Many content writing tools for SEO make the process more complicated or oversimplify it to the point of absurdity.
I’ve compiled 5 content writing tools for SEO that are relatively easy to use. They make a good compromise between forcing you to write for robots and helping you create beautiful pieces of literature no search engines will understand.
While writing this article, I came up with an amazing idea. When I was finished listing the tools, I did a master test to compare them all and see whether they give consistent SEO recommendations and results (spoiler alert; they did not). You can find my SEO writing tools’ analysis on our blog.
I hope this article will help you find the best SEO research tool for content writing and make content marketing easier for you.
Why use content writing tools for SEO at all?
Writing, like any other creative task, is difficult. When you throw in SEO requirements for digital marketing that aren’t always obvious or clear, it becomes a nightmare. The goal is to make your ranking in organic search as good as it can be.
Good SEO tools for content writing will do some of the keyword research for you, and then take most of the manual labor and guesswork out of the creation process and website content strategy.
Content editors for SEO let you know how to best optimize your content for search engines while you are writing (or after you publish your text).
How do they know this?
You let the writing tools know what your target keyword (or keywords) are, and they will analyze SERPs on the topic to provide you with some really helpful metrics. Popular functionalities include:
- making sure your post includes one title and the right number of subheadings,
- verifying keyword density,
- checking the length and reading time,
- looking for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, and
- making sure the number of images is good and that alt text is present.
I also like when SEO writing tools allow me to see and edit competitor lists. This is incredibly useful, as you aren’t always competing with those who are ranking for similar terms. You don’t want the SEO writing tool to give you recommendations that are irrelevant to your blog posts.
For example, when I was writing my What is E-A-T? article, the competitor lists were full of cooking instructions, recipes, and the like. All I had to do was snip them out, and the tools were a great help again.
Before I knew I had the option to edit competitor and keyword lists in the content writing tools I used, I would start with a template before and create a new one for when I wanted to check my work at the end. This was a waste of my time and credits in the paid tools.
The 5 content writing software tools for SEO described below are my favorite, and I personally use at least 2 of them anytime I am writing blog posts.
Semrush SEO Writing Assistant
My top choice is the Semrush SEO Writing Assistant that comes with the Guru package. It is a plugin in the works with Google Docs and WordPress.
There is also a “quick-checker” that gives you tips on the Semrush dashboard. It’s limited, but a great choice if you want a bird’s eye view of your content. You can paste in your text if you don’t want to install the plugin.
Both the plugin and quick-checker work in real-time to suggest improvements on a given post’s search engine optimization, readability, tone of voice, and originality.
The tool works best in English, but there are 14 more languages with limited functionality, as I learned from the Semrush blog.
The Writing Assistant gathers data and provides recommendations based on the top 10 ranking pages for your chosen keywords in a given location.
If you have a free or Pro Semrush account, you get to set up one template with recommendations for a lifetime. Once it is connected to a post, anyone with access to it will be able to see the Writing Assistant.
If you want to optimize more than one post, you have to purchase the Guru subscription plan that costs $229.95 per month. You get a 16% discount if you choose to pay annually.
This is the priciest of my top picks, but I guess you have to pay for high quality. In my opinion, the Semrush SEO Writing Assistant is the best among the content writing tools for SEO on the market.
Log in to your Semrush account and go to the Writing Assistant section. Use “quick check” to work within the dashboard.
I prefer working in WordPress or Google docs, and luckily enough, there are Semrush plugins available for both.
Once you’ve downloaded the plugin, you can open up add-ons, choose Semrush SEO Writing Assistant, and then “Show”.
This sidebar will appear on the right:
Click “Get recommendations” to start competitor analysis.
For WordPress, install and activate the plugin.
Open up any post and scroll down to see the Writing Assistant.
You can also use the Float mode if you want to see the Writing Assistant at the same time as your piece of content.
To begin, type in your focus keywords, target country, language, and, optionally, region, and choose the type of device you want to go for as shown on the screenshot above.
Your recommendations will pop up. Time for SEO content writing to begin!
The features are divided into four categories: SEO, Readability, Tone of voice, and Originality.
