Surfer SEO and Frase are both tools that aim to help you create high-quality content that ranks well in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
But which tool should you use? And are these solutions worth the money?
After using both for a few years now, here is my take on Surfer SEO versus Frase.
Surfer SEO Overview
Surfer SEO is a content optimization tool that helps you improve your on-page SEO. It comes with a suite of different features including:
- Content Editor: This is my favourite Surfer SEO feature. It analyses the existing SERP for a keyword and then gives insight on the ideal word length, terms to use and page structure.
- SERP Analyzer: This tool analyses the SERP for a given keyword and provides detailed insight on what the top pages are doing right.
- Audit: This tool allows you to audit existing pages and identify any shortcomings in page content, site speed, backlinks etc.
- Content Planner: This tools uses natural language processing to group keywords for a niche into topics and identifies the overarching search intent.
- Keyword Research: This feature is a standard keyword research tool, much like Ahref's keyword planner or SEMrush's keyword magic tool, albeit not as powerful.
They have also recently introduced an AI writing assistant tool called, Surfy, which I haven't used yet so can't comment.
Writers, marketers and basically anyone with a website can use it to ensure they are creating relevant content around their target keywords. It can also help them find new keywords and optimize existing content and pages.
Here's what I like and dislike about Surfer SEO. See my full review of Surfer SEO.
I really like Surfer's content editor. It gives clear suggestions on how to optimise content, has an easy to understand interface and the traffic light scoring system, although a little gimmicky, is really useful.
There is a gamification element to Surfer's insight that I think can result in people optimising at the expense to more critical SEO components like search intent and readability.
The Audit feature is also a great tool. You can very quickly work out any shortcomings in existing content as well as see how your content stakes up against competitor pages.
For beginners or lite users, the cost of Surfer's software is quite prohibitive.
I also like Surfer's content planner, although I'm a bigger fan of tools like KeyClusters, where I can control the keyword inputs and get real-time insight from the SERP, instead of relying on NLP analysis.
They are constantly improving the software and adding more features, which is great. The community, academy and support around the software is amazing too.
Frase is my go-to tool for creating content briefs. Like Surfer, it also has an optimization tool, but for me it really excels in creating detailed content briefs.
Like Surfer, in Frase you feed the software a keyword and it analyses the SERP to provide insight on ideal word length, number of headings, topics and questions. The tool enables you to see what your competitors are doing to get to the top of the SERPs.
Frase’s features include:
- Content Brief and Outline Builder: This is my favourite feature, and I personally prefer it to Surfer. The brief and outline feature is very versatile and provides a wealth of information, including the People Also Ask SERP, and insight from sites like Reddit and Quora.
- Content Editor: This feature is similar to Surfer's content editor but in my opinion not as good or useful. Hence, why I use Surfer for content optimisation.
- AI Writer and AI Writer Templates: The AI writer in Frase is very impressive and I sometimes use it when I have writers block. It's not as good as Jasper, but it's not far off either.
Here's what I like and dislike about Frase. See our full review of Frase.
The brief and outline generator in Frase is fantastic. It provides very comprehensive insight on the SERP, as well as insight from platforms like Quora and Reddit. You'll able to automate a brief using standard templates, or generate your own - which is what I do.
Frase can be a little glitchy. I'm not sure if this is because our whole team at Contentellect use it or because it is genuinely glitchy, but sometimes it's difficult to access or closes unexpectedly.
The AI writing assistant is very easy to use and actually quite good - sometimes scary good!
You only get 30 briefs on the Basic plan s if you're like us and need many more monthly briefs then the pricing is quite punchy.
The help and support is top notch. Onboarding when you sign-up is slick and if you have a question, there is usually lots of answers in the help centre.
Key Differences Between Surfer SEO and Frase
While Surfer SEO and Frase are both content optimization tools, they are by no means the same thing. There are some key differences that set them apart and make each of them better suited for different purposes.
Surfer SEO focuses more on optimizing content and improving on-page SEO. Its Content Editor is a great tool to use to ensure you’re creating content that is on par with your competitors.
