Surfer SEO Review 2023: How Good Is It?
Welcome to our Surfer review.
Surfer is a tool that helps you research, write, and optimize your content.
The tool compares your site to those at the top of the search engine results so you can upgrade your content accordingly.
The most important question: is it worth the money?
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. By the end of this review, you’ll have a definite answer to that question.
In this review, we’ll cover everything Surfer offers, detail the plans available, and disclose what we think are the platform’s biggest pros and cons.
Let’s get started!
What is Surfer SEO?
Surfer started its journey when five friends, consisting of marketers, engineers, and developers (with a healthy amount of entrepreneurial spirit!), wanted to democratize SEO.
The friends wanted to streamline the day-to-day, and they went on to transform SEO not just in Poland but globally.
In other words, Surfer began solely as an in-house tool—quite the transformation.
Today, the tool is a household name in the marketing community, trusted by world-renowned corporations and individuals alike. It’s used in 140 countries and by over 15,000 businesses.
While competition is fierce in the space, Surfer gives its users an SEO workflow that can boost organic traffic, increase visibility, and improve your rank on search engines in an intuitive and gamified fashion.
You’ll find everything from a dedicated content editor to keyword research, full SEO audits, an AI outline generator, and data-driven SEO insights.
But is it the right tool for your business?
Keep on reading this review for a complete breakdown. I’ll cover the pros and cons, as well as some Surfer SEO alternatives.
What features does Surfer SEO offer?
Surfer SEO is (primarily) a content optimization tool with much to offer its users. The key features worth knowing about include the following:
- Content editor
- Grow Flow
- Keyword research tool
- Keyword Surfer
- AI outline generator
- Surfer SEO audit tool
- Customer support
Below, we’ll explore each of these features and give you a first-hand look at the SEO tool.
Please note: Some of the features below may only be included in specific plans. See the pricing section of this review for a full breakdown of which features come with each plan.
Surfer SEO provides users with a Content Editor that allows them to better structure their articles, receive a comprehensive list of relevant keywords, and acquire real-time feedback on their ongoing optimization efforts.
Real-time metrics are provided for structure, word count, NLP-ready keywords, and images, allowing you to boost your old content and upgrade new pieces when you create them.
The Content Editor is the main focus of Surfer, although there’s also an AI-driven tool (Grow Flow) that provides some useful recommendations for internal links, topic ideas, and content optimization suggestions (more on that later).
To make use of the Content Editor, start by logging into the Surfer SEO dashboard.
From there, you’ll see Content Editor listed in a menu at the left-hand side of the screen, like so:
Click it, and you’ll be taken to a new screen where you’ll be asked to put in your keywords.
On this screen, you’ll be able to decide the location for your search results as well as the ability to import content from a URL.
Once you’re done, click the purple button that says Create Content Editor:
The Content Editor for the keywords you picked should now have been created. Click the freshly created document, and you’ll be taken to a new screen.
Here you’ll be able to start writing your piece. Impressively, the document will now have formatted guidelines and terms for you to follow, as well as provided you with links to competitor pieces, recommended titles, headers, and some key questions to answer.
The UI of the Content Editor is consistently intuitive, and the recommended terms and phrases to include are easy to write into your articles.
The Content Score is the primary indicator of how well you’re doing with a piece so far, as shown below:
There’s also the option of exporting your finished document to WordPress, sharing it with other team members that can be given the ability to edit it, and running a plagiarism checker to keep the content original.
You can tweak settings further in the Content Editor by clicking on the cog icon, like so:
From here, you can customize your content guidelines and the competitors you optimize against. By picking at least five URLs, you’ll get given the most relevant results—a great feature not easily found elsewhere.
You can customize the structure of your content as well, with the capacity to change the number of words, headers, paragraphs, and even images. Changing the values will, of course, affect your content score, but that’s the real magic of the tool.