Target keywords: the entered keywords show up as either green or gray, depending on whether the copywriter has used them in the text. There is no need to check them off manually or scour the text to double-check. They’ll change automatically.
Hover over any keyword to see keyword difficulty and volume.
- Keyword difficulty is provided in a percentage format with very hard, hard, medium, easy in parentheses.
- Keyword volume shows up as very high, high, medium, or low, or very low. This is the search volume, or, the average amount of times people type it into search engines per month.
Recommended keywords: the writing assistant suggests keywords and phrases based on what the top competitors are using. These also show up as green or gray. Keyword Volume and Keyword Density data is available for each of them as well.
Both target and recommended keywords can be moderated to add or remove elements at any time.
Link issues: this feature lets you know whether you have included the optimal number of links and provides tips for creating anchor texts.
Title issues: lets you know how many keywords are present in the title.
This metric calculates the target readability score based on how it views the readability of your competitors’ texts and your target audience.
Readability: calculated on the basis of the Flesch ease of reading score. You get a score out of 100 and what grade reading level the text is at, e.g., 8th grade.
Words: provides the number of words you have, the target based on competitors from search engines, and average reading time.
Title issues: Character and word length optimization as well as its presence.
Content issues: Length of paragraphs, hard-to-read sentences, and complex words. You can click on the sentences with issues and the doc will jump to the appropriate place.
Tone of voice recommendations
Tone of voice: how formal your text sounds.
Consistency: lets you know whether you are not mixing up formal and casual sentences in a way that might confuse readers.
You will also be notified about which sentences are the most casual or formal.
This feature calculates how original your text is. It won’t be measured unless you perform a check.
You can only perform 5 checks a month, but there is an option to purchase 10 extra checks for $5.
No other content writing tools for SEO I have reviewed have a similar feature.
Yoast SEO WordPress plugin
The Yoast SEO plugin does a lot more than provide tips on content creation, but that’s what I’ll concentrate on.
This great tool is a WordPress plugin that works in the regular editor, Elementor, and block editor. There is also a real-time content analysis tool, which is free and can be used in your browser.
Yoast SEO gathers keyword data from the Semrush database.
You can use the free version as long as you have a WordPress plan that allows downloading and installing plugins. The premium version with extended features costs $89 per year.
Search for the Yoast plugin in WordPress. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the plugin, go to SEO and then Features.
Make sure your SEO and readability analyses are on. By default, they are not.
That’s all! Start a new post and enter your focus keyphrase.
Yes, you’ll immediately get the sad, red score bullet. This is because there is nothing in the post yet and analysis can’t be performed. Once you start writing, the bullet will cheer up.
You can also use the online real-time content analysis tool. This option is helpful if, for example, you are a content marketer and want to write a single blog post.
It will show you all the recommendations, score bullets…
…as well as a Google snippet preview. But let’s focus on the WordPress plugin.
Google preview: a quick snapshot of what your post’s result block will look like in Google for both desktop and mobile devices.
Guides and glossary: almost all metrics and recommendations have convenient links that take users to relevant guides, in case you don’t understand how to optimize your text in that particular aspect. There is also a glossary of many terms related to content analysis.
Each metric is given a green, orange, or red score bullet to make sure the text is optimized in a given regard. Those will change automatically as you write.
There are three categories of assessments: Keyphrase-based, Other SEO, and Readability. An eye icon appears next to each recommendation. You can click on it to highlight the relevant part of your text. You will have to scroll to find the issue.
The tool will check whether your key phrase appears in:
- the introduction
- first paragraph
- meta description
- anchor texts
- alt attributes
Word form recognition, available with the premium version, takes into account all variations of a word, including plurals and other suffixes.
Keyphrase density: this feature measures whether the keywords you are targeting appear enough or too much within the text.
Most used keywords and phrases: the plugin will let you know which 5 words or phrases you use most throughout the text. This makes it easy to measure how well you touch on your focus topic.
Previously used keyphrase: users will be notified if a keyphrase was previously used in a different post.
Other SEO assessments
The Yoast plugin will check the length of:
- the entire text,
- the title, and
- the meta description.
