SurferSEO vs Clearscope – Which Is Best For Content Optimization?

Competition is high in the market for SEO tools, and each platform offers similarly useful tools while carving out a niche to set them apart from competitors.

We all want relevant and valuable content, which any run-of-the-mill content optimization tool can provide. However, we need to decide which one has the unique tools that best suit our SEO mission.

Surfer SEO and Clearscope are two leading SEO content optimization tools that are popular among professional SEOs, so today, we’re going to break down the differences between the two so you can decide which is best for you.

What Is Content Optimization Software?

Anyone who has performed manual keyword research knows how time-consuming it can be. Performing your own Google analytics and sifting through and narrowing down over a hundred thousand keywords your competitors are currently ranking for can take weeks.

They say time is money, which is more accurate in search engine optimization than in any other trade. New search trends pop up daily, and Google changes its search algorithm 500 times a year. Staying on top of these changes while administrating your site and writing relevant and useful content while remaining competitive isn’t feasible

Content optimization tools are online platforms that do this essential work for you in minutes.

They use AI to analyze the performance of top competitors for your target keyword in search results, compiling a list of target keywords and generating briefs to optimize your content so you can publish at an exponential rate.

They also provide a portal through which you structure your workflow. So you’re not just purchasing a content optimization tool, but also the primary platform you and your employees will use to communicate.

The Main Differences Between Surfer SEO And Clearscope

Surfer SEO contains a far broader suite of tools than Clearscope, whereas Clearscope is designed almost solely for the job of content creation.

Clearscope has one primary focus: to create optimized content. Though this is the only job that it does, it’s one that it does exceptionally well and has led it to enjoy massive success in the SEO sphere.

While Clearscope is a specialist tool for this single task, Surfer SEO provides a much more well-rounded content optimization tool replete with plenty of bells and whistles to enhance your keyword research experience.

Surfer SEO Overview

Surfer SEO compiles a comprehensive suite of content optimization tools, including SERP analysis, brief generation, keyword research, and collaboration tools, into one platform, providing a space for you to administrate your entire operation.

Using AI analysis, Surfer SEO scans organic search traffic for relevant keywords, keyword density, and article length, giving you and your staff an easily actionable brief on which to base your content.

Surfer SEO – core features

  • Adjustable content briefs are easily shared with your workforce, driven by a SERP analyzer that allows for great flexibility.
  • Intuitive, uncomplicated content editor tool that makes writing optimized content easy.
  • Extensive keyword research tools to inspire content ideation with niche adjacent keyword clusters.
  • The option to regularly audit existing content to make it constantly relevant to current search traffic.
  • A business plan tool updates you with guidance, such as new content to write or existing content to update with trending keywords.
  • WordPress and Google docs integration.

Clearscope Overview

Clearscope harnesses the power of AI IBM Watson to analyze top-ranking pages for a specific keyword.

It takes any given keyword and runs with it, back-engineering the top Google search results to assemble a brief of the right keywords and word count to hit in your content. It also shows you the page’s ranking for particular keywords so you can narrow the scope of the topics you want to cover in your content.

It includes an NLP (natural language processing) tool to advise on tone and make your writing more realistic. There is also scope for keyword research, as with many of its competitors.

Clearscope – core features

  • Real-time content score that rates both optimization and readability separately.
  • Sophisticated NLP AI analysis with IBM Watson.
  • Analysis that considers both keyword volume and search intent.
  • Audit existing content
  • NLP tool is included in the price of membership.
  • Fluid and unlimited sharing of reports and content URLs with live updates to your team.

Surfer SEO vs Clearscope: Detailed Features Comparison

Content editor

The crux of any SEO tool is its content editor, which will be the page you and your staff will interact with most. Surfer SEO and Clearscope offer powerful content editor tools that simplify content optimization.

Both content creation tools suggest a series of keywords that are trending on search engines and the number of times you should use them and will show the score of your content improving the more you write.

Surfer’s content editor uses a ‘speedometer’ to grade your work out of 100; the rule of thumb is that anything scoring over 70 is a solid piece of content.