In other words, you can choose–almost exactly–what content goal you want to reach and then upgrade your content from there. What’s more, you can select which terms to include (and which to ignore) and can mark them as headers by hitting “H” on your keyboard.
You can further refine your content document by picking the most relevant topics and questions to answer—Surfer extracts these topics and questions from the top-ranking pages on Google:
Finally, by writing them into the provided text box, you can leave additional notes to a team of writers, such as benchmarks or deadlines. The text box allows you to quickly insert competing articles, as well as format it to your heart’s desire.
Overall, the Content Editor is the central proposition of Surfer SEO, and it doesn’t disappoint. With an intuitive UI, plenty of customization options, and a transparent gamified approach to improving your content across the board, it’s nothing short of excellent.
Grow Flow is Surfer’s AI-driven tool that provides recommendations for internal links, topic ideas, as well as content optimization suggestions as you go.
Effectively you receive a flow of weekly tasks that help keep you productive and your pieces coming out to a high standard. For example, if a piece you’ve written lacks internal links or you need to write and publish an article about a specific topic each week, Grow Flow will let you know.
To access the tool, it’s as simple as clicking where it says Grow Flow at the top of your dashboard, like so:
You’ll be taken to a new screen that allows you to start viewing the tasks each week for your selected domain.
It’s worth mentioning that the tool will quickly help you to identify missing keywords that you could include in a piece, keywords with the highest-ranking potential, and you’ll be able to boost the ranking potential of existing pages by adding optimal keywords based on current trends.
You’ll be able to use analytics with the click of a button, and your reports are shareable and customizable to your liking. You can also integrate Surfer and Semrush for relevant backlink insights from your top competitors.
For those needing to update their internal link strategy or for inspiration on new topic ideas, it’s a helpful part of the package, if not quite as essential as the excellent Content Editor itself.
Frase, a content optimization tool, is more focused on its AI writing assistant and may be a better bet for those who want more AI functionality.
Keyword research tool
Surfer’s Keyword research tool enables you to discover relevant topic clusters based on a primary keyword, check search intent for your target audience, and assess monthly search volume and keyword difficulty.
To start using the tool, click where it says Keyword Research at the top of your dashboard, like so:
You’ll be taken to a new screen that looks like this:
On this screen, you simply put in your chosen keyword, choose where you want the results to come from, and then click Create Keyword Research.
Surfer will create new topic clusters for your specific keyword, which you can view by clicking the keyword, under Keyword Research History, itself.
You’ll be taken to a screen that looks like this:
This is where you can really dive deep into the keyword clusters themselves, and you can view related keywords, the search volume, as well as the search intent for them.
The difficulty of the keyword and the total traffic for each is also displayed, allowing you to assess whether it’s a good area to focus on or if your efforts are better spent elsewhere. You can even export your research to a CSV file for convenient viewing later.
There’s a lot to like here overall. Surfer will fundamentally provide you with a wide-ranging content plan for months to come. For fresh content ideas and to keep a team busy, it’s ideal.
On the topic of keywords, Keyword Surfer is another part of the Surfer package that’s more than valuable. It’s an easy-to-use Google Chrome extension that enables you to see the search volume, cost per click, and estimated traffic directly from your browser on Google’s Search Results Page.
You’ll be able to view the word count of competitor pages, the exact number of keywords used, and a complete list of keyword ideas with the search volume included.
That’s not to mention the option to create folders of keywords you want to collect and monitor and then export those same folders as CSVs whenever you need to—both practical and smart.
To start using the tool, just head over to the Chrome Web Store, search for Keyword Surfer, and then click the blue Add to Chrome button like so:
The Chrome extension will install itself from there.
On Google, Keyword Surfer will show up on the right-hand side of the screen:
You’ll be able to see keyword ideas, volume, and overlap automatically—no need to open multiple tabs. The tool uses datasets from over 70 countries and, best of all, is free, regardless of whether you sign up for Surfer or not.
It’s a definite highlight of an already strong package.
