9 Best SurferSEO Alternatives for SEO-Optimized Writing

Pankil Shah
by Pankil Shah
Updated On: October 27, 2023
9 Best SurferSEO Alternatives for SEO-Optimized Writing

Sure, SurferSEO is popular. But it promotes bad habits like keyword stuffing, making it hard to rank on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Pheobe and Joey from the TV show "Friends" repeating to each other "There's more to SEO than SurferSEO".
SurferSEO’s keyword stuffing is not the way

Image Source

With SurferSEO, there are a million different features rocking around — some useful, some not so much. You may not even need them all, depending on what SEO goals you’re trying to accomplish. And with its most crucial features hidden behind add-on fees (like vital AI assistance), it’s easy to go over budget if you’re not careful!

We want you to have all the facts when making a big decision. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 9 best SurferSEO alternatives! 

Just a heads up!

This blog was created by the team at Outranking, a trusted content analysis tool for digital marketers. In this review, our team analyzed nine tools, some of which are competitors with Outranking. This content is for informational purposes only.

SurferSEO: The Good and the Bad

When used correctly, SurferSEO can be a fine tool. These 5 features are what make SurferSEO so appealing:

  1. SERP Analyzer: This lets you enter your main keyword and analyze top sites that rank for that keyword
  2. Content Editor: Identifies words and phrases found through its natural language processing (NLP) system that you can use to remain topically relevant
  3. Content Auditor: Audits websites for internal links and content optimization (for a price, of course…)
  4. Real-time Competitor Analysis: Compares your content to competitors ranking for the same keyword
  5. Web Browser Extension: Includes a web browser extension that displays keyword data in search results
Screenshot of SurferSEO's content editor
You shouldn’t sacrifice the quality of your writing just to meet unusual software demands

But SurferSEO has a lot of moving parts, making it confusing for people who aren’t familiar with similar content optimization platforms, and its cost can add up pretty quickly depending on your SEO needs.

But how do you settle on an alternative? We’ve got you covered 👇

What to Look For in a SurferSEO Alternative

1. Ease of Use

You want an SEO content optimization tool that doesn’t leave you with a nasty headache at the end of the day. And the last thing you need is to spend too much time figuring out how to use the tool. 

Here are 5 things to look for in an easy-to-use SEO platform:

  1. User-friendly Interface: Its interface should be simple and customizable, allowing flexibility based on the writer’s needs
  2. Quick Content Brief Generation: Good alternatives make creating your content briefs a breeze (a hidden afterthought for SurferSEO)
  3. Intuitive Optimization Suggestions: Seek intuitive optimization suggestions instead of cramming your terms in unnaturally
  4. Regular Updates and New Features: Keeps you up-to-date with the latest releases and platform changes
  5. AI Writing Capabilities: Makes the robots work for you — AI writing tools should start by producing a personalized first draft to save you time and money when writing

Long story short — find a customizable interface that works for you. Ease of use is a process, meaning that content editing platforms should always strive to provide you with simplicity and efficiency. Not only that, they should hear what you have to say to make sure they’re meeting your unique SEO needs.

For instance, we at Outranking listened to your grumbles, and revamped our interface in the most recent V13 update for a smoother ride! 😎

2. Pricing

SurferSEO is an expensive content optimization tool, making it inaccessible to those who could actually benefit from it. However, if you have a larger budget, you may want to consider somewhere that offers more bang for your buck.

Screenshot of pricing options for SurferSEO
Are you really getting the most for your money?

SurferSEO’s Essential subscription begins at $69 per month (billed annually). But if you want to actually dive into your content, you have to pay extra for its most helpful features:

  • Grow Flow: $9 monthly, offers weekly data-focused SEO insights
  • Audit: $49 monthly, on-page optimization tool
  • SERP Analyzer: $29 monthly, 100 SERP analysis pages a day
  • White Label Branding: $49 monthly, use your own branding
  • API Access: $29 monthly, allows automatic access to data

 And, if you’re hoping for AI writing tools, you’ll need to pay an additional $29 per article. This makes it one of the least cost-effective AI tools you can pay for. Here’s how it compares to similar tools on the market:

  • Outranking: $59 for 10 documents
  • Clearscope: Starts at $170 for 10 articles
  • MarketMuse: Starts at $149 for 100 keyword queries
  • Frase: Starts at $15 for 10 articles
  • Scalenut: Starts at $40 for 5 articles

3. Quality of Content

High-quality content attracts users, improving search engine rankings, and outperforming competitors. Tool sets like SurferSEO have the potential to support good content writers like yourself through analysis-based tools and AI-writing support. 

