Surfer SEO Vs. Clearscope: Which Content Optimization Tool Is Right For You?

updated on
November 17, 2023
Terry Williams
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The Winner

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Surfer SEO

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Key Differences between Semrush and SpyFu

  • Semrush has many capabilities as an SEO platform, whereas SpyFu is limited to competitor analysis. 
  • Compared to SpyFu, Semrush has a more efficient keyword research tool.
  • Semrush has a traffic analysis tool, while SpyFu doesn’t. 
  • SpyFu has more than ten years of competitor data, while Semrush dates to 2012. 
  • SpyFu provides unlimited search results on higher price plans, while Semrush caps each tier. 


To rank well on search engines for almost any keyword worth targeting, you need at least three things:

  • High-quality, SEO-optimized content
  • Excellent technical optimization
  • Backlinks

The first one can seem a bit esoteric—what makes content high quality? How do you create content that ranks? Many SEO tools have tried to answer those questions, and today, I’m looking at two of the best. I’m going to compare Surfer SEO and Clearscope—two SEO tools that are completely focused on content optimization. I’m going to compare the key features of both of these tools, shining a light on what each tool does best and the unique features of each product. From the hop, you should know that I highly recommend getting a content optimization SEO tool—it’ll help you rank for target keywords, reach your target audience, and boost your content in the SERPs. There’s a lot to cover in this comparison, so let’s get right to it!


Understanding Content Optimization

Both Clearscope and Surfer are content optimization tools. They work in essentially the same way:

  • You create a content brief by feeding the tools the keyword (or keywords) you’re targeting.
  • You use the brief generated by the tool to create optimized content using keyword and heading suggestions recommended by the tool.

Surfer and Clearscope both use AI and natural language processing (NLP) to scrape the highest-performing sites for the keywords you’re targeting. They use that information to recommend headings and keywords; the tools will tell you how many headings you need, how many of each keyword you should aim for in your content, and more. I can tell you from personal experience that content that’s optimized using Surfer or Clearscope outperforms content that hasn’t been optimized. Getting one of these tools is absolutely worth your time and money—with the right SEO strategy, your investment will definitely pay off. With that in mind, let’s dive into exactly what each of these tools can do for your business. I’m going to rate each tool based on these categories:

  • Ease of Use
  • Content Editing
  • Keyword Research
  • Integrations
  • SEO Audits
  • SERP Analyzer
  • Languages
  • Customer Support
  • Pricing

There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dive into the battle for content optimization supremacy: Surfer SEO vs. Clearscope!

Ease of Use

I’ve heard a few people claim that Surfer isn’t easy to use or that it’s not particularly intuitive for users who aren’t, for lack of a better term, SEO-aware.

That hasn’t been my experience at all. Surfer makes it easy to share content outlines and gives clear metrics. Writers can also write directly inside the Surfer content outline or copy-paste their work from another content editor. 

As you’ll soon learn, Surfer’s content editor is a bit more feature-rich than Clearscope’s content editor—though Clearscope certainly has its own advantages. 

While Surfer’s editor is easy to use, Clearscope’s is even easier—and that’s why I’m giving it the edge in this category. Terms are automatically sorted by importance, and each term is given its own importance score, making it easier for writers to target the most relevant keywords. You can also sort terms by “Unused” to check exactly which terms you haven’t targeted yet.

The excellent UI and ease with which writers can target missing terms give Clearscope the edge on ease of use in my books. 

Winner: Clearscope

Read the SurferSEO review

Content Editor

Both of these tools have a robust content editor tool—as they should, given that the whole point of buying either product is for its content optimization features.

Let’s start with Surfer. The content editor automatically sorts keywords by their expected importance. You can also click the “Headings” tab to find out which terms you should include in your headings.

From there, Surfer will also tell you how many words your content should have in total and the number of headings, paragraphs, and images your content should contain.

