The 9 Best Surfer SEO Alternatives in 2022

Surfer SEO is a popular content optimization tool that’s been around since 2017.

It’s used by thousands of content marketers, SEOs, and marketing managers to create content briefs, update and optimize existing content, and discover new topics and related keywords.

I love it. I’m using it to outline this very article. Here’s the content editor:

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.24.22 pm

But what if you don’t want to use Surfer SEO?

There are plenty of other content optimization tools you can use instead. Some of them are more affordable. Some are aimed at agencies working at scale. Some are more powerful and feature rich.

Some just have a user interface that feels friendlier.

We all have different use cases and purposes. In this post, I’ll outline nine of my favorite Surfer alternatives, and I’m certain that you’ll find at least one that fits your budget and business context.

What is Surfer SEO (and Why Do People Like It)?

Surfer SEO is a content optimization software that helps you find keywords and phrases that your competitors are using to rank in search results.

The tool also helps you predict which factors will help your piece of content rank for a given search keyword.

It’s incredibly easy to use. You just enter the target keyword that you want to rank for and it gives you a ton of insights and reports:

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.06.01 pm

Basically, it reverse-engineers hundreds of on-page SEO ranking factors and gives you suggestions to beef up your content so it is best positioned to rank for your target keyword.

I use it both to create content outlines and content briefs as well as to update and optimize old posts.

It also has a built-in keyword research tool (though not as powerful as dedicated SEO tools like Ahrefs).

Surfer has native integrations with popular tools like Wordpress and Google Docs as well as Jasper (an AI-powered copywriting software that I also use).

A few downsides of Surfer SEO:

  • The suggestions are cluttered and tough to prioritize
  • Their data is somewhat opaque (it’s hard to know how they estimate traffic and keyword importance)
  • Their scoring system is a bit tough to work out

It’s a great tool, but the biggest disappointment I have is they give you SO MANY keyword suggestions that it’s hard to pick which ones to prioritize. You can’t just stuff ‘em all in the piece (well, you could, but the blog post would suck). Other Surfer alternatives are much better at this.

Overall, I still love the tool. But I also use others, some of which I list below.

Let’s find you a Surfer alternative.

The 9 Best Surfer SEO Alternatives in 2022

  1. Frase.io
  2. Clearscope
  3. Topic
  4. MarketMuse
  5. Ahrefs
  6. Semrush
  7. Dashword
  8. GrowthBar
  9. RankScience

Editor’s note: I’m going to use some affiliate links when possible to try to earn some revenue from my content. These don’t change the opinions espoused in the content nor the style in which they are written. If I think a product sucks, I’m not going to say otherwise. This is just a bonus and a way to fund the whole operation. Anyway, enjoy the article

1. Frase.io

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.04.28 pm

Frase.io is my pick for the best Surfer SEO alternative.

If you’re a content marketer or SEO manager looking to improve your chances of ranking on Google, Frase.io is a great solution.

Frase helps you optimize your articles for maximum visibility in search engines. It uses AI to generate briefs and suggest topics based on the content you already have, as well as find related keywords and topics that are optimized for SEO purposes. It also has a copywriting tool that generates unique articles for clients within minutes according to their specified criteria (which can be customized by their client).

It works just like Surfer. Just enter your target keyword (“best podcast hosting” here used as an example). It then generates a SERP overview of existing competition and a bunch of content suggestions including headers, images, links, and word count.

Here’s a picture of their content editor:

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.09.12 pm

It gives you a really robust content outline, too – much better than the other tools on this list (outside of maybe MarketMuse). Writing outlines takes a ton of time, and Frase really helps at that part of the process.

Frase works best with larger pieces of content—like blog posts, white papers or ebooks—but it also has great value for smaller pieces like press releases or web pages because it does everything from start-to-finish.

From the initial outline all the way through the actual content generation and optimization, Frase does it all.

Great product, and quite affordable as well.

Pricing: starts at $44.99/mo with a 5 day money back guarantee

G2 Score: 4.8/5

2. Clearscope

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.04.15 pm

Clearscope is an SEO tool and content optimization software that reverse engineers the search results pages for a given keyword, then gives you suggestions as to how to rank your piece of content for that keyword.

It gives you suggested keywords to include in your content and weighs them by importance. It also grades your content. An A++ is the top score and means your blog post is likely to rank for your target keyword.

All of the tools on this list have a content grader, but Clearscope has my favorite one. Their content editor is also the best in my opinion.

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.05.42 pm

Clearscope is more expensive than Surfer (which costs $149/month) but it’s more powerful, with integrations with Google Docs and Wordpress. Clearscope also scores your content based on word count and readability.

I like the content monitoring feature in Clearscope as well. You can proactively update old content so it doesn’t fall in ranking and traffic.

They also have an awesome term map and competitor map, so you can actually see the Clearscope scores of your competitors:

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.50.42 pm

Further reading: top Clearscope alternatives.

Pricing: $170/mo (no free plan, but this comes with 3 seats so it’s a small team plan)

G2 Score: 4.9/5

3. Topic

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.03.56 pm

Topic is an alternative to Surfer SEO that is focused on serving agencies.

Their core feature is creating content briefs fast, so can speed up the entire writing and editing process.

WTF is a content brief? Basically a content outline on steroids – includes suggested keywords, headlines, main questions to answer, and other things to cite.

They incorporate related keywords and SEO suggestions into the content briefs. The tool is easy to use and straightforward.

Their Starter Plan begins at $ 99 / month and you get 10 content briefs for this price.

