Here is my full review of the on-page optimization tool, Surfer SEO.
In my review, I'll cover:
- How Surfer SEO works
- Important features
- Things to improve
- Comparison with Clearscope
So without further ado, let's get started.
What is surfer SEO and what does he do? It works?
Surfer is a tool designed to help SEO optimize written content, such as blog posts and articles.
It works by parsing the content of a page against "500+ on -page".
It also has a built-in keyword keyword research tool .
I will now get into the features of the tool in a minute.
But the main thing is that you are writing a blog post. Use Surfer to analyze the first page SERPs of your target keyword.
Then use the information you get to optimize your page.
The idea here is that the first page results are ranked for a reason. And you can also rank it if you copy the on-page SEO approaches that your competitors are already using.
With that, let's move on to the actual functionality.
SERP Analyzer: detailed breakdown of the first page of Google
This is the main functionality of Surfer SEO.
This is basically a VERY in-depth SERP breakdown for a given keyword.
In this breakdown you get data on:
- Average word count (c ' i.e. the length of the content)
- Keyword density and frequency
- Use of partially matched keywords
- Hidden content
- Page speed
- Number of characters in title tags
- Alternative text
And many other things.
I have personally tried (and reviewed) over 200 SEO Tools . So it's fair to say that I've seen just about all the features under the sun.
And yes, I saw a lot of data that you will find in Surfing in other tools.
But Surfer goes a lot in more detail. And provides data that I have never seen before.
For example, they actually show you how many words appear above the fold on a page.
The average number of H2 titles that appear on each page.
And how many links a first result page tends to have.
I think this data is interesting. And unique.
But is it useful?
I am not convinced 100%. Here's what I mean:
Let's say you just wrote a blog post. And you want to make sure it matches the on-page SEO that the content of the first page uses dicejà.
Well you put this keyword in Surfer… and get this:
What do you do with all this information? Should you match the number of H2s your competition has? Or add hidden content just because 'It correlates with the ranking of this keyword?
It ' s pretty overwhelming.
Also, on-page SEO is on-page SEO. There is no separate Google algorithm for each keyword.
So why don't you include your target keyword in your title? Or don't mention your keyword above the fold? This is something you should be doing anyway.
Overall I think the SERP analyzer is pretty cool.
It has a lot of unique data points. Some of them are useful.
But I think they should actually delete some of these data points. In this way, they can help users focus on whatreally matters.
Content editor: LSI Keyword research tool
L Surfer's content editor helps you define and write search engine optimized content.
Specifically, it scans the contents of the first page looking for LSI Keywords . And helps you embed them into your content.
This feature also analyzes the content structure of the first page results… including word count, number images and average number of paragraphs.
Right off the bat I found something that I already really like: the fact that you can choose the pages from the first page you want to analyze. And on which they focus the first 5 results by default.
Why is this a problem?
Most content analysis tools analyze the first 10 or 20 results. It has always bothered me a bit. I'm like: "Why would I want to copy someone to the second page? ".
So I like that you can focus on the top 3, 5 or 10 results. Or even exclude one of the top ranked pages if you don't want to include that in the crawl.
Other than that, the content editor is pretty straightforward.
You copy and paste your content there. The tool tells you the exact LSI keywords you need to add. And how many times to mention them.
They even suggest some "Topics and questions to answer ".
These are taken from Google's " People also ask… "box. And are designed to help you plan the creation of content for this topic.
Additionally, you can share this report with the editors ... without them needing to log in. That way, they can write the draft in Google docs. And optimize it there. Useful.
After using this feature, I can say it 's VERY well done. It ' s easy to use. Has solid data. And you can customize it as you wish.
NLP: sentiment analysis
Surfer SEO has a built-in functionality of natural language processing .
This feature uses IBM's Watson to find sentiment in search results.
At first I couldn't get this feature to work properly.
For example, when I was using PNL analysis, I saw this:
The graph notes that the "sentiment " is equal to 0.756. But I don't know how to use this data. Or what does it mean.
I finally understood. When you click on one of the results, you see the "true density " of a page. Along a set of related sentences. Here is where they show you the NLP feeling around each of them.
Honestly, I don't understand why this is useful. What does it matter if the sentiment of 100 related keywords is positive or negative? It doesn 't affect the ranking.
Overall, this feature felt a bit forced. Keyword research: find new keywords to target
Then , I wanted to try Surfer's keyword research tool.
This works like pretty much any keyword tool on the market. Enter a starting keyword. And get a list of related keywords. With search volume.
So: how is this feature overall?
On the positive side, it has a useful feature that I have never seen in any other word tool keys: "SERP Similarity ".
This is basically the overlap with the keyword you typed in thOutil.
For example, suppose that you used keyword A as your seed keyword. Well if many pages that rank for keyword A also rank for keyword B, then keyword B will have a strong SERP similarity .
Why is this useful?
Well, it's hard to know if you should create different optimized pages intour of different long tail keywords . If the search results are different, you should probably write a page for each keyword.
But if the SERPs are basically the same, that means Google considers the two keywords to be synonymous. So you want to optimize a page around both terms.