Content score

Finally, you’ll get a content score—improve your content based on Surfer’s metrics, and the score will go up. You’ll see the average Surfer Content Score of the highest performing pages on the SERP for your keywords, and the top score on the SERPs. Generally, I recommend aiming for above the average score, though it’s not important to beat the top score as long as your content is unique and interesting.

Clearscope’s content editor is also excellent. Instead of a score, your content gets a grade, ranked from F to A+. Clearscope will give you a recommended score based on the data it’s mined from the top results in the SERPs. Again, the headings you utilize, the frequency with which different terms are used, and your word count will all be taken into consideration.

Content editor

Unlike Surfer, Clearscope has a readability score—it helps ensure that the level of writing is tailored to the audience you’re trying to reach. The “Best Travel Credit Cards” article above shouldn’t be overly complex; a highly technical article, on the other hand, could have a college-level readability.

Clearscope does not, however, give you information on how many paragraphs or headings your content should contain. You also won’t get any information about images—and images are key to any successful on-page SEO efforts.

I value data on structure more than I value data on readability, which, realistically, can be acquired through other tools for free. For that reason, Surfer SEO wins out on this one.

Winner: Surfer SEO

Read the SurferSEO review

Keyword Research

Both Surfer SEO and Clearscope have keyword research tools, in addition to their content optimization tools.

This makes a whole lot of sense—these products are both, in essence, keyword optimization tools to help you create content that ranks for given terms. Finding those terms is the first step of the process.

Clearscope and Surfer both take very different approaches to keyword research. Clearscope’s keyword research tool is quite straightforward, offering information on how competitive a keyword is, search volume, CPC, and more:

keyword list

Clearscope allows you to filter keywords into various categories, including trending keywords and long-tail questions.

Surfer, on the other hand, takes the seed keyword you give it and creates topic clusters using that keyword. These clusters include search volume and keyword difficulty, as well as intent.

keyword research

You can filter clusters by intent, search volume, and the number of keywords in each cluster. From there, you can edit which keywords are included in each cluster, then automatically create a content editor page based on those clusters.

Surfer also has a super handy Chrome extension that gives you data directly from the SERPs—this data includes the number of words in high ranking articles, estimated monthly traffic, keyword ideas based on the term you searched for, and more:

surfer chrome plugin

When it comes to keyword research, Surfer is the clear winner. Its Keyword Surfer extension is actually its most used tool, and the cluster-based keyword research tool is unique in the world of SEO.

Winner: Surfer SEO

Read the SurferSEO review

Integrations With Google Docs and More

Surfer SEO and Clearscope can both be integrated with Google Docs and WordPress. These integrations allow you to edit content using their content editors directly in Google Docs and WordPress, saving you the effort of copy-pasting, and allowing you to use those platforms native spelling and grammar checkers.

Surfer offers a couple of additional integrations, including an integration with Jasper, an AI writing tool. As I mentioned above, Surfer also offers the Keyword Surfer Chrome extension.

These two tools are in a virtual tie for their Google Docs and WordPress integrations, but Surfer SEO wins out because of its additional integrations with Jasper. This makes virtually no difference to most SEOs, but an edge is an edge (even if it is slight).

Winner: Surfer SEO

Unique Features

Clearscope and Surfer both have unique features—a big difference is that Clearscope’s unique features are free (with your Clearscope subscription), while Surfer’s are paid. I tend to prefer Surfer’s unique features, but given that they cost extra, I’m going to call this one a tie. I’ve included an explanation of these unique features below.

Winner: Tie

Clearscope’s Content Inventory

Clearscope has an SEO audit tool known as “Content Inventory”. The tool is quite straightforward; you tell Clearscope what site you’re trying to rank, feed it pages from that site, and connect your Google Search Console. In turn, it gives you rankings for all the keywords you want to monitor for those pages.

Content inventory

This tool is extremely user-friendly and can help you repurpose or redesign your content when its score drops (or the number of clicks drops).

