Surfer SEO Review – Can It Really Increase Your Rankings? (My Experience)

David Utke •  Updated: August 17, 2023 •  Blogging

I love Surfer SEO; I got turned onto it by many bloggers who swear by it. Usually, I’m skeptical of any review content because I understand the game. Write a blog post or record a video raving about a piece of software and link to it with an affiliate link. But in this honest Surfer SEO review based on actually using this software, I will break down its pros and cons (here is a video tutorial and review).

Surfer SEO, in combination with Grammarly, I’ve found to help increase overall rankings if you’re willing to take the time and make the required changes Surfer SEO outlines. Just take a look at my Google Search console results for my piece of content on the best cameras for YouTube

search console increased ranking

Notice that little jump in the middle? That’s a week or so after updating that content based on Surfer SEO’s suggestions. It jumped from being on page 7 to page 3. Not enough to where it’s getting a significant amount of traffic yet, but heading in the right direction.

What is Surfer SEO and why do you need it?

Surfer SEO is a cloud-based software tool designed for on-page SEO analysis. It examines the highest-ranking content related to a specific keyword you give it and offers comprehensive insights into the on-page factors that contribute to its success. So you don’t need to guess what works.

The result is that you will now have specific actions to optimize your content and improve its ranking for the specific keywords relevant to your website. Keep in mind; however, a broad range of factors influence your rankings—backlinks, topical authority, site authority, etc.

Surfer SEO helps you craft content that people are looking for by comparing your content to what is ranking and getting organic traffic. In addition, Surfer SEO offers a few other tools, including a site audit, keyword research tool, SERP analysis, and their monitoring service called “grow flow.”

Pros:

Cons:

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Surfer SEO features

Surfer SEO’s core offering is its content editor, which tells you precisely what keywords you need to add to your content to make it more relevant, helpful, and accurate for the search intent behind the keyword.
For example, in my post about vlogging cameras, the original post did not mention frame rates or battery life (whoops).

These are helpful metrics camera buyers want to know, so Surfer SEO is quite beneficial at pointing out content gaps as it compares your content to what is ranking.

When you sign up to Surfer SEO you get access to:

All of these tools help provide a more technical understanding over main and secondary keyword usage, common backlinks your post should have, heading structure, NLP keywords that are needed, meta tags and word count.

Surfer SEO then utilizes these metrics to construct a highly valuable model of search engine preferences for specific search queries. However, its capabilities extend beyond content optimization. Surfer SEO provides various tools for keyword research, SERP analysis, overall site optimization, and much more.

Content Editor

content editor surferseo

First up is Surfer SEO’s content editor that helps you optimize your on-page seo. This is the main reason why you want to sign up for Surfer SEO, even if only for a month. With the editor, you can import your blog post from a URL, write it in Surder SEO’s editor, then export it to WordPress or use AI to write the blog post.

The AI option uses Jasper.ai and has a straightforward step-by-step process for crafting blog posts. Whichever approach you choose for creating your blog content, the editor will give you an overall score and clear and specific keywords to add to your blog post to improve that score.

It will also tell you roughly how many words your article should be and how many headings and images should be in the article. I don’t want you to get bogged down in these technical details. They are just broad metrics; you should create unique content that fulfills the search intent.

Optimize by adding in recommended keywords

Your article will be scored on a scale of 0-100 in Surfer SEO. To increase your score, ensure your article is in the target word range, with similar headings, images, and, most importantly, add in the suggested keywords the recommended amount of times (green means your article has enough, yellow means you need to add more, no color means you either have too much or not enough):

This is important because it helps make your article more relevant for the target keyword based on what’s currently ranking. This is helpful for search engines and users because you often create an article and must remember to mention an essential concept.

Like in my best cameras for YouTube article, I did not initially mention battery life and specific framerates for different cameras. This information omitted from an article about cameras is a significant oversight, and Surfer SEO caught it.

You can either manually add in each keyword as you expand your content to make it better or you can use the “insert terms” option which will do it automatically for you. I like doing things manually as the “insert terms” options sometimes makes sentences unreadable and unnatural sounding.

The content editor is a must for any pro blogger

To wrap up, I’ve found the content editor a must have tool for optimizing content. It’s the reason why you want to sign up for Surfer SEO. Follow the recommended changes, add in the relevant keywords, make sure your article has the right amount of words, images and headings and be within the score range Surfer SEO recommends.

Keyword research

keyword research surferseo

You can do basic keyword research with Surfer SEO. It’s nothing to write home about to be honest and I find that a proper keyword research tool like Ubersuggest, aHrefs or SEMrush do a much better job at helping you find keywords.

