Surfer SEO Review: AI-Powered SEO Analysis Tool

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It’s time to get your board waxed and hit the waves—because it’s surfing season.

What? You don’t have a surfboard?

Well, you’re in luck because I’m talking about surfing the SEO ocean, not a real one.

In this Surfer SEO review, we’ll take a look at how this AI-powered tool can handle tasks like content planning, writing SEO blog posts, content audits, keyword research, and more.

Contents

Disclosure: You should always assume that pretty much every link on this site is an affiliate link, and if you click it and buy something you like, I’ll earn some money to help me buy a DeLorean, build a time machine, and travel back to the 90s so I can watch Hey Arnold! and eat Dunkaroos again.

Content Planner

One of the coolest—in my opinion—features Surfer SEO has is its Content Planner.

With it, you don’t have to waste time figuring out blog post topics to write about and other time-consuming tasks of the keyword research process like finding keyword difficulty, search intent, and search volume.

The Content Planner allows you to plan content based on:

  1. Keywords
  2. Your domain

1. Plan Content Based on Keywords

To plan content based on keywords, all you have to do is type your main keyword and Surfer SEO will generate tons of content ideas (topic clusters) along with data on search volume, search intent, and other keywords to include in the blog post.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Say you have a fitness blog and want to plan content around muscle building.

Here’s what Surfer SEO gives you after adding “build muscle” as the main keyword:

Surfer SEO Content Planner
Content Planner

You can also filter the results based on search volume, intent, or keywords in cluster range.

Content Planner filters
Content Planner filters

Each box (or topic cluster) could be used as a blog post idea.

On the top left corner, you’ll see the search intent for that particular topic—and if you hover over it, you’ll get a more detailed description of it.

Search intent, search volume, and keywords
Search intent, search volume, and keywords

Once you click on a topic cluster, a window will open up showing you all the keywords included, the total traffic, and the difficulty (not ready yet).

Topic Cluster Window
Topic Cluster window

You can then uncheck the keywords you don’t want to use and click on “Create Content Editor” to, well, open the Content Editor where you’ll see all the SEO recommendations, such as keywords to include, headings, images, content score, and more.

Content Editor
Content Editor

Don’t worry, we’ll take a closer look at this in the “Content Editor” section of this Surfer SEO review.

2. Plan Content Based on Your Domain

The Content Planner for your domain helps you develop a content strategy for your domain based on Google Search Console (GSC) and Surfer SEO content data.

It shows you search terms that you rank for but aren’t using inside your blog posts as well as your ranking position for each keyword, the traffic it brings, and the monthly search volume.

Content Planner based on domain
Content Planner based on domain

This can be useful for:

  • Auditing your domain and finding pages that need optimization
  • Finding featured snippet opportunities
  • Getting Content Score for multiple pages from your domain

To use the Content Planner for your domain, all you have to do is enter your URL, and let Surfer do its thing.

For more accurate data, you can also connect your GSC account. If you don’t integrate with GSC, the data shown will only be from Surfer’s own database.

And yes, it also works in different languages. For example, here’s how the results look in Spanish:

Results in Spanish
Results in Spanish

Write SEO Blog Posts

Once inside the Content Editor, you’ll be able to write SEO blog posts with the guidance of Surfer.

Content Editor
Content Editor

Surfer SEO works by analyzing the top pages on Google search engine result pages (SERPs) for the keyword you specified.

Based on the analysis, it then shows you:

  • A list of suggested terms to add to your article and how many times you should include them
  • A recommended word count
  • How many images, headings, and paragraphs to include
  • Your content score
  • “People Also Ask” questions

On the right sidebar, you’ll find two tabs—the Guidelines and Brief tabs.

  1. Guidelines tab
  2. Brief tab

1. Guidelines Tab

Inside the Guidelines tab, you’ll see a real-time update of how your blog post is doing when it comes to SEO.

Basically, as you write your article, Surfer will update your Content Score, keywords, headings, images, and paragraphs usage.

Content Editor guidelines tab
Guidelines tab

If you’ve been doing SEO and competitor analysis for a while, you know that sometimes the top results are not really relevant to the content you’re writing.

For example, if you’re writing an informational review article, you might want to prevent Surfer from including pages like Trust Pilot, Reddit, and Pinterest in its analysis since those pages are not similar to the content you want to write.

You can easily do this by going to settings and toggling off the competitor websites you want to exclude.

Organic Competitors
Organic Competitors

And in case you’re wondering…

Surfer chooses the recommended keywords based on their prominence on your competitors’ content.

