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How to Write and Optimize in Surfer Content Editor

How to Write and Optimize in Surfer Content Editor

Inside this article:

You cannot rank your page for a keyword without content—that’s a fact.

And the best way to rank your content in search results is to answer the question better than your organic competition.

Therefore, smart SEOs analyze top ranking pages before they create a new article or landing page. 

Smarter SEOs automate their analysis with tools as much as possible. 

Content Editor allows you to comprehensively cover the topic you’re writing on. Based on top ranking pages, it generates a list of words and phrases you need to include to rank well.

Besides that, it calculates the number of words and structural elements, and advises you on the secondary keywords and questions to answer.

This article is going to save your time and increase the quality of your content work if you:

  • outsource the content creation
  • review/optimize content from a copywriter,
  • create content yourself and want to optimize it for SEO

Pick the best keyword(s) to target with new content

Before we will create the first draft (aka. Content Editor), we need to pick the phrase that we want to target.

There are thousands of ways for finding the best keywords and almost every SEO in the industry has their own habits related to that job. If you like to keep all your work in one tool as I do, Surfer’s Keyword Research is a great source to pick your target phrase.

#1 Surfer’s Keyword Research tool 

Keyword Research is an unlimited resource of millions of keywords. To start using it, log into your account and visit the “Keyword Research” tab.

Now, you need to put the main keyword (or multiple keywords) and choose a location. It can be just a word related to the subject that you want to write on! 

In a blink of an eye, you’ll not only get information about the provided keywords but multiple related phrases with the similarity level, and average monthly search volume.

Surfer uses reverse engineering to provide the similarity level of each phrase. How does it work? 

The tool analyzes SERPs of each phrase and looks for at least two same URLs in the top 20. If there's 65% SERP similarity between "content marketing" and "what is content marketing”, then 13 URLs from the top 20 are shared between those two SERPs (65% of all pages). 

Based on that you may add some secondary keywords to your content and increase the chances to rank for it with the same page. 

Or decide to target it with a different piece of content if you prefer.

For your convenience, Surfer allows you to save the best keywords in the clipboard. You can use the list of selected phrases for additional research to extend your keywords list.

Shortcuts located by each phrase can be used for generating guidelines for the keyword in Content Editor or running SERP Analyzer and dive into correlations.

Keyword Research has more awesome functionalities that allow checking not only related phrases but relevant questions and terms that contain search queries as well.

Read more about the Keyword Research tool. 

#2 Using Google and Keyword Surfer extension

The quickest and easiest method for generating new ideas is to check Google hints.

While this method may seem more daunting, you can find keywords that you would not be likely to come up with on your own and that are worth considering.

I recommend installing the Keyword Surfer plugin beforehand to streamline this process—this way, you will see some general information about volumes of queries.  

Keyword Surfer is a free Chrome plugin that draws data from Surfer’s database and displays it in real-time Google searches. Simple, clean, and very helpful for quick research.

Create a draft

When we finally have a keyword to target with the new piece of content, let’s create a query in Content Editor.

The guidelines will be based on your competitor’s content. Put your main keyword, scraping device (mobile/desktop), localization and decide if you want to enrich the data with the NLP powered analysis. 

Choosing the NLP option, you’ll get more suggestions for words and phrases that Google finds relevant for your main topic. I recommend to use it for highly competitive keywords.

If you want to learn more about NLP, Slawek (CEO of Surfer) explains it in his article on NLP and on-page SEO. 
Quick Tip:
Use mobile scrape instead of desktop. It is the mobile-first indexing era and this option will give you the most relevant results. 

Creating guidelines takes around 30 seconds. That’s when Surfer analyzes the top ten pages in terms of their content so you get precise suggestions for your piece.

Once it’s done, you get tips regarding the length, structure, and words to use in your text.

As you know, to rank high you should always create a piece of content that will be competitive for the best performers from SERP. 

Adjust the guidelines

You can start writing right away or take a moment to refine your draft. This additional one or two minutes may have a big impact on the overall quality. It is especially important if you want to rank for difficult phrases.

Once you pick your competitors and save your changes, Surfer will adjust the list of phrases and word count.

Prep work

The right prep-work is a key for quality on-page optimization.

Not every page in the tops will be your real competitor. Sometimes it’s due to different search intent, and other times because of their domain’s strength.