The way the keyword research tool works with Surfer SEO is that you input the keyword you want to explore and the tool will then give you a wide range of keyword clusters to explore. I did keyword research for “how to start a blog” with Surfer SEO and it gave me a keyword cluster for that term as well as clusters for related terms.

What is a keyword cluster?

A keyword cluster is an SEO industry concept for phrases that are related and either should all go into a single article or be created into independent articles on their own that link back to one main blog post.

Like if your main keyword and main blog post was about the best website builders, you would then create separate articles on “best free website builders,” or “best website builders for ecommerce,” and so forth which all link back to the main keyword or your main blog post (in this example “best website builders) would have these related, less popular keywords be paragraph sections.

Overall, I find the concept of keyword clusters a bit over rated. Yes you need to to have topical authority around a topic to rank and address multiple concepts on a topic. But just publishing a lot of content around a topic is not enough.

I could write a bunch of blog posts about baking banana bread, but it would’nt mean I’m an expert on the topic. That comes down to your backlink profile which Google and other search engines rely heavily on.

Turn keyword clusters into articles with Surfer SEO

keyword cluster surferseo

One feature that you may find helpful (I don’t) is that you can turn keyword clusters into rough draft articles that you can then optimize in the content editor. Personally, this process again uses Jasper.ai to create content that is pretty average and requires a lot of human editing.

To the point where it is not particularly helpful. Overall this is a nice idea, but anyone who’s serious about creating content knows how they want their article structured. In short, the keyword research tool within Surfer SEO is a nice to have, but there are other far superior keyword research tools out there.

Site Audit

site audit surferseo

The site audit feature audits your website from a technical perspective compared to other websites that are currently ranking for the terms you want to rank for. It’s helpful, but there is a lot of overlap with the content editor and like the keyword research tool, it’s a “nice to have tool” but not as good as other options.

With the site audit feature it will give details on the following:

Content Score

Your content score is from the content editor and indicates how relevant your content is to what is currently ranking in Google.

Internal links

This feature tells you what internal links you should consider building between your pages. Internal linking works; it needs to be more noticed, and I find this particular feature helpful if you’re wondering what blog posts are best to link from and within your website.

Terms to use

From the content editor again, this tells you what keyword terms you need to add to your blog post to make it more relevant, helpful, and accurate.

Word Count

Another similar data set from the content editor. This will tell you how many words, headings, paragraphs, and “strong words” (words in bold) should be found in your article. Not particularly useful as far as I’m concerned because you want to write the best-in-class content available, not a duplicate article of what already exists.

Exact keywords and partial keywords

Learn where and how your exact keyword and partial keywords should appear in your article and where. So if your exact keyword is Scalenut review, you will see how to put that in your article correctly. This is useful to know, but it gets a bit too technical with placement. Naturally, add your exact keyword.

Page structure, title, and meta description

Get a high-level view of how your blog post page structure compares to the competition. This feature recommends how much more content to add or remove, including images and paragraphs.

You can also get feedback from Surfer SEO on improving your title and meta description or if the way you have it currently worded is accurate.

Speed

Get data on your page speed. Not particularly helpful as Google Search console provides this information in much greater detail that is useful and actionable

Missing common backlinks

Finally, something very helpful; this feature compares your competition’s backlink profile to what you have and gives suggestions on any backlinks you should try to obtain.

SERP Analyzer

Last is the SERP analyzer. It analayzs the top results in Google for a given keyword you’re trying to rank for. It breaks down each page that is ranking with it’s content editor score and overall authority. You can also click to add each article to

On the left hand sidebar you get a wide variety of filters analyze each blog post and can get a high level overview of each competitor in a similar way to the site audit. Except auditing your own page, you can break down your competitors from a technical standpoint.

Technical breakdown

You can change the search visibility for your competitors based on the URL, domain, backlinks, structure, page speed and images. You can even compare your website to your competitors. In general, this is a nice breakdown and gives you an idea of how you should structure your content.

But again, your goal is to make the content that’s better than what’s ranking so just focus on that instead of getting bogged down with these technical details as you don’t want to create an article that’s just an echo of what is already ranking.

Pricing

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Surfer SEO Review Conclusion – The content editor is a must have

To wrap up my review of Surfer SEO, at it’s core it’s an on-page SEO optimization tool that works. I don’t like how they keep adding additional on features that don’t expand on their core offering but instead create average at best tools that do something similar to other tools on the market but not as well.

The content editor is why you want to get a monthly or yearly subscription to Surfer. Optimize your content with Surfer SEO and grammarly and watch your rankings rise simply by making content that is better and more optimized to the search intent behind the keyword.

Scalenut

Create mass produced blog posts that are optimized for on-page SEO using AI.

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David Utke

David Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 27k+ YouTube subscribers!