What Is Content Intelligence? Definition and Best Practices Behind a Content Intelligence Strategy

Let’s get it straight.

People steer away from average content.

In the sea of billions of pages, only the most relevant, quality content stays afloat.

It’s no fresh news, but delivering such content still appears to be one of the biggest marketing challenges.

The difference between outstanding content and “just good” content boils down to ROI. To be clear, it’s the difference between a positive ROI (return on investment) and none at all. 

This is why the gut feeling is not good enough to drive an effective content marketing strategy. Guesswork won’t take you far.

To build a successful content strategy, you need to understand everything about your parent topic (or a niche), so you can figure out the context of each single content piece. Only then can you confidently plan, prioritize, and execute your strategy.

But bringing this process to life is time-consuming, so it’s best to automate some of the steps in your strategy framework.

This is where Content Intelligence comes in. 

What is Content Intelligence?

Just like you don’t embark on a long road trip without using GPS, you don’t want to start the content journey without the right data.

Content Intelligence is the fastest way to create an effective content strategy for your domain through the power of artificial intelligence, data, and automation. It helps you deliver the most comprehensive answer that people search for while speeding up the most time-consuming tasks like research, outline creation, and writing. 

It’s the framework that we base the entire Surfer toolset on.

Content Intelligence is the best way to remove the guesswork and maximize your chances to build authority in any niche.

Instead of separating the process of analysis, topic clustering, and writing, Content Intelligence unites them into one.

Content Intelligence

You can efficiently deliver high-quality AND strategy-compliant content and delight your audience with everything that lands on your website.

Consistent, high-quality content will help you make your brand stand out in your niche. This means:

  •  more returning visitors,
  •  higher conversion rates,
  •  and more visibility in search results

Content Intelligence works at every level of the content lifecycle and can be applied by anyone working with content: writers, SEOs, marketing managers...

Content Intelligence from a writer’s perspective

Content Intelligence means freedom from guessing which topics are relevant to your audience, the writer's remorse when the content goes unread, and the content gap that reduces overall quality.

Content Intelligence reduces your research time by providing you with ready-to-go guidelines: you get information on the structure, search intent, words and phrases to use, and other technicalities. Even if you’re not an expert in the niche you write about, you’ll quickly discover the main topics you should cover for a wholesome experience.

With the right data, writers don’t have to worry about being SEO-compliant and can entirely focus on creating something unique, engaging, and entertaining.

Content Intelligence from an SEO’s perspective

Content Intelligence means a never-ending source of related content topics that will boost your site’s topical relevance and authority. 

With the power to effectively build keyword clusters and topic clusters, you can devise a bulletproof SEO strategy that will hold against even the most difficult SERPs.

With Content Intelligence, you can forget about tiresome, old-school keyword research. With the power to effectively build keyword clusters and topic clusters, you can devise a bulletproof SEO strategy that will hold against even the most difficult SERPs.

On top of that, it gives you the power to quickly uncover content-related SEO shortcomings across your website and among individual pages. You can quickly analyze every article or landing page and optimize it for the best possible performance, with a list of the most relevant words and phrases that search engines will be looking for on your page, structural guidelines, and other recommendations.

Content Intelligence from a business perspective

According to Content Marketing Institute, 89% of most successful companies are extremely/very committed to content marketing and allocate 40% of their budgets to content marketing.

But when companies invest in content, they expect it to work. So if you’ve ever been worried your content marketing is just about pushing out piece after piece without measurable results, Content Intelligence is for you.

Content intelligence is a multiplier for any content marketing efforts. The process provides reliable data for every level of content marketing: strategizing, executing, and measuring. 

It will significantly boost your ROI from content marketing because:

  • your team will work more efficiently, spend lless time on planning and more on execution.
  • It’s a shortcut to better SEO performance, more leads, improved brand awareness, and ultimately, increased revenue.

How do you (actually) use Content Intelligence?

Implementing Content Intelligence doesn’t require you to blow your existing content strategy up and start from scratch. It’s more about cranking up your current processes, enhancing what’s already on your site, and then enriching your future content with data from the get-go.