Surfer SEO is also built to make it easy to collaborate. You can easily share links to Content Editor queries that writers can work directly in. This is a great feature if you have a team of writers/collaborators or if you outsource your content creation.
Frase leans more toward creating highly-detailed briefs and content outlines as well as AI content generation.
While Surfer SEO also has an AI content generation feature, it isn’t as developed as Frase’s one yet. This means that you can create content drafts much quicker using Frase as the AI content is ready to use.
Surfer SEO vs Frase Feature Comparison
Now, let’s get into some more detail. Here is a comparison of Frase’s features versus Surfer SEO’s and which tool I think comes out on top for each of them.
Content Outline or Brief
A good brief or outline is the starting point of great content creation. It gives you direction so that you know what to cover when writing. Without a brief, it’s easy to go off-topic and include information that isn’t entirely relevant to your target audience.
Surfer SEO and Frase both take your target keyword and analyze the top-ranking pages in the SERPs.
By analysing the competitors that currently rank at the top of the search results for a specific keyword, these tools can provide recommendations on what keywords or topics to include, how long your content should be, related questions, heading ideas and more.
With both tools, you can go through the list of competing pages and select or unselect the pages being analyzed. This way, you can remove ones that perhaps aren’t as relevant or that don’t have much content on them.
When it comes to creating a good brief using this information, Frase takes the cake.
I like that you can select exactly what sections you want to include in your brief. Frase lets you include:
- Writing guidelines
- People Also Ask SERP
- SERP results for research
- Topic Clusters
- Keyword-based questions from Quora and Reddit
- Interesting statistics from the SERP results
This lets you create a very comprehensive brief, making it ideal for content writing agencies. You can easily share the briefs as their own documents so writers don’t need to open the editor or sign in to Frase to use them.
Surfer SEO, on the other hand, provides a content outline in their content editor under three tabs: Guidelines, Outline and Brief.
The Guidelines section provides general writing guidelines on content length, the number of paragraphs, headings and images to include, as well as what keywords to mention and at what density.
The Outline tab features Surfer SEO’s Outline Builder with AI-generated headings and content that you could include in your content if you wanted to. It also provides a couple of topic and question suggestions that you could cover.
Lastly, the Brief tab is where you can type in any additional notes for the writer and where you can find the list of competing pages for the main keyword.
While Surfer SEO does provide a decent starting point, I find that it just doesn’t provide the same level of detail for a brief that Frase does.
Both Frase and Surfer SEO have content editors where you can type up your content as you go. These tools are both pretty similar as you can see what keywords to include and how many times you should include them as you write.
They also both give you content scores out of 100. With Surfer SEO, anything over 70 is pretty much considered a good score. Frase gives you a percentage and provides the average score of the competing pages so that you can get a quick understanding of your content compared with theirs.
The content editor is probably the biggest selling point of Surfer SEO. Everything is laid out well and you can even hook it up to Google Docs to make it as easy as possible to write your content.
It’s also very satisfying to get all the suggested terms in when writing in the Surfer SEO editor as they turn green and boost your score up. However, it can be quite time-consuming and I’ve found that it sometimes includes irrelevant suggestions.
Frase is similar but I find that it gives much lower keyword densities and the suggested terms are a bit more general while still being relevant to the topic. This makes it a lot easier and quicker to include them all, but doesn't give you the level of granularity that Surfer does.
AI Content Generation
What makes Frase really stand out from Surfer is its AI Writer. This can help make your content creation much faster.
Frase’s AI Writer can do the following:
- Rewrite your content (sentences, paragraphs, or entire articles)
- Create an introduction for a blog post
- Provide title ideas based on your keyword
- Turn bullet points into answers or paragraphs
- Write out an answer to a given question
- Turn product or service features into benefits
- Create a draft for a how-to blog post
- Write follow-up paragraphs and sentences
- And more
These features make it super easy to create blog posts and articles and can cut down the time you spend writing significantly. They also work pretty well and you can get some usable content from the Frase AI writer.
