Why does content ranking matter? You have probably discovered your website has not gotten as many views as you expected. You have only two options for increasing search traffic. Optimizing your SEO manually can take a couple of hours to complete.
Alternatively, the process can be automated via SurferSEO. Surfer reviews the most popular sites worldwide using over 500 signal analyses to compare your results to your rankings.
I discovered SurferSEO, and it’s definitely one of the most reliable tools for improving your website’s search rankings.
Not only that, Surfer SEO is a comprehensive suite of tools that can help you create content from scratch, analyze your competitors, identify opportunities for improvement, and make data-driven decisions about your own content.
In this Surfer SEO review, we will first look at the different components of the product. SEO Surfer, as many call it, is constantly improved with new features (and new pricing). I’ll try to keep this review always up to date with their latest releases. The last update to this review is from January 2024.
The Surfer SEO Content Editor
I love the Surfer SEO Content Editor, which is one of their key components. This feature allows you to analyze your competitors’ content for a specific keyword and identify areas where you can improve your own content (or create a new post from scratch) to match the search intent of your target audience.
The Surfer SEO Content Editor provides a detailed breakdown of your competitors’ content, including the number of words, headings, images, and links. It also shows you the keywords your competitors are targeting and provides suggestions for using them in your content.
Here are the features of the content editor in a nutshell:
- Content optimization score out of 100, giving you an insight into how well your content is optimized.
- Helps you lay out the entire content structure-headings, paragraphs, and images.
- Latent Semantic Indexing(LSI) keywords you need to optimize.
- The content editor gives an insight into the frequency of the LSI keywords you should use. I have seen similar features in Frase, Outrank, and other tools, but Surfer’s quality of recommendations and the powerfulness of the editor wins hands down.
If you are more comfortable drafting your content on Notion or Google Docs, there’s nothing to worry about because you can copy and paste your content into the editor. However, this is a common feature among all On-Page SEO Optimization tools.
💡 Surfer SEO has recently partnered with Jasper and has built BRIEF, which helps you create content outlines using AI.
Surfer SEO also has a new plagiarism checker, which checks if your content matches any existing website content.
There’s a reason why I’m starting this SEO Surfer review with its content editor: It’s the feature I enjoy the most. While the tool has improved over time with a lot of new features, many of them really useful, the content editor is really the bread and butter of SEO Surfer. As of 2024, this is still the feature I use the most.
I’m actually running a little experiment right now! I’m reviewing all my old posts from the blog that were not written in Surfer SEO and improving them thanks to its suggestions. I’m already enjoying some ranking improvements, and I’ll soon write a blog post about the process and the results.
Surfer SEO WordPress Plugin
If your site is hosted on WordPress, there’s also a WordPress plugin to quickly move content from Content Editor to WordPress. It’s a great idea… but not the best execution. I had several timeout issues with it where my content was only partially moved to WordPress. This also resulted in a lot of duplicated images in the media gallery. Hopefully, they’ll improve it over time, but as of 2024, the issue still persists every now and then. It’s a shame.
The Surfer SEO SERP Analyzer
Before writing this Surfer SEO review, I was excited to review their SERP analyzer because I found it super useful.
This feature allows you to analyze the search engine results pages (SERPs) for any keyword and to identify the factors that are driving the rankings of the top-ranking sites.
The SERP Analyzer provides data on the number of words, the number of backlinks, referring domains, and social shares for each site in the top 10 results of your keyword.
In the above image, as you can see, the SERP analyzer plots the word count vs. the ranking of each page when you search with the keyword ‘Best Email Marketing Tool’. So the average word count of the top 10 pages is 5872.3
I can similarly plot other metrics like referring domains vs. the position in search results for the same keyword.
So, the top 10 pages have an average of 23258.1 referring domains. It’s nice to have this information here… but overall, for backlink data, I would trust ahrefs the most.
It also shows you the content of each site and provides suggestions for improving your content to match the search intent of your target audience.
As you can see, the competitors’ content is also assigned a score out of 100, like in the content editor.