Alt text: you’ll be reminded to add alt text to all your images.
Link suggestions: Yoast will let you know about internal and external linking opportunities as you write (you need premium for this feature).
Outbound links: this feature checks if there are any outbound links and whether they are followed.
You’ll be informed about whether:
- sentences, and
- consecutive sentences
are of optimal length.
Reading time: the amount of time it takes to read your text is automatically calculated.
Subheading distribution: you’ll immediately know whether long pieces of text are appropriately divided by subheadings.
Flesch Reading Ease: you’ll know what grade level is required to understand your text.
Transition words: checks how many sentences with transition words there are.
Passive voice: the recommended number of sentences in the passive voice will be calculated and checked in your text.
Surfer SEO’s Content Editor
SurferSEO is a bit more affordable than content editors from Semrush and Yoast, and still offers a ton of useful recommendations and tips on content creation.
The Content Editor is included in all subscription plans. There is the Basic (59$/month), Pro (99$/month), and Business ($199/month).
You get 25 Content Editors on the Basic plan, 100 on the Pro subscription, and 300 if you decide to go with Business. Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a feature only available in the two more expensive options.
Create an account with SurferSEO and click “Content Editor”.
And that’s all. The next step is to paste your target keywords and choose the region.
Your score will change as you write. There is no need to check anything off manually.
The overall metric gives you the number of words, headings, paragraphs, and images you should use (and a score on how well you adapted).
Layout: I like the layout a lot because there is hardly a learning curve. All recommendations are provided on a silver platter with minimal requirements for clicking around. You will be able to optimize your text the first time you use the tool.
Organic competitors: you can pick and choose who to include as your competitors. SurferSEO lists potential competitors based on your target keywords. The tool will then tell you what their content score is, their authority, as well as the number of words they used.
You can use the buttons on the left to turn competitors “on and off”. Once you are set, you can click “Let’s go” and the recommendations will update automatically.
Content Structure: you can edit any of your targets at any time. The analysis will be performed again and recommendations will adjust.
Terms: Keywords and phrases you should use throughout the text. They are recommended based on competitor texts.
Keywords show up as red (not yet used or used too much), orange (used too little), and green (optimal amount of times used throughout the text).
You can exclude terms from your recommendations at any time.
The tool will let you know which keywords and phrases would be great as headings with an orange “H”. You can also see suggested headings next to your terms in the general view.
You can click on any keyword or phrase to see how competitors are using it.
Topics: Suggests questions you may want to answer or include in your text.
Editing: You can format the text as you go based on what you want it to look like.
Export: And then export your optimized content in HTML format.
You can also download SurferSEO’s guidelines as text.
I like Frase Content a lot. This tool has a very simple UI and won’t break your budget, especially if your writing needs are not substantial.
You get 5 templates for free to start with, and then you have to purchase a plan to keep using the content editor.
It is a bit more affordable than other SEO tools on the market. There are two options, Basic ($44.99/mo) and Team ($114.99/mo). There are 30 templates included in the Basic Plan and an unlimited number in Team.
Frase is an in-web content editor. In order to set it up, you have to sign up (with a work email, Gmail accounts don’t work). Go to the signup section and click “sign up free” for a free version of the tool.
Once you log in, go to “New document”.
And then choose whether you want to optimize existing content (you’ll need the article or page URL) or create new content. You can enter one target search query, but Frase will come up with suggestions of long tail and short tail keywords.
That’s pretty much it. The content editor tool will open up. There are two tabs, the “Content brief” and “My content”. You can use the first to gather notes and the second to write your actual content.
As with most other content writing tools for SEO, recommendations are sorted into categories. In Frase Content there are four: Top results, Topic score, Questions, and Related.
This section shows you your top competitors in Google SERPs for the target query.
Overview: A list of competitors and some general statistics, like the average word count and the number of images used.
Click “edit” to add or remove competitors. Then, check and uncheck whatever competitors you want to rank against.
There are also convenient links to your competitor pages, as well as the option to literally paste their outline into your document.
