I'll start off by saying that both of these platforms are good options; you won't go badly astray with either. That being said, one is clearly superior, in my opinion. And I think by the end of this post, you'll agree with me that there's a clear winner.
Well, Surfer SEO is a comprehensive content marketing toolkit that encompasses a wide range of features and an impressive number of ranking factors. It's a gold standard SEO industry product relied on by marketing giants like Shopify and FedEx. But it's pricey.
PageOptimizer Pro, on the other hand, is a more basic (though still worthy) content tool that comes with fewer features and a bit less prestige. But it's more affordable. It won't do quite as much for you, but it won't break the bank either.
There you have it, in a nutshell.
If there were a button you could click or a wand you could wave to rocket your website to the number one SERP spot, then—presto!—everyone's pages would be ranking highly, and experienced SEO professionals like me would be out of a job.
But, of course, there's not.
In the ever-changing SEO landscape, we in the trenches know that improving your rankings is less about finding a magic bullet and more about understanding and leveraging the factors that Google uses to evaluate web page quality.
Google wants high-quality pages to rank well. Period. When users type queries into the search bar, Google's aim is to understand their intent and immediately offer them a selection of the most relevant, engaging, and authentic resources possible (thus retaining their loyalty).
The trick, of course, is to optimize your web pages for Google's algorithms so that Google knows your content is the best there is.
Did you catch that?
While there are many elements that impact search engine optimization, content is king. Without high-quality content, you've really got nothing to optimize in the first place.
So, how do you go about creating and optimizing high-quality content? It turns out that, while there may not be a magical button to press, there are some pretty magical content optimization tools out there.
And if you're looking for top-notch content optimization software, chances are you've probably already heard about Surfer SEO and PageOptimizer Pro (POP).
Both of these platforms are highly regarded in the SEO community and have solid reputations for a reason. But, if you've got to select just one, which one should it be?
In this comparative review, I'll take a look at both Surfer and POP to give you a good sense of which one will best suit your particular needs. Alternatively, you can read my full review of Surfer SEO here and my full review of Page Optimizer Pro here.
But first: What exactly are these platforms?
Content optimization tools (aka content optimization software) leverage machine learning technology to offer you insights into your content strategy gaps and help you prepare content that attracts visitors.
In plain English, content optimization tools are designed to tell you exactly what you need to do in order to give your content the best chance of ranking highly. They can analyze pre-existing content and tell you what changes are recommended. They can also help you create guidelines for new content you want to write.
The programming behind content optimization tools is complex, but the user experience doesn't have to be. If you pick a good tool, you should be able to rely on it to dramatically improve the way Google perceives your content.
Sounds great, but ultimately a lot comes down to having faith in the tool itself. So, without further ado, let's dive into our comparison:
Surfer's content editor is super straightforward to use. But don't be fooled; it's still incredibly powerful.
To begin, enter the keyword you want to rank for...and then let Surfer work its magic. Very quickly, Surfer will provide you with a list of all the relevant keyword variations that'll help you to rank for your primary keyword. Be sure to use Surfer's filters to your advantage (e.g., categorize ideas by their intent and search volume). Also, remember to include NLP results and you'll be well on your way to creating rank-worthy content.
When you're actually writing content in Surfer's content editor (like I'm doing right now), you'll have a blank page on the left of the screen which is very similar to Google Docs or most other content creation platforms. Here, you can draft, edit, and format your content with standard features like font size, headings, bullets, bold/italics, link insertion, image insertion, and more.
On the right side of the screen, you'll see a list of keywords that Surfer recommends incorporating into your content to optimize it. Beside each word will be a number, which represents how many times that word should be used in your content (known as keyword density). Above the keywords, you'll see optimal goals for word count, headings, paragraphs, and images. And at the very top you'll have your Content Score meter, which tells you how close you are to perfectly optimized content.
If you prefer, you can access Surfer's content editor directly on Google Docs through the Surfer SEO Chrome Extension instead of through your Surfer SEO dashboard.
Surfer SEO's keyword research tool helps you to take a primary keyword and discover similar terms along with their average search volumes and difficulty scores. Because Surfer supports more than twenty languages, you can also check the same keyword for different regions and see how its search volume and difficulty score vary by location. This feature is really worth noting, as it supports advanced planning of your content strategy—especially if your primary focus is not local SEO.
