Google search enabled for the domain, but in that case Surfer has to rely on its own database instead of accessing information via Google. To connect to Google, click on the ‘Google Search Console is not connected’ button, then follow the instructions to complete the Google authentication process. You have to give Surfer permission to see your search console data (Keep in mind that you can disconnect Surfer from Google anytime you like). When the text line turns green, you’re all set and ready to go.
- Select domain and country. To do this, click on the ‘domain’ button next to the search bar and then click the ‘URL’ field. This brings up all of the different domains available for your Google account. Select whichever one is most appropriate.
- Now, click ‘Domain Planner,’ and sit back while Surfer gathers the data.
- Note that creating a Content Planner for your domain costs 4 Content Planner credits.
In a matter of moments, Surfer will have gathered data on your 100 best-performing pages. You are now able to look at all of the detailed data points for all of your pages, including impressions, position, traffic and monthly search volume. If you expand each result or choose ‘advanced view’, you’ll see a list of keywords that your page is currently ranking for.
You will then be able to set a Content Planner for each individual page and start optimising them all one by one.
Surfer SEO automatically sorts the results that appear from most relevant to least relevant – but you can filter or organise your search results differently if you prefer.
SERP analyzer tool
Surfer’s SERP analyzer tool allows you to improve existing content by optimising it to rank for particular keywords.
The SERP analysis tool gives you a detailed view under the hood in terms of the keywords people are searching for on Google and other search engines. You can hone in your search by selecting a location. This could be as broad as ‘United States’ or as local and specific as ‘Fresno, United States.’
Again, you have to start with the seed keyword you want to investigate and rank for. Put it into the search bar, select search location, and let Surfer SEO generate a detailed graph, including all of the different ranking features you select and can adjust in the bar on the left hand side of the screen.
The SERP analyzer allows you to get super granulated insight into precisely what people are searching for, and what comes up in their search results. The SERP analyzer shows you everything from average word counts among the top rated pages for a given keyword to which competitors your own page measures up against.
Mobile or desktop results
Whenever you set up a new draft in Surfer’s Content Editor, you have the option of choosing between mobile and desktop results. This feature is just as important, if not much more important, than the location filter as it allows you to specify the traffic you are aiming to attract with your content.
Keyword research tool
Surfer SEO’s powerful research tool does the meticulous keyword research it would take you hours to do in a matter of seconds.
If you haven’t decided on what to write just yet and are in the research phase, use the keyword research option in Surfer to look up the best-ranking keywords and their search volumes.
If you have decided on what to write, all you need to do here is create a draft in the content editor and let it line up all of the most SEO-rich keywords for you in the on-page SEO metrics bar on the right hand side of the content editor, where you can keep referring to it as you do your writing.
Speaking of the metrics bar in the content editor extension, its best feature has got to be the Content Score-o-meter at the top which shows you the content score of the writing you are working on in real time.
The Content Score-o-meter adds an element of gamification to the writing process while also keeping you on track to creating an effective piece of content.
Word count range, headings and paragraphs
A bunch of different SEO metrics all combine to determine the overall content score. These are all shown below the Content Score-o-meter and above the keywords.
One of these metrics is word count. Rather than giving you an exact word count that you must hit, Surfer suggests a word count range.
Surfer also suggests the optimal number of headings, paragraphs and images to include for optimal SEO appeal.
NLP (Natural language processing)
NLP stands for natural language processing and is a subfield of linguistics, software and artificial intelligence that focuses on the interaction between human language and the way computers communicate. Surfer SEO uses NLP to ensure that every piece of writing you create using Surfer is decipherable to both humans and the computers that help them find it.
The SEO metrics bar includes a tab for ‘NLP’ keywords, which are almost identical to the keywords under the ‘All’ keywords tab.
As long as you make sure to include as many of the keywords under the ‘All’ tab as possible in your writing, you don’t have to worry about or refer to the NLP keywords tab, as they will follow automatically.
