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Surfer Review: Is It the Ultimate SEO Game Changer in 2024?

Alexandros Melidoniotis Alexandros Melidoniotis Expert

Surfer SEO’s solid content optimization tools1 enhanced my articles with search-relevant keywords. While I appreciate its features and extended capabilities, it’s certainly not a cheap platform. On top of that, some essential features – such as SERP analysis and site audits – cost extra.

Overview

Surfer at a Glance

Free plan
Mobile app
Free templates
Customer support Email, live chat, Facebook group, extensive knowledge base
Basic plan features 2 seats, keyword research (100/day), content editor (30 articles/month)
Starting price $89/month

Surfer SEO Is a Capable Content Optimization Tool

Surfer homepage
Surfer’s homepage will give you a quick overview of the platform in action
1

Surfer SEO has positioned itself as a formidable tool in the digital landscape. Designed primarily for agencies, medium-sized businesses, and enterprises, it offers features tailored to optimizing content and enhancing SEO performance. It’s pretty easy to use, so even if you’re new to the world of SEO, you can easily navigate its interface.

All you really need to get started is a keyword. Surfer SEO will tell you which keywords you need to include in your content to rank high in the SERPs. The goal is to achieve a high content score by adding as many relevant terms to your text as possible. You can share briefs with anyone, meaning your writers don’t need an account to access Surfer’s editor and keyword suggestions.

It’s a straightforward process that helped me rank higher on Google in just a couple of weeks. Surfer also features an AI tool that can write entire SEO-optimized articles with a single click – but that costs extra and isn’t foolproof. I found a better way to combine the power of AI writing with Surfer’s insights (learn more about that here).

If you’re working with a team of writers and want to ensure you’re hitting your SEO targets, Surfer will definitely help. While it won’t go easy on your budget, it’s an investment that will likely pay off in the long run.

Read on to find out if Surfer will hit your targets.

4.5

Features

Everything You Need to Optimize Your Content for Search

Surfer’s complete feature set guides you effortlessly from content research to content creation. It stands out because it offers a more comprehensive approach to content-centric SEO. Unlike similar tools, it doesn’t just do keyword analysis – it also helps you write and optimize your content.

Advanced Keyword Research

The problem with most advanced SEO tools is that they come with cluttered interfaces that make it difficult to make sense of the data. That’s not the case with Surfer.

Once you input a primary keyword, the platform reveals an array of topic clusters based on search intent (e.g., informational, investigation, shopping). Each set contains more related keywords that you should aim to include in your content. The monthly search volume, total traffic, and keyword difficulty metrics are also directly visible from the research menu. Click the export button to download your research results in an editable CSV file.

Surfer keyword research results
Surfer’s keyword clusters also reveal the searcher’s intent

I appreciate that Surfer actively guides you to get the most out of its features. Once you’ve clicked on a cluster, the app can create a content outline and redirect you to the editor with a single click.

Responsive Content Editor

Surfer's editor
With its unfussy interface, Surfer’s content editor allows you to focus on hitting your keyword target

The editor has a simple word processor interface with a sidebar that keeps track of your keywords and overall content score. The goal is to keep your score as high as possible by naturally weaving relevant terms into your piece. The process is slightly gamified, which can help keep the writing process exciting and stimulating – seeing your score go up gives you a dopamine rush.

It feels like an SEO expert is guiding you as you type. The immediate feedback was invaluable. I could adjust my content on the fly without revisiting or second-guessing my choices later.

I particularly enjoyed how Surfer incorporated AI to help me find opportunities to place relevant terms and keywords1. I clicked on the “Insert terms” button and received a bunch of suggestions that I could accept or decline with a single click.

Useful Add-Ons

Aside from the core tools mentioned above, Surfer also offers several add-ons:

  • SERP Analyzer ($29/month). This tool delves deeper into search engine results, examining how top pages rank. By comparing top-performing content with yours, it offers a roadmap to optimize your pages for better SERP positioning.
  • Site Audit ($49/month). A dynamic feature designed to breathe new life into older content, you can analyze a specific URL in relation to its primary keyword’s SERP. It offers actionable recommendations for improvement (e.g., add x new keywords on y).
  • Grow Flow ($9/domain). Surfer can also scan your website and give you all kinds of insights and tips to improve visibility and boost content performance. That includes missed keyword opportunities and easy internal link suggestions.
  • Surfer AI ($29/piece). Surfer basically does the research and writes the piece for you. Generating your text takes about 20 minutes, but the results are rather inconsistent. As you’d expect, simple requests on general topics yield better results than requesting write-ups on more niche topics.

I used these add-ons to inform my content strategy and update my older blog posts. Would it be ideal if these were available with your plan? Sure. But you don’t need them to craft highly optimized content. Still, they’re good to have if you can afford them.

