SurferSEO vs Semrush – Which is Better for Lifestyle Bloggers?

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Surfer SEO vs Semrush is a bit of a pointless comparison, because they’re two different tools with complimentary functionalities.

Surfer helps people to write SEO-optimized content with the help of integrated keyword research, competitor analysis, and realtime feedback.

Semrush, on the other hand, is a full-blown SEO suite that helps with keyword research, competitor analysis, backlink monitoring & analysis, and offers a wide range of additional SEO tools.

Drawing a direct comparison between the two programs isn’t much use as in an ideal world you’d use the tools together. However, a comparative study of the key features and the core differences between the two can help you understand what they can help you achieve.

In a nutshell, you should consider using Surfer SEO and Semrush as complimenting programs to supercharge your SEO strategy and improve your website’s ranking.

SurferSEO vs. Semrush: TL;DR

Key Differentiators

Surfer SEO


Keyword Research

Offers a decent keyword research tool

Offers a potent keyword research tool that offers way more data than Surfer SEO

On-Page SEO Analysis & Site Audit

They have an on-page SEO analysis and site audit tool

They also have an on-page SEO analysis and site audit tool

Backlink Analysis

They offer an SEO Writing Assistant that gives an SEO score, checks tone & originality and integrates a paraphrasing tool

Offers a more powerful backlink analysis tool and even shows toxic backlinks to your own site

Social Media Management Tools

Doesn’t have any such tool

Offers a range of features helpful for individuals and agencies

Content Optimization

Offers a content editor with NPL term suggestions, content score, and other features

They offer an SEO Writing Assistant that gives an SEO score, checks tone & originality, and integrates a paraphrasing tool

Advertising Research

Doesn’t offer advertising research features

Offers a host of advertising research for those who spend on PPC ads

SERP Analysis

Offers SERP analysis features

It also has a SERP analysis feature

Keyword Tracking

Cannot track keywords

Can track keyword positions

Surfer SEO Pros:

  • It is a powerful on-page SEO optimization tool.
  • It performs SEO keyword research.
  • Surfer SEO provides content improvement suggestions to help you rank in the top 10 of the SERPS.
  • It also displays NLP or Natural Language Processing terms that competitors use to rank in search engine results.
  • The tool shows the content quality and relevancy scores for the target keyword.
  • Surfer has a powerful content editor similar to Google Docs and Microsoft Word.
  • It helps to build the content structure by analyzing the content structure of competitors.

Semrush Pros:

  • Semrush SEO tool offers powerful keyword research.
  • The platform has the biggest backlinks and keywords database among all SEO tools.
  • Semrush can identify spammy backlinks to your website.
  • It has a Market Explorer tool to provide data like who your competitors are, who receives more traffic than you, traffic generation strategies, audience demographics, etc.
  • Semrush also provides social media marketing tools.
  • They offer PPC data useful for those who use paid search.
  • The tool has an SEO writing assistant that helps to check content tone, originality, readability, etc.

SurferSEO vs. Semrush: Detailed Comparison

SurferSEO vs. Semrush Comparison Breakdown by Features

  • Keyword Research
  • Backlink Analysis
  • SERP Analysis
  • Content Optimization
  • Market Explorer Tool
  • Pricing

SurferSEO vs. Semrush: Keyword Analysis

Keywords are the most powerful, not-so-secret ingredient for search engine optimization. Both tools offer a keyword analysis tool.

Surfer SEO:
screenshot of surferseo content planner summary page

Surfer’s keyword analysis or research tools works in clusters. You provide a seed keyword, and the tool will show its rough search volume, search intent, and similar keywords in topical clusters with their respective search volumes and keyword difficulty (how hard it is to rank).

It also displays a SERP Similarity Score by percentage which simply states how similar each keyword is to your seed keyword. This is important as many of your competitors vying for the top spots will use “similar” keywords in addition to the primary keyword, so it’s good to add these to your keyword arsenal.

There’s also a “Questions” segment, which shows questions related to your keywords, and a “Having Same Terms” segment, which shows keywords having the primary keyword or parts of the phrase in any random order.

screenshot of semrush keyword overview page

Semrush is primarily a Keyword Research tool that provides valuable information, such as keyword difficulty, related keywords, and search volume. The keyword difficulty score will tell you how difficult it is to rank in search engines for a specific keyword.

The tool also gives you information like the global search volume for the keyword, the search volume by country, the keyword CPC, keyword variations, PAA questions (related questions), related keywords, keyword intent, trends, etc. You can use the information to find the most relevant keywords to improve your online visibility.

Best Tool for Keyword Analysis: Semrush because it offers more data that can help you to develop a keyword strategy to rank higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

A robust link strategy helps websites to rank higher in search engines. Both tools offer a different kind of backlink analysis tool.

