SURFER SEO, USAGE AND REVIEWS: ON-PAGE OPTIMIZATION TOOL
I don’t know if you happen to have blank page syndrome.
If so, you should try a full on-page optimization tool like Surfer SEO.
In this article, I will give you my opinion on this online tool that I am using more and more.
More specific than a total toolkit like Semrush (and therefore cheaper), I’ll explain how Surfer works to write and optimize all your web pages – and especially your blog posts.
What is Surfer SEO?
On-page optimization according to Surfer SEO
Surfer SEO is an on-page SEO optimization tool designed to improve and create search engine optimized content.
Today, optimized content is synonymous with excellence: yes, the bar is high.
Surfing is, therefore, one of the most complete tools when you want to boost or create a web page and in particular a high-quality blog article.
The principle of Surfer SEO is to analyse the content of the pages that perform best on search engines, from one or more keywords.
It uses more than 500 signals returned by these pages (signals that have an impact on their referencing) and transforms them into reusable data.
From Surfer SEO’s analytical work, you can access this data for inspiration, get keyword ideas, or directly create optimized content in a dedicated interface.
You then write your text using Surfer’s advice in terms of the article structure, semantics… and this advice is directly adapted to the keywords you have chosen.
It is divided into 3 distinct tools (+ a 4th, Content Planner, which is now in beta phase):
- The SERP Analyzer
- The Content Editor
- And the Keyword Researcher
How does Surfer get us up in the SERPs, exactly?
Surfer helps Google understand that the given statistics of your page has every reason to rank well in its results because it is similar in terms of relevance and quality to its competing pages: it is correlational SEO (concerning other pages that target the same keyword).
This will never replace a great backlink profile, but it can also help boost it…
At one time, the rules of On-Page SEO applied pretty much indifferently to all queries entered into Google.
The refinement of algorithms today allows Google to differentiate each request and to prefer this or that type of result.
This tool helps you provide content that is perfectly suited to a specific type of request.
Analyse Google result pages: the SERP Analyzer
Surfer SEO’s premier tool is a very detailed review of the top 48 SERP results based on a keyword.
The main report in the form of a line graph, and modular, thanks to a system of filters who made it easy to understand and interpret.
Each page is represented by a single point and the curve represents the variations between these points.
You will find more or less useful data to optimize your page according to which obtains the best places. That is to say that in my opinion, all this data is not necessarily essential.
On the one hand, you may find that several aspects of a keyword work well, and you want to use them to build your page… but these same aspects can be incompatible with each other.
On the other hand, it is difficult to prioritize this data.
It would be really interesting if Surfer had an extra feature to allow us to choose which signals will work best for our article.
That said, it must be admitted that some of the data provided by Surfer SEO are unheard for a tool of this kind.
And that they can still give us a helping hand.
You get an overview of the number of words that appear above the waterline in the analysed pages.
This resonates with the Page Layout algorithm, which has its small role in Google ranking criteria.
What data do you have access to on the analysed pages?
You can modify the appearance of the graph obtained in your report through the series of filters presented on the sidebar:
Natural Language Processing, I will talk about it later in this article.
This data shows you the general feeling of a page.
The performance of a page or a domain: the number of keywords for which they appear in the first 100 results on Google, or the estimated traffic they receive.
The number of backlinks that pages or domains are benefiting from.
It’s the heart of Surfer’s job to help you optimize your content.
All data regarding word count, keyword density, hidden content, etc. are represented there.
And they’re sorted according to their placement in body text, titles, paragraphs, metadata, URLs, etc.
There’s even a full set of filters on on-page usage of all types of links.
Quality: the loading speed, the use of structured data, the “content score” of a page.
Media: the number of images and their display type.
Filters on and under the graph
You can also change the appearance of the graph through a few options such as:
- Reduce the number of pages represented by the curve from 48 down to 1 single page (drag the cursor located on the grayline at the top of the graph).
