5 Best Surfer SEO Alternatives (Tried & Tested)

Surfer SEO Alternatives

What is Surfer SEO and Why do People Like It?

Surfer SEO Alternatives and Competitors

1. Topic

2. Clearscope

3. Marketmuse

4. Dashword

5. Frase

Which Surfer SEO Alternative Is Right for You?

WordPress Table of Contents by Topic

Surfer SEO is a great on-page SEO tool marketers use to create SEO content and optimize it for search engines based on length, structure, and topics.

But is it the right tool for you?

We tested five popular Surfer SEO alternatives for a day. This guide will help you pick the right content optimization tool for your use case and budget.

Here are the top 5 alternatives to Surfer SEO:

  1. Topic
  2. Clearscope
  3. Marketmuse
  4. Dashword
  5. Frase

Let’s get started.

What is Surfer SEO and Why do People Like It?

Surfer SEO Alternatives

Surfer SEO is an AI-powered content optimization tool. With an emphasis on-page search engine optimization.

Enter the target keyword you want to rank for. Surfer will analyze the SERPs for 100+ data points like average word count, recommended keywords, image alt tags, and backlinks.

Surfer SEO will then create guidelines to help you optimize content. These guidelines are shareable so anyone on your entire can pick up where you left off. 

Instead of the “write what your audience wants to read” philosophy, Surfer focuses on the technical aspect of SEO writing.

This makes Surfer best suited for expert-level SEOs looking for an on-page optimization tool to optimize new and existing content. 

Key Surfer SEO features:

  • Keyword Research: Enter a specific keyword and get insights on LSI keywords, phrases, and related topics.
  • Keyword Surfer: A free extension that displays keyword volume and useful metrics right within Google search.
  • SERP Analyzer: Competitor analysis feature that scans the SERPs for ideal word count, recommended keywords, backlinks, and more.
  • Content Editor: Use content editor to get real time insights into how well you’ve optimized your content for SEO.
  • SEO Audit: Dicover quick wins and SEO opportunities on your website. (IMO Ahrefs has a better offering).

Surfer’s content editor uses Google’s natural language API, but it could use improvement. Here’s a screenshot of their recommendations: 

Alternatives to Surfer SEO

Notice how some terms are generic. Including them won’t improve content quality.

​​Pricing: The basic plan starts at $59/month, while the pro plan is $99/month. A business plan with all features is $199/month. Surfer offers a 20% discount on all annual plans.

What are the Best Surfer SEO Alternatives and Competitors?

Surfer SEO isn’t perfect and isn’t for everybody. Surfer may be inexpensive but both its content optimization and SEO audit features are subpar.

At first glance, Surfer’s features look great. But when you focus on many things, you barely do anything well. Surfer suffers from the same problem.

With so many features, Surfer lacks on many fronts. Hit-and-miss content optimization, subpar SEO audits, and over-complicated user experience (metrics galore) come to mind.

These are a few limitations that hold Surfer back from being the go-to content optimization tool. Here are five Surfer SEO alternatives:

1. Topic

Via Topic Content Optimization.

At Topic, we focus on solving one problem – streamline your content workflow with content briefs and content optimization. 

We believe that research is the most crucial step in the content creation process.

Crafting a well-researched article involves understanding search intent, analyzing competing articles, and uncovering questions your audience is asking. 

This takes time. And on top of that, you also need to figure out your angle.

Topic automates the manual and time-consuming research process so you can spend time figuring out how to make your content stand out.

Our tool helps you consolidate content research, create high-fidelity briefs, and optimize content to drive more clicks (with our intuitive content editor).

The end result? Content with high topical relevance your audience wants to read. 

Here are some key features:

Research Section 

Enter your target keyword and Topic will conduct competitor analysis by scanning the top search results. We’ll generate a document that includes headings, questions to answer, and topics to cover. Curate this research into a robust outline with Topic’s outline builder.

The kicker? We source questions directly from Google People Also Ask and Quora: 

Questions to Answer
Via Topic Content Analysis.

AI-Powered Brief Generation

Thanks to GPT-3, Topic can automagically generate a content outline for you. Plug in a title and description and our AI will do the rest. Use this with our research section to build high-quality briefs for your writers in minutes (not hours): 

Topic Content Optimization

Content Grader 

Use Content Grader to see what your draft is missing. Optimize before you hit publish to ensure every article covers what your audience is looking for. Our Google Docs and WordPress plugins offer content grader right where you need it.

Topic vs. Surfer SEO


  • Unmatched AI-driven content brief generation.
  • Powerful content optimization.
  • Sleek, minimal, and easy-to use.


  • Lacks any technical SEO features.
  • Expensive compared to Surfer SEO.
  • AI-generated headlines can be sometimes inaccurate (we’re working on it!)

Best for: Content teams and agencies.

Pricing: Our starter plan starts at $99/month. Our plus plan (best suited for content teams or agencies) costs only $199/month. We offer a 20% discount on all annual plans.