It 's a huge pain to do manually. This is why I think "SERP Similarity" is such a unique and interesting feature.
Having said that, I would like Surfer's keyword research tool to be more fleshed out. Specifically, a score of Keyword Difficulty is missing. Which is huge for choosing keywords to follow.
Surfer SEO assistance
So I tested all the key features of Surfer SEO. And he wastime to see how their support stacked up.
Fortunately, asking a question to their support is easy: they have a small target Intercom chat button at the bottom of every page.
And I decided to ask a rather tricky question, a question I wanted to know the answer to: How does Surfer estimate domain traffic to a site?
I noticed this data point in their content editor. But there wasn't a tooltip or explanation of it.
So here is exactly what that I asked for:
And their answer:
Needless to say, I was still confused. I still didn't quite understand where the actual source of the keyword's search volume came from.
But to be honest, this is the same approach as most SEO tools (like SEMrush ) used to estimate organic traffic to a site. So overall is not that far away. But obviously the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
In general, I would say Surfer's SEO support is "good not great ”. I got a response very quickly (good). But the initial answer didn't fully answer my (bad) question.
Having said that, when I asked them to clarify, I got an honest and thorough (good) response.
Surfer SEO pricing
Here is a breakdown of Surfer prices:
If you opt for monthly billing, you pay $ 29 / month for "Hobby ", $ 59 / month for "Basic ", $ 99 / month for "Pro ", $ 199 / month for "Business " and $ 649 / month for "Business Plus." You save around 10% if you opt for annual billing.
The features you have access to are basically the same for each plan ( with one exception: the Hobby plan doesn't include page speed analysis.). But you can run A LOT more reporting with the higher level plans.
For example, you get 5 requests / day with Hobby. And 300 with Business Plus. That's 60 times more reports.
How do Surfer SEO's prices compare to similar tools?
Well, you really can't compare a full-fledged SEO suite like Ahrefs with Surfer. Ahrefs has MANY more features.
Surfer ONLY does SEO analysis on the page. But it doesn't have any functionality for backs analysis, SEO site audits or tracking rankings like Ahrefs.
So I don't think it's fair to price Surfer based on an EO software SSuite like Ahrefs. They are two different tools.
But you CAN compare Surfer with its main competitor: Clearscope.
Clearscope has a fixed price structure of $ 350 / month.
You get 50 searches per month with this. Surfer 's Pro plan costs $ 99 / month. Which is 3 times cheaper.
Obviously, the tools are not exactly the sames. But they are similar. So it's fair to say that Surfer SEO is a really solid value compared to Clearscope.
Surfing SEO vs Clearscope
A lot of people ask me: "Which tool do you prefer? Surf SEO or Clearscope? ".
So I thought I would compare and contrast the two tools quickly.
At a high level, the two tools do essentially the same thing: scrape the current first page of Google search results. Show you terms that appear most often on the first few pages. And update in real time. when you tweak your content.
And the two have a few differences. For example, Surfer has an extremely detailed SERP breakdown feature. And Clearscope also analyzes whether or not your page headers contain the words keys than they should.
Overall, I prefer Clearscope. But it's close.
I like Cle's user interface a lot morearscope than Surfer. It 's cleaner and easier to navigate. But most important of all, Clearscope gives your content an overall letter rating (and your competition's average letter rating). Which helps you know where your content is.
On the other hand, Clearscope is much more expensive than Surfer. So if you want the best value for money , definitely go with Surfer.
What I liked about Surfer SEO
Unique Data and Features: I have always been impressed with the unique features and data I have found on the Surfer platform. Clearly the people behind this are legitimate SEO experts who “get” the SEO. And they've done a solid job of including features (like SERP similarity) that help reference professionalsment to do their job.
Excellent Content Editor: Surfer 's Content Editor is awesome. Easily their best feature.
Great value for your money : The lowest tier plan costs $ 29 / month. Yes, you only get 5 searches per month with this. But you can at least try most of the key features of the tool.
Things That Surfer SEO should improve
I cannot prioritize by importance: I have a love / hate relationship with Surfer's SERP analyzer. I love the depth. But I hate the way you are presented (literally) with hundreds of variables. It is not practical (or even useful) to try to optimize all of this. They should have a button to sort the most important ranking factors.
Data inexactes: most of Surfer's data was perfect. But I encountered data that was not entirely relevant. For example, they said that Backo gets more traffic than Moz.
Unnecessary NLP functionality: I was seriously confused as to why this functionality is in the tool. It honestly seems that NLP was included as a way to make the tool more "advanced ".
Basic Keyword Tool: their keyword research tool needs to be fleshed out a bit more.
Surfer SEO Review: Is This Tool Worth It?
Overall, I think Surfer SEO is worth a try.
It is certainly not perfect. And could use some UI work. But if you're looking for a tool to help you optimize your content, you don'treally can't go wrong with Surfer.
What do you think?
Here it is: my opinion on the SEO Surfer tool.
Now I would like to see what you have to say.
Did you like it? Not like this? Do you think that was correct?
Let me know in the comments section below.