- Show only an average of the results (for a more visual than detailed representation) -> check Averages
- Exclude from the analysis of outgoing links, for more focus on the meaning of the text -> uncheck Outside links.
Audit (and transform) your content with the SERP Analyzer
One of your pages is not performing as you want on Google?
Spoiler alert: long content is not always the key to the 1st position.
If you’re ready to make major changes to your post, compare it to the top-performing pages.
If you have a page built around a particular keyword, and it already has a good ranking (say between 3rd and 10th position), this is an opportunity for improvement – and easy return.
All you have to do is to enter its URL in the “Compare your website to your competitors” field.
Then click on the “Audit” pictogram to access all suggestions for improving your content.
(Yes, by the way, you can also audit your competitors 😉)
There, Surfer gives you detailed information and recommendations on:
- The backlinks you could get
- The “True Density” of the terms to be used, represented by a range – a minimum and maximum number –
- The ideal number of words in the body, titles, etc.
- The exact keywords placed in each element of the page
- Partial Match Keywords
- The number of elements (paragraphs, titles, images, etc.)
- The number of characters in your title and meta description
- Time to First Byte (server response time)
- The page load time
This report is a good basis for a net linking campaign dedicated to your page.
Indeed, it presents importance of the “common” backlinks for a keyword, that is to say, the sites which point to several competitors for the same keyword.
You could therefore contact the owners of these sites to be part of the lot.
Also, you might find that Surfer recommends that you make changes to your content that may undermine some of your work.
A little hard to swallow, isn’t it?
In reality, this page is rather well positioned in the SERPs.
Removing such a mass of content wouldn’t be relevant for this article in my opinion.
It would simply no longer fulfill its mission of listing more than 130 SEO tools.
But the truth is many times following Surfer SEO’s advice in terms of redesigning your article structure can boost its performance.
Especially if it presents itself as an anomaly with respect to the other results for the same keyword.
On very long articles, you can do a lot of cleaning up by removing repetitions, chapter summaries, and even some non-essential topics.
It’s up to you to decide whether or not it is relevant for your page to have a facelift.
The hidden report: domain or URL analysis
It’s amazing because the search box doesn’t say it, but you can enter a URL or a domain in the SERP Analyzer to have Surfer gives you a quick scan.
The report you get is quite different than when you enter a keyword.
Whether it’s for a domain or a URL, you get an overview of the backlinks they have, and the keywords they rank on.
It lets you know which backlinks or keywords are bringing you the most traffic.
And of course, you can also spy on your competitors’ results on the same data.
Optimize your content with the data-driven text editor: the Content Editor
Start and configure the Content Editor
With Surfer’s content editor, you can work on your text live, pasting, or writing as you go.
Thanks to its guidelines, you can be partially free from a possible blank page syndrome.
The tool scans the top-performing pages in the SERPs.
From those, it provides you in its sidebar with a list of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) terms, which tick off as you use them.
This is already handy, but often just using an important term once is not enough to make it effective.
Surfing gives you a range for you to use the suggested phrases the optimum number of times.
The publisher also “monitors” several factors to assess your content score (rated out of 100):
- the number of words,
- title tags,
- and images.
To start creating optimized content, go to the Content Editor tool in the main menu.
In the search field, enter one or more keywords to generate content ideas.
Click on the generated label and you will be taken automatically to the content editing interface.
You can start using it as is!
Indeed, you may find that some of them are more relevant to the content you want to produce, especially in terms of:
- Research Intent.
- Quality of content (which you can choose to favour over the authority of the competing page).
- Number of words.
- Or even language (sometimes some results are in English).
Depending on your personal choices, you can choose not to include some suggested terms, or to add your own using the magnifying glass.
You can even change the structure of the text, including the number of words, to your liking.
Depending on your writing budget or any other external factor… Surfing will then automatically adapt the density of the terms to be used.