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2. Clearscope

Surfer SEO Alternatives

Clearscope was one of the first content optimization tools on the market. Their co-founder Bernard Huang is well-known in the SEO industry.

Writers use Clearscope to create long-form content that’s loved by both readers and Google. The result? A great reading experience and higher organic traffic.

Clearscope’s strength is its AI-driven content optimization feature “Optimize”. With Optimize, you save time and eliminate any guesswork in figuring out what readers want to hear from you.

Pop your draft into Clearscope and get actionable insights on content relevance, content depth, and LSI keywords to include. You’ll also see a letter grade that indicates how well you’ve optimized your blog post for SEO.

Clearscope vs. Surfer SEO


  • A++ quality content optimization
  • Writing assistance features.
  • Easier to use vs Surfer.


  • No technical SEO features.
  • No competitor analysis.
  • Pricey than Surfer SEO.

Best for: Content managers and agencies.

Pricing: Clearscope’s most popular plan costs $350/month. The newly introduced $150/month plan, while cheaper, is limited.

Further Reading: 5 Clearscope Alternatives (Tried & Tested)

3. Marketmuse

Surfer SEO Alternatives

Marketmuse is an enterprise content strategy and intelligence platform. Their focus lies in automating your content strategy with artificial intelligence. 

Unlike Surfer SEO, Marketmuse tackles a broader problem. You can create an entire content strategy from scratch, auto-generate first drafts of an article with NLP, create content briefs for your writers using AI, and more.

This makes Marketmuse the most feature-rich Surfer SEO alternative best suited for large teams with big budgets looking for help with end-to-end content strategy.

Some key Marketmuse features:

  1. Surfaces headings, subtopics, questions to build a detailed content brief.
  2. Content Inventory helps you manage your entire content library in one place. 
  3. Content scoring system to grade content before you hit publish.

The biggest downside of Marketmuse? It’s unclear pricing. What’s a query vs a credit? What’s an application? You’ll never know unless you dive deeper into their support docs:

Marketmuse Pricing

Marketmuse vs. Surfer SEO


  • Content inventory. 
  • Content brief generation. 
  • Great content optimization. 


  • Unclear and expensive pricing.
  • Complicated workflow results in a steep learning curve.
  • Poor UX/UI can lower adoption rates.

Best for: Enterprise companies looking for help with end-to-end content strategy.

Pricing: Marketmuse offers a cheaper plan at $179/month. Be ready to shell out $999/month to access all their features.

Further Reading: 5 Marketmuse Alternatives (Tried & Tested)

4. Dashword


Dashword is a content optimization tool that offers features like Clearscope.

The content editor offers keyword suggestions on the left, a letter-based content grade to gauge content quality, and recommended word count on top.

Enter your target keyword and Dashword will generate a report of competing articles in SERPs. This includes average word count, content grade, relevant terms, and readability.

Dashword’s biggest downside? Poor term quality. For example, when I run a report for “SEO content”, I’m shown vague terms like “good idea”, “great way”, and “example”:

Dashword Report

Dashword vs. Surfer SEO


  • Access to unlimited reports.
  • Simple and intuitive user interface. 
  • Cheaper than Surfer SEO.


  • Poor content optimization.
  • No keyword research tool.
  • No technical SEO features.

Best for: Freelancers

Pricing: To access unlimited reports, you’ll be paying a flat $99/month. Dashword also offers a free trial with one free report. 

5. Frase


Frase is a content answer engine platform. Their strength lies in answering questions your readers might have with their chatbot integration.

Frase also offers content brief generation. While not great, it gets the job done. 

Frase can output a huge list of subtopics – usually 100+. You’ll need to sift through them and pick what’s relevant. If you don’t, your writer jam might jam all the subtopics in the article. Which equals a poor reader experience and higher writing costs.

Some key Frase features:

  1. Surfaces headings, subtopics, and questions to help you build a content brief.
  2. AI answer engine chatbot helps answer questions your readers may have.
  3. Content scoring system to grade content before you hit publish.

Frase is best suited for anyone on a tight budget and willing to take the time to curate the subtopics list themselves.

Frase vs. Surfer SEO


  • Robust Q&A features.
  • Decent content brief generation.
  • Questions to answer (research).


  • No technical SEO features.
  • Weak content optimization.
  • Lacks a keyword research tool.

Best For: Bloggers and freelancers.

Pricing: The basic plan starts at $45/month. The team plan costs $115/month. Frase also offers custom enterprise plans.

Further Reading: 5 Best Frase Alternatives (Tried & Tested)

Which SurferSEO Alternative Is Right for You?

Like any tool in this list, Surfer SEO has its pros and cons. Based on your use and budget, it may or may not be the right solution for you.

Our recommendation: pick a tool that offers the features you need at a price that fits your budget. Some tools offer a free (or inexpensive) trial, take advantage of them! 

Need a high-quality content brief and optimization tool to help you create better SEO content, faster? Try Topic today!

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