Note: this article was created and optimized using the Clearscope tool.
The competition to produce top-ranking content for Google is stiffer than ever. With roughly seven million new blog posts published daily, content marketers increasingly use optimization software like Clearscope to stand out from the crowd1.
This Clearscope review will explore how the tool’s features work, compare it to its primary competitors, and help you decide whether it’s worth paying for in 2023.
What is Clearscope?
Clearscope is an AI-powered search engine optimization tool. It helps you create relevant content that ranks highly in Google SERPs and drives more organic traffic to your site.
In 2023, Clearscope is well-established as one of the best in the SEO writing and digital marketing niche.
Also Read: MarketMuse Review
The startup behind Clearscope.io was founded in 2016 by Bernard Huang as a subsidiary of Mushi Labs, and its headquarters are currently in Austin, Texas.
How Does Clearscope Work?
Clearscope knows exactly what aspects of the SEO content creation process it’s trying to facilitate. As a result, its streamlined user interface wastes no space on anything that might distract you. Here’s how the tool’s two primary features work.
When you first log into Clearscope, the software takes you to its Reports tab. That’s where its optimization function lives, and you can manage any Reports you’ve created or start one from scratch through this initial dashboard.
Also Read: Clearscope Alternatives
To create a new report, input your target search term in the text box. You can use the Batch feature if you want to generate more than one at a time.
Once you provide your target keyword, Clearscope analyzes Google’s top 30 desktop and mobile search results to create a Report. When that process is complete, Clearscope takes you to its content editor.
From here, you can access all of Clearscope’s content optimization functions, some of which update in real-time as you work in the content editor. They include the following:
- Recommended terms: Clearscope suggests 60 keywords to include and the typical density to help you cover the most relevant topics and rank well on Google. It also lets you sort them conveniently, including by importance and current usage status. Check out the list of keywords that we used to optimize this article.
- Content grading: Clearscope assigns a letter grade to your content between F and A+ by comparing your word count, readability, and keyword density to its suggestions based on the top-ranking competitors.
- Competitor research: Clearscope helps you analyze the content ranking for your search term in several ways, giving you the themes and questions they share, a map of their Clearscope terms usage, and a ranked list of their content grades and word counts.
Each of Clearscope’s features here is easy to use. Again, the tool has very little fluff, making navigation simple and flattening the learning curve. You can figure out how everything works and explore each feature in a minute or two without instruction.
Also Read: Frase Review
Its keyword suggestions also seem high quality. For the phrase “Clearscope review,” all terms the algorithm suggested were relevant. That’s not always the case with other tools, which sometimes recommend generic words and phrases not worth including.
Clearscope’s primary offering is its Reports feature, which helps you optimize content to get backlinks and rank well. However, it also offers a keyword research tool you can use to find terms related to your search queries and get their search volume data.
To start the process, click out of the Reports tool and go over to the Keyword Discovery tab.
You can enter a search query or URL on this page, and Clearscope will generate a list of popular related keywords. It’ll also return their average monthly searches over the last year, competition difficulty based on Google Ads, and cost per click.
Unfortunately, Clearscope’s monthly keyword search volume seems to come from the Google Keyword Planner. If that’s the case, it might not provide the right keyword volume, as the Planner groups keywords together and uses estimates.
The competition rating is also an unhelpful metric that borders on misleading. It relies on Google Ads data, which means the score depends on the number of people bidding to advertise for the term instead of the actual ranking difficulty.
While Clearscope’s keyword research function is a nice bonus, it’s not nearly as effective as its optimization feature. It can’t hope to compete with a dedicated keyword tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush.
Additional Clearscope Features
Besides its keyword research and content optimization tools, Clearscope offers a few more minor features, such as its Google Docs and WordPress integrations.
If you want to work on your content from your Google Drive, you can download the Clearscope add-on from the Google Workspace Marketplace and embed the experience directly into a Google Doc.
Should you prefer, you can also download the Clearscope plugin from your website dashboard and use it to optimize your content in the same place that you publish it.
Another convenient Clearscope feature that can streamline your workflow is its ability to share Reports. If you’re a content manager working with writers, giving them access to a Report is as easy as emailing a link.
Much like a Google Doc, you can set up your Clearscope Reports so that anyone with the link can view and edit the content. If you use this efficiently, you can send writers content briefs, then receive and review their submissions in the same document.