Surfer SEO supports an impressive number of different languages (and is likely to expand into more languages as time goes on and Surfer continues to develop). So far, these are the languages supported:
Belarusian, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, German, Greek, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Irish, Croatian, Hungarian, Armenian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Georgian, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Luxembourgish, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Serbian, Sundanese, Thai, Turkish and Ukrainian.
Surfer SEO plans and pricing
Surfer SEO has a plan to fit any budget and to fulfil the requirements of any freelance writer or business.
The question is, which plan should you choose? Let us take a look at the three different options including their features and the price tag attached to each of them.
Surfer’s basic plan costs $49/month and includes 10 content editors and 20 audits. It also comes with free NLP (which stands for Natural Language Processing) for the first month).
The pro plan is priced at $99/month which includes 30 content editors, 60 audits and free unlimited NLP. Being on the Pro plan also allows you to invite up to 3 team members, an extremely useful feature if you are a small business or planning to collaborate with others.
Finally, there is the Business plan, priced at $199/month. The Business plan gives you 70 content editors, 140 audits, free unlimited NLP, white labelling and API. It also enables you to invite up to 10 team members. The Business plan is the right plan for you if you are running a business of any size that relies on using content to appear in search result sand generate massive amounts of traffic.
What all Surfer SEO plans include
From Basic to Business, there are some features that all Surfer SEO plans include. They are as follows.
The content editor and its detailed metrics provides you with the scaffolding you need to create written content that includes the optimal keywords and is of the most advantageous length when the goal is to appear at the top of Google and generate vast amounts of traffic.
Every Surer SEO plan includes the extremely useful content planner tool. The content planner allows you to generate a content strategy for your niche in a matter of seconds, rather than hours, days or weeks.
The content planner tool also allows you to take stock of all of your existing pages (Up to 100!) and shows you how you can quickly improve your content to attract more traffic. The content planner can also help you discover what hidden keywords you are ranking for, so that you can expand and build on them.
All Surfer SEO plans also include the SERP analyzer tool, which allows you take a very detailed and precise look at what people are searching for, and how you can position yourself in the search results that come up for any given keyword.
7-day money back guarantee
It is worth mentioning that all of Surfer SEO’s plans come with a 7-day money back guarantee. In other words, you have nothing to lose by signing up to Surfer SEO and getting started on creating the most SEO-rich content you have ever written.
Surfer SEO Alternatives
Surfer Vs Frase
In the case of Surfer SEO Vs Frase, there are both similarities and some notable differences.
While Surfer’s real strengths and primary features are its SERP analyzer tool (for optimization), its content editor (for creating, editing and optimizing written content), its advanced and detailed SEO audit and keyword research features, and the fact that you can get Surfer SEO as an extension for Chrome, Frase is a newer software whose most notable features are its topic research feature, its editor (which allows you to create content and content briefs as well as optimize content), and the fact that it allows you to import content via URLs.
While both softwares are constantly improving and expanding, Surfer is the more comprehensive option for now.
Surfer Vs MarketMuse
MarketMuse conduct detailed AI-driven research on any topic or niche you select. Then they provide detailed content briefs for you to follow as part of your content creation strategy. The ‘First Draft’ option even allows you to generate an initial draft, which you can then edit. In other words, MarketMuse does more of the work for you than Surfer does.
However, there is something to be said for the more free-hand but still completely data-driven content you are able to create with Surfer.
All in all, it is a matter of taste whether you are going to prefer Surfer or MarketMuse.
Surfer Vs Clearscope
Clearscope uses IBM Watson to reverse-engineer the top results that appear in Google for any given keyword. You specify the keyword you want your content to rank for, and Clearscope outlines the words and phrases you need to include.
Clearscope will give you a comprehensive list of not only keywords and key phrases, but also competitors who are currently ranking for the search term in question.
Much like Surfer, Clearscope assigns a content score as you write, so you can stay on track and on task. Clearscope takes both word count, readability and search volume into account, while telling you how you can improve your score.
