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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.

That’s why smart SEOs analyze top-ranking pages before they create a new article or landing page. 

And smarter SEOs automate their analysis with tools as much as possible. Because tools have something a human analysis will never have: loads of data, advanced algorithms, connection with Google API, and a mistake-free robot brain.

One of such tools is Surfer Content Editor. And we believe it’s the top player in its field.

Content Editor allows you to fully cover the topic you’re writing about and make it rank for one or more keywords of your choice. Based on top ranking pages and Surfer’s original algorithms, it generates a list of words and phrases you need to include to rank well.

What's REALLY cool is that it works with Google Docs and WordPress, so you can work with your content wherever you prefer.

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

  1. outsource the content creation
  2. review/optimize content from a copywriter,
  3. create content yourself and want to optimize it for SEO

I will walk you through the whole process of using Content Editor to create the BEST possible content in the entire SERP.

Let’s roll the Surfer tutorial!

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

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

There are thousands of ways to find the best keywords, and almost every SEO in the industry has their habits.

Of course, the Surfer toolset allows you to run keyword research, too. 

In the Keyword Research tool, you can find information about your main keyword and multiple related phrases with the similarity level (what percentage of results overlap in the SERP for your keyword and the SERP for the related keyword) and average monthly search volume.

Feel free to use it for research before you create your Content Editor query.

Our video guide will tell you all there is to know about performing keyword research with Surfer.

We also have a piece about the art of keyword research and evaluation, so check it out!

Create a draft

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

Content Editor allows you to create a one-keyword or multi-keyword analysis.

To create a query for one keyword, simply type it in and click “create a query.”

To create a multi-keyword analysis, you need to type in a list of phrases. Then, you’ll have a choice of creating three separate or one joined query.

Quick tip: multi-keyword analysis works best when you target very similar keywords. It’s also easiest to rank for them with one piece. You can estimate the similarity of different terms with the Keyword Research tool, manually in some spreadsheets or with our free chrome extension—Keyword Surfer.
creating a query in Surfer Content Editor

Then, you need to choose the 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 using it for highly competitive keywords.

If you want to learn more about NLP, Slawek, the SEO of Surfer, explains it in his article on NLP and on-page SEO.

Creating guidelines takes around 30 seconds.

a ready query in Surfer Content Editor

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

Here’s the beauty of Content Editor 2.0

You don’t HAVE TO adjust the guidelines. 

We strived to create an algorithm that will give you the best possible suggestions to help you get the highest Content Score possible and dominate all SERPs. We’re confident that our advice will provide you with optimal results.

But of course, some people like to have full control of their content. If you’re one of these power users, you can make tweaks to the guidelines.

Now, let’s go through the optimization process step by step.

Picking competitors

First, you can take a look into the competitor list and pick the ones you find relevant.

Surfer automatically picks competitors with the highest Content Score—which is our original metric for assessing content quality. Its value can range from 0 to 100, based on the pages’ content and its relevance to a given keyword. Generally speaking, all pages that surpass the threshold of 67 can be considered high-quality. If you want to know more about Content Score, I recommend you to read our release note!

Has Surfer not included one of the top pages because it has low-quality content, but you recognize the brand as your direct competitor and want to add it to the analysis? No problem.

Or maybe you noticed that one highly-graded page slightly misses the search intent, and since search intent is one of the most important ranking factors, you want to exclude it? Also possible.

If you don’t feel satisfied with the top 10, you can also load ten more pages and add it to the analysis.

For multi-keyword analysis, this list will include the most relevant competitors for all keywords.

picking competitors in surfer content editor

Content structure 

The suggested number of words is the average content length of the pages we have chosen for our analysis. Try to create 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.

But, of course, you can adjust the length to your liking. And Surfer will automatically adjust the rest of the numbers to go in-line with the length—like paragraphs, headings, images, or density of important terms.

adjusting content length in surfer content editor

Terms to use

Let’s look at the key phrases and words we recommend to use in your content.

I’m sure the question arises: how does Surfer choose them?

In the first edition of Content Editor, we used an algorithm called True Density. It was about calculating the right term density in relation to the content length.

But the density doesn’t tell the truth about the importance of a term.

We boosted our algorithm with additional tech (including Google's AI and Machine Learning processes) to sort all terms to use and calculate their relevance. Now, your most relevant keywords are chosen based on their prominence in your competitors’ content.