Clearscope, however, grades your content on optimization and readability. It uses a school grading system for both, rating your SEO with a report-card style rating system (A, A+, B, etc.) and a year grade for your readability (Grade 9, Grade 10, etc.). This is a slight touch, but it makes writing good content more rewarding.

Plus, a readability score isn’t available anywhere in SEO, and you generally have to plug your content into a platform like Hemingway or Grammarly for that kind of feedback.

Verdict – Both content writing tools operate on a similar system here with only slight variations in presentation.

Clearscope’s presentation is slicker and more straightforward, but Surfer SEO offers more accurate analysis and collaboration tools with more features for a lower overall cost.

Both content editor tools are fantastic, but if you want the cheaper option, then Surfer SEO comes out on top.

Surfer SEO vs Clearscope: SERP analysis

SERP (Search Engine Results Page) analysis is a crucial stage in the keyword research process for understanding what sites rank on Google and why. Using this data, you can determine where your competitors are ranking on search engines, whether or not you can outrank them and how to do it.

Clearscope has few tools beyond its content editor and has no SERP analyzer, so it doesn’t get a look in this category. 

Surfer SEO, on the other hand, provides ranking data almost identical to the top results page on Google from the top 50 pages. From here, you can analyze metrics like text length, heading numbers, topic clusters, Google queries, and backlinks, letting you capitalize on strategies you wouldn’t have considered when planning your content.

Verdict – If you want a complete search engine optimization experience, Surfer SEO is the best tool for the job. Starting your blog or site from the ground up will require the proper research enabled by its SEO tools.

Clearscope users must supplement it with other leading SEO tools to perform adequate SERP research. There are paid tools like Ahrefs or Semrush for this job or free platforms like Google Search Console.

Surfer SEO vs Clearscope: collaboration

When deciding on your chosen SEO tool, you’ll want to consider how easy the platform makes updating your employees to keep them in the loop.

Clearscope generates shareable URLs that you can use to share articles among your employees when you’re distributing work. The Essentials plan allows up to 3 logins with user permissions to invite team members.

Google Docs and WordPress integration make sharing your content on other platforms easy for suggesting edits to your employees or sharing progress with clients. The built-in content planner tool also provides live updates with task management capabilities to keep writers up to date with projects.

Surfer SEO also integrates WordPress and Google Docs for sharing documents with in-house writers and clients. These are also useful for easily actionable edits during the proofreading phase.

When assigning content, you can easily adjust word count, paragraph and heading numbers, and the number of pictures you want your writers to include before sending their work out in Surfers’ Content Structure tool. You can also deselect competitors whose content will skew the angle and keywords of your article.

Verdict – Both tools also have content planner interfaces that allow all the seats on your plan to see the progress of current projects. Clearscope’s limited range of collaboration tools stops here, though.

The freedom of adjustment in Surfers content structure tool outmatches any freedom that Clearscope offers, giving you a much greater degree of control over the shape of your content.

This, combined with the content planner hub, makes Surfer a more well-rounded package, especially if you’re part of a medium-to-large scale enterprise where you need to administer exact briefs and have access to quick communications with your writers.

Surfer SEO vs Clearscope: customer support

Adequate customer support can make or break any SEO platform. Without it, simple grievances can turn into drawn-out problems, taken into forums to become drawn-out black marks against a tool’s name.

Both Surfer SEO and Clearscope offer superior customer support with speedy response times.

At the bottom of every Surfer page, you’ll see a question mark button which opens up the support center. From here, you can access the knowledge base, speak to the Surfer community, contact the sales team, or instant message the support team, who usually reply within 2-3 minutes if someone is online.

Clearscope doesn’t offer live chat support, which is a significant step-down from Surfer’s install messenger, but they aim to reply to every response on the same day.

Clearscope trumps Surfer with the live training and onboarding service they offer to all new customers regardless of the price band. 