While major all-in-one SEO platforms like Semrush and Ahrefs provide even more in-depth keyword research features than Surfer, what Surfer has to offer is pretty functional and can take you a long way toward mining your full keyword research potential. I would say it definitely fits the bill for businesses in the beginner/intermediate range of their SEO development.
The SERP Analyzer tool in Surfer SEO is all about comparing your content (and on-page SEO) to the competition. Enter a keyword into the search box. and you'll discover the top-ranking pages for that keyword. Select the competitors you want to analyze (or let Surfer do the heavy lifting for you), and within a few minutes, you'll have a list of actionable suggestions for how to improve your own page.
Surfer's SERP Analyzer actually retrieves reliable information based on more than five hundred ranking factors that include page speed, NLP sentiment, meta tag structure, referring domains, keyword density, number of headings, text length, and more. On-page optimization suggestions from Surfer might include actions related to many of these factors.
Once you begin to apply Surfer's suggestions to your on-page SEO, your progress will immediately be reflected in your content score.
One of the main reasons why Surfer SEO exists is to help you create optimized, high-quality original content. I've already talked in-depth about Surfer's content editor, which works just as well for content creation as it does for content editing. If you prefer to compose your content in Google Docs, just install the Chrome Extension of Surfer SEO for simple integration.
Content outline builders are a helpful Surfer feature that supports you in planning and organizing your content. From brainstorming to headings, questions, and more, all of Surfer's built-in content outlines are centered around your specific keyword suggestions.
If you want to create original content with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Surfer SEO also integrates with Jasper AI—a formidable and well-respected AI writing software solution.
PageOptimizer Pro's content editor operates in real time and provides all of the information you'll need to create a perfectly optimized structure for your content. It makes suggestions that include actions for your headings, paragraphs, lists, images, image alt texts, and more.
Though you can't write original content directly within the content editor, you can easily tweak existing content using the suggested changes in the report card view. You can then copy the HTML code and paste it into your WordPress editor to save time on manual revisions.
Like Surfer SEO, PageOptimizer Pro provides a content optimization score that helps you track your progress as you apply each suggestion.
Unfortunately, Optimizer Pro doesn't have a dedicated keyword research tool. It does provide a limited number of suggestions based on your primary keyword, but nothing even close to what Surfer offers. In POP, there are no search volume or keyword difficulty metrics nor question suggestions; only the keywords themselves. While PageOptimizer Pro does offer a location-specific feature similar to Surfer's, there's nothing superior about it (though it does support sixty-one languages).
To be fair, keyword research is not necessarily an innate component of on-page SEO optimization, but it’s a great bonus and the POP platform definitely falls short. It would be nice to see future evolution in this area.
To start optimizing content in POP, enter your domain as a project and then add the pages you want to optimize. Input the keywords you're hoping to rank for and select up to ten competitor pages for analysis (or let POP select them for you).
PageOptimizer Pro will quickly return actionable suggestions for how you can improve your content and on-page SEO and track your progress as you apply them.
Like Surfer SEO, PageOptimizer Pro offers a Chrome plugin for simple integration with Google Docs or WordPress. The platform offers suggestions on how to improve your content and improve its ranking. It also allows you to crawl competitor pages to discover their keywords and optimization strategies.
For me, the choice is clear: Surfer SEO outranks PageOptimizer Pro in the features department.
With more marketing tools, a keyword research tool, and five times the number of competitor sites available for analysis, Surfer SEO goes above and beyond simply being a page optimization tool. Not only that, I personally find Surfer's user interface to be simpler, better organized, and more intuitive than POP's.
PageOptimizer Pro is clearly the substantially less expensive option.
That being said, you get what you pay for. With less features, POP is still a robust option. But if you want the full deal package, then I don't think Surfer SEO's pricing is unreasonably high either.
This one's a toss-up. We'll call it a tie.
In conclusion: Between Surfer SEO and PageOptimizer Pro, I'm recommending Surfer SEO as the superior page optimization tool.
If budget is a concern, however, PageOptimizer Pro is also a solid option and can definitely help you to improve your on-page SEO and increase your rankings.
As always, the team at SerpFocus is here to support you along your SEO and marketing journey. If you have further questions about content marketing and on-page SEO or would like to share your experiences with either of the platforms reviewed in this article, reach out to us today!