AI outline generator
Another free tool included as part of Surfer is the AI outline generator that allows you to generate entire content outlines for your pieces.
The tool works well, particularly as you just need to type in a few words, and within two minutes, you have a rough outline for a new piece of content. The outline will need some adjustment (and human input), as well editing and rewriting.
It’s a handy tool that can quickly get you started with your content creation efforts, and you can test it out for yourself on Surfer’s site for free. Here’s one I generated earlier:
The AI technology used to power the outline generator is the same as that used in the Content Editor itself. There’s a 7-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to go in-depth with the AI outline generator as well.
I recommend giving it a try to see if it’s for you.
SEO audit tool
Surfer’s SEO audit tool enables you to quickly repurpose old content and find SEO errors across your whole site. I found it easy enough to use and could immediately see the value on offer.
Using the tool will give you access to critical insights, including the number of headings to use, the length of the content, your NLP entities coverage, and keyword density. Not to mention the NLP sentiment of the piece, your meta tags structure, and any missing backlinks to keep search engines happy.
To get started with the tool, click where it says Audit on the dashboard, like so:
From there, you’ll be taken to a screen that looks like this:
Simply place in the URL you want to check and the keyword(s) you want to assess, and when you’re done, click the purple button where it says Create Audit.
On the following screen, you can select which competitors to optimize against and can view your content score, missing backlinks, word count, and the terms you need to use, as well as the title and meta description length.
With step-by-step instructions on how to optimize your content and automatic internal link suggestions, it’s a comprehensive tool that will give your content a serious boost—and all with a UI that remains easy to follow.
Customer support is another area in which Surfer excels. The customer support we’ve experienced has been timely and professional, and any queries we’ve had were resolved without any issues.
You can access customer support with a few clicks as soon as you’re logged into the dashboard:
Surfer offers customer support that feels personal, and today, that’s some of the highest praise I could give it.
There’s also the option to ask the community, as well as training videos and the Surfer Knowledge Base; the latter is a great place to stop by and see if an issue has already been covered in detail.
Surfer offers integrations with a range of key platforms, including Semrush.
In case you didn’t know, Semrush is an SEO tool that performs keyword research and tracks the keyword strategy of your competitors, plus a good deal more. The two tools working together make for an almighty combination, and best of all, the integration is free.
Surfer also integrates with the following third-party platforms:
- Google Sheets
- Google Docs
- Amazon S3
- Facebook Marketing
Surfer additionally integrates with Writesonic, an AI writing tool that helps create content for blogs and social media. Writesonic’s integration with Surfer will speed up your content generation and the process of optimizing the content itself.
How much does Surfer cost?
Surfer offers four core plans: Basic, Pro, Business, and Enterprise. Of course, each plan comes with differing features, benefits, and usage limits.
Let’s take a good look at each of them.
The Lite plan starts at $19 per month if you’re paying yearly, or $29 on the monthly payment model. It comes with the following features:
- The ability to write and optimize 36 articles per year with the Content Editor
- Perform advanced keyword research (120/year)
The Essential plan starts at $69 per month if you’re paying yearly, or $89 on the monthly payment model. It includes the following features:
- The ability to write and optimize 84 articles per year with the Content Editor
- Perform advanced keyword research (100/day)
- You can invite 2 team members
- Google Docs & WordPress integration so you don’t have to log into the Surfer dashboard
The Advanced plan starts at $149 per month if you’re paying yearly, or $179 on the monthly payment model. It comes with the following features:
- The ability to write and optimize 300 articles per year with the Content Editor
- Perform advanced keyword research (100/day)
- You can invite 5 team members
- Google Docs & WordPress integration
The Max plan starts at $249 per month if you’re paying yearly, or $299 on the monthly payment model. It comes with the following features:
- The ability to write and optimize 600 articles per year with the Content Editor
- Perform advanced keyword research (100/day)
- You can invite 10 team members
- The ability to complete audits on your content to enable you to optimize your content (100/month)
- Access to the SERP Analyzer (100/day)
- Whitelabelling & access to Surfer’s API
- Google Docs & WordPress integration
Features such as Grow Flow, Audit, SERP Analyzer, Whitelabelling and Surfer’s API are available as add-ons for some lower plans.