Headers: lists out all headers of your competitors to inspire you in creating your sections.
Stats: I found this feature incredibly insightful. The tool collects all pieces of statistical data from your competitors for ideas to use in your content.
For example, I just found out that optimal keyword density is having your target keyword comprise about 2-5% of the whole text.
None of the other content writing tools for SEO have this option. I didn’t appreciate it as much as I do now before I started using it.
This is a keyword-based category. Here is where you get your general score.
Topic score also lists out all the most popular keywords from your competitors’ texts. Then, the tool applies colors to denote how many times you used a particular element in your text.
You can remove any keywords you don’t want to target by clicking the ⃠ symbol next to it.
The button on the right of each keyword keeps a running count of how many times (out of your target amount) you used the particular keyword.
You can also click on each keyword to see its average mentions, number of sources, and how competitors are using it in context.
This category is pretty self-explanatory. You get a list of question-based keywords you can use in the article. Sources include People Also Ask, Quora, Reddit, and Wikipedia.
This is a list of results that aren’t ranking at the top, but Frase still considers them related and perhaps insightful. You can see how the topic is being handled in the news or social media.
Once you’re done perusing the recommendations, you can begin creating content. Start writing, or paste some text and the recommendations and stats will update automatically.
You can also format the text…
…and export it in many different formats. Downloading the optimized content in HTML format is helpful because you can paste it directly into your content management system.
SEOReviewTools’ SEO Content Editor 2.2
This tool is a bit more limited than the ones described above, but it is free. I would recommend it to any content marketers who don’t want to break their budget.
I find the interface ridiculously easy to use and the recommendations make sense. It is a great tool and one of my favorites among free content writing tools for SEO.
You can use the content editor for free. You will need an account if you want to save documents. There is a running meter that seems to go up to 10 documents, but after you reach this number… nothing happens. You can keep creating new ones.
Go to SEO Content Assistant or select “start writing” on your dashboard.
Choose your focus keyword to get keyword suggestions. The tool differentiates between a primary keyword and secondary keywords.
The built-in keyword research tool is not the best out there, but if you are set on using free tools, I recommend Google Keyword Planner to supplement your research. In the case that you have an Ahrefs subscription, Keyword Explorer is one of the most accurate research softwares out there.
You can select the keywords the tool suggests or enter your own ones.
When you are set, start writing or copy your text into the editor.
You can use this tool without signing up or logging in, but I recommend creating an account so that you can save your documents and refer back to them. Gmail accounts are fine.
When you open up a document in the editor, you can choose to go back and forth between two tabs: input and SEO optimization tips.
You get a preview of what your page will look like in Google SERPs.
There is a convenient section to add your title and meta description. You’ll get suggestions for optimizing those as well.
SEO optimization tips
There are three categories of suggestions: Page title score, Meta description score, and Content score. Their respective scores are calculated out of 100, provided in brackets after each subtitle.
The overall score, or optimization grade, takes all of them into account by percentage, so it is still out of 100.
You can see the overall score in a visual format while you are editing or as an integer when you review all your documents.
This SEO Score is updated in real-time, as are the recommendations, which show up as green (done) or red (not yet done) squares.
Page title score: takes into account aspects such as whether:
- you have a page title at all,
- your focus keyword is present,
- the focus keyword is at the beginning of the title, and
- the length of the title.
The content writer lets you know how many characters you should use in the title for it to be fully visible in SERPs.
Meta description: recommendations are similar to that of the page title. This includes the presence of one, its length, and whether you included the focus keyword.
Content score: is mainly about the presence of
- an H1,
- images and alt text,
as well as the length and keyword density.
For all those metrics, you will be notified if you are over-optimizing (e.g., keyword stuffing).
Make sure to save the document at regular intervals, so you don’t lose any progress. The tool does not do this automatically. This is also very helpful if you want to see an accurate optimization grade, since you have to leave the editor to do that.
You can export your content to Word at any time. What’s more, the tool generates an HTML source code for the page. Download the optimized content or copy it once you are happy with the text.
The only downside of this tool is that there is no competitor overview. The tool doesn’t let you know who your main competitors are or what best practices they use.