Privacy & Security

Through its privacy policy, Surfer mentions its dedication to preserving the privacy and security of personal data obtained via its website. The policy ensures the conformity of data processing with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which grants EU residents more control over their personal data and simplifies regulations for international businesses like Surfer.

Through support, I also discovered that Surfer is SOC 2 compliant, and anything created with Surfer’s AI is free for commercial use.

5.0

Ease of use

Surfer Is Designed With Ease of Use in Mind

Surfer’s interface is notably straightforward and its main menu is clutter-free. Setting up an account is fast, and navigating its features is largely intuitive. Even if you have little experience with SEO, you won’t need more than a keyword to start optimizing your content. The keyword analysis tool assumes only a basic understanding of SEO, and the editor guides you through the keyword enhancement process step by step.

Getting Started With Surfer

Surfer main interface menu
Surfer’s main dashboard is minimalist and easy to navigate

After signing up for an account, you’ll find yourself on Surfer’s main dashboard. If you already have a keyword (and/or text) and want to begin optimizing immediately, simply click “Content Editor” on the left-side menu. If you need more ideas (or aren’t sure about the effectiveness of your keywords), you can discover more relevant keyword clusters through Surfer’s Keyword Research.

Enter the keywords you want to rank for, select your target region, and click the “Create for 1 CE credit” button. If you’re optimizing content already live on a page, toggle the “Import content from URL” switch.

Surfer’s content editor consists of a simple word processor and an optimization menu with suggestions. If you have any existing content, you can paste it into the editor now. As you write, you should aim to keep your content score high. You can do so by:

  • Weaving keywords into your text. I like how Surfer gives brief in-text examples when you click a suggested keyword.
  • Keeping an eye on your total word count. Surfer will also let you know the optimal number of paragraphs, headings, and images you should include.
  • Introducing new relevant headings and questions via the outline tab. Note that although the suggested H2s are generally good, the AI-generated content that comes with them isn’t.

Optimize as much as possible, but don’t obsess over the content score – you don’t need to reach 100. Aiming for green is always a solid strategy.

Terms Assistant for When You’re Stuck

Surfer terms assistant feature
Surfer’s Terms Assistant uses AI to help you insert keywords in the right places

If you don’t know where to start, click the “Insert terms” button and let Surfer do the hard work. The Terms Assistant loads up several suggestions1, sometimes providing more than one potential placement in a single paragraph. These aren’t always perfect, but they’re worth checking if you’re short on time or stuck on how to improve your content for SEO.

Enhanced WordPress Plugin

Surfer SEO’s newly enhanced WordPress plugin streamlines the content publishing process. Once installed, you can directly publish content crafted in Surfer to WordPress in just a few clicks1.

Any images added to the Content Editor are also automatically transferred to the WordPress media library. This integration simplifies asset management and ensures you’re always putting out the most optimized version of your content.

Practical Royalty-Free Integration

One of Surfer’s criteria for determining your content score is the number of images you include. Adding relevant, royalty-free images is simple. Click the “Insert image” button and select “Add from Pixabay.” You can search the site for high-quality images to add to your content – and don’t forget to enhance your alt text with some relevant descriptions.

5.0

Performance

Surfer’s Workflow Improves SERP Rankings

With just a single seed keyword, Surfer SEO can quickly come up with dozens of clusters containing many relevant keywords. Google uses NLP to analyze a page’s context, entities, sentiment, and overall meaning. Surfer also uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to create natural-sounding, highly rankable suggestions – and it does so better than most competitors.

After incorporating Surfer’s tools into my content creation processes, my blogs performed significantly better, ranking consistently higher than before. If you regularly use Surfer to optimize your new (and update your old) content, you’ll soon see results in how well you rank in the SERPs1.

Combining Surfer and the Power of AI Writing

For an additional fee, Surfer can create an entire AI-optimized article for you. Although the output is generally good, I found it a bit too generic for my taste. I still had to jump in and edit large chunks of text that seemed out of place. Not to mention the fact that I had to pay extra for every AI-generated article.

AI still can’t create publish-ready, keyword-optimized blogs with zero human intervention. A rough outline and working with an AI step-by-step are better (and cheaper) ways to do things.

Enter Jasper. Jasper is one of the most capable AI writers on the market. It features over 50 templates for crafting blogs, product descriptions, landing pages, and more. Jasper also integrates with Surfer1, allowing you to generate high-quality AI content optimized for SEO.

Jasper's editor with the Surfer integration enabled
Surfer and Jasper complement each other pretty well

Once I’ve created my brief on Surfer, I import it to Jasper with a single click. I can then take advantage of Jasper’s powerful AI to generate content section by section – either on my own or with the help of a template. My content score, outline, brief, and all the relevant terms I need to include are always visible on the left side of my screen.

