Surfer SEO: The Best Spying Tool on The Market

Last Updated on September 14, 2022 by Marcelo Beilin

There are many SEO spying tools on the market, but none are as good as Surfer when it comes to reverse-engineering your competition in a flash.

This tool is perfect if you want to spy on your competition and see what it is they’re specifically doing to outrank you in Google and then use this information to eliminate your research losses, going for the wins on the backs of their hard work.

Is this unfair? Well… yes, but that also gives you an unfair advantage!

Why is Surfer so powerful compared to their peers? Because it’s one of the first next-gen SEO tools in the marketplace that’s purely driven by AI.

Surfer can completely reverse-engineer the entire content strategy of any competitor using artificial intelligence in a matter of minutes, so you don’t have to waste hours, or perhaps days, piecing together a whole bunch of loosely-tied competitive clues.

In this article, I'll show you how to recreate the entire content strategy of any competitor with the push of a button, including those winning keywords and blog articles that drive the bulk of their traffic as well as the losers you want to stay away from.

Key Takeaways


  • Surfer is a search engine optimization tool that uses the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to help you improve your website's ranking on the Google search engine.
  • Instead of using raw data based on keywords and backlinks captured by their spiders, Surfer uses artificial intelligence to analyze the information it crawls semantically and topically.
  • In my opinion, Surfer is one of the best AI-based SEO spying tools on the market right now, standing heads and shoulders above traditional raw-data driven tools.

Disclosure: Although I receive affiliate compensation at no additional cost to you to support this site that compensation in no way influences my recommendations, which are strictly informed by my 10+ years of online business experience consulting for clients large and small. My aim is to always recommend tools that offer the best return for your investment (for more details, read my Affiliate Disclosure). 

What is Surfer?

Surfer is a search engine optimization tool that uses the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to help you improve your website's ranking on the Google search engine.

One of the benefits of using Surfer is that it gives you an edge over your competition by helping you understand what it is they’re doing with their content to rank higher than you.

Additionally, Surfer provides you with actionable insights so that you can tweak your website’s content to take your search rankings to the next level.

How Is Surfer Different from Other Spying Tools on the Market Today?

Most popular SEO tools on the market today work on a similar premise: they constantly crawl websites to capture vast amounts of competitive information in their databases, such as ranking keywords, traffic, top pages, backlinks, referring domains, etc.

They then give you access to reporting tools that allow you to slice and dice this data through a user interface where you can apply different filters to isolate the competitive information you're looking for.

Let's call the above methodology “SEO spying 1.0,” which is what’s been in place for almost two decades through tools such as Ahrefs, Moz and SEMRush.

SEO Spying 2.0

Now, Surfer operates on a totally different level, let's call this “SEO spying 2.0.” Instead of using raw data based on keywords and backlinks captured by their spiders, it uses artificial intelligence to analyze the information it crawls semantically and topically.

In other words, instead of focusing on a purely mathematical approach to counting keywords, search volumes and website clicks, it takes advantage of the same advanced natural language processing techniques that Google is using to rank pages.

What Are Some of the Features that Make Surfer so Valuable?

Why is this AI-based approach to search rankings so important?

Because the Google algorithm itself is becoming a lot more intelligent than in the past as it moves away from “counting items," to “detecting the meaning of words in order to ascertain whether your website is an authority or not.

If Google deems that you're an expert on a given subject, it'll simply rank you higher in search results even if you haven't earned a lot of backlinks.

So, while tools like Moz and Ahrefs are a reflection of Google's past, Surfer is a projection of Google's future, which is where you should position yourself in order to stay ahead of the competition.

How to Use Surfer to Spy on Your Competition

Let's use a real-world scenario to showcase how Surfer makes use of AI technology to reverse-engineer the entire content strategy of a competitor with the push of a button.

As you’ll see next, Surfer can achieve in a matter of minutes what used to take a trained SEO specialist hours if not days to achieve.

Let's take Surfer for a spin, shall we?

For this example I'll use NeilPatel.com as the guinea pig website to reverse-engineer, since he’s so well known in the SEO industry.

The first thing we need to do is to login to Surfer:

surfer-seo-login

Once logged in, we’re going to click the Content Planner tab:

content-planner

Next, we’re going to click the Domain tab, enter: https://neilpatel.com and click on Create Content Planner.

Surfer’s AI will now go to work and, after several minutes (depending on the size of the target website,) will generate their entire content strategy, as shown below:

pic1-content-planner

As you can see from above, the Content Planner has reverse-engineered NeilPatel.com down to each relevant topic cluster in decreasing order of traffic generation, showing you the average position of each blog post for all keywords in each cluster, the total traffic and the total monthly search volume.

Let's break down the traffic data

Let’s now take a closer look at one of these clusters to see how the spied data is being gathered:

pic2-content-planner

Here you can see that the blog post 10 Sales Tools for Boosting Results Efficiency, and More appears on page 1 of search results, generating 1,774 clicks through a number of relevant keywords.

In fact, Surfer will display this data for the top 100 pages of any website, which are the pages driving most of the traffic.

Next, your job is to go through the clusters one by one so you can map out their entire content marketing strategy, going from their successes (in order to emulate them on your site) to their failures (so you can stay away from them.)

Now you know exactly how your competitors are generating website traffic and what their money keywords are.

Armed with this information, you can now develop your own content strategy by piggybacking on the hard work of your competitors while you let Surfer do all the heavy lifting.

The Cost of Using Surfer

Surfer offers three plans: Basic, Pro and Business:

pic1-content-planner

The basic plan costs $59/month or $49/month if paid annually, the Pro plan costs $119/month or $99/month if paid annually and the Business plan costs $239/month or $199/month if paid annually and they each have a number of usage caps, as shown above.

But, here is the best part: the difference in pricing between plans only affects your monthly caps if you use Surfer for on-page SEO or page auditing (these are features you don't need for the purpose of reverse-engineering your competitor’s content strategies.)

In other words, the Basic plan will be more than adequate for you to perform this task.

While this may change in the future, Surfer does not currently impose any caps on Content Planner instances, so at present you can reverse-engineer the content strategy of as many competitors as you wish!

Wrapping Things Up

In my opinion, Surfer is one of the best AI-based SEO spying tools on the market right now, standing heads and shoulders above traditional raw-data driven tools.

In a matter of minutes, it’ll allow you to spy out the complete content marketing strategy that’s driving your competitors’ online success.

If you're looking to spy on your competition so you can reverse engineer their successful content strategy and gain a competitive edge on search engines, then Surfer is definitely the tool to use.

Marcelo Headshot

About the author

Marcelo Beilin is a Digital Marketing Consultant and blogger who helps clients take their traffic and online revenue to the next level.

He also helps readers find the perfect tools to earn online income at BestTech2EarnOnline.com.

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