They actually just got acquired, so I’m not sure how that will affect their feature development. But as it stands, it’s a great outline builder to speed up content creation.

Pricing: $ 99 / month

G2 Score: 5/5

4. MarketMuse

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.02.22 pm

MarketMuse is a content optimization tool built for the enterprise.

It was the first tool I heard of in this category actually.

What does it do? Basically, it’s a tool that helps you write better content. The way they describe it, MarketMuse “accelerates content research, creation, and optimization process using AI to do the heavy lifting.”

Saves you time (they say 8 hours per post, but that seems like an exaggeration).

Helps you rank in Google search (that’s where the AI-driven content briefs come in).

Again, it all starts with the content brief. But they aso help you proactively update old posts so you don’t fall behind the competition when search intent changes and your article becomes outdated.

They have a basic freemium plan, but their next plan starts at $7200/yr. Muy caro!

Further reading: top MarketMuse alternatives.

Pricing: $7200 per year

G2 Score: 4.6/5

5. Ahrefs

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.03.41 pm

Ahrefs is a full suite SEO tool. It features domain analysis, competitor analysis, backlink analysis, rank tracking, keyword research and content explorer.

As a Surfer SEO alternative you can find related keywords and keyword ideas in the Keywords Explorer tool. You can also see which feature snippets to rank for.

For example, look at this keyword report for “surfer SEO alternative.” It gives me some basic data on the estimated search volume, CPC, and competition.

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.45.06 pm

If you click on “keyword ideas,” it gives you a bunch of other related terms, and you can also see if it has SERP features like featured snippets or people also ask (helps you format your blog post for those).

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.45.22 pm

What I like about Ahrefs in comparison to Surfer is it shows you other potential ranking factors, like the domain rating or number of backlinks the existing competition has:

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.47.16 pm

I like to use Ahrefs in combination with Surfer SEO for best results. Creating a content brief only using Ahrefs would be much more manual and time consuming that using Surfer or another alternative here.

They don’t actually have a content editor that grades you in real time, so it’s a little bit of a different class of tool.

Pricing: Starts at$99

G2 Score: 4.6/5

6. Semrush

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.03.28 pm

Semrush is one of the most popular SEO tools on the market.

This tool has features like keyword research, surround sound SEO, share of voice, rank tracking, competitive analysis, content gap analysis, and domain analysis.

They also include tools for PPC and performance marketing as well as social media analysis. It’s really a full featured digital marketing platform.

Also like Surfer SEO this tool includes a writing assistant for content optimization that’s available as a Google Docs add-on. This includes a content editor and a basic content grader.

The content optimization feature has similar functions to Surfer SEO but is a little more basic since it doesn’t have all of its advanced formatting options or keyword suggestions (though you can use the broader SEO platform to find all kinds of related keywords).

Pricing: Their Writing Assistant is free, but the whole platform starts at $119.95 monthly

G2 Score: 4.6/5

7. Dashword

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 1.54.50 pm

Dashword helps you create content briefs at scale as well as monitor your page performance to proactively update and optimize your content.

Dashword is a super affordable Surfer SEO alternative. This one definitely has the best pricing plans.

Their starter plan only costs $39 per month and gives you 5 NLP reports per month plus 5 pages for monitoring.

Their SERP analyzer figures out what dimensions are helping existing content rank for a target keyword, then gives you on page optimization recommendations to create high quality content.

Pricing: $39 per month (includes free trial)

G2 Score: NA

8. GrowthBar

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.02.57 pm

GrowthBar is a new competitor to Surfer SEO. It’s a keyword research tool, backlink analysis tool, and AI copywriter. They also help you create content outlines using artificial intelligence.

GrowthBar is a keyword research tool that lets you find long-tail keywords with high commercial intent (i.e., people who are ready to buy). They have a Chrome Extension that lets you analyze websites anywhere, giving you access to all kinds of tools to help inform your content strategy.

I’m loving GrowthBar, as they keep improving their tool and adding more features. It’s quite affordable as well.

Pricing: $48/mo when paid monthly (discounts for annual pricing). They also offer a free trial.

G2 Score: 4.9/5

9. RankScience

Screen shot 2022-07-28 at 2.03.14 pm

RankScience is a tool for search engine optimization professionals.

If you’re not an experienced SEO, it can be a little confusing to use—but it’s damn powerful.

So, this one actually has multiple features – one of which is an SEO experimentation platform. It helps you run A/B tests where you randomize pages and see what helps you rank better.

But for our purposes, they also have a content optimization tool.

RankScience uses AI technology to suggest keywords that will bring you traffic and help you optimize your website for search engines. It also offers a few other features like keyword research, URL monitoring, and competitive analysis tools that could be useful if you have some technical knowledge of SEO.

Pricing: Pricing plans start at $295 per month

G2 Score: 5/5

Conclusion

Ultimately, the best surfer SEO alternative comes down to what you’re looking for in a tool and how much money you want to spend.

If you want an all-in-one solution with a user-friendly interface and an array of features, then RankScience, Ahrefs, or Semrush is the way to go.

If not, then Frase.io or Dashword are two great options to help you rank higher that won’t break your bank account either.

Whatever tool you end up going with, software like this makes writing for SEO so much easier.

Alex Birkett
Alex Birkett is a product growth and experimentation expert as well as co-founder of Omniscient Digital, a premium content marketing agency. He enjoys skiing, making and experiencing music, reading and writing, and language learning. He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog, Biscuit.

Comments are closed.