Surfer SEO:
screenshot of surfer seo backlink analysis page

Surfer doesn’t have a native backlink analysis feature. Instead, it integrates with Semrush to reveal your competitor’s link-building activities.

It will display the links your competitors have recently acquired in an easy-to-follow list.

You can use the list to create your link-building strategy. While this is useful, it is not very robust.

screenshot of semrush backlink analytics page

The Semrush SEO tool offers a powerful link-building toolset. Using Semrush, you sniff out competitor backlinks and audit your backlinks profile.

It will also give you a link-building tool with prospect domains, predefined outreach strategies, and outreach tracking parameters.

The backlink audit tool helps to find toxic links to your site. You can identify and disavow them to prevent a Google penalty.

Best Tool for Backlink Analysis: Semrush because it contains a far more powerful set of analysis tools, and Surfer only provides Semrush integration for this feature.

SurferSEO vs. Semrush: SERP Analysis

SERP Analysis is all about comparing your website with your competitors to find the possible improvements you can make. Both tools offer this feature, though they approach it from very different angles.

Surfer SEO:
screenshot of surferseo serp analyzer page

Surfer SEO has a very actionable SERP Analyzer. It shows competitor data using structured ranking factors like content structure (Titles, Headings, Paragraphs, Meta Descriptions, Links, etc.); website quality (page load time, TTFB, etc.); and media (images used).

Surfer’s SERP Analyzer also gives a clear idea of the keywords to include, optimal keyword density, article length (word count), and more.

All the data you collect from the SERP Analyzer will help with writing rankable content more efficiently. If you want to take your writing to the next level, check out Surfer’s SEO Writing Course which claims to improve your writing productivity by 10x.

screenshot of semrush serp analysis page

Semrush takes a different approach to SERP Analysis. You can analyze specific keywords using the Keyword Overview tool, which will show keyword difficulty, search intent, and other data.

Scrolling down you can see a list of organic search results for that keyword with page authority scores, referring domains, backlinks, estimated search traffic, and the total number of keywords for which a specific URL ranks in Google.

Semrush also has a Position Tracking tool that will help you analyze your website’s SERP visibility against your competitors across mobile, tablet, and desktop devices. You can also analyze SERP for location-based queries.

Best tool for SERP Analysis: It depends on what you’re analyzing. If you want to know whether you can rank for specific keywords, how many backlinks you need, and what the search intent, etc is Semrush is the tool for you. If you need information scraped from current ranking results that can help you create content that competes with what’s currently ranking SurferSEO is your tool.

SurferSEO vs. Semrush: Content Optimization

Content writing is not enough. You must optimize your content for search engines. Both SEO tools have features that will help to write content optimized for search engines and readers, however here is where SurferSEO comes into its own.

Surfer SEO:
screenshot of actual surfer seo content editor page

Surfer SEO is mostly known for its Content Editor, laid out and editable similar to Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

However, Surfer’s editor is much more than just a word processing tool. It also gives you a list of NLP terms to include in your article, the number of headings to add, the ideal minimum & maximum word count, the number of images to add, and lots more.

The editor also has an outline builder, which will reveal the title tags, heading tags, and FAQs that your competitors are using. You can build the outline of your own content using the information provided.

The editor also shows the URLs of the top five competitors so that you can check each website individually and comes with a content score feature that is calculated using hundreds of on-page factors. The score meter displays the average score of your competitors and the score of the top competitor.

screenshot of semrush seo writing assistant page

Semrush offers an SEO Writing Assistant, but to use it, you need to create an SEO Content Template by adding your target country and keyword.

Once you have the template ready, the SEO Writing Assistant will show recommendations to perform on-page search engine optimization.

The assistant provides recommendations based on the top 10 competitors from Google search results. The recommendations include keywords and NLP terms that you must use.

There is a paraphrasing tool that can rephrase, simplify, expand, or summarize small texts that you can use in your own content to avoid plagiarism.

Additionally, the SEO Writing Assistant can also check the originality (plagiarism), content tone, and readability of the content you write. It will even suggest the word count you must have to rank for a keyword.

Best Tool for Content Optimization: This is what SurferSEO was built to do. As a user, I highly recommend SurferSEO for optimizing your content. On top of all the functionality it currently offers, it’s also working on adding AI writing tools geared towards creating content specifically for SEO.

SurferSEO vs Semrush: Market Explorer Tool

Getting accurate data about competitors helps businesses to outperform the competition and this is where Semrush shines.