Content optimization tools can help improve your writing through:

  • Content Monitoring: Some services let you know when your content needs a touch to maintain your rank
  • Content Optimization: Optimization features concentrate on features that can improve your chances of ranking, including technical improvements, missing terms, and videos on the page
  • Content Grader: Concerned with readability, terms, and other factors related to optimized content, a content grader is a simple visual representation of how your content competes with others.
  • SERP Analysis: This tool allows you to understand the competitive landscape for their target keywords and identify opportunities to create high-quality content that outperforms competitors
  • Keyword Clustering: With this feature, you can semantically group topics found across SERPs for multiple keywords you can rank for, to draw in more traffic

Topic Clustering: You can group multiple topics that fall under the same niche umbrella

Screenshot of SurferSEO's content scorer
A good SEO tool will help you pinpoint areas of improvement

Most tools include content grading and optimization features. Other features, like clustering, will depend on the tool you purchase. 

Knowing your approach, you’ll better understand what tool best fits your needs.

4. Optimization Comprehensiveness

A comprehensive optimization process covers a lot of different areas, like the helpfulness of the title, meta description, outline, and media used throughout your article.

SurferSEO lacks tips on improving the meta title and description. It also doesn’t support tables, list items, and statistics. So, you’ll need to spend more time digging through articles to determine what helps them rank. 

But some SEO optimization tools try to insert too much.

Good SurferSEO alternatives are careful not to overwhelm the writer with information while providing valuable data. ☝️ If you can customize or change your view, that’s usually the best. A good optimization process breaks your content into different focus areas (graphics, text, etc.)

Using a tool that offers a comprehensive, customizable solution lets you optimize your content effectively, improve your search engine rankings, and increase your visibility online.

5. Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools can refer to search engine volume data and data from content found in the SERP. SurferSEO provides both, meaning that a good keyword research tool should as well. 

Screenshot of SurferSEO's keyword research tool
Keyword research is vital for the success of your content

SurferSEO offers a free Google Chrome extension that gives you volume data and related keywords. But you can get this same data by simply using Google Search Console, which integrates with tools like Outranking. 

The second SERP analysis tool provides limited data in the content editor and only gives you more if you purchase their add-on. Keep an eye out for a SurferSEO alternative that doesn’t hide information from you in order to get more money from you.  

Take Outranking, for example. We include more data on the number of links, tables, statistics, and metadata from each top-performing keyword. I mean, everyone knows that half of the keyword research process is just collecting SERP data you can use to better understand why people rank (especially when creating SEO-optimized writing).

You can also use free tools like Google Search Console or paid tools like Keywords Everywhere. If you prefer to stick with one tool, you can also use this nifty development roadmaps for tools you’ve invested in. 

TL;DR: Keyword research is handy, but SERP-based data from your keyword is more difficult, making SurferSEO alternatives like Outranking valuable. Other types of keyword research — like volume data — are typically free and easier to come by.

6. Support and Customer Service

Because of SurferSEO’s larger size, Surfer’s customer support teams may struggle to address your concerns quickly and effectively. 

SurferSEO offers both chat-based and email customer support. So, at the very least, consider providers that offer similar or better customer support lines. This should be 24-hour chat support, but this isn’t always available. You’ll also find that phone-based customer support is elusive and not offered by most content editing tools.

Screnshot of SurferSEO's contact page
Get the help you need when you need it!

You can test customer support by asking them similar questions, or their Facebook and X pages to see how they address customer concerns directly. Alternatively, you can look up reviews on sites like G2 or Trustpilot to better understand the customer experience.

When researching alternative SEO tools, leave no stone unturned! 🕵️ Think about available support channels, response times, and the overall quality of customer service. A prompt and effective customer service team can make or break your user experience. 

