Clearscope is one of the most popular content optimization tools in 2023, but it has a lot of competition. MarketMuse is our favorite Clearscope alternative, but SurferSEO may be a better choice if you’re on a tight budget.
Here’s what you should know about them and the other best options on the market.
The 8 Best Clearscope Alternatives in 2023
- MarketMuse: Best Overall
- Surfer SEO: Low-Budget Alternative
- Frase: Best for Simple Copy Briefs
- PageOptimizer Pro
- SEMrush Content Assistant
- Content Harmony
The Best Clearscope Alternatives Compared
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MarketMuse: Best Overall
MarketMuse is the market leader in the content optimization tool market. Founded in 2013, the company was the first to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) for content strategy and search engine optimization (SEO).
Unlike the other entries on this list, MarketMuse has a patent for its unique semantic keyword analysis software. Their scientists are among the few to reverse engineer Google’s topical modeling technology.
That’s what the search engine uses to determine which topics relate to each other. In other words, MarketMuse can analyze your content through the same lens of topical authority Google uses to rank articles on its search engine results pages (SERPs).
As a result, MarketMuse is generally more effective than its competitors at content optimization. It’s better at finding the terms most relevant to specific search queries and exposing your website’s content gaps.
While other tools suggest topics that may be irrelevant or even nonsensical, MarketMuse rarely misses the mark. It can even recommend internal and external links for each article to demonstrate your topical authority to Google.
In addition to its SEO tools, MarketMuse offers several features to facilitate your team’s content creation process. For example, you can do all of the following within the software:
- Create a content calendar for your prospective articles
- Generate customized copy briefs and assign them to a content writer
- Track the status of outstanding projects in real-time
Like Clearscope, MarketMuse doesn’t have an AI writing feature. However, the founders have mentioned that it’s next on their to-do list, and they may release one soon.
Unfortunately, MarketMuse charges a pretty penny for its superior on-page and site-wide content optimization tools. There are only two subscription options if you want to produce better content at scale, which cost a whopping $7,200 and $12,000 per year.
However, individual content creators who need to optimize for fewer than 15 search queries per month can get away with MarketMuse’s free version.
If you can afford it, it will pay for itself many times over with the great ROI you’ll generate. We highly recommend MarketMuse.
Also Read: MarketMuse Review
Surfer SEO: Low-Budget Alternative
Surfer SEO is another content optimization tool that competes directly with Clearscope. It offers many similar features that can help your content team create optimized articles, refine existing pages, and recognize content gap issues.
Notably, SEO gurus Matt Diggity, Matthew Woodward, and Steve Toth champion Surfer as their content optimization tool of choice.
Surfer SEO’s content editor tool is where most of its on-page optimization features live. It’s similar to Clearscope’s as both providers analyze the top-ranking articles and help you rank higher by imitating them.
Whether you use the feature to create SEO content from scratch or revamp existing pieces, it provides the following data:
- List of terms and topics to include
- Suggested word, image, and heading count
- Content quality score from 1 to 100 that updates in real-time
In addition to its content editor, Surfer SEO includes one of the most comprehensive SERP analyzer tools on the market. It can pull data for over 500 ranking factors on each top search result, so you can get incredibly granular about reproducing their success.
However, Surfer SEO’s tools are less sophisticated than MarketMuse for SEO. Instead of reproducing Google’s algorithm, Surfer uses correlational technology to tell you about what’s currently winning in the rankings.
As the saying goes, correlation doesn’t equal causation. Its approach may have you copying aspects of top-ranking content that don’t actually contribute to its success.
Does the number of words in the headings really matter?
Of course, the issue doesn’t matter as much if you’re considering Surfer SEO purely as a Clearscope alternative since both providers use the same semantic analysis technology. (Both Surfer and Clearscope use IBM Watson.)
Notably, these two also share the ability to integrate with Google Docs and WordPress. If your content marketing team uses those sites in its workflow, this feature makes Surfer SEO much easier to add to your tech stack.
If you’re interested in AI content generation, they also integrate with the Jasper AI writing tool quite seamlessly.