The settings also allow you to choose relevant topics to discuss (Topics & Questions) and to include in your editor some guidelines, is useful if you are working with a writer.
Once you have clicked on “Let’s go” to validate the personalization of the content editor, you can share it with anyone.
The person will not need to be logged into your account to edit the document online and have it saved lives.
Edit your content on Google Docs with the Chrome extension
Creating your text as you go along with the guidelines is practical.
Changing the text editor to do this, and working on a version that is a bit light in terms of options, on the other hand, that can be a bit restrictive.
You have the option to paste a finished text in the editor, but unfortunately, the suggested terms will not be validated as and when writing.
One solution is to work with Google Docs, the use of which is much more widespread and which offers all the options of a modern text editor… including document sharing and the possibility of working with several people simultaneously.
For this, there is a Surfer extension to add to Google Chrome.
Once the extension is installed, go to the Google Doc document to edit.
Click on the Surfer icon in the extensions bar then on “Load Surfer”.
You will need to sign in to the tool to integrate it into your Google Docs document.
Other people will be able to edit the document, but the Surfer session must be kept open for the extension to work in the document.
All suggestions (and customization options) will then appear in the sidebar.
Edit your content on Google Docs with the Chrome extension
With its two main tools SERP Analyzer and Content Editor, Surfer offers analysis and optimization for “NLP”.
This option is available with advanced plans, and therefore represents an additional budget.
NLP is an important aspect of Machine Learning which aims to understand human language, with as many nuances as possible.
As Surfer specifies in its help page relating to its NLP function:
“BERT analyses the context, the entities, and the sentiment of the page. The ultimate goal is to allow the search engine to have a more precise understanding of the content and its context”.
Surfer, therefore, uses the Google API and integrates the values obtained in its reports.
What is NLP used for in the SERP Analyzer?
Mainly to give an idea of the general feeling of the analysed pages.
The latter is evaluated on a scale ranging from -1 (negative feeling) to 1 (positive feeling).
What is NLP used for in the Content Editor?
NLP entities are terms that are not necessarily related to sentiment but generally helps to understand the content and its context.
If you checked “NLP” in your search, then you will have a section of your editor reserved for specific NLP terms.
Using them is supposed to help Google better understand the content (thus judging its relevance).
I feel that the NLP is going to become more and more important.
But today I don’t find the NLP suggestions very different – and in the end, I find it difficult to understand their relevance.
Is it worth paying more for your plan?
But it’s a feature to watch closely.
Find new keywords to target: Keyword Research
This tool works on the same principle as other keyword research tools.
In Keyword Research, enter the main keyword (or several keywords), and a first report appears the Similar Keywords.
In it, Surfer takes care of finding you all those who can be related to him or replace him.
How does Surfer select them?
At least 2 of the pages appearing in the first 20 results must ALSO be positioned on these.
Surfer still has an analysis that I have not seen anywhere else, it is the “SERP similarity”.
This gives you a percentage of how close each of Surfer’s suggestions is to your original keyword.
The relationship between two keywords is based on the results that each generates.
We compare the first 20 results obtained for a keyword (the original keyword), then for another (the suggested keyword).
What percentage are these two sets of results similar to?
This is a good assessment of the relevance of a keyword.
To sort the keywords that interest you, you can click on the folder icon to place them in your Clipboard, and relaunch a search from it.
In having same terms report, you can find the keywords that contain your original keyword.
Finally, the Questions report gives you the questions that users typically ask that are related to your keyword.
Conclusion: So Surf SEO, your opinion?
There you go, I have almost completely reviewed the latest version of Surfer SEO!
It is a tool that is rising… and which may soon become essential.
It is certainly a significant investment to make when focusing on content production.
There is no point in writing at random.
It can be a painful process, and with disappointing results.
While you can let your creativity run wild… while staying on the right SEO path with extremely relevant on-page guidance.
What do you think?
Have you already tested Surfer SEO on the ranking of your pages?
Tell me everything 🙂