7. Reporting and Analysis

Reporting and analytics tools optimize your content. They should be available from the get-go, either as part of the dashboard or built directly into the content editor. SurferSEO’s reporting and analytics tools are locked behind an additional paywall (like so many of their other features), causing many customers to seek alternatives. Below are 5 analytics tools worth your time:

  1. Technical SEO Analysis: Allows you to identify and fix any technical issues affecting your website’s performance like page speed, mobile-friendliness, and site architecture
  2. Content Insights: Analyzes your content for keyword research, competitive analysis, and optimization suggestions to help you create high-quality, relevant content that ranks well
  3. SERP Analysis: Provides ranking data, featured snippet information, and organic and paid competition to refine your SEO strategy and identify opportunities to outrank your competitors
  4. Alerting: Offers customizable reports with key metrics like keyword rankings, organic traffic, backlinks, and more through real-time alerts and notifications that inform you about SEO issues requiring your attention
  5. Integration and Collaboration: Integrates with platforms for easier collaboration (like Google Docs) to make your life easier

These reporting features can make a serious difference in the way you monitor your content’s online presence. Google also offers free tools like Google Analytics to provide you with even more data. Any tools you can find that integrate well can help you save time when gathering data. ⏰

8. AI Outlines

Screenschot of SurferSEO's content grader
This article is already struggling with uniqueness

SurferSEO’s AI online builder provides very little customization and expects you to dig deeper in your pocket to use more AI options. You will need to pay $29 per article for a full outline and first draft builder, which is astronomical! And even if you do invest, you’ll find Surfer’s outline builder plagiarizes a lot of headers. 🫣

A good AI tool can study the structure of these headings and craft something unique and catchy. Outranking’s great at this! We start with the outline so you can manually edit it and seek more AI suggestions before jumping into the first draft.

I’ve been using AI writing tools like this to create high-ranking articles for my website for months. I really appreciate this software. It saves me a lot of time every day and the functionality is simple to use. Really Promising AI!

Jean Bertin C. on Capterra

Building your outline building should never be an afterthought — a concept many content optimization tools struggle with. SurferSEO is just one of many that doesn’t emphasize outline building, despite its importance in defining your content’s structure.

A good article is like a house. 🏡 Without a sturdy foundation, your writing can crumble, causing readers to lose interest. Invest in an AI-driven outline creation tool that achieves results!

Outranking’s AI outline builder gives you a solid foundation to work on 🏗️ Learn how in the video below!

9. Content Inventory and Management Features

The content inventory includes a list of all the content you’ve created. This is usually based on the domains, topics, and tags. A good content inventory management system should make tracking and organizing the content you’ve built easy.

SurferSEO has a solid content management system that lets you add tags or search by keyword. However, the ability to add domains is locked behind auditing tools, limiting its usefulness.

On your hunt for an alternative to SurferSEO, look for one that lets you search by keyword and sort by domain. This way, you can spend more time building the content, identifying gaps, and monitoring changes in your SERP rankings. A tagging system is also great!

Any good SEO tool focusing on content will provide content management, starting with a built-in search system to find your work. It should also provide a visually pleasing workflow so you can see the status of your documents. This enables you to go from research to publishing in the blink of an eye.

Into light reading? 📖 Read how Outranking helped one content marketing agency publish 30+ articles every month!

10. SEO Content Audit Features

SurferSEO’s auditing features require you to pay an extra $50 per month for an add-on. When you combine this with the limited number of content reports, it’s easy to see how quickly you’ll run out of room to work using Surfer’s limited system. 

Throughout this process, remember to emphasize your most important needs. Consider these 5 key elements:

  1. Technical SEO Analysis: Analyze the technical aspects of your webpage, including metadata, URL structure, header tags, and XML sitemaps
  2. SEO Auditing and Alerting: Offers regular SEO audits to monitor website performance and identify where you’ve fallen behind
  3. SEO Change Tracking: Provide a timeline of all modifications made to the content, allowing businesses to assess the impact of these changes on SEO performance. This is also known as a version history.
  4. Content Optimization: The content audit tool suggests improvements to title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and content structure
  5. SERP Analysis: This analysis provides insights into the recurring phrases, backlinks, and other factors that contribute to competitor content’s success

A comprehensive content auditing tool should provide you with detailed suggestions for technical improvements for your organic ranking. A quality website alongside quality content keeps you competitive (and relevant!) in an evolving industry.