To maximize the potential of on-page content optimization, you need to pay attention to selecting the right competitors. 

Read more about picking the right competitors in the advanced article prepared by my fellow marketer, Karolina. 

In this example, I excluded 3 pages: Moz—due to its different page type (category), as well as pages on positions 4 and 10. They are much shorter and should not be my points of reference here.

Once I’ve excluded those pages, I have my guidelines based on long-form pieces from my competitors.

Only when you click the “save” button, the numbers and densities will update in the sections below. 

The word count

The suggested number of words is the average length of the text in the pages we have chosen for our analysis. Try to create your content with a similar length. That way you will use your copywriter’s time effectively and give yourself better chances for a higher position in Google.

The length of the text influences the density of every phrase you use in the text. This is the moment you should define the number of words you aim for. Surfer will do the math. 


Let’s have a look at the key phrases and important words as well as other phrases we recommend to use in your content.

Suggested words are semantically close to the main keyword. This is critical to use them in your piece. A comprehensive description of the given issue with specified words and phrases (which are closely related to our keyword) positively impacts the ranking.

If you’ve selected NLP entities analysis this section will be enriched with the data from the Google NLP API. 

If you decide that some of suggested words do not meet your expectations, click on them and they will be removed from the list.

Surfer aims to give you words valuable for your readers, however from time to time you will find words like “if”, “why”, “should” on your list — invest some time to scan the guideline and remove those words for the clarity of your list.

You can add more related keywords by pressing the +Add term button. The list will be sorted by their popularity and the similarity to the analyzed phrase. 

Topic and Questions

In the Content Editor, you will find the list of questions asked by Google users. 

As you know, content SEO optimization is not about the list of the keywords and their density in the text but about providing the actual value to the reader.

That is why you should spend a few minutes here and add relevant questions and topics besides those generated automatically.

If you outsource your content, let the copywriter know what the text is about. After all, every subject can be approached differently.

It’s your task to assure your content is written in the best possible way, right?

The notes

This is where you can add some additional information about the content type inspirations, the deadline, and client’s preferences. You can also skip this section.

Finally, the guidelines are ready.

As you see, even with some basic customization it won’t take more than a few minutes. 

Share the editor or the guidelines

With Content Editor, cooperation with the external content creators comes down to sharing a unique link and letting them do their work. Everyone with the link is able to create content based on the guidelines, without logging into the app.

If you work with the content creators outside of your organization, they will be able to use the Content Editor without having a Surfer account on their own. 

Click here to see sample interactive editor. 

Write in the Content Editor

The key advantage of the editor is that the values update instantly during the creation process.

The Content Editor lets you verify the progress of your text’s optimization when you write. All guidelines are visible in the right sidebar, while the content is written in the well-equipped WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)

The structure of the article is analyzed automatically, and every word and phrase from the bank of important words has its own counter. 

The limits on the usage of given words

Every word has its own optimal density. The color will go green when you use the particular word as many times as recommended. You can use it more frequently and Surfer will let you know when you are pushing it too hard.

Try to write your text so it has as many words marked green as possible. It is not easy to achieve the ideal density of every word and you shouldn’t be too niggling about that. The more green words, the higher the quality—that interests you the most.

Quick Tip: Click on the word or phrase to see how it was used by your competitors! It might be a great way to get inspired! :) 

Verify the optimization 

The content written in the shared editor shows in Surfer in real-time. 

Verification is all about checking if all elements are colored green. No more manual searches through the articles in the pursuit of missing words and phrases.

Look at the example below—it looks pretty good, but there is still some room for improvement.

Phrases marked yellow and red were not used in the article enough times.

The red exclamation mark means your density is too high. Try reducing its frequency to the optimal level. 

Surfer will cross out any tips once you implement them in the text. They are not crucial for your text and it is enough if you use them just once.

Export the prepared content

There are two ways of exporting your finished content. The first one is simply copy and paste the article to your favorite CMS.

Styles are copying well, headings and lists should also look just fine. You should check with your own CMS if this way is good.

The other one is to export the text in a form of the HTML file.

Upload it to the server or paste it to the HTML editor.


If you have some big content plans ahead of you, Content Editor will help you squeeze the most out of your words

Pick your competitors wisely, use suggested words and phrases, and keep your word count similar to your competitors. That way, you’ll be able to achieve higher positions for your phrases and hopefully, get tons of additional traffic.

Good luck!