Surfer SEO does offer some AI content generation in its Content Editor. It provides AI-generated titles, headings and questions with answers that you can insert into your content.
However, I don’t find these to be particularly helpful or ready-to-use. The wording isn’t great and they don’t always make sense. I think the best way to use this feature is to just get some general ideas for you content and write everything yourself.
Surfer SEO does integrate with Jasper AI so you can use these tools together to create plagiarism-free content in no time. However, you do need to then pay for both tools, which can get quite pricey.
Other Tools and Features
Now that we’ve been through the features that Surfer SEO and Frase have in common, I want to touch on some of the areas in which these solutions differ.
With Surfer SEO, you get access to several other tools to help you plan out your content strategy and optimize your content (existing and new).
There’s an Audit feature that scores your existing website pages so you can see how to improve them. This can be really helpful if you’re a website owner with an already-established site with lots of content on it.
Surfer SEO also has Keyword Research and Content Planner tools. These tools let you dig a bit deeper into a topical or seed keyword, which is great if you’re just starting a website or content plan.
Lastly, it has a SERP Analyzer. This lets you analyze the top ranking pages for a specific keyword so that you can really see what your competitors are doing and what sort of content you need to create in order to rank high.
Beside its AI writing functions, which I mentioned earlier, Frase offers a couple of SEO tools too.
It has the Outline Builder, GSC Analytics tool, Wikipedia Concept Map and Topic Planner (Beta).
The Outline Builder basically takes a keyword and then provides similar ones and related questions asked on Google. You can then select some questions and Frase uses them to compose an outline/brief for your content in its content editor.
The GSC Analytics feature enables you to integrate Frase with Google Search Console (GSC). So, you can keep track of your website growth and performance from Frase.
With the Wikipedia Concept Map, you can take a topic found in Wikipedia and create a visual map that connects that main topic to related sub-topics.
Lastly, the Topic Planner (which is still in Beta at the time of writing) helps you find long-tail keywords for a seed keyword.
Surfer SEO vs Frase Pricing
Surfer SEO offers three pricing plans:
- Basic: $59 per month ($49 per month when paid annually)
- Pro: $119 per month ($99 per month when paid annually)
- Business: $239 per month ($199 per month when paid annually)
Each plan provides a limit on the number of Content Editor queries and Audits you want to do per month so you can choose a plan that suits your content needs.
You also get access to the SERP Analyzer and Content Planner with all plans so that you can make full use of Surfer SEO.
Frase has three pricing tiers:
- Basic: $44.99 per month ($39.99 per month when paid annually)
- Team: $114.99 per month ($99.99 per month when paid annually)
- Enterprise: Custom pricing plan
For unlimited access to Frase’s AI Writer, you also need to get the SEO Add-on with your subscription. This is an extra $35 per month.
All plans include automated brief creation, content scores, content editor access and custom templates.
The Verdict: Which Is Better?
Surfer SEO and Frase both offer useful tools and features that enable you to produce high-quality content. But, which one you choose is really dependent on your needs as they excel in different ways.
When it comes to creating detailed briefs and AI-assisted drafts, Frase comes out on top.
It gives you a very good starting point for your content. You can easily see your competitors and what they’re doing and build content outlines very quickly.
Then, you can use Frase’s content editor and AI Writer to build your drafts and help you knock out your article in no time.
So, if you manage a team of writers or handle A LOT of content in your job (we handle over 1 million words a month), you’ll find Frase really valuable. It makes it really easy to manage your content creation and even provides some helpful SEO tools.
Surfer SEO, on the other hand, is a great option if you’re looking for an all-in-one content optimization and planning solution for your website. It allows you to delve a little deeper into SEO and optimize both your new and old content.
I think that Surfer SEO is probably better suited to website owners wanting to produce or optimize a lot of existing content.
To break it down, if you want more in-depth SEO analysis, then Surfer SEO is probably the better tool for you. But, if you’re looking to speed up and enhance your content creation, Frase is the way to go.