11. Content Brief Features

Content briefs and outlines go hand-in-hand. A good brief-building tool leans on AI support to build both outlines and content briefs, and leverages competitive data gathered from Google’s SERP for a given keyword.

We weren’t kidding when we said that SurferSEO’s outline and brief building tools feel like an afterthought. At most, it offers a notes section where you can insert your brief but provides no support from AI tools.

Screenshot of SurferSEO's note section for content briefs
How can you keep your content airtight with such little guidance?

Ideally, your brief should be supported by AI tools, encouraging idea generation and suggestions based on proven search results. Finding common questions and topics is just a start — you should also be able to provide your brief and outline with instructions to create your AI first draft. 

What can AI do? 🤔 See how Outranking’s AI-assisted content brief gets the job done in the video below 👇

9 Best SurferSEO Alternatives for SEO-Optimized Writing

Below, we’ll explore nine alternative toolsets that take these eleven features into consideration. You’ll then understand how each one incorporates these important factors and empower you to make an informed decision based on your unique SEO needs!

1. Outranking: Your Go-to Tool with All the Answers

Screenshot of Outranking's SEO content audit tool
Outranking’s detailed content grader provides incredible feedback and suggestions to optimize your content

If you’re looking for a comprehensive toolset to meet all your SEO needs, Outranking is the solution! Outranking bridges the many gaps you find with SurferSEO, transforming content creation into a smooth and pleasant experience. It allows you to create a content structure for its AI tool to write from, providing a more comprehensive data set for optimizing your content. And with the recent arrival of V13, you can auto-optimize your content with just one click! (Pretty cool, right?)

AI-writing tools included from the beginningAI-writing tools require additional credit purchases
Provides optimization tips every step of the wayOptimized only by media and the content, no support for tables
Supports an entire content workflow from research to brief creationLimited support for content outline and brief creation
The newly released V13 version includes a quick “auto-optimize” feature to make your content more topically relevant
Recently revamped interface based on user feedback

It gets better! Outranking’s AI tools better integrate into the toolset, unlike while SurferSEO’s AI features, which require purchasing the add-on for $29 per article. With Outranking, these AI capabilities are included from the beginning!

The reception is positive. But don’t take our word for it:

Outranking offers the perfect balance of features and affordability! It’s a powerful tool in helping us achieve our SEO goals without breaking the bank.

Jesus G. on Capterra

Here at Outranking, we’re always looking for opportunities to improve. That’s why we’ve tidied up our interface and simplified our complex features in the most recent V13 update! 🥳. 

2. MarketMuse: A Great Research Tool

Screenshot of MarketMuse's content editor
Keep your facts straight with MarketMuse

MarketMuse is a powerful content intelligence platform and an excellent alternative to SurferSEO. Its ultimate strength stems from its research platform, which studies beyond your competition and suggests improvements from within your domain.

Excellent research toolsSomewhat limited research tools
No content grading or AI-writing supportAI support tools for an additional cost
High upfront pricingModerate upfront pricing

Key features and benefits include:

  • SERP X-Ray: Provides a competitive analysis of target topics and keywords to give you insights on ranking
  • Topic Navigator: Provides a list of related terms when researching a target topic
  • Heatmap: This lets you navigate the topical coverage to explore different topic clusters
  • Integrations: Exports to Word, Excel, and Google Docs, and is compatible with ChatGPT
  • Domain Analysis: Examines pages on your domain for potential improvements

The problem with focusing on things beyond the top SERP results is that you won’t find as much competitive data. You’ll also need to pay a minimum of $150 monthly for this extra service (oof).

Some users also note that its tools focus on overlap a lot:

Screenshot of a poor MarketMuse review
You pay a lot of money for repetitive features

MarketMuse also focuses largely on its analysis features, leaving its content editor weaker than others. So, while you can expect a simple and engaging interface, you’ll face less data than you get with SurferSEO’s editor.

3. PageOptimizer Pro (POP): Good for On-Page Audits

Screenshot of Page Optimizer Pro's account homepage.
Page Optimizer Pro can help you effectively optimize the content on your page to reach a broader audience.

PageOptimizer Pro (POP) is a highly effective technical SEO tool with content optimization features. POP offers a wide range of features and benefits to enhance your on-page optimization efforts, designed to assist writers and SEO professionals optimize their content for search engines.