I ran the same, pre-content-editor-optimized version of this article through all of the content editors described. I wanted to check:
- how the tools would rate the text,
- whether the recommendations would be similar, and
- whether implementing the recommendations (even if I didn’t completely agree with them) would actually give the article a boost.
The primary/focus/target keyword I used: content writing tools for SEO.
Secondary/more keywords included:
- seo tools for content writing
- free content writing tools for seo
- best content writing tools for seo
- content writing software tools for seo
- content writing software tools for seo writers
- seo research tool for content writing
First, I pasted the same version of the article into each SEO writing tool to get an initial score.
The second step was to implement as many recommendations as possible to get the “highest score”. I then went one by one, adding the optimized version from the previous tool to the next.
And, in the end, I pasted the ready article again into each of the tools to get the “final score”. This is the current version of the article that is live on our blog.
I did have to make some compromises. The tools and their recommendations weren’t completely in line with each other.
Here are my scores:
|Tool||Pre-optimized score||Highest score||Final score|
|Semrush SEO Writing Assistant||7.0/10 (Good)||8.2/10 (Perfect)||8.2 (Perfect)|
|SurferSEO’s Content editor||73/100||80/100||78/100|
*Since Yoast SEO doesn’t provide a number score, I listed out the bullet scores as green/orange/red.
Issues and conclusions
Once I implemented all of Semrush Writing Assistant’s recommendations, my readability score was the lowest among the four categories. Nonetheless, when I went to the appropriate section, the tool did not suggest any changes I can make to raise the score.
I suspected what the issue was and split up the longest sentences and the score jumped. Still, it would have been nice of the tool to let me know, as I only knew to do this from experience.
The only recommendation I did not implement was to shorten the text. I wanted to make sure I am providing the best information possible. It seems like my competitors just didn’t go into as much detail.
Yoast was more to-the-point, but I did have one issue related to the nature of the text. The tool suggested “Keyphrase in subheading: Use more keyphrases or synonyms in your H2 and H3 subheadings!”
I couldn’t really do this, as I had a tiered structure of subheadings, and 5 of the 7 H2s were names of the content writers.
SurferSEO was surprisingly stubborn. I suspect the topic is the culprit, as I don’t always have as much difficulty in raising the score.
This time, it was very difficult to make SurferSEO’s score change at all. No matter how many recommended keywords I added, the arrow just wouldn’t budge. It also suggested decreasing the number of subheadings, but whenever I did, the score would drop.
The other thing was that SurferSEO wanted me to use the word “target” no more than 7 times. At the same time, it recommended the keyword “target audience” at least twice. With the number of times I had to say “target keyword” I just couldn’t optimize in that respect.
What’s more, SurferSEO wants the matches to be exact, so, for example, the tool suggested using the word “website” at least 15 times. I was confused to see that apparently, I had not used this word at all throughout my text. It turned out that variations such as “website’s” did not go towards meeting this requirement.
Moving on, you can only enter 3 focus keywords in Frase. I used
- content writing tools for SEO
- content writing tools for seo
- seo tools for content writing
Other than that, there were no issues with Frase. It was easy to include the related keyword variations it provided, and the suggestions made sense to me.
I found inserting images in SEOReviewTools’ content editor quite frustrating, as you can’t copy and paste. You have to go through the menu, select “insert”, and go from there.
How did the tools do in comparison?
There were a few inconsistencies. Here are the two that caused the most trouble and score changes.
SEOReviewTools told me to add my focus keyword into the first paragraph. When I implemented the change, SurferSEO let me know that I was over-optimizing for this keyword. When I removed it in other places (all were in H2s), the SurferSEO score dropped.
Yoast recommended using the target keyphrase at least 9 times, while SurferSEO and SEOReviewTools suggested using it less often.
Since Semrush and Yoast are my top choices, I prioritized those recommendations.
Overall, while this type of software is far from perfect, I can no longer imagine writing SEO content without these tools. I usually take their recommendations with a grain of salt, but for the purposes of the test, I relied less on my own experience and common sense.
I am very curious about how the article will do in the real world.