In many ways, Surfer and Clearscope are rather similar – but Clearscope may be a little more complex to get to grips with. However, the rewards might be worth it.
Surfer Vs Page Optimizer Pro
While the two applications have their similiarites, Surfer has one clear edge over Page Optimizer Pro.
While Page Optimizer Pro priorities 29 ranking factors in determining overall SEO content score, Surfer SEO includes somewhere between 100 and a whopping 500+ (depending on which plan you are on). Needless to say, Surfer’s much more comprehensive analysis makes for a more accurate and detailed insight into how you can create the highest-ranking content.
Surfer Vs WriterZen
WriterZen combines multiple content optimization tools in one, in a way that is much mire cost-effective.
WriterZen’s most notable features are its content editor, keyword tool, plagiarism detector and topic discovery options. With WriterZen, you can discover long-tail keywords, topics and clusters to inspire your writing.
It is impossible to say whether Surfer or WriterZen is better – the two are simply different.
Surfer SEO pros
When you start working in Surfer SEO it immediately becomes clear that this is a tool that has been developed with the user in mind, and one of the key elements that really places Surfer a cut above the rest is how easy and intuitive it is to use. Yes, even if you are complete beginner and have only ever written in Google Docs before. In fact, Surfer looks and feels comfortingly similar to Google Docs, something which that cut the learning curve in half.
The accurate and extensive keyword and even headline recommendations suggested by Surfer SEO is extremely helpful when it comes to outlining and writing your article. The fact that all of the keywords and metrics you need to keep an eye on are constantly visible on the panel on the left hand side of the screen, which makes it truly impossible for even the most easily distracted writer to veer off track or off topic.
Another pro is that Surfer gives you examples of how to use each keyword. This feature in and of itself ensures that you’ll never get stuck while writing. All you need to do to tap into high-level inspiration is to click on any one keyword, and a box with examples of use will appear. You can either incorporate these suggestions directly into your text, or just let yourself draw inspiration from them.
One thing you never need to worry about when using Surfer SEO is copywriting infringement or plagiarism. While Surfer SEO’s keyword research tool does scrape commonly searched questions and commonly used SE0-rich keywords from around the web, Surfer doesn’t just lift and copy-paste content. What you end up creating in collaboration with the Surfer Set tool is going to be fully original, every time.
While the Surfer SEO tool is easy enough to wrap your head around and get started with, the Surfer SEO team are always happy to help if you get stuck. The Surfer SEO team have a YouTube channel, and it should be your first port of call if you want to delve deep into Surfer’s more advanced features or are unsure about how something works.
This section of my Surfer SEO review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the fact that Surfer is always evolving. During the relatively short period of time that I have been using it (about six months, as of this writing), there have already been several upgrades and additional features introduced.
Surfer SEO cons
No writing software is perfect, but Surfer SEO is pretty damn good. Still, there are a few cons and they are worth mentioning.
First of all, out of all the many suggested target keywords Surfer SEO brings up from the top ranking pages for your headline, some seem to weigh heavier on the overall content score than others. However, which ones rank highly and which one only push the needle a little is unclear. Being able to clearly see which SEO keywords it would be best to concentrate on incorporating into your text would be helpful.
Another con of using Surfer SEO is that the number of queries you are able to make per month is rather low. If you are on the basic plan, which is the one Surfer SEO recommend for freelancers, you only get 10 content editors per month. Depending on how much you write, 10 queries may not nearly be enough and you will have to upgrade to the next paid plan, the Pro plan, at twice the price.
To some, the NLP feature – which requires separate credits if you want NLP results included in your blog post draft – may seem quite confusing at first. It would be much easier if NLP (Which for some reason you get twice as many of as you do content editors) were automatically included in each draft you set up.
Finally, an odd quirk that Surfer SEO seems to have is the number of headlines sometimes suggested by the Surfer content editor. While the number of headlines is usually suitable for the recommended word count, it can sometimes be completely off. For example, there is no way a 2,000 word blog post requires 30 headlines.
