SurferSEO vs Frase – Which is Best for Content Optimization?

The leading prestige tools available for high-end search engine optimization give us a choice that can be genuinely eye-watering.

With such a competitive market making an informed decision based on the finer points of SERP analyzer tools that offer such competitive packages can pose more of a headache than writing competitive content itself.

To help you decide which content creation tools are best for your specific SEO outfit and mission, we’ve taken a deep dive to compare two of the market’s leading SEO tools: Surfer SEO and Frase.

What is content optimization software?

So let’s get down to brass tacks. If you want your blog to start hitting high, you’ll need quality content ideas. While you might be an excellent natural writer, that won’t amount to much unless you have a solid understanding of what your target audience is searching for.

Google updated its search feature 4500 times in 2020. Yep, 4500 times. 

For Google to supply a competitive product, it must keep up to date with what its users are searching for. Otherwise, their results would give authority to pages with stale content that doesn’t cut the mustard.

So, just like search engines like Google stay fresh and relevant, you can’t ever settle into a rhythm, thinking you’ve got its patterns sewn up. Performing manual SEO analytics is too time-consuming to function effectively and write competitive content.

Relying on your savvy isn’t enough. Bringing an up-to-date content optimization tool to bear is necessary to get yourself brushing shoulders with your competition on those all-important ranking pages.

There are many content optimization tools, but Surfer SEO and Frase are the ones that people prefer, so what sets them apart?

The main differences between Surfer SEO and Frase

At face value, these tools may seem to offer the same package: they both exist to help you optimize your content based on existing competitors based on a specific keyword.

However, on closer inspection, you’ll see that their minor differences amount to two very different content optimization experiences.

Surfer SEO started life purely as a content optimization tool that added subsequent content creation features. In contrast, Frase went the opposite way and added content creation features to a content optimization platform.

Surfer’s primary focus is SERP analysis to help you optimize your content with thorough keyword research, while Frase focuses on tools concerning topic research to assist in content ideation.

Surfer SEO Overview

Surfer is a comprehensive SEO platform that combines SERP analysis, keyword research, and content editing into one resource.

Surfer SEO is designed to take the guesswork out of the optimization process by showing you precisely what your direct competitors are ranking for. You simply type in the query you want to rank higher for, and Surfer creates your project.

Surfer’s content creation scans the competitors’ content and assesses both their keywords and their keyword density, giving you a detailed, easy-to-understand framework on which to base your content. It also scans for article length and other structural elements like headings, paragraphs, and images.

Surfer SEO – Core Features

  • Optimize existing content within Surfer’s content editor.
  • Recommendations on content optimization features such as article length, keyword density, and topic suggestions.
  • The content score shows precisely how well-optimized your content is as your write it.
  • Briefs are driven by SERP analysis.
  • Clear breakdowns of the NLP keywords and how often you should use them.
  • Google Docs, Jasper AI, and WordPress integration.

Frase Overview

As we mentioned earlier, Frase was initially designed as a platform to assist in content research to help flesh out competitive content. It harnesses AI and SERP results.

It has since evolved into a more fully-fledged content creation platform allowing you to create your briefs and share them with colleagues on your project.

Frase – Core Features:

  • Generate customizable content briefs automatically with the SERP analyzer based on extensive SEO guidelines featuring the top 20 headings, topic clusters, and questions people are asking on Google.
  • The Optimize and Research tabs make finding the most competitive headings to structure your brief easy and offer filtered views of short and long-tail keywords they are using.
  • Auto-insert brief feature assembles a comprehensive brief you can send to your writers with one click.
  • Sophisticated, integrated AI writer.
  • WordPress and Google Docs integration

Surfer SEO vs Frase: Detailed Features Comparison

Keyword research

If you’re starting at square one of your keyword research, Surfer SEO is the platform for you. The Content Creation tool on Surfer will take your chosen target keyword and run with it, giving you a range of keyword suggestions linked by topic.