Surfer SEO:

The Surfer SEO tool has no feature to explore the market.

a screenshot of surferseo growth quadrant market analysis page

Semrush offers the Market Explorer that provides a wide range of data including who the competitors are, benchmark data of a website’s growth from various channels (like paid, referral, search, social, etc.), the growth rate of a website, etc.

With this tool, you can find which websites are getting more traffic than yours, the strategies they use to drive market traffic, audience demographics, etc.

Best Market Explorer Tool: Semrush because Surfer SEO doesn’t have the feature.

SurferSEO vs Semrush: Pricing

Most SEO tools are very pricey. I guess because most were built with search engine optimization agencies in mind, however nowadays even small niche site publishers and bloggers want to do their own analysis and optimization. That’s why it’s quite refreshing to see a tool such as SurferSEO offer a sensible basic pricing plan for smaller publishers.

Surfer SEO:
screenshot of updated surfer SEO pricing plan

Surfer SEO offers three pricing plans:

Lite: $29 a month

  • Content Editor with 3 articles a month.
  • 10 monthly SEO Keyword Research.
  • NLP-enhanced guidelines.

Essential: $89 a month

  • Content Editor with 7 articles a month.
  • 100 daily SEO Keyword Research.
  • NLP-enhanced guidelines
  • 2 organization seats

Advanced: $179 a month

  • Content Editor with 25 articles a month.
  • 100 daily SEO Keyword Research.
  • NLP-enhanced guidelines.
  • 5 organization seats

Max: $299 a month

  • Content Editor with 50 articles a month.
  • 100 daily SEO Keyword Research.
  • 100 monthly SEO audits
  • 100 daily SERP Analyzer
  • NLP-enhanced guidelines.
  • 10 organization seats

a screenshot of semrush seo subscription pricing plans

Semrush also offers three pricing plans:

Pro Plan: $119.95 a month

  • 5 projects.
  • 500 keyword searches a day (10k results per report).
  • Keyword, domain, and backlink analytics.
  • Mobile rankings.

Guru Plan: $229.95 a month

  • 15 projects.
  • 1500 keyword searches a day (30k results per report).
  • Keyword, domain, and backlink analytics.
  • Mobile rankings.
  • Content marketing platform.

Business Plan: $449.95 a month

  • 40 projects.
  • 5000 keyword searches a day (50k results per report).
  • Keyword, domain, and backlink analytics.
  • Mobile rankings.
  • Content marketing platform.
  • Share of Voice metric.
  • Looker Studio integration.
  • API access.

There are several add-ons available to further help with search engine optimization. However, each add-on comes with an extra price tag.

Note: Semrush offers a forever plan with 1 project, 10 keyword searches a day, position tracking for 10 keywords, and one SEO content template with a single use of SEO Writing Assistant.

Surfer SEO vs. Semrush: FAQs

Do Surfer SEO and Semrush offer free tools?

Neither of them offers free tools. Surfer has a 7-day money-back guarantee and Semrush offers a forever-free plan with choking restrictions. However, you can also take free trials for their paid plans. SurferSEO has Surfer Academy that teaches tips and tricks in the form of training videos and live sessions to take advantage of your free trial.

screenshot of Surfer Academy

Which is better – Surfer SEO or Semrush?

They’re different tools with different functionalities which should be used together rather than compared. Semrush is the tool to use to research keywords, track ranking positions, analyze competitor backlinks and create a content strategy. SurferSEO is the tool to use when creating outlines, writing posts or improving articles to move higher up the SERPS.

Do SurferSEO and Semrush offer content planners?

SurferSEO comes with an inbuilt content planner irrespective of the plan you select. Semrush doesn’t provide a content planner.

Surfer SEO vs Semrush: Summary

SurferSEO and Semrush are both powerful tools for on-page and off-page search engine optimization. However, Semrush falls into the advanced SEO tool category for me. It has so many features I find it quite overwhelming.

In fact, Semrush is perfect for multi-client freelancers or SEO agencies and marketing professionals offering search engine optimization services.

SurferSEO is best suited for content creators and writers. Personally I use Ahrefs as my keyword and competitor analysis tool and SurferSEO as my content tool. I’m confident that many of my ranking posts are as a result of using SurferSEO to guide my optimization efforts.

It’s also the perfect tool to use if you have a team of writers you outsource your content too. You can create content outlines, include keyword rich headings, highlight important NLP terms and add a brief for your writers to create perfectly optimized articles to publish on your site.

SurferSEO vs Semrush is the wrong comparison to be making as they’re tools that work in tandem with each other. My recommendation to any niche site publisher or lifestyle blogger is to invest in SurferSEO. If however you’re not sure Semrush is for you, here’s my post about rank tracking software, which compares some of the best SEO tools on the market today. Hope it helps!

Now get ranking! 🙂

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