SURFER SEO Q & A
You’ve learned just about as much about Surfer SEO as it’s possible to learn without signing up for one of the paid plans, but you may still be left with some unanswered questions. Hopefully, you’ll find them all covered here.
Is Surfer SEO accurate?
In short, yes, Surfer SEO is exceptionally accurate, and detailed to boot.
As one SEO Surfer user puts it in his testimonial (viewable on Surfer SEO’s landing page), ‘Surfer is the perfect balance between ease of use and depth of data. They truly understand SEO and make optimising for your queries accessible to the masses.’
This just about sums it up. Surfer SEO gathers data from the top search engine results for the single keyword or headline you put in, and presents you with all of the most SEO-rich keywords that people are searching for and that are embedded in the content on your competitors’ websites.
Which SEO tool is best?
Which SEO tools are best depend on your individual requirements and budget. But almost no matter what your requirements and budget are, the Surfer SEO tool manages to strike the perfect balance between being affordable, accessible, customisable, accurate and detailed.
One of the things that makes SURFER SEO truly enjoyable to work with is that it is extremely easy to get to grips with, while also going into a lot of detail if you are looking to delve deeper.
The Surfer editor is exceptionally user friendly and welcoming, even for a complete beginner. While some SEO writing softwares can seem pretty opaque when you are first starting out, the Surfer SEO editor looks deceptively like Google docs, which makes it seem familiar and easy to navigate. As an added bonus, all of the key metrics you need are always visible on the panel in the right hand side of the editor so that you can keep an eye on staying on track as you go.
Surfer has a SEO tool for you, whether you are an individual freelance writer, a small agency or a larger business.
How can I improve my SEO score in Surfer?
Improving your SEO score in Surfer is completely straight-forward. You can either write a piece of content from scratch using the many keywords that Surfer has sought out for you, or you can copy-tase an existing piece of content you’ve written in Google docs or elsewhere and then add in the SEO-rich keywords recommended by Surfer (Pro tip: It is often easier to simply write from scratch than it is to rewrite with all of the relevant keywords).
While you are writing your blog post or article in Surfer’s content editor, keep an eye on the content score barometer in the top right corner – it tells you whether you are on track to creating a SEO-rich piece of content.
The content sore barometer goes from 0-100. By the time you’ve written your headline, your content score is already going to be peaking up above zero, and as you start writing, it’ll quickly start growing. However, a perfect score of 100 is just about impossible to achieve. As a rule of thumb, a score between 70-80 is a solid score and likely to place your content above that of your competitors in search engines like Google.
Do SEO companies really work
In the main, SEO tools really work. However, not all SEO writing tools are created equal. Some may sound and look good at a glance, but might prove less effective once you have signed up for them.
This is why you should be doing a bit of research. When you are considering signing up for any kind of SEO keyword research tool or writing software, it is important that you do your due diligence, for example by reading reviews like this one. YouTube is another great place to look for writing software reviews.
Surfer SEO review conclusion
Surfer SEO is far fro your average authority site builder. Whenever you are looking to improve existing content or generate new writing that is guaranteed to appear in the Google search console, Surfer SEO’s keyword research tool and editor can become instrumental in turning your writing ambition into reality.
All in all, I couldn’t recommend Surfer SEO more highly. It is the primary writing tool I use for everything I write, including this review. Sure, Surfer SEO has its imperfections, but they are heavily outweighed by the many, many pros.
There is no doubt that Surfer SEO is one of the most effective on-page SEO tools out there, and with it, it becomes much easier to write exactly what is going to attract readers and generate massive amounts of organic traffic to your blog or website.
If you are on a shoestring budget, the Surfer SEO pricing can seem a little steep. But chances are, once you sign up for and start using Surfer SEO to optimise your writing output, you’ll start wondering how you ever managed to get anything done without it.