This gives you a vast breadth of potential directions to take your content. You can also select suggested clusters by search intent, so you can direct your content to Google users at any stage of the buy-cycle, whether they are seeking preliminary information or they’re at the buying phase.

With Surfer SEO, you can narrow down or scale up your keyword density and search volume range and search for adjacent keywords with similar search intent, allowing you to capitalize on search niches you wouldn’t have considered.

Frase is much more efficient after you’ve completed your keyword research. At this point, it can give you a host of heading ideas, backlinks, and topic clusters based on competitors’ content already using your seed keyword based on who Google is currently providing authority.

Verdict – If you’ve been given a sparse brief to write with little to no direction or have already settled on your blog’s topic, Frase’s heat maps and brief building functions give you a fantastic jumping-off point for content ideation.

However, compared to the flexibility of Surfers’ suite of tools you can use to build your content strategy from the ground up, it falls short in this category.

Content Optimization

The content optimization tools for both Surfer and Frase base their suggestions on their SERP analyzer functions which mimic Google’s SERP results with stunning accuracy. You can also filter both to remove pages that are slightly off-topic for your seed keyword that might skew your desired results.

Both tools assemble a list of heading and NLP keywords based on competitors’ articles and the volume you should use for each. 

They also both give your content a score out of 100 that will update as you write it. The rule of thumb is anything over 70 is well-optimized content in Surfer, while Frase shows you what scores competitors have so you have a target to aim for.

Both briefs will also include the recommended paragraph and title numbers and word counts you want to aim for, these may seem like trivial suggestions, but an optimized word count can help you rank just as much as proper keywords.

Frase scans Quora, Reddit, and Google’s People Also Ask and top SERP results to assemble a brief with the top 20 topics, extensive topic clusters, Google queries, headers, niche information, and backlinks used by top-ranking sites.

You can also scan through the H1s, H2s, and H3s that competitors use and customize them to create your article plan.

Verdict – This is a close one, depending on your preference. Surfer’s SERP analysis for generating target keywords is more up-to-date and accurate to current search trends. 

15% of daily Google searches are queries that have never been asked before, so Surfers’ ability to stay current is a potent weapon. It also allows you to audit existing content, a feature unavailable in Frase.

Regarding Frase, the brief generator gives you a fantastic asset for content ideation and offers a deep, fleshed-out framework to work within.

AI Writing

Surfer SEO’s Outline Builder uses AI to generate dozens of potential titles and headings. It is a relatively new tool, and its limited capacity is evident, as a lot of the content it generates lacks the logic to pass as being written by a human content writer. 

The AI harnessed by Frase’s content editor is a much older feature and more sophisticated than Surfers’, making it a more functional tool if you don’t want to write the content yourself. In any case, it’s always wise to add your input to AI-generated content.

Verdict – Frase is billed as an AI writer and front loads its marketing with its AI capabilities, so it’s evident that if an AI writer is a deciding factor for you, Frase has a clear advantage over Surfer.


If you’re working with a team of writers, Surfer SEO’s collaboration features easily assemble a bunch of briefs to distribute among your company.

In the content structure tool, you can input what word count, heading, paragraph, and image numbers your writers need to hit for specific content and manually select and de-select terms, topics, and competitors.

The Google Docs and WordPress integration are fantastic for the proofreading phase when you need writers to be able to understand and action your proofing comments fluidly. It also enables you to generate links you can share with clients and external writers.

Frase allows you to store all your briefs in individual folders, which you and your team easily access via the ‘All Documents’ tab at the top right left-hand corner of the page.

You can also easily switch between the brief and the content itself via the ‘Content Brief’ and ‘My Content’ tab at the top of your content page. However, unlike Surfer SEO, easy customization of the brief is unavailable, and you can only make adjustments after you’ve generated a brief and copied it into the page.

Verdict – Surfer is undoubtedly the better choice for allowing collaboration both in and out-of-house with Google Docs and WordPress integration. Its straightforward tools make adjusting recommendations for content and structure easy, and these features make it the ideal tool for those working in small to large-scale businesses.

