The Audit gives you a step-by-step recipe for higher rankings in search engines based on data from your organic competitors. How much content should you add to remove to achieve the sweet spot for your own site? What important terms do you need to add to serve your users better? Is your page fast enough? Well… with Surfer you may learn all that in less than a minute. Let me introduce you to one of our key features – SEO Audit.


In this article, you will learn:

  1. How to create SEO Audits on Surfer?

  2. Why is it crucial to pick both the keyword and the URL?

  3. Where do all the suggestions come from?

  4. What does each of the Audit sections refer to?

    1. Am I auditioning the right page for this keyword?

    2. Content Score

    3. Missing common backlinks

    4. Internal links

    5. Terms to Use

    6. Word count

    7. Exact keywords

    8. Partial keywords

    9. Page structure

    10. Title and meta description length

    11. Time to first byte

    12. Load time (ms)

  5. Best practices & what to do next

How to create SEO Audits on Surfer?

Audits can be run both from the homepage but also from the dedicated Audit tab