3.8

Pricing

Surfer Gets Expensive When You Introduce More Features Into Your Workflow

Surfer’s plans initially appear reasonably priced, but many features are locked behind a paywall. A subscription will only let you research keywords and use the content editor. Even then, you’re limited in the number of content briefs you can create – the cheapest plan includes 30 articles per month. The Audit, SERP Analyzer, Grow Flow, and Surfer AI writer all come at an additional cost per month.

The high-tier Scale AI plan at $219/month ($175/month on an annual plan) includes all the platform’s add-ons, but I wouldn’t recommend it – chances are you’ll only really need one or two of these.

If you’re just looking for an SEO-powered content editor, there are cheaper alternatives, such as Frase.io. That said, I noticed that Surfer’s keyword research and suggestions were on point pretty much every time (even when researching niche topics) – I can’t say the same about its competitors. That’s why it remains my go-to platform for optimizing content for search1.

Unfortunately, Surfer doesn’t offer a free plan. But there’s a 7-day, no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. Opt for the relatively affordable Essential plan for $89/month ($69/month annually), test the research tool and editor yourself, and see if the platform suits your needs.

4.0

Support

Decent Help, Though Occasionally Slow

Surfer offers email and live chat support, and you can send queries anytime. The website doesn’t list any exact support hours, but Surfer’s bot lets you know the team usually replies within 24 hours.

I contacted support to learn more about the company’s privacy and data security policies. A representative replied approximately five hours later, telling me I needed to reach the sales team instead.

I emailed the sales team, and it took two full days to get back to me. They didn’t reveal much, but what they said was enough to put my mind at ease. They included a link to Calendly, presumably to talk about my needs and concerns more privately.

Surfer email support interaction
Your data is safe with Surfer

I also had a few questions about brief sharing, mainly whether it’s possible for writers to access my briefs directly on the website (without the Google Docs extension). An agent got back to me about two hours later.

Surfer support interaction
The agent even included an image to show me exactly what to do

Ula was friendly and eager to help. It turns out third parties can access the content editor (and the brief) on the website, but the brief shouldn’t be connected to an existing Google document in order for the shareable link to work.

When it comes to basic queries, the bot does a pretty good job scanning the website and coming up with insightful answers. The knowledge base is comprehensive, and Surfer has no shortage of educational material. There’s a quick YouTube course to help you get started with the basics and a free 8-hour SEO writing masterclass through Surfer Academy.

The Facebook group has more than 20,000 members, with many interesting Surfer and SEO-related discussions taking place every day.

Surfer REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

Surfer is one of the best SEO content editors on the market. It’s fast, user-friendly, and produces keyword clusters that are actually relevant to your topic and target audience. It’s fairly priced for what it offers, but I wish it included more features in its subscription plans – the number of paid add-ons is getting slightly out of control.

With the help of AI, the Content Editor is decent at crafting headings but not as good at providing sample paragraphs. The AI writer is promising but overpriced for its current capabilities.

If you want to generate search-optimized content quickly, combining Jasper’s robust AI writing tools with Surfer’s SEO insights is the way to go.
Pros Cons
  • Intent-based keyword research
  • Easy-to-use editor
  • SEO-focused training resources for the platform
  • Smooth integration with Jasper AI and WordPress
  • Too many paid add-ons
  • Content editor’s AI could be better

FAQ

Is Surfer SEO free?

No, Surfer SEO is not free. While it offers a range of powerful features tailored for content optimization, there’s no free plan. I recommend opting for the Essential plan and taking advantage of the 7-day money-back guarantee if unsatisfied with the result.

How do you get a 100 content score on Surfer SEO?

To achieve a 100 content score on Surfer SEO, you must incorporate almost all recommended terms into your content. No need to stress, though – a score of 70-80 is more than enough for SEO purposes.

Does Surfer SEO use AI?

Yes, Surfer’s content editor uses AI to help you incorporate key terms into your text. It can also help with headings and even offers AI-generated sample paragraphs. The AI writer, which crafts entire articles for you from scratch, costs extra.

What is the best SEO tool?

Your needs may vary, but Surfer is a top SEO tool. It’s excellent at providing effective, intent-relevant keyword clusters, and the content editor is easy to use. Sharing briefs with writers is also a breeze.
Alexandros Melidoniotis Alexandros Melidoniotis
A freelance writer and editor with experience in digital marketing, Alex has published over 40 product reviews and comparisons on Website Planet. He has tested email marketing services, freelance websites, social media management tools, and more. Before joining our team, he worked at an Australian agency where he experimented with all things digital marketing. In addition to his work, Alex enjoys cooking and writing about games.
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