SERP Analyzer analyses the search and displays a few of the following details:
- Use of the long tail and partial match keywords.
- Average word count and content length of the competitor pages.
- Number of backlinks of the competitor pages.
- Image alt-tags, meta tags, and meta descriptions of competitor pages.
- FAQs related to the keyword.
- Keyword density and term frequency of competitor pages.
- H2 tags that are used in the ranking pages.
If you are a data nerd, all this information is really useful, but, honestly, while I was excited about it, I never used it. Probably their product adoption data agree with me. When I first wrote this SurferSEO review the SERP Analyzer was part of the core offer. Nowadays is a paid add-on for all subscription plans except the Enterprise one.
What I really care about in an SEO tool is finding new keywords to rank for and optimizing my content to rank in the top 10. I rarely look at SEO Surfer SERP analyzer; I usually go straight to its Content Editor and start writing.
💡While the SERP Analyzer provides lumpsum data, it’s important to identify the data that isn’t going to help you with your rankings and not consider that data. Eg. Hidden content in the pages has nothing to do with your rankings.
The Surfer SEO On-Page SEO Audit
Another powerful Surfer SEO component that I like is the On-Page SEO Audit. This tool analyzes your website’s pages and provides a detailed report on any issues that may be hurting your search engine rankings.
The audit covers many on-page factors, including title tags, meta descriptions, headings, and internal linking. It also checks for common technical SEO issues, such as broken links and missing alt tags. The On-Page SEO Audit provides clear, actionable recommendations for how to fix any issues that are identified.
To get started, you have to:
- Enter the URL you would like to optimize.
- Enter the target keyword
- Finally, click on the ‘Create Audit’ button.
I chose https://netflix.com as the website and ‘Best Crime Drama’ as my keyword in the above image.
In a nutshell, the audit focuses on the following elements:
- Word count and recommended word count ranges.
- The missing LSI keywords and phrases.
- Meta title and meta title description recommendations.
- Page load time
- Broken links and missing common backlinks.
💡I would recommend not incorporating these suggestions blindly; however, major gaps like missing common backlinks and page load time should be taken seriously.
💡You can also choose your competitors in the audit and understand the missing elements on your page.
The Surfer SEO Keyword Research Tool
The Keyword Research tool is another key component we have to analyze in this Surfer SEO review. This feature allows you to identify the keywords that your target audience is searching for and to understand the search intent behind those keywords.
The Keyword Research tool provides data on search volume, CPC, and competition for each keyword. It also shows you the search results for each keyword and provides suggestions for how to optimize your content for those keywords.
I personally don’t use the Surfer Keyword Research because I am more comfortable with Ahrefs.
However, I have tested the Surfer Keyword Research for a couple of weeks, and I liked their metric called SERP similarity. The SERP similarity metric gives you the overlap of the seed keyword with suggested keywords. Note: The SERP similarity metric is available only in the old keyword research tool, which you can easily switch to.
Example: If you choose ‘b2b saas marketing’ as your seed keyword, then the pages which rank for ‘b2b saas marketing’ will also rank for related keywords like ‘marketing b2b saas’. It’s like modifying your content to optimize for long-tail combinations.
I would recommend the Surfer Keyword Research modules for only bloggers, startups, and small businesses.
💡 You can have the Surfer Keyword extension added to your Chrome browser.
💡The new keyword research tool now gives you visibility on keyword difficulty as well.
The Surfer SEO Domain Planner
The surfer content planner (now it’s called the domain planner) gives you suggestions on content clusters. It helps you with cluster topics based on your main topic.
Say you want to rank for competitive keywords like ‘Best Email Marketing Tools’. To rank on the first page, your website needs enough cluster pages and relevance to support the pillar page.
Meet the Surfer SEO Domain Planner! It not only helps you with cluster topics but also gives you different filters-Search intent, search volume, keywords, and content score.
💡You can export the domain planner keywords as CSV for later use.
💡You can connect your domain to the domain planner and find more relevant keywords for your pillar pages.
Grow Flow is an AI SEO Growth Management Tool created by Surfer SEO.
