Best Surfer SEO Alternatives: Clearscope + 3 Runners Up

Bernard Huang
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    Surfer SEO is a popular on-page optimization tool that’s best known for its Grow Flow Dashboard; in addition to core features like keyword research and content reports, Surfer users receive weekly insights with personalized recommendations to improve page content and site performance.

    Grow Flow insights cover everything from new keyword ideas to suggested link updates, so it’s appealing to bloggers and beginner SEOs who want a tool that can provide strategic direction and teams that need tips to update site content.

    Overall, Surfer rates highly on review sites like G2 — with a 4.8 overall star rating — but we notice a few common themes when combing through user feedback:

    • First, Grow Flow Dashboard helps identify content and links that could be hindering site performance. However, Surfer doesn’t provide a lot of context about its recommendations, so it’s hard to understand which changes should take priority (and which changes won’t have much of an impact). Even though Surfer “decodes SEO,” beginners who don’t know all of the best practices can waste time on updates that won’t make a difference.

    • Secondly, content reports can feel overwhelming and complex. Surfer provides hundreds of recommendations in every report — which, on one hand, is helpful — but to some users, it makes the writing process cumbersome because there are too many boxes to check. Some users say it can take hours to optimize a single post. Users also note a slight learning curve when first using the software, so understanding how to use the features isn’t super straightforward.

    • Finally, Surfer doesn’t offer the most user-friendly pricing or onboarding. They appeal to small teams because they have starter packages, but those have limited credits and it can be expensive to upgrade. Plus, users mention that Surfer bundles packages by features, seats, and credits; so you often end up paying for unnecessary extras when you need more credits.

    So if you’re looking for an alternative to Surfer’s SEO software, we’ve got you covered — our guide reviews four top-rated on-page SEO sites that go head-to-head with Surfer (in both features and pricing), so you can find the best solution for your team.

    Note: Clearscope is our product. We’re proud of what we’ve built and believe we have the best content optimization and monitoring platform on the market. Request a personalized demo.

    Clearscope: Keyword Discovery, Content Inventory & Content Reports

    Clearscope is a go-to Surfer alternative because we have many of the same features, but our platform is easier to use and has more flexible pricing options. Our features include:

    1. Keyword Discovery — where you can discover new content opportunities by exploring topics you’re interested in.

    2. Content Reports — with suggested terms, headings, and outlines; takeaways from the SERP; competitor analysis tools.

    3. Content Inventory — to track published website pages, view real-time content scores, and identify pages that need a content refresh.

    Our platform is versatile so we can support SEOs and content marketers at all stages in the learning journey. Beginners can easily learn how to leverage our platform’s insights (we even provide free online tutorials) and experts can use Clearscope in their daily operations to build out a content inventory, perform content audits, plan site content, and write high-quality content that ranks and converts.

    Read more: How to Drive Leads with Conversion-Oriented SEO Content Writing

    Overall, Clearscope rates 4.9 stars on G2, and we score well in categories like Ease of Use (9.6), Quality of Support (9.9), and Ease of Setup (9.8).

    Clearscope review on G2

    You can read more of our G2 Clearscope reviews here.

    We offer an Essentials Package so you can get started in Clearscope, access all of our features, and explore our platform. But we offer custom pricing plans as you upgrade so we can tailor the package to your team's needs. Contact our team to learn more.

    Now let’s talk a little bit more about our features so you can see how they work.

    Keyword Discovery

    You can easily research keyword opportunities via the Keyword Discovery tab. You can look up specific terms or keyword strings to check metrics like search volume, CPC, and keyword difficulty.

    Our tool is called keyword discovery because it helps identify opportunities you haven’t already heard about — just type any word or phrase into the search bar and we’ll show you all of the most valuable opportunities that relate.

    Clearscope Keyword Discovery for "online video editor"

    Browse keyword suggestions by search traffic, trending topics, or related questions, or filter the results by a specific term. You can also research keyword opportunities in different countries and languages by adjusting the search settings.

    Then, you can build out your content plan and generate reports for each target keyword.

    Read more: What Are Topic Clusters? Do You Need Them? (With Video)

    Content Reports

    You can use Content Reports to write new SEO-optimized content and refresh previously-published posts. We use NLP AI to analyze what’s already ranking for target keywords and deliver data-driven recommendations to guide your content research, outline, and drafting process.

    Each SEO content report includes:

    • Basic content outlines to serve as a jumping-off point.

    • A list of recommended terms and headings (with additional resources where you can read about each recommendation and understand its significance).

    • Average readability level, word count, and content score.

    • Insights from search engine results page (SERP) like themes, FAQs, and commonly-visited pages.

    • Competitive analysis tools.

    Clearscope Content Brief

    Our content briefs are more user-friendly than Surfers for a handful of reasons:

    1. We prioritize the most important information so you can achieve a high content score (and first-page rankings) without having to check hundreds of boxes.

    2. We accept variations of terms — there aren’t redundancies in our recommendations and your end product doesn’t sound keyword stuffed.

    3. We link to our sources so you can analyze search results, competitor sites, and common citations; understand search intent and what Google deems relevant; gather ideas to power unique content creation.

    4. Our content grader shows your progress as you work so you can easily optimize content —  you can sort reports by headings to map your outline; check unused terms to draft or update content; see highlighted terms in your existing copy to make strategic edits.

    5. We have a built-in content editor, Google Docs integration, and WordPress plugin, so you can use our content optimization tools in your copywriting workflows.