PageOptimizer Pro (POP)SurferSEO
Excellent on-page optimization softwareOn-page optimization tools require add-on purchase
The built-in editor needs some workGreat editor for full-length blog articles
Great pricing for credits compared to SurferPricing requires you to pay extra for AI credit

POP’s power is in its comprehensive suggestions for improvement. It provides you with a list of topics, potential improvements, and gaps on all pages of any domain you choose. This information is ideal for improving an entire website. As an added bonus, its on-page optimizer is excellent for your home or service pages.

Because of their focus on on-page optimization, POP’s content editor is weak. The editor is located in the interface (which needs some improvements), and once you find it, you may just prefer editing on your preferred website builder. It’s not great for service pages and unusable for long-form content.

Some people have also reported mixed results from using POP:

Screenshot of a review for PageOptimizer Pro
You don’t always get the best results with PageOptimizer Pro

PageOptimizer Pro is competitively priced, with their basic plan starting at $27 for 20 credits. Its affordability and feature set make it an attractive option for technically-focused SEO professionals.

But it’s a bit of a guessing game with content, not providing the same comprehensive data you get with content-focused tools like Outranking.

4. NeuronWriter: Similar to SurferSEO

Screenshot of NeuronWriter's content editor
See the similarities to SurferSEO in this layout?

NeuronWriter reminds us that imitation is the highest form of flattery. 💁 As a SurferSEO alternative, NeuronWriter is incredibly close in design, features, and tools.

The interface is very comfortable for those experienced with SurferInspired many copycats (including NeuronWriter)
More cost-effective due to its relative newnessMore staying power than NeuronWriter
Effective built-in AI toolsEffective built-in AI tools

NeuronWriter’s projects are built around domains, allowing you to add pages or write new content sorted by project. This means the tool is more thoughtful with its content inventory system, making organizing your tasks into different domains easier.

The content editor is virtually identical to SurferSEO’s editor, from keyword research to brief creation and AI writing tools. The difference? NeuronWriter is far cheaper, starting at 19 euros (roughly $21) for 25 content analyses and 15,000 AI credits. SurferSEO charges more, provides fewer pages, and includes no AI credits.

But, with Neurons being a cheaper tool, it takes a bit more work to get results.

Screenshot of a poor review for NeuronWriter
This copycat doesn’t deliver the same results

If you’re looking for an identical tool that includes AI and brief building as an afterthought like its twin, SurferSEO, NeuronWrite may suit your needs. 

5. Semrush Writing Assistant: A Simple Alternative

Screenshot of Semrush's content editor
Is simple better?

Semrush is one of the most well-known marketing tools you can buy. In addition to SEO tools, you’ll get analytics, email marketing, and advertising tools. The writing assistant is a small part of this toolset and is only available with the “Guru” pricing level for $229.95 monthly.

Semrush Writing AssistantSurferSEO
Very simple writing toolMore complex than Semrush
Comes with a comprehensive set of marketing toolsTools built around SEO
Focused on marketingFocused on optimizing

Semrush Writing Assistant is a footnote among tools you get by paying for the Guru Plan. This tool takes notes from Clearscope, focusing on simplicity when optimizing your content. The writing assistant provides guidelines on tone and style, ensuring that the content aligns with the brand’s voice and messaging. 

This can be especially useful for businesses and organizations that want to maintain a consistent brand identity across their written content. It also has a plagiarism checker, allowing writers to ensure the originality of their content.

Semrush instead focuses on its other platforms. As a result, it’s not the best choice unless you want to use everything Semrush offers, which makes it an overly complex platform.

Screenshot of a poor Semrush review
Don’t overcomplicate your SEO flow

6. Scalenut: A Familiar Alternative

Screenshot of Scalenut's dashboard
Scalenut provides a familiar face

Scalenut has a system that looks incredibly close to SurferSEO. Those familiar with its dashboard and content editor will find a comfortable transition from using Surfer’s tools.

Scalenut separates its tools into three distinct workflows:

  1. Article Writer: Helps you create an optimized article based on the top SERP results of Google based on a target keyword — identical to SurferSEO
  2. Keyword Planner: Helps you research targets and related keywords to see different topical areas you can cover
  3. AI Copywriter: Provides a wide range of AI templates and documents you can use to generate content automatically

Scalenut differentiates itself from SurferSEO with its focus on AI-driven content, and its templates offer more control over your AI content. It’s also cheaper, giving Scalenut a distinct advantage over Surfer.