Surfer’s AI Growth Management Platform will send you personalized recommendations to improve the SEO of your connected domains using keywords, internal links, and content revisions on a weekly basis.
The first step would be to connect your domains with Grow Flow.
So as you can see, Grow Flow helps you with weekly AI-generated tasks to further optimize your connected domains.
Here are some of the ways Grow Flow helps you optimize your content:
- Helps you with missing keywords.
- Helps you find keywords with the highest ranking potential.
- Helps you discover new topics and enhance your domain authority.
- Helps you optimize older content on your pages.
- Gives you internal link suggestions by comparing with competitors.
- Helps you create new content by giving you new article ideas for topical relevance.
💡There’s a Semrush integration available for strategic link-building opportunities. Unluckily no Ahrefs integration yet!
Overall, I think Surfer’s Grow Flow has a big potential. I try to use it weekly and pick the recommendations that make more sense to implement. To be completely honest, in this Surfer SEO review, I have to mention it could benefit from some improvements.
The internal linking suggestions are often a bit off, with a lot of them being about category pages that I cannot really edit and are not meant to be used for SEO. They’re also no-indexed on my blog, so they would have no SEO impact.
That said, it’s a great tool, especially for beginners. And they’re improving it every week!
While Surfer SEO had initially partnered with Jasper to provide an AI layer, they’ve since built their own AI tool, although with mixed results.
The feature I was more excited about was the “Insert term” one. It’s still in beta, and lives within the SEO Surfer content editor. It should automatically rewrite small parts of your content to plug some missing keywords and achieve a perfect score.
Well… it’s still in beta… but it’s really useless as it is in January 2024. Luckily before finalizing any edits it lets you review all the keyword insertion. Most of the time I ended up rejecting them and nowadays I don’t use the feature anymore.
Here’s an example:
So far, so good; it added a bunch of keywords to my Startup Books post. But let’s see where:
As you can see, the keyword added, “as much money,” is completely out of context and doesn’t make any sense where it was added.
Luckily, writing from scratch with the help of SurferSEO AI writer is a way better experience that allows a lot of customization and control.
Start by choosing your keywords and select whether you want to use SurferAI to write the content.
The wizard will ask you a bunch of simple questions on the tone of voice to use and the kind of content you want to write. You can enable advanced settings, and Surfer will let you add your point of view, specific URLs you want to be considered, and a list of other blog posts from the SERP it will use as a reference. Everything can be fine-tuned.
Now, Surfer will analyze all the pages you’ve selected from SERP or suggested in the Custom Knowledge box.
Once done, it’ll generate a detailed bullet point abstract of how it would structure your content.
This is 100% editable and customizable! You can edit existing talk tracks, add new URLs to consider for each specific chapter, and so on. Every bullet point shows which piece of content the information is coming from.
Overall, even though I’m not a big fan of AI content writing, the quality of the output is pretty good. It even generates images for all the main sections of the post. Here’s an example:
As you can see, out of the box, it already scores 89 out of 100… it’s a very good score, and the content is quite good.
I was pleasantly surprised by the content generated. There are just three key things I’d change/improve:
- Let me train the tone of the content from posts I’ve already published.
- Automatic internal and external links (it doesn’t link anything right now).
- The images can be spotted as AI generated from miles away… again some training on the specific branding of each site could be useful.
I’m sure at the pace they’re improving Surfer SEO, these points will be fixed soon!
Please note that the Jasper AI integration is still active, so if you prefer to use a more specific tool for AI content writing, there’s that!
Does Surfer SEO work?
As you know, SEO is not a perfect science. But since you’re reading a SurferSEO review, you likely want a definitive answer to this question :)
Surfer SEO is extremely useful for getting new keyword ideas and writing content. Not only is the output usually a more optimized blog post, but it also helps me find keyword gaps with competitors and add topics I didn’t cover but are strictly related.
That said, SEO Surfer is not a magic wand. Just because your new blog post scored a perfect 100 in its editor, it’s not guaranteed to rank #1.
Google takes into account hundreds of different factors for ranking, and a competitive keyword will always require a good amount of backlinks, an author with authority on the subject, a nice UX, and more.
That said, when it comes to on-page SEO, I think the tool does an amazing job, and after testing most competitors, it’s the one I picked to grow my blog. While it’s hard to get exact numbers, every time I pick an old post written directly in WordPress and optimize it with SEO Surfer, very quickly its ranking improves.
On top of that, I often use it for keyword research and content planning, and it’s really useful.
So yes. Surfer SEO does work. Is it worth the price? That’s more a personal decision. But if you have a lot of contractors, it’s extremely useful to ensure all the content you publish has the same level of SEO optimization. Let’s get to pricing now!
The Surfer SEO Pricing Model
Together with many new features and product improvements come big changes in pricing. I completely rewrote this pricing information in my 2024 update to this SEO Surfer review.
They now offer three self-service subscription plans plus a custom, sales-driven, enterprise plan.
Plans are based on a mix of features and usage. Usage is mainly focused on the Content Editor, while the feature differentiation reflects the users’ sophistication. The higher the plan, the more advanced features they get access to.
As usual, if you decide to go yearly, you’ll enjoy a couple of free months.
The Essential Plan
At $89/month when paid monthly and $69/month when paid annually, the Essential plan is not cheap and comes with a few bundled features. However, I think it’s still totally worth it. It comes with the Content Editor and Keyword Research features. Which, if you ask me, are the two most useful features.
In terms of usage, you can optimize up to 30 articles per month… more than enough for most use cases.
The essential plan is great for freelancers, copywriters, and SMBs. Honestly, I know few startups that are producing more than a post per day.
The Scale Plan
At $129/month when paid monthly and $99/month when paid annually, the Scale plan is the most popular plan among Surfer SEO users.
On top of what’s included in the Essential Plan, it adds access to the Content Audit tool and increases the number of users to 5 from the 2 included in the lower plan. It also increases the number of content you can optimize from 30 to 100. It’s likely more than you’ll ever need.
The Scale plan is ideal for medium to large-sized businesses or agencies.
The Scale AI Plan
This plan, priced at $219/mo when paid monthly and $179/mo when paid yearly, is basically the same as the Scale plan but it bundles in 10 AI-generated articles per month. It also comes with dedicated onboarding.
While it might look expensive, it’s actually a great deal. AI articles are priced, on average, at $19 per piece of content in Surfer. With 10 articles included per month, you’ll save up to $90 per month!
If you plan to use Surfer SEO AI to scale your content production, this is your plan.
The Enterprise plan also includes priority support in the form of a dedicated customer success manager and the ability to customize the tool to meet the business’s specific needs. It comes with all the features we covered in this post.
This plan is suitable for large companies, agencies, and those who need to analyze many keywords and. have more data on the SERP analysis.
Surfer SEO offers a custom pricing model with the Enterprise plan starting at $399/mo.
You can check and compare the features of all the procedures on the pricing page of Surfer SEO.
I love Surfer SEO pricing because it’s extremely flexible. While each plan has its limits and features included. Everything can be bought as an add-on.
Need to write more content for this month? You can get more Content Editor credits from $5 (down to $1 in the Scale plans).
AI Article credits can be bought at $19 per post with discounts if you buy more credits at once.
Finally, even features like Audits and the SERP Analyzer can be bought as an extra in every plan. Love it!
Surfer SEO special offers
Surfer SEO doesn’t do special promotions often, but they are great when they do.
Usually, they have great Black Friday discounts and also special gifts. Not only do you get a major discount on annual plans, but you’ll also be rewarded for your loyalty and for sharing the deal with your friends.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve always upgraded to Surfer SEO special offers and got great rewards like more seats for free, more Content editor credits, etc.
As I said, they’re not the kind of company that discounts the product every month, so don’t hold your breath, and if you like it, go ahead and signup now. But keep in mind to visit the website on Black Friday for a nice upgrade opportunity.
Surfer SEO Alternatives
With so many content creation and page optimization tools in the market, it’s essential to know how Surfer fares compared to competitors.
I have used both Frase and Page Optimizer Pro(POP), and these are both competitors of Surfer SEO.
Let’s look at how the product compares with Frase and POP.
Surfer SEO vs. Frase
Surfer SEO started out as an SEO optimization tool and included content creation features.
Frase started as a content creation tool and then later on added SEO features.
Surfer SEO helps you create the content structure, the headings, paragraphs, etc.
Frase doesn’t make the content structure.
Surfer’s direction is on the SERP analyzer to optimize content.
The primary focus of Frase is on topic research and content creation.
Surfer offers the keyword research feature to all its users.
Frase doesn’t provide any keyword research feature.
Surfer’s pricing ranges from $59/month to $239/month.
Additionally, they offer a custom Enterprise plan.
Frase is cheaper, with prices ranging from $14.99/month to $114.99/month. There’s a Pro Add-On feature to their current program at $35/month.
Surfer SEO vs. POP
Surfer has a free keyword research tool that can also be added to your Chrome browser as an extension.
POP doesn’t have any keyword research tool.
Since Surfer has integrated with Jasper.ai, you can create content from scratch using Surfer.
There’s no way you can create content from scratch using POP. However, you can get suggestions on your content using the POP Chrome add-on.
Surfer SEO has a Content Planner which gives you guidance on content clusters.
POP doesn’t have any Content Planner.
Surfer SEO offers a more accessible and user-friendly way to analyze and optimize content.
I found the POP way of analyzing and optimizing relatively more complicated. For Eg. You have to add the domain first.
Surfer SEO lets you compare your page with up to 50 competitors.
POP allows you to compare your page with only ten competitors.
Surfer’s pricing ranges from $59/month to $239/month. Additionally, they offer a custom Enterprise plan.
POP is more reasonable, with prices ranging from $27 to $49. They also offer a free trial period on their primary goal.
SurferSEO Review Conclusion
Overall, SurferSEO is a powerful tool that can help you improve your search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your website. By analyzing the on-page SEO, backlinks, and user experience of your competitors’ websites, Surfer SEO can provide valuable insights into how to Optimize your own content for search engines. Additionally, by using Surfer SEO to improve the user experience of your website, you can increase engagement, reduce bounce rates, and ultimately drive more conversions.
To make the most of Surfer SEO, setting clear goals and defining your target audience is essential. By understanding your target audience and the keywords they are searching for, you can use Surfer SEO to analyze your competitors’ content and strategies and optimize your content accordingly.
Additionally, it is important to regularly monitor your website’s performance and make adjustments as needed.
Personally, I’ve tried many of these tools, and Surfer SEO is the only one that I use constantly. This review has been written on Surfer’s content editor, and I usually audit all my external copywriters’ content here.
Thumbs up if you’re serious about Content Marketing and SEO in 2024.
Is SurferSEO free?
Depending on your monthly billing, it’s $29/month for “Hobby,” $59/month for Basic, $99.00/month for “Pro,” $199/month for “Business” and $669/month for “BusinessPlus”. The yearly bill is about 12% less.
Is Surfer SEO better than Yoast or RankMath?
They are two very different things. Yoast and RankMath are WordPress SEO plugins with a lot of WordPress specific features that SurferSEO doesn’t have.
On the other side, SurferSEO will help you improve your content to rank on Google in a better way. Personally, I use both of them. SurferSEO for writing my content and RankMath to help with WordPress SEO optimization.
Who owns Surfer SEO?
Surfer is a joint initiative and vision of founders Sawek Czajkowski, Lucjan, and Michal Suski.
User Interface and ease of use4
Content editor recommendation's effectiveness5
Quality of data provided5
- Uses of 500+ ranking metrics for content optimization.
- Gives you relevant keyword suggestions to add to your content
- The SERP analyzer tool helps you compare your content with competitors
- Quick Google Docs & Wordpress integration
- Auditing and improving existing content is very simple
- Too much data generated by the SERP analyzer can be confusing
- Not very beginner-friendly
- The Base Plan doesn't support NLP queries