Frase allows some flexibility when assigning and distributing content briefs, but it’s a much more limited platform than Surfer in this respect and is better suited to solo bloggers to small teams.

Customer Support

Solid customer support is paramount to any content optimization tool worth its salt. All your content exists on their servers until it’s sent to your client or published on your blog. So if you lose content or your access to a page, you’ll want to be able to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

At the bottom of every Surfer SEO page, you’ll see a question mark button that opens up the space to access the knowledge base, speak to the community or message the support or sales team directly. If someone is online, they often are; response time generally takes 2-3 minutes.

Frase has a function called Frase Answer Engine, an AI-powered query system where you can ask questions or search for topics related to your query. If it knows the answer, it will help you or redirect you to the live chat option.

Verdict – Frase and Surfer SEO offer fantastic customer support, making contact with their dedicated team painless.

Both platforms have extensive resources, both video and written, to help you better understand your way around their systems.


If you’re operating a blog by yourself instead of running an enterprise with twenty employees, the cost you pay for your platform will be a big, if not the biggest, deciding factor.

Each payment plan places a limit on the content you can write and audit monthly, as well as the number of users allowed on your plan, so you’ll need to pick one that reflects the needs of your SEO outfit. 

In this section, we’ll discuss how Frase and Surfer differ in their payment plans and overall costs.

Surfer SEO Pricing Plans

Basic: Priced at $49 a month when paid annually or $59 monthly, this plan lets you write 10 new articles a month and audit 20 articles a month with free access to NLP (natural language processing) guidelines for a month with an allowance for one team member.

Pro: $119 per month or $99 per month when paid annually; the Pro plan lets you write 30 articles and audit 60 existing pages per month with permanent access to NLP guidelines and allowance for up to 3 team members.

Business: Priced at $199 when paid annually or $239 monthly, write up to 70 articles a month, audit 140 existing articles with seats for up to 10 business members.

Frase Pricing Plans

Basic: For $44.99 a month or $39.99 a month when paid annually, this plan gets you one user and up to 30 documents/month.

Team: $99.99 a month when paid annually or $114.99 monthly, this package gets your 3 user seats, with more available for $25/month and unlimited document credits.

Enterprise: Designed for larger teams that require flexibility, the pricing of this plan can be discussed with Frase and tailored to your needs.

For unlimited access to Frase’s AI writer, you’ll need to pay $35 per month for the SEO Add-on.


It’s hard to pick an out-an-out winner between two systems that may share many of the same facilities but offer small enough differences to make their unique appeal ultimately quite different.

Frase gives you exceptionally detailed content briefs with minimal effort, allowing you to build content for multiple articles quickly while making it easy to use competitor articles as a touchstone for the direction you should be taking your content.

Once you get a handle on the AI writer, you can use it to speed up your content writing process in a snip. For this reason, Frase is great if you’re churning out a massive amount of content a month and want to streamline that process.

However, Surfer SEO’s content optimization tools offer a far more well-rounded experience. Using Surfer SEO, you can dig deeper into the search engine optimization process for both new and existing content, making it a better choice for sites looking to climb the rankings backed by up-to-date SEO data.


What is SERP?

SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page, meaning the page you get after completing a Google query. SERP elements include Featured Snippets, image packs, and knowledge panels. 

What are content optimization tools?

Working through thousands of spreadsheet cells after laborious SERP analysis can be intensely time-consuming, so content optimization software like that provided by Surfer SEO and Frase reduces the massive amount of time involved in manual SEO research. 

Can Google detect AI-written content?

The AI used to write content, GPT-3, is currently in its third, most sophisticated iteration designed to imitate human speech most closely.

As AI becomes more advanced, so will Google’s detection process, so yes, Google can detect AI via specific patterns in the same way it can see bought backlinks.

If you are using AI, you should always proof your content closely, and it’s advisable to liberally rewrite any content that you feel is pinging your AI radar, or your rankings may feel the brunt of a Google penalty.

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