If you require more content editors, however, only need certain features, you can purchase additional content editor credits. These range from $3-$8 depending on your plan.
If you have a larger business and require specialized needs then contact the sales team to discuss an Enterprise plan.
Surfer’s pros and cons
Surfer is an excellent SEO and content optimization tool all around, but few things are flawless.
Here’s a quick roundup of what we thought were Surfer’s biggest pros and cons.
- Intuitive content editor. The main attraction of Surfer, and for good reason. The content editor is easy to use and intuitive, helps you include easily missed topics and terms, and enables you to create awesome content right across your entire site.
- Easy keyword and content optimization. Provides both keyword and content writing optimization in one place. Most keyword tools don’t provide content editors inside the platform, and you would have to pay for an additional tool altogether—great value for money.
- Customer (and technical) support. Any queries we’ve had have been resolved quickly and without issues. Friendly, professional, and timely support that has a personal touch. It’s backed up by useful training videos, a detailed knowledge base, and the option to ask the community.
- Keyword Surfer. The free Chrome extension is more than worth using, especially as it’s free and can be installed in minutes. You’ll get access to genuinely useful insights, such as search volume, cost per click, and estimated traffic, directly from your browser.
- GrowFlow. This AI-powered tool provides actionable SEO recommendations. The recommendations aren’t perfect, but they’re still quite useful. So, if you’re unsure of what tasks can help improve your existing content, this tool is a good place to start.
- Sometimes irrelevant suggestions. Some of Surfer SEO’s suggestions are a bit irrelevant, and this includes the internal linking itself. We expect the accuracy of these will improve with time, however. It should be said that the suggestions are better than most other content optimization tools we’ve tested.
- No free trial. Surfer used to offer a free trial but it’s no longer available.
- AI writer is expensive. Surfer finally released their own AI writer but it’s far too expensive to be a viable option, especially when compared to other AI writers on the market. That said, it’s offered as an add-on so wouldn’t be paying extra for something you’re not using.
- Additional features are paid add-ons. Since a change in Surfer’s pricing, features such as GrowFlow are now only available as a paid add-on.
Looking for some Surfer alternatives or just want to compare? Check out these other great SEO tools before we head to our Surfer SEO review conclusion:
- Frase | Our review — Best for those that need content optimization and AI writing functionality in one place. A reputable Surfer SEO alternative.
- SE Ranking | Our review — The best all-in-one SEO tool with valuable built-in content optimization functionality. Offers a healthy array of features.
- Scalenut | Our review — A content optimization tool that offers some excellent content creation tools and an SEO writing assistant to help you get ahead. Well worth a look.
- WriterZen — A top tool for SEO enthusiasts that offers keyword research, topic discovery, optimization and more. Easily store headlines, topics, and keyword lists in a personal database.
That completes our Surfer SEO review.
Overall, Surfer is one of the best SEO tools available and offers great value for money compared to most others out there (Clearscope and MarketMuse offer little to justify their price).
Five ambitious, driven friends (and a lot of hard work!) have created (arguably) the on-page SEO tool to beat.
We really like the content editor, the ease of use and the intuitive UI, not to mention the excellent customer support and free Keyword Surfer Google Chrome extension.
There’s no doubt your content can really start to shine in just a few days with both keyword and content optimization in a single place.
All in all, we’d definitely recommend Surfer if you’re a copywriter, small business owner, or even a medium-sized organization. Even large businesses and enterprises will find a lot to like here.
That said, their new AI writing functionality isn’t the best. But it’s offered as an add-on so you shouldn’t be paying extra unless you needed to use it.
Thanks for reading, and good luck!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we may make a small commission if you make a purchase.