Surfer SEO’s SEO Audit

Surfer gives you access to an SEO Audit tool—for a price. This tool helps you find internal linking opportunities and monitor competitors’ pages, all while giving you keyword suggestions and recommending updates to old, outdated content.

In many ways, the SEO Audit tool is like a more comprehensive version of Clearscope’s Content Inventory—but it’s not free.

Surfer SEO’S SERP Analyzer

The SERP Analyzer is another paid add-on for Surfer. It’s an extremely powerful tool, giving you insight into why your competitors rank well and how you can beat them. The core of the SERP Analyzer tool is a graph that shows the top-ranking page positions in the SERPs on one axis and factors (such as word count) on the other axis.

graph with exact keywords

You can map a number of other factors onto this graph, going as granular as how many exact keyword matches exist on the page’s image alt texts. Pretty incredible stuff! This is an extremely useful tool for deep SERP competitor analysis and one I highly recommend trying out if you’re willing to spend the extra money to get the tool.

Surfer SEO’s AI Writer

Surfer also has an AI writing tool—and this tool is absolutely free. Give it a keyword (or keywords), and it will automatically write content for you based on its analysis of your top competitors in the SERPs.

This tool costs credits, but a few AI credits come free with your Surfer subscription. Personally, I don’t use this tool because I’ve had a better experience using a free AI writer—ChatGPT. You can feed all of the keyword information that Surfer gives you in its analysis to ChatGPT and ask it to make content with keywords and headings that match Surfer’s analysis.

If you’re in a rush, using AI credits and Surfer’s AI Writer might be feasible, but where possible, I highly recommend using ChatGPT instead where possible.


Clearscope offers support for 5 languages. Surfer’s language support varies based on the tool, but no matter which tool you’re using, you’ll end up with more than 5 languages being supported.

This is an easy one. With more languages supported, Surfer is the clear winner.

Winner: Surfer SEO

Customer Support

Both Surfer SEO and Clearscope offer excellent customer support. Both tools have a ton of resources, from videos to guides, that make it easy for you to learn how to use their tools. I’ve had nothing but tremendous service from the customer service agents at both companies.

Clearscope takes the edge here, though, for one simple reason: It has an onboarding service, something that Surfer lacks. This goes hand-in-hand with Clearscope’s excellent, easy-to-understand UI; it wants people without a lot of technical know-how to be able to use its platform with ease.

Winner: Clearscope

Read the SEMrush review


Here’s Clearscope’s pricing matrix:

Pricing plans for cleascope

And here’s Surfer SEO’s pricing matrix:

pricing plans for surfer

Surfer is the clear winner here—its Advanced package is less expensive than the Essentials package offered by Clearscope, and its Essential package is less than half the price. You get all of the features we’ve talked about in the Essential package—pretty incredible stuff.

Winner: Surfer SEO

Surfer SEO Vs. Clearscope: The Verdict

For most agencies and businesses looking to improve their SEO. Surfer is less expensive and more feature-dense, with more languages supported—it’s a tool I personally use several times a day, every day.

Who is Clearscope for, then? I think it’s best for large enterprises that need more than 10 users—it’s also excellent for people running a large number of content reports each month. You might also find it helpful if you have a lot of content—the content inventory system is a decent way of keeping tabs on everything you’ve written.

Whether you choose Surfer or Clearscope, you’re going to find your content ranks better than it did before. Remember not to neglect the other fundamental aspects of SEO, though—you’ll still need excellent keyword research, a great understanding of search intent, rigorous technical optimization, and a whole lot of backlinks to rank for difficult, high-volume keywords.

I hope this comparison helps you make an informed decision. Until next time!

The Winner

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Surfer SEO

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From The Author

Terry Williams

With over 10 years optimizing sites, I've boosted search visibility for brands through customized strategies. Currently, I develop effective SEO solutions for a top agency, immersed in the latest trends and innovations. Read my full bio.

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