It uses its own algorithm and natural language processing (NLP) to determine which keywords have the most influence on rankings.

2. Brief Tab

Another technique people use to rank higher on SERPs is to include some of the “People Also Ask” questions on their blog post outline.

Inside the Brief tab, you’ll be able to build your outline and see other topics and questions people are asking.

Brief tab
Brief tab

This is great for finding people’s search intent and content gaps—which brings us to the next point in this Surfer SEO review.

Search Intent and Content Gaps

Inside the Content Editor advanced settings, you’ll also be able to see other questions that people are asking.

These questions are pulled by Surfer from the top-ranking pages and Google suggestions—they also have a tab with recommendations made from Surfer’s own database.

Topics and Questions
Topics and Questions

These questions will help you better meet search intent and fill gaps in your content.

This is great not only for writing new blog posts but also for updating old ones—because hitting “Update” in WordPress without changing anything is an eggplant move. Do you really think Google doesn’t know what you’re up to?

See How Competitors Use Keywords In They Content

By clicking on a specific keyword, you can see the context in which your competitors are using it.

Competitor use of keywords
Competitor use of keywords

Collaboration

Another cool thing about Surfer is that you don’t need to use any third-party tools for collaboration.

You can simply click “Share” and share the link to the interactive editor with your team members.

They won’t have access to the settings, but they can freely work on the content.

Collaboration
Collaboration

Do Content Audits

Now let’s take a look at their Content Audit feature that can be used to update and optimize blog posts.

This feature is especially great if you have content ranking on page #2 of Google—positions 12-20—and want to bump it to the first page.

Keep in mind that this is a Surfer SEO review, not a full-blown tutorial or Google SEO guide, so I won’t go over how to find these pages (you can use GSC for that).

Anyway, back to the Content Audit.

With this tool, you can simply enter your keyword(s) and the URL of the page you want to audit and click “Run Audit” to let Surfer do its thing.

Content Audit
Content Audit

It also lets you choose the country and device you want the results from—mobile or desktop.

Content Audit output
Content Audit output

Here’s what every content report includes:

  1. Missing common backlinks
  2. Internal links
  3. Terms to use
  4. Word count
  5. Exact keywords
  6. Partial keywords
  7. Page structure
  8. Title and meta description length
  9. Time to first byte
  10. Load time (ms)

Needless to say, you don’t need to optimize every single section.

The ones that will have the most impact on your rankings will most likely be the terms to use, common backlinks, and page speed.

Let’s take a look at each one of these in a bit more detail, shall we?

As you probably know, link-building is a big part of SEO.

This section of the report will show you the domains that are linking to at least 4 competitors from the top 20 results.

Missing common backlinks
Missing common backlinks

You can then try to get links from these sites via guest posting, Help a Reporter Out (HARO), or any other link-building strategy.

This section will show you other relevant pages on your site that you can link to from the analyzed URL.

Internal Links report
Internal links report

Internal linking is great to spread link juice, reduce bounce rate, increase conversions, and help Google with crawling and indexing.

3. Terms to Use

This section will show you how many times you’ve used a term and how often you should use it.

Terms to use
Terms to use

For example, if you’ve used a term too much, it will tell you to remove a few instances of that term to prevent you from over-optimizing your blog post.

And if you haven’t used a term enough, it will tell you how many more times you should add it.

4. Word Count

This section will show you how many words should be included in the body of your post, headings, and paragraphs as well as how many should be bolded.

Word Count report
Word Count report

5. Exact Keywords

Inside this part of the report, you’ll see how often and where you should include your main keyword.

Exact Keywords report
Exact Keywords report

Keep in mind that these are just suggestions and sometimes it might be weird to add the exact keyword to a particular place like a heading.

6. Partial Keywords

Partial keywords are words that could be created from the first three letters of every word from your main keyword.

For example, if your main keyword is “best protein powders,” the partial keywords would be any words that start with “bes,” “pro,” and “pow.”

Partial Keywords report
Partial Keywords report

In this part of the report, you’ll be able to see how well you’re doing with partial keywords in your blog post.

7. Page Structure

Page Structure report
Page Structure report

8. Title and Meta Description Length

This section will show you how many characters your title and meta description have in comparison to your competitors’.

Keep in mind that just because your competitor is using more than 60 characters on their blog post title, it doesn’t mean you should too.

Title and Meta Description Length report
Title and Meta Description Length

In fact, I like keeping it at 60 or less because Google cuts off the rest anyway.