Clearscope Pricing Plans
Like most SaaS providers, Clearscope offers three subscription plans. There are no contracts, so paying annually won’t earn you any discounts, but you can cancel at any time without penalty. Here are the current pricing options:
- Essentials: $170 per month for three user seats, 20 Content Report credits, and 100 Keyword Discovery credits
- Business: $1,200 per month for unlimited user seats, 100+ Content Report credits, and 200+ Content Inventory (still in beta) pages
- Enterprise: Custom pricing and Credits for Content Reports, Keyword Discovery, and Content Inventory Monitoring
Unfortunately, Clearscope doesn’t offer a free trial or money-back guarantee, but you can contact the team to request a demonstration before committing. In any case, you can always upgrade or downgrade your subscription as your small business changes.
Clearscope Customer Reviews
Clearscope has been around long enough to accrue a respectable number of customer reviews and ratings on a few different websites. Here are their scores on a few of the most popular:
Of course, you should always take customer reviews with a grain of salt. Businesses can usually skew them upward, whether it be by faking positive stories or removing negative ones.
At the same time, customers are generally more likely to leave reviews when they’re dissatisfied than when they’re happy since they’re looking for resolutions, which can skew the results downward.
All that said, Clearscope’s excellent ratings are still a positive sign. The reviews indicate that the company’s customer support is responsive, even though the only way to contact them is by submitting a support request through a form online.
The Clearscope support system also includes onboarding guides and video tutorials for FAQs, but they’re outdated. I had a question about the keyword research tool and found a video, but the version discussed was substantially different from what I was using.
Clearscope is popular and highly rated for good reasons. Here are the most significant advantages of using the software.
First and foremost, Clearscope is a content optimization software, and it doubles down on that claim to fame. Its Reports tool is efficient and effective, with very little waste in its construction or relevant terms.
Above all, it’s more convenient than most of its competitors. The Google Docs and WordPress integrations are excellent, and the ability to share Reports within content teams by forwarding a link is invaluable.
Ultimately, it’s hard for other SEO tools to compete with how easily Clearscope fits into your content workflow.
Ease of Use
Clearscope’s almost singular focus on content optimization makes the SEO tool even more streamlined than most. Perhaps inadvertently, the user interface is highly intuitive as a result, and there’s virtually no learning curve.
Even if you’ve never used software like Clearscope before, you should be able to pick up the tool and put it to work without guidance. The absence of unnecessary functions means there’s usually only one route forward, reducing the potential for confusion.
Clearscope is effective at optimizing your content for search engine rankings, but it has notable downsides. Here are the most significant reasons to avoid using the software.
Plans and Pricing
Unfortunately, Clearscope’s pricing plans aren’t as favorable as most of its competitors. You can get comparable content optimization features from several providers while paying significantly less.
Clearscope’s most affordable plan costs a whopping $170 per month, and only includes 20 Content Report credits per billing period. Meanwhile, you can optimize for 30 keywords with Frase and Surfer SEO for $45 and $99 per month, respectively.
Better still, MarketMuse has a free option that includes 15 uses of its optimization tool. I find it hard to justify paying $170 more each month for those five extra Reports.
Content Brief Generation
Clearscope doesn’t have a dedicated tool for making content briefs, but the startup advertises its ability to facilitate the function. As a result, it’s only fair to compare it to the other tools that help with the process.
Unfortunately, Clearscope doesn’t hold up too well here. The provider suggests using the optimization tool to help plan your article outlines, but it’s not all that effective at streamlining content brief generation.
For example, Clearscope marks some of its suggested terms as headers, and I’ve read reviews that claim you should use these to structure your initial outline.
However, as you can see, some of the headers the tool suggests for an article targeting the term “Clearscope review” are too vague to make sense without adjustment.
In addition, I wouldn’t call that legitimate content brief assistance when a tool like Frase exists. It can use AI to analyze the top-ranking search results for a keyword and automatically compile the trends and extracted data into a brief template.
Is Clearscope Worth It?
Everyone’s needs and preferences vary significantly, so there’s no universal answer as to whether Clearscope is worth it. However, I decided not to use the software for my personal content creation after exploring it for this review.
Clearscope’s content optimization tool is competitive but not significantly superior to competitors like MarketMuse or Frase. If it has an edge, it could only be in the quality of the suggested keywords, as its research options are no more sophisticated than others.
Meanwhile, some Clearscope alternatives are significantly more affordable and include extra features, such as AI-powered content generation that can draft your social media posts or blog introductions.
Ultimately, I’d recommend that content writers looking for an optimization tool use MarketMuse or Frase over Clearscope in 2023.