Verdict – Surfer’s interface and scope of SEO tools can be tricky to work your way around and intimidating to new users, especially with no training.

Clearscope’s training package is far more comprehensive, though Clearscope lacks the reliable support offered during working hours by Surfer SEOs’ support team.

Surfer SEO vs Clearscope Pricing

How much you’re willing to pay for your monthly subscription might be the most critical factor in helping you make your decision.

Each Surfer SEO and Clearscope plan will limit how many seats are allowed and how much content you can write and edit each month.

In this section, we’ll look at what each membership plan costs for Surfer SEO and Clearscope and how they differ. 

Surfer SEO pricing plans

Basic: The basic plan costs $59 per month when paid monthly or $49 per month when paid upfront. With this plan, you can write ten new articles and audit 20 existing articles monthly with access for one member. This plan gives you access to one free month of Surfer’s NLP (Natural Language Processing) guidelines.

Pro: For $99 per month when paid in full or $119 monthly, the Pro plan gives credits for 30 new articles a month and 60 audits to existing articles. It also grants permanent access to NLP guidelines and up to 3 seats.

Business: $199 per month when paid in full or $239 monthly this plan allows up to 70 new pieces of content and 140 edits a month with an allowance for ten seats.

Clearscope pricing plans

Essential: The basic Clearscope plan costs $170 monthly and gives 20 article credits and three user seats. Integration with Google Docs and WordPress comes as standard. It also grants access to 100 Keyword Discovery credits and five supported languages.

Business plan: This plan will set you back $1200 a month but grants unlimited user seats, over 100 content credits, and custom onboarding tailored to your SEO operation. It includes over 250 Keyword Discovery credits with SAML single sign-on, allowing seamless logins.

Enterprise: This plan is perfect for SEO organizations producing large-scale content. The custom pricing includes everything in the Business Plan and provides custom content reports, keyword discovery, and monitoring credits.

Verdict: The difference in cost between these two products is stark. The lack of middle ground between $170/month for the basic plan and $1200 will be profoundly prohibitive to new starter SEO enterprises who need the extra seats offered by the business plan.

Conversely, the cost disparity is even more noticeable of the sheer number of features included in Surfer SEO. It makes Surfer a very generous package regardless of which of their three plans you choose.


Each SEO tool comes with its pros and cons because they select a target audience and package its product to suit the many needs of different companies that work in SEO.

Both Surfer SEO and Clearscope’s content editor tools are easy and intuitive, providing straightforward breakdowns of how to structure content with ongoing performance updates.

The main thing that sets Surfer SEO and Clearscope apart is the breadth of tools offered by the former. Clearscope is built for the singular purpose of content creation. While it has a smooth interface with great onboarding and well-rounded reporting tools, it lacks the fully-fledged SEO experience that Surfer packs into its comprehensive suite of tools.

It includes all these extra tools, such as Content Audit, SERP analysis, and NLP guidelines, for a fraction of the cost of Clearscope’s eyewatering monthly fee, regardless of which payment plan you choose.


What does content optimization have to do with SEO?

Content optimization is the catch-all term for various practices that make Google and other search engines understand your content better and appropriately place it in their rankings.

Content optimization can refer to many things, including the following:

  • Optimal keywords and keyword density
  • Relevant backlinks, including internal links.
  • Appropriate article length with paragraph and heading numbers
  • Optimized high-quality, original images positioned correctly on the page. 

What are topic clusters?

Topic clusters are beneficial for understanding topics similar to or adjacent to your chosen seed keyword. They will provide a series of search topics, known as cluster content, around your original keyword, known as ‘pillar content in this topic.

They can provide a good context for internal links and inspiration for a framework for pages around your chosen topic.

What is Natural Language Processing?

NLP refers to the branch of AI designed to register and understand human speech. In SEO, it’s used to help search engines respond to searches in a way that most closely mimics a helpful human response. 

Writing for spontaneous human speech is especially important in SEO, which focuses on specific keywords. The more we can engineer our content to answer people’s questions, the more likely our valuable content will rank on Google.

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