9. Time to First Byte

The last two sections of the report are all about page speed.

Time to First Byte (TTFB) is how long it takes for a visitor to receive the first byte of data from the server, and it’s one of the most important factors in speed optimization.

Time to First Byte (TTFB)
Time to First Byte (TTFB)

If I’m 100% honest, I’m not sure how accurate Surfer SEO’s speed tests are.

So if you’re working on page speed, I’d recommend using a tool like GTmetrix or PageSpeed Insights for testing, just in case.

Anyway, according to Google, TTFB should be kept under 200 ms.

If you’re experiencing a high TTFB, it’s most likely due to your web host or CDN.

If you’re on a shared hosting provider like Bluehost or Hostgator, consider moving to a faster web host.

Feel free to explore my speed optimization guide for more tips on speeding up WordPress.

10. Load Time (ms)

Lastly, we have load time.

This section will show you how long your page takes to load compared to your competitors.

Load Time report
Load Time report

Ideally, your pages should load in less than three seconds.

Keyword Research

Besides the typical monthly search volume, Surfer gives what they call “SERP similarity” score.

This score will allow you to decide whether you want to use a term as a secondary keyword or target it as a primary keyword on another blog post.

SERP Similarity score
SERP Similarity score

For example, let’s say you add the keyword “how to build muscle” as your main keyword.

If a lot of the pages that rank for “how to build muscle” also rank for another keyword like “increase muscle,” then Surfer will show a high SERP similarity.

If keywords have high similarity, it means Google considers them almost identical, so you want to include both keywords inside the same article.

However, if keywords have a low similarity score, then you should consider creating two separate articles targeting each keyword.

Surfer SEO Reviews

Here are some Facebook comments people using Surfer SEO have made.

Surfer SEO reviews

You probably noticed that a lot of people are also mentioning a tool called Jarvis.

Jarvis is an AI copywriting tool that integrates with Surfer to help you write faster and better SEO content.

We’ll talk more about this in the “Jarvis Integration” section of this Surfer SEO review.

Pricing

Surfer SEO has three different plans—Basic, Pro, and Business—all of which come with a 7-day money-back guarantee.

All plans have the option to be paid monthly or yearly. If you choose to pay yearly, they offer you a discount.

1. Basic

The Basic plan is $59/month and comes with:

  • Content Editor – 25 queries/month
  • Audit – 50 queries/month
  • SERP analyzer – 15 queries/day

2. Pro

The Pro plan is $99/month and comes with:

  • Content Editor – 100 queries/month
  • Audit – 200 queries/month
  • SERP analyzer – 50 queries/day
  • NLP Analysis – 50 queries/month

3. Business

The Business plan is $199/month and comes with:

  • Content Editor – 300 queries/month
  • Audit – 600 queries/month
  • SERP analyzer – 100 queries/day
  • NLP Analysis – 150 queries/month
  • Report White Labeling

Surfer SEO Cons

No review is complete without some cons, and this Surfer SEO review is not the exception.

One of the things I’d say I don’t like is how overwhelming the SERP analyzer feels.

SERP Analyzer
SERP Analyzer

As an engineer, I appreciate detailed data, but I feel it could be presented in a much cleaner and organized way.

I can definitely see how some people would look at all the graphs and get scared.

It might be nice if they could highlight the important information that most people need to know and add a different tab for advanced analytics.

Surfer SEO Discount

Currently, there are no Surfer SEO discounts available, but all plans come with a 7-day money-back guarantee.

However, if you register for their free live training sessions, you can get it extended to 30 days.

Lastly, if you’re a Jarvis user, you can get a 30-day trial for $1.

Jarvis Integration

As mentioned earlier in this Surfer SEO review, Jarvis is an AI copywriting tool that helps you write blog posts faster, create better marketing copy, social media descriptions, cold emails, and more.

With this integration, you can get SEO recommendations right from Jarvis’ long-form content editor.

Surfer SEO and Jarvis integration
Surfer SEO inside Jarvis

As The Ancient Hawaiians Used to Say…

“He who misses the tide must wait for the next moon.”

Overall, Surfer seems like a great tool for those trying to speed up their SEO competitor analysis, find opportunities for improvements, update and optimize old content, and get the most out of their blog posts.

I would take advantage of their money-back guarantee and try it to see if it’s worth it for you.

Chris

Christian Coulson

Christian is an industrial engineer who's used his knowledge and experience to grow 7Sigma Physiques—his fitness coaching business and blog with thousands of monthly readers.

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