Scalenut also understands that they have to work harder to earn your trust. They offer a much more cost-effective plan than Surfer, with 100,000 AI words, ten articles, and over 40 AI templates starting at $39.

7. Searchmetrics: A Deeper Content Experience

Screenshot of Searchmetrics dashboard
Searchmetrics lets you dive deeper into your content than SurferSEO

Searchmetrics uniquely presents a more in-depth customer service and sales process. It asks new users to contact a sales staff member before learning about the pricing.

This trade-off makes it difficult for some customers to use the platform. Users in the USA, UK, Germany, and France customers are granted phone support — a rare feature in the content optimization industry.

Not many people like to start with a high-pressure sales situation, though. This makes Searchmetrics a mixed bag when it comes to customer service.

Of course, once you get over this hump, Searchmetrics comes with some benefits:

  • Content Performance Insights: Provides detailed analytics and reporting on content performance, allowing you to track and measure the success of your content strategies
  • Competitor Analysis: Offers robust competitor analysis tools, allowing you to compare results for different keywords
  • Content Editor: Access to a content editor similar to SurferSEO in its keyphrase suggestions

Through its detailed keyword analysis tools, Searchmetrics wins over SurferSEO. You can view keywords and topic clusters, finding the currently top-ranking pages so you can optimize yours to compete.

Unfortunately, you don’t get access to any AI-driven tools. There is also no brief creation, article creation, or rewriting tool to rely on, so this tool fails to automate high-quality content creation.

8. Frase: Good for Domain-Level Analysis

Screenshot of Frase's dashboard
Frase offers a 3-step workflow

Frase lets you create optimized articles from the top 20 of a SERP. You can also target up to 5 keywords simultaneously. But the real hidden feature that Frase brings to the table is its complete site analysis. 

With a complete analysis, you can create a chatbot to add to your site so users can easily search your page for content.

Frase focuses more on the other side of content creation, skipping any keyword research tools. Instead, it has an automated brief creation tool and a built-in AI writing tool. Though handy together, they lack the same punch as more comprehensive content workflow tools like Outranking.

Pricing is a slightly more cost-effective version of Surfer, offering four articles for $14.99 – about half the cost of SurferSEO. You can add an optional SEO tool for another $35 monthly, granting you unlimited AI access.

See how SurferSEO and Frase compare in our deep dive 🤿

9. Content Harmony: Brief Creation Driven

Screenshot of Content Harmony's keyword report
Content Harmony can give your work the attention it deserves

Content Harmony is a powerful content marketing tool. With its focus on search intent, keyword difficulty, and content workflows, this tool makes establishing the bones of your article easier.

Unlike SurferSEO, Content Harmony separates keyword difficulty into 3 practical scores: content, link, and domain difficulty. This detailed breakdown allows you to quickly identify areas where you need to improve for your content to rank higher.

Content Harmony’s pricing is comparable to SurferSEO, requiring people to pay $100 for 12 content briefs despite not having the same clout as SurferSEO.

Content Harmony also doesn’t have any built-in AI writing features. This means the writing process requires you to work a bit harder. Meanwhile, Outranking builds AI content creation into part of the process, and you can choose to keep content or replace it.

Why Choose Outranking for Better Content Optimization?

Keyword stuffing and overly complex features simply don’t work in today’s SEO world, especially now that AI assistance has stepped into the ring. SurferSEO often treats AI and brief creation as secondary features in their tool, neglecting the importance of effective article structuring. Unfortunately, many alternatives have followed suit. Outranking’s here to break this spell (and before you ask, no, we’re not some kind of magic wizard 🧙 We’re just very passionate about all things SEO!).

Outranking takes a different approach. Our toolset prioritizes the brief creation process and seamlessly guides you through the entire content workflow without bogging you down with complex and unnecessary. With Outranking, you can conduct keyword research, build a comprehensive brief, create an outline, and even automatically generate content without ever leaving the tool.

Ready…Set…Take charge of your content’s success!🚦With Outranking’s 7-day money-back guarantee, Give it a GO!!