It boils down to three levels.

Three levels of content intellience: domain data, cluster data, single-page data

Level 1: Domain data

On this level, you look at the entire domain to find the best SEO and content opportunities. You can uncover valuable data with Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Keyword Research Tool for the domain.

You want to answer the following questions:

  • Is all of my website’s content relevant to my niche?
  • What are my main topic clusters (thematically connected sets of related pages and keywords within these pages)?
  • Which existing pages require an update or complete rewrite?
  • What’s the overall health of my domain?

You have to make sure your domain’s content is in a top-notch condition (both according to search engines and the audience). There’s no point in over-focusing on single-page optimization if there are other pages on your domain that drag the rest of your content down.

If your overall domain traffic doesn’t grow, you give an opportunity for your competitors to outgrow you quickly. And for companies that treat content marketing seriously, the traffic is positively correlated with business growth.

Use Content Intelligence to improve your whole domain, get a working optimization plan, and not over-focus on single pages.

Keyword Research Tool for the domain will audit content for your 100 best-performing pages. It will also find the low-hanging fruits for you, so you get a ready-to-go optimization plan without sinking into analytics tools. Here’s a sneak peek:

Level 2: Cluster data

Once you know which topics and topic clusters are the most relevant right now for your domain, it’s essential to figure out which pages you need to include in each content cluster.

It’s good practice to focus on one cluster at a time to fully dominate one topic and start getting organic traffic to your site.

Sites that write on many different topics instead of focusing on their niche have a hard time ranking. It’s because Google has been putting a lot of emphasis on topical relevance and authority.

For example, a website called Gear Hungry went from one of the most popular affiliate websites to barely standing after Google's December 2020 Core Update. While auditing the site, SEO expert Matt Diggity discovered that one of the causes could be the variety of topics it covered.

Do you know the saying “jack of all trades, master of none?” That’s how Google sees our sites now.

On this level, you want to answer the following questions:

  • Which topics do I have to add to my website to dominate my niche?
  • Which topic clusters should I prioritize?
  • Which keyword clusters should I focus on?
  • How much content do I need to produce to build authority?

The typical approach for creating a content strategy is to do most of the work manually, for example, by going from one competitor site to another. But with Content Intelligence, you can ditch the manual job and automate the whole process.

With Keyword Research Tool, another Content Intelligence tool, you can discover the most relevant keyword clusters for your main topic clusters. Here are a few clusters for the keyword “coffee machines” that are ready-to-go content ideas for you:

Level 3: Single-page data

Finally, when you have found which content underperforms and which content you’re missing to build your topical relevance, it’s time for the single-page data level: creating content that’s optimized from the start.

While every topic requires a unique angle and simply good writing (and this is something no tool in the world can help you with), various data points will help you structure your article, determine how long your page should be, find relevant words and phrases to use, and so on.

Marrying creativity with hard data is the only way to have your content stick out in today’s competitive landscape. Plus, SEO and user-friendliness aren’t mutually exclusive! Google wants high-quality content just like your readers, and your readers want topical relevance and clear structure just like Google.

We believe that by providing writers with the right data, they don’t have to worry about technicalities and can entirely focus on creating something unique, engaging, and entertaining.

On a single-page level, you want to answer the following questions:

  • What’s the best structure for my content?
  • Which phrases are relevant to my audience and search engines?
  • What content form is the best to meet the user intent

With Content Editor, you'll discover relevant guidelines for your text—both technical details and best topics and phrases to cover. With certainty. you will work faster, and you will be able to focus on writing well. Those who can use Content Editor to easily create ready-to-go content briefs.

The 5 key benefits of Content Intelligence

Letting smart algorithms do most of the heavy lifting gets you benefits unavailable for businesses with the traditional approach to content.

1) You deliver the best answers to questions that people search for

With Content Intelligence, you get the data on phrases and topics your audience expects from you when searching for a particular keyword.

If you can’t meet those expectations, someone else will. And search engines always promote pages that offer the best answer. So you just have to be the best to rank high and attract organic traffic consistently.