All that said, Surfer SEO has one significant advantage over both Clearscope and MarketMuse. Namely, its prices are much lower, with the Basic plan starting at just $49 per month. If your budget is tight, your dollar may go furthest with Surfer.
Frase: Best for Simple Copy Briefs
Frase is a content creation and optimization tool designed to help you with every aspect of the publishing process. Its features revolve around four steps: researching, outlining, writing, and optimizing content.
Frase receives public endorsement from SEO luminaries Kevin Indig and Brendan Hufford on their homepage.
The research assistance feature works a lot like SurferSEO’s SERP analyzer tool. It can extract data on ranking factors for the top search results, which you can use to help put together content briefs.
The outlining software functions similarly, aggregating headers from the SERP for your target query. You can drag and drop them to build an outline for each piece of content. It’s one of Frase’s best features, especially when you combine it with the research tool.
Unlike the other entries on this list, Frase also includes an AI-powered SEO writing tool that can draft various types of content.
It doesn’t use GPT-3, but the output is comparable. It can’t replace a real writer, but it should serve well enough if you like AI writing apps.
Finally, Frase’s optimization tool is a content editor that should be familiar to you at this point. Like Clearscope and SurferSEO, it uses correlational technology to analyze the top-ranking articles and help you mimic them.
That includes a list of recommended topics and terms, a content score between 1% and 100%, and insight into your competitors’ scores. Notably, Frase lets you choose which of the top 20 ranking articles you’d like to analyze.
Frase also frequently rolls out new SEO features, such as a Wikipedia Concept Map that helps you generate topic ideas. Most of these aren’t worth much at first, but they indicate that Frase consistently is still innovating new features.
All in all, Frase offers similar optimization features to Clearscope, a less powerful version of Surfer SEO’s SERP analyzer tool, an AI content writing tool, and the ability to quickly produce high-quality content briefs and outlines.
Frase lacks the robust SEO analysis of Surfer or the technological prowess of MarketMuse. Where it shines versus competitors is in usability. The drag-and-drop content brief tool is easy to use and empowers speedy copy brief creation.
Like Surfer SEO, it’s also highly affordable. The cheapest plan costs just $44.99 monthly if you pay as you go. If you opt for the annual plan, the cost works out to just $39.99 per month.
Also Read: Frase Review
UseTopic, commonly referred to as Topic, offers a content editor with standard features, including a list of recommended topics, competitor data, and a content score. Like Clearscope, it uses the academic system, grading you from F to A+.
However, on-page SEO isn’t the tool’s primary focus. The software is likely more in line with Frase than with Clearscope. It excels at content planning more than content optimization.
In fact, the Topic team is pretty explicit about their differing priorities, stating: “At its core, Topic was designed to speed up the research process when creating a new piece of content. We believe research is the most crucial step in content creation.”
As a result, Topic includes a content outline builder that can automatically gather and organize headlines from ranking competitors. It can also pull questions related to your keyword from sources like Google’s People Also Ask, Answer the Public, and Quora.
However, while Topic is generally superior to Clearscope in these areas, it probably can’t match Frase. Frase has a more intuitive user interface, additional research and outline features, and an AI writing tool.
Topic’s pricing is affordable compared to Clearscope or MarketMuse, as its Starter plan costs $99 per month or $80 per month when paid annually. However, that’s more than double the price of Frase’s cheapest option.
Lastly, UseTopic is a young company with a less well-established track record. Since it was also recently acquired by CafeMedia, its future is less predictable.
Ultimately, Frase is probably the superior Clearscope alternative for those who want to prioritize the researching and outlining aspects of the content creation process.
PageOptimizer Pro is an advanced on-page SEO tool. It can produce content briefs and help optimize pages through its content editor. Like MarketMuse, the software mimics Google’s algorithm instead of just analyzing data from the top-ranking competitors.
As a result, PageOptimizer Pro may provide more effective recommendations than other tools, giving you a competitive advantage over teams who optimize their content with correlational technology alone.
The tool heavily incorporates principles backed by the scientific SEO testing of Kyle Roof, a well-respected expert in the field who holds a patent for his unique methods.
