The advent of DIY SEO tools means website owners no longer have to rely on costly agencies. The right tools can handle everything from keyword research to competitor analysis, in addition to helping you with writing content that enables you to achieve higher rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).
However, you need help. While the availability of DIY SEO tools is a great thing, there are so many available that it’s tough to determine which is best for your needs. Does the tool you’re considering help with content marketing that improves your rankings in a search engine? It could help with building links or social media marketing. The point is that DIY tools often specialize in specific areas of digital marketing, which means you need to know what you need before making your choice.
That brings us to this article. Surfer SEO and Semrush have developed reputations as two of the best tools available for DIY SEO. Here we compare them to see which can help your website rank higher in search engines.
What Is Semrush?
Semrush markets itself as an all-in-one SEO tool designed to help with every element of digital marketing. That means its offering extends far beyond standard SEO keyword research. Semrush offers several tools and key features:
- An in-depth keyword research tool that helps you to analyze keyword difficulty and determine which keywords to use in your content
- On-page SEO optimization tools, such as site audits and an in-depth content planner
- A SERP analyzer that examines what your competitors are doing and how you can compete against them
- Data-driven content writing and editing tools, including research into search results to see what content ranks highly for target keywords and similar keywords
- Social media management tools that help you to drive engagement on social platforms
- Pay-per-click (PPC) keyword research and competitive analysis that ensures your paid search ads rank highly on Google
- Link-building tools that increase your search volume by using backlinks to help your website rank higher in search engines
While this is the main selection of Semrush features, it’s worth noting that it has several other features that make it one of the most comprehensive DIY SEO tools.
What Is Surfer SEO?
Unlike Semrush, Surfer SEO focuses almost exclusively on content creation and editing. In fact, it’s best known for its content editor, though the tool has a few additional features you may find useful:
- The content editor scours Google to find high-ranking content, from which it develops outlines for writers to follow
- SERP analysis enables the tool to track keywords and give you an idea of what your competitors are doing
- A built-in content score that ranks the SEO-readiness of your content based on factors like word count and keyword usage
- Natural language processing (NLP) features that help you understand the intent behind the keywords searches use
- Integration with several other tools, including Google Docs via a Chrome extension and the Jarvis artificial intelligence-based writing tool
Think of Surfer as an SEO writing assistant. It uses accurate data to develop article outlines and content briefs, which incorporate the keywords that help your content rank highly. It also incorporates other factors, such as content structure and on-page optimization, to make help you create content that’s more likely to land on the first page of search results.
Comparing the Key Features of Semrush and Surfer SEO
It isn’t easy to compare Surfer SEO and Semrush because each SEO tool offers something different. Semrush is the ideal all-in-one search engine marketing tool because it covers almost all aspects of SEO. But if you’re looking for a dedicated content editor or SEO writing assistant, Surfer may be the better choice.
With that said, there is some crossover between each SEO tool that enables a comparison. Let’s break down the comparable features.
Feature No. 1 – Keyword Research
Surfer SEO and Semrush can each function as a keyword research tool, though the effectiveness of each tool varies.
Semrush provides more detailed data related to the keywords themselves. It provides a full breakdown for each keyword you research, which includes search volume and keyword difficulty.
Surfer doesn’t provide these details, which makes it hard to determine if ranking for your chosen keywords is even possible. Where it excels is in suggesting an array of long-tail keywords in addition to telling you the ideal density of keyword usage inside your article.
Feature No. 2 – Competitor Research
Knowing what your competitors are doing can give you some guidance on ranking in Google. After all, emulating a successful webpage makes your page more likely to succeed. Both Surfer and Semrush offer competitor research.
Semrush has its Market Explorer tool, which is one of the most in-depth competitor research tools available. It pulls a ton of data, including:
- Who your competitors are for your chosen keyword
- Growth stats for competitor sites
- Information about backlinks
- A breakdown of the competitor’s traffic generation strategy, including whether they focus on organic ranking or PPC advertising
In contrast, Surfer has its SERP analyzer, which checks the first 10 Google results for your keyword. It’s less detailed than Market Explorer. However, some may find this is a good thing as it’s also less overwhelming.
Feature No. 3 – SEO Writing Assistants
While the content editor is Surfer’s main offering, Semrush also has an SEO writing assistant that incorporates the tool’s keyword research.
Both tools give you a content score, which indicates how likely your content is to rank. However, the factors that influence this score vary between tools.
Surfer examines four key areas:
- Keyword usage
- NLP usage
You get a score between 1 and 100, with articles that have scores closer to 100 having a higher chance of ranking well in search engines. Using images and hitting the tool’s recommended word count help your content to score higher.
Semrush’s tool looks at several other factors too:
- Word count
- Use of target and recommended keywords
Though not quite as comprehensive as Surfer’s AI-driven approach, the content tools that Semrush provides still help you determine if your content is properly optimized.
Feature No. 4 – Pricing
Neither Surfer nor Semrush is a free tool. Both cost money to use, with Surfer being the least expensive of the two.
The Surfer basic plan costs $49 per month, which compares well to Semrush’s $119.95 per month Pro tier. The basic plan is good for 120 articles per year, with higher tiers allowing you to create content editors for more articles.
Semrush is far more expensive, with its Business plan costing over $400 per month. Still, its array of features makes it worthwhile for large businesses.
Choose the Right DIY SEO Tools for the Job
The choice between Surfer SEO and Semrush hinges on what you need from your DIY SEO tools.
If you’re focused primarily on writing content, Surfer is an excellent choice. Its AI-driven tools help you to craft content that ranks highly. But if you want to create the most comprehensive SEO strategy possible, Surfer can only provide one piece of the puzzle.
Semrush is an all-in-one solution that covers almost every element of digital marketing. Whether it’s keyword research, local SEO, paid advertising, organic search, or social media, Semrish has tools to help. Unfortunately, those tools come at a high cost, meaning there may be better tools for small businesses or individual bloggers.
This comparison article should help you make a choice between the two tools. But if you need more help, we have a Semrush review, as well as a review of Surfer SEO, to help.