And if you selected NLP entities analysis, this section will be enriched with the data from the Google NLP API. 

These changes to the algorithm are now the core of Content Editor.

We’re confident that our suggested terms will help you achieve great results. But sometimes, you need to prioritize, add, or even blacklist stuff you deem irrelevant, and that’s okay.

First of all, you can just disable some terms and not have them appear in the guidelines. You can group them and add them to the blacklist.

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

Secondly, you can prioritize some phrases by marking them as ones you or your copywriter have to use in the headings. 

Third, you can filter the NLP terms.

picking terms to use in surfer content editor

Topics and questions

In Content Editor, you will find the list of topics and questions you can address in your content.

As you know, SEO optimization is not just about the list of the keywords and their density in the text. It’s also about providing value to the reader. That’s how you meet the search intent and avoid content gaps.

Including the right topics and questions is especially important if you outsource your content. Let the copywriter know what the text is about. After all, every subject can be approached differently.

The questions we suggest are taken from Google’s People Also Ask section, your competitors’ content, and our own database. We aim to propose the most relevant ones, but you can mix and match them to your liking. Or add your own!

topics and questions in surfer content editor

The notes

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

The notes are fully customizable. You get the same options you have in any content editor.

Plus, you can insert your chosen list of competitors here for a neat bunch of links. This is useful when you’re sharing your content with external copywriters who won’t have access to the customization panel.

Now, the guidelines are ready.

As you see, even with your own adjustments, it won’t take more than a few minutes. 

notes in surfer content editor

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 can create content based on the guidelines without logging into the app.

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

And that’s not all. We provide a Google Chrome plugin that works with many popular CMSes like WordPress, Webflow, and Google Docs! So you and your writers don’t even have to leave the tool of choice to work with Surfer.

sharing content editor

Write in 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 sidebar on the right, while the content is being written. And all sections update in real time. You can treat it as seo recommendation template that adjusts to your keywords.

Let’s talk about two of the sidebar’s elements that might need additional explanation: Content Score & the terms to use.

writing in surfer content editor

Content Score

I mentioned the Content Score before—our original metric for assessing content quality. 

You can see the Content Score all the time in the sidebar. It shows you how good your content is right now, as well as the maximum content score you can achieve with your current settings.

Why don’t all settings allow you to hit the 100? The answer is simple: the guidelines are mostly competitor-based. And sometimes your competitors’ content is graded so lowly that the content bases on optimal settings just isn’t worth a max score.

But it’s not a bad thing: clearly, for these SERPs, content quality is not THAT important. Just outdoing your competitors is enough; you don’t need perfect 100s across the board!

The content score makes it easy for you to monitor your or your writer’s progress.

content score in surfer content editor
Quick tip: if your content scored 95 in Content Editor, but after publication, the score drops to 80, for example, it doesn’t mean that the metric is broken. It indicates that your site has a lot of text outside your main content. You might want to check that out!

The limits on the usage of given words

Every word has the optimal number of times it should be used.

This number is visible in the box that contains the word or phrase.

The box’s color will go green when you use the particular word as many times as recommended—or a bit more, but still within acceptable limits. 

The yellow color means you’re getting there but still haven’t used the word enough times. 

And if you go too hard on a word, Surfer will let you know with an exclamation point.

The more green you see, the better. But it’s not easy to achieve the ideal density of every word, and you shouldn’t stress too much about that. Try to hit the highest possible number—but remember, what matters most is that your text makes sense to your users. Slapping keywords at random places won’t get them a better reading experience. Plus, it won’t do anything for your Content Score.

Quick tip: click on the word or phrase to see how your competitors used it! It’s a great way to get inspired.
checking examples of keyword usage in surfer content editor

Verify the optimization

If you have copywriters working for you, here’s the good news: you won’t have to go through their texts word-by-word just to verify if they’re properly optimized for SEO.

Now, there are just two places you can look at to find out:

The Content Score and the suggested terms. 

If the Content Score is as high as you want it, the text is looking good.

And if almost all the boxes turned green, you can rest assured there’s nothing more to add.

Export the prepared content

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

Styles, headings, and lists should look the same way they did inside the editor. But always re-check everything properly in your CMS.

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

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

export to html option in surfer content editor


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

Adjust the guidelines if you feel like it, and stick to them. Hit the max content score, answer the suggested questions, and turn all the phrases green. 

That way, you’ll achieve higher positions for your phrases and, hopefully, get tons of additional traffic.