    Note: All of our reports are shareable, allowing content marketing teams to share with writers, editors, managers, freelancers, etc. — without adding each collaborator as a new user.

    Learn about using our reports to produce strategic content: How to Write SEO Content Briefs and Outlines (Video + Template)

    Content Inventory

    Last, you can use our Content Inventory dashboard to track existing content, monitor content updates, and identify gaps in your content plan.  You can add URLs from your site, along with target keywords, to see real-time content scores for each web page.

    Clearscope Content Inventory

    You can easily see what content lives on your site, what’s performing well, and what needs a refresher. Then you can use this information to guide your content strategy, research new keywords, and schedule updates.

    We offer custom packages so you can add an unlimited number of links to this dashboard and scale the platform with your publishing efforts.

    Getting started with Clearscope

    You can get started with our most basic plan to access our SEO features and see how our platform works, or you can schedule a personalized demo of Clearscope to talk with a member of our team.

    Read more: Clearscope vs MarketMuse vs Surfer: A Detailed Comparison

    3 additional Surfer alternatives to use for keyword research, content optimization, and SEO insights

    In these next sections, we review three other SEO solutions that you can use to accomplish the same tasks (and more) as with Surfer. 

    MarketMuse: To identify content gaps & discover content opportunities

    MarketMuse homepage

    MarketMuse is a popular tool for teams that want to improve keyword research strategies. They have similar features to Surfer (e.g., SEO reports, competitor analysis tools, content outlines) but they are better known for their content planning tools.

    Their platform enables you to build a content inventory, identify gaps in your existing content, research new opportunities, gauge keyword difficulty, and more — it even has AI to suggest “quick wins” and keyword ideas that complement your existing content.

    Overall, MarketMuse scores well on review sites — having earned a 4.6-star rating on G2 — but users note some of the same complaints with MarketMuse as Surfer:

    • MarketMuse delivers useful reports that help teams write better content; but reports often have hundreds of suggestions (and redundancies) so it can be challenging to prioritize the most important elements and achieve a high content score.

    • MarketMuse can feel overwhelming because you have to run several reports to gather all of the necessary insights to outline, draft, and update content; analyze SERP results; compare competitor sites; etc. It’s not consolidated into one report. This leads to disorganization and causes teams to run through credits quickly.

    • Onboarding is not straightforward and users mention a steep learning curve.

    • Pricing can become expensive as you require more credits from the software — one reviewer called it the “Rolls Royce of content optimization software.”

    But if you’re interested in Surfer for its keyword research capabilities, you may like MarketMuse’s content planning features.

    You can learn more in our guide: Best MarketMuse Alternatives: Clearscope + 3 Runners Up

    Dashword: Create content briefs & write SEO-optimized content at scale

    Dashword homepage

    Dashword is a good Surfer alternative for teams that want faster ways to produce high-quality content because all of the features are centered around quicker content creation. The platform provides:

    1. A user-friendly SERP analyzer.

    2. An outline builder that delivers real-time feedback and suggestions.

    3. Targeted content reports with an AI writing tool that makes it easy to fill in the details.

    Like Clearscope, they also have a Content Inventory feature where you can track published web pages and current content scores.

    Dashword is a newer SEO solution, so there isn’t a ton of feedback on the product, though it’s been compared to Surfer and MarketMuse, and the reviews we can find on the product are all positive.

    One tidbit worth noting: Dashword feels like a more “basic” solution in comparison to the software it goes up against. It appeals to teams that need those core features to power content creation — and pricing is straightforward and affordable — but the platform won’t meet all of your needs. For example, it lacks keyword research tools, so you have to use another site to explore content ideas. They do try to make up for this with a few free extras, like a “People Also Ask” tool and meta description generator, but these solutions are pretty surface-level.

    Although you can use Dashword to support certain tasks, it might not be every team’s first choice. We would suggest this mostly for smaller businesses that want to increase output and support internal marketing teams.

    Semrush: To perform technical audits, analyze website performance, and manage digital marketing tasks

    Semrush homepage

    Semrush is one of the most comprehensive options on our list, but a good option for teams interested in an alternative to Surfer’s Grow Flow Dashboard. Semrush has dozens of SEO tools and packages, depending on what you’re looking for; you can use the platform to optimize page content, improve back-end operations, and drive your digital strategies.

    It receives positive feedback on G2 and has an overall 4.6-star rating.

    Semrush’s SEO features let you:

    • Utilize an AI writing assistant to streamline content writing.

    • Analyze competitor sites and SERP results to research new content ideas.

    • Plan backlinks and review internal links on published posts.

    • Manage paid ad campaigns and social media postings.

    • Create a personalized rank tracker to monitor where your published content ranks in Google search results.

    • Research strategies to improve website performance, organic traffic, rankings, and conversions.

    • And more.

    Note that this solution is tailored to SEO experts who know how to use (and interpret the data from) the types of tools that Semrush provides. And even though this platform might be more challenging than Surfer, it’s arguably a better solution for teams that want personalized insights to improve website performance because it gives you the means to research what’s valuable.

    Read more about Semrush and how it fits in your tech stack: 5 SEO Tools Every Digital Marketer Should Have in their Toolset

    Learn more about Clearscope & how we stack up to Surfer SEO

    Want to see how our solution compares to Surfer’s SEO tools? Schedule a demo with our team or get started with the Essentials Package to receive access to our platform.

    Written by
    Bernard Huang
    Co-founder of Clearscope
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