2) You create more user-centric content

When you don’t have to focus on technicalities, you have more time to write something unique and outstanding—while still knowing the content will perform well.

You will be able to deliver something that your audience wants and actively searches for. You will have data on what they expect from your content regarding topics and questions without tiresome investigation.

3) You speed up the content creation process

With Content Intelligence, the time from ideation to content creation shrinks.

Since you can ditch manual keyword research and outline creation, you can get to writing faster or quickly deliver accurate outlines for your writers.

This means, at the end of a month, you may end up with 15 perfectly written pages instead of 10. The impact is palpable.

4) You create the whole content strategy much faster

When you have the right data at your fingertips, you can put guesswork away and base your content strategy on facts. No more missed shots: each content marketing effort you take will have measurable results.

And with Content Intelligence tools, you will come up with topic ideas, competition analysis, and keyword research much, much faster. The question is: what other exciting marketing campaign can you do with the time you have left? 

5) You build topical authority in any niche

When you use the Content Intelligence approach, “impossible” keywords become possible.

You get a clear roadmap on how to build topical relevance and move the needle for your domain. With ideas from Keyword Research Tool, you can deliver dozens of topically related pages that would can your position as an authority in any niche.

And that can result in more organic traffic, returning visitors, and more contacts on your email list.

Content Intelligence FAQ

How do I measure the effectiveness of Content Intelligence?

You can measure your Content Intelligence efforts just like you would measure activities around content marketing. Monitor user behavior, engagement, SEO success, and revenue.

Surfer’s Keyword Research Tool for the domain allows you to connect your Google Search Console with Surfer’s data so you can see right away the impact Content Intelligence has on your SEO.

As Content Intelligence serves your brand, you should track user-related metrics like returning visitors, conversion rate, etc.

With improved user engagement and more organic traffic, you should have no trouble generating more leads and having a bigger ROI.

Content Intelligence streamlines your content creation process as well. And while publishing new content shouldn’t be a goal itself, it’s an excellent leading metric that reflects your team’s efficiency.

What types of businesses could benefit the most from Content Intelligence?

First and foremost, businesses that rely on content marketing and SEO as their main marketing channel. If you publish new content more than three times per month, Content Intelligence will make a huge difference in your results. 

Secondly, Content Intelligence is a great selling point for SEO and content agencies. If your clients frequently ask for a full-fledged strategy for their domains, you will save hours of planning by incorporating the right technology into the process. This is critical for all service-based businesses. 

How do I scale my content efforts with Content Intelligence? 

With intelligent content drafts, you can produce more content and outsource more content creation to external writers. When they get a whole set of headlines, words and phrases, and topics to cover, there’s much less room for human error. At the same time, you don’t waste hours on keyword research and outline creation.

With automated keyword clustering, you will always have your content pipeline full of content ideas without tiresome research.

And with site-wide audits, you won’t waste your time prioritizing wrong pages for optimization and running single-page checkups. 

You can 2x your content pipeline in a matter of weeks once your standard operating procedures are in place.

Do I have to remake my existing content strategy completely? 

Definitely not! If you already have a content plan for the upcoming months, you can enrich your content briefs with additional data points. You can also go back to your existing content and check its quality and relevance with Content Score.

If your current strategy works for you, Content Intelligence will speed up the execution and optimization processes, so you will see results faster. 


Content Intelligence helps you plan, execute and refine content marketing strategy for your whole domain.

It takes care of the nitty-gritty of your content marketing strategy and saves you hours of time you would normally spend on research, ideation, auditing, and more.

The end result? Well-optimized, topically relevant domain with LOTS of high-quality to-the-point content that helps you engage your audience, rank high in search engines and meet business goals. All of that faster and more efficient than ever before.

With Surfer’s Content Intelligence toolset: Keyword Research Tool, Content Editor, and domain-wide content audit you will turn your content marketing & your whole domain into a well-oiled machine that fulfills all your content goals.

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Screenshot of Surfer SEO Content Editor interface, displaying the 'Essential Content Marketing Metrics' article with a content score of 82/100. The editor highlights sections like 'Key Takeaways' and offers SEO suggestions for terms such as 'content marketing metrics