While PageOptimizer Pro’s capabilities are impressive, you need to be well-versed in SEO software to take full advantage of them. Relative novices can work in the user-friendly Express mode, but it’s less sophisticated.
Meanwhile, experienced content creators who need less guidance will benefit from its Advanced mode, which lets you refine your inputs and receive more advanced recommendations.
PageOptimizer also has pricing plans that make it easy to adopt for a single content marketer or an entire agency. There are six tiers, and they start at just $22 per month. Their basic plan includes a 7-day free trial, so you can test it before committing.
SEMrush Writing Assistant
SEMrush is an all-in-one content marketing platform that includes a suite of SEO tools to give content marketers all the insight they might need. It offers an overwhelming amount of features, including but not limited to:
- SEO audit technology
- Rank tracking software
- Keyword research tool
- Social media analysis software
- Google Analytics and Google Search Console integration
While many of its features require that you sign up for a paid account, you can access its content optimization tool for free. However, it works differently than the others on this list.
Most tools structure the optimization process around a single target search word that you provide upfront, but the SEMrush Writing Assistant works backward from existing content.
When you paste a draft into the editor, the tool suggests target keywords that summarize your text. You’ll also get a list of recommended keywords and quick tips on optimizing your images, tags, and links.
As a result, the tool’s utility is limited compared to most of its competitors. However, it does redeem itself by helping you optimize in other ways, like improving your readability, maintaining your tone of voice, and avoiding plagiarism.
If you already use SEMrush and like the platform, its Writing Assistant might be convenient. However, if you’re just looking for a free option, consider using MarketMuse or SurferSEO’s limited free plan.
Dashword is another alternative content optimization tool for content creators on a budget. It works similarly to Frase and Topic, so you shouldn’t be surprised by what it has to offer.
In fact, Dashword is one of the more straightforward tools on this list and functions pretty linearly. Once you input your target keyword, it’ll analyze the top 30 search results to create a report that can serve as a simple content brief.
The report includes the average word count, reading level, and content score of the top three and ten results. It’ll also provide the specific stats for each piece of content and a keyword suggestion list.
After you review the report, Dashword takes you to its content editor, where you can build your article according to its specifications. As usual, the tool will update your score in real-time.
Like Clearscope, Dashword lets you make a project public and share a link to the editor with your team, just like you would with a Google Doc. With it, they can work on the content without being a user.
Dashword plans are highly affordable, starting at just $39 per month for five reports and three user seats, though you get one for free when you make an account. In addition, it provides several complimentary SEO tools, including a meta description generator.
Also Read: Clearscope Review
Last but not least, we have Content Harmony. Like Dashword, it’s another straightforward content optimization tool, though it emphasizes streamlining your workflow in the early stages of content creation.
As usual, the tool requires your target keyword to get started. When you provide one, it’ll return a keyword report that includes data like the following:
- Typical search intent
- Ranking difficulty scores
- Search volume and cost per click
- Image and visual content analysis
- Competitor analysis of word count and reading level
Next, Content Harmony can organize this information into various content brief templates, which you can share directly with your team from the dashboard.
Finally, you can write in the content editor or paste your draft in to optimize it. Like its competitors, Content Harmony will give you a content grade based on readability and your coverage of the topics it pulls from your competitors.
The plans are affordable, with the cheapest one starting at $50 per month. However, there’s no free trial, so you’ll have to pay to test out the software.
The Bottom Line
If on-page content optimization and SEO content strategy is your primary objective, then MarketMuse and Surfer SEO are your best alternatives to Clearscope. Our advice is to get MarketMuse if you can afford it, otherwise, Surfer is a solid lower-priced alternative.
If you care more about content brief/outlining features than SEO, Frase is your go-to.
However, any optimization tool is going to be better than none. Pick the option that fits your budget, tech stack, and preferences best.
And remember, these tools usually offer free trials for good reason. It’s a good idea to shop around and test a few of your favorites before committing. If you don’t like the results you get after a few months, you can always cancel and switch to another.