Content marketers and writers often hear the phrase, “Just write great content” as a way to improve search engine rankings and create content that converts. It seems simple enough, but there’s a lot more to SEO than that.
What makes content “great?” Should it be stuffed with keywords? Long or short? Focused on specific topics?
You can look at top-performing content to get an idea of what Google considers great content, but that’s a lot of work for each piece of content you plan to publish. Fortunately, tools are available to help you get this information quickly.
SurferSEO and Clearscope are two of the most popular SEO tools available. Here’s how they compare.
SurferSEO is considered a Content Editor tool and an SERP Analyzer. By its own admission, SurferSEO can analyze over 500 data points using the keyword you input, collects all the information on one interface, and helps you determine why the top-ranked pages got those coveted spots.
There are several features with this content optimization tool, including:
When it began, SurferSEO was merely an SERP Analyzer. Since then, the tool has expanded its features, but the SERP Analyzer is still one of the most popular.
To use it, you input the keyword you want to focus on, it analyzes data points like text length, headings, title tags, meta descriptions, and natural language processing (NLP) entities. This information shows you what Google is considering for high-quality content.
In addition, SurferSEO considers the technical ranking factors like page speed, hidden content, backlinks, and structured data. This is helpful for understanding where your content could be improved and areas where you need to work on your technical SEO.
Surfer’s Content Editor feature of SurferSEO uses AI to determine how often the top-ranking sites use your target keywords. You then have an opportunity to look at them and see which ones you want to include in your own content.
Once your content is complete, you can copy and paste it into the Content Editor for analysis. The tool assesses it based on benchmarked data from high-ranking sites – your actual competitors – to see how your work measures up.
If you’re not getting the score you’d hoped for, you can edit it directly in SurferSEO to see how it becomes better or worse from your efforts.
To make things easier, SurferSEO offers a Chrome extension that shows the data in the search results. During your research process, you can see the data in the search results page and allow it to inform your content strategy.
SurferSEO has several advantages as an SEO tool, The Content Editor tool is one of the best available and makes optimization straightforward for writers. It also has accurate competitor analysis and plenty of resources to help users learn more about the tool’s capabilities and SEO. You can also conduct a content audit and check existing content to update it.
That said, SurferSEO has a poorly designed user interface that may be challenging for beginners to navigate. It also lacks any insights for keywords to determine their ideal frequency or difficulty.
Clearscope is a similar offering as SurferSEO, but it’s primarily a content editor. The tool finds the language and topics that the high-ranking sites use, so you can benchmark your content against your competitors’ content.
The features of this content optimization tool include:
Clearscope is essentially a content editor tool exclusively. You input your target keyword, then Clearscope delivers the data necessary to create optimized content for your site.
It’s more comprehensive than SurferSEO, however. Clearscope provides a grade for your content and your competitors’ content, respective word counts, a readability score, and top competitor content with frequently asked questions and outlines. It also lists the search volume and monthly search volume.
And here’s where Clearscope gains an edge – the relevant keywords are listed with a suggestion for how often they should appear, how important they are, and a tally of how often they appear in your content. It also offers keyword variants.
Clearscope has a Google Docs and WordPress integrations that allows you to edit your content directly in the Google Doc for more convenience. Instead of having to copy and paste back and forth between a document and the tool, everyone is in one place.
With shareable URLs, other writers can collaborate on the document within the Clearscope Content Editor. There are also user permissions available to invite other team members and collaborate on content creation.
Clearscope primarily focuses on one thing, but it does that well. With its comprehensive reporting and analytics, Clearscope makes content outlines and content planning quick and simple. Keyword priority, suggestions, and variants help you determine how to include relevant keywords without sacrificing the readability or value of your content.
It also has a user-friendly interface that’s easy to navigate, even if you’re brand new to any type of SEO tools.
The downsides of Clearscope are that it lacks any collaboration tools or educational resources to learn more about SEO, and it doesn’t have any real-time SEO testing feature to evaluate your content’s performance after changes.
SurferSEO and Clearscope are two of the top SEO tools on the market. They each offer key features with pros and cons, however.
User interface is important for navigating and usability. The SurferSEO interface isn’t terrible, but it’s definitely more suited to experts. It’s not intuitive, so it can take some time for new users to learn.
Conversely, Clearscope has a clear and straightforward user interface that virtually anyone can figure out quickly.
SEO research is part of SEO strategy, which includes keyword research, industry trends, and competitor content. SurferSEO has a helpful SERP similarity feature that can enhance your research process.
Clearscope provides SEO support in a variety of ways, including competitor outlines and frequently asked questions, but it doesn’t have an SERP similarity feature.
Both SurferSEO and Clearscope offer exceptional customer support, but Surfer includes live chat options and tutorials to help customers get the most out of its features. Clearscope has responsive customer support through a contact form, but it doesn’t have chat support or learning resources.
SurferSEO has some impressive features and helpful resources that give you value, but it’s hindered by the poor interface and minimal keyword information. Clearscope is not as versatile, but its simple format, functionality, and scalability make it ideal for a more defined scope of needs.
If you’re not interested in SurferSEO or Clearscope, you have other options for content optimization like Outranking, MarketMuse, Frase, Semrush Writing Assistant, and Page Optimizer Pro. SurferSEO and Clearscope are two of the best tools on the market, but these alternatives may have some features or capabilities that are more beneficial to you.
SurferSEO is worthwhile if you want to optimize your SEO content with AI features to find the ideal keywords, word count, and headers to use in your content. It also tracks technical issues, so you identify areas to improve beyond your content.
Clearscope offers fewer features than its competitors, but it’s offering is highly defined. As a content editor tool, Clearscope provides detailed information about competitors, outlines, relevant questions, readability, and most importantly, keywords for search intent.
SurferSEO’s Content Editor gives your content a score out of 100, which is based on the structure of your content, the keywords you use, and the headers that appear in your content. Based on SurferSEO’s criteria, a good content score is anything above 70. Naturally, the higher the score, the better your content is according to benchmarks.
Clearscope offers grades instead of scores, based on a scale of A+ (best) to F (worst). The score has a scale to show you how far you have to go before reaching the next letter grade. As you adjust your keywords, you can see your grade increase. B+ or above is a good content grade for Clearscope. You can compare your grade to competitors’ grades. This helps you find a balance between a high SEO score and content that’s relevant, valuable, and readable. You can also track your content’s readability – a reading level at high school level or better is good.
Though SurferSEO and Clearscope have different tools and methods, the measures you can take to improve your content score are similar. Using relevant keywords and phrases, partial keywords, and keyword variants will improve your score, though using some keywords frequently will register as keyword stuffing and may hurt your score. You can also improve your score by adjusting your title, H1, and headers to include more relevant keywords and phrases. Adjusting the content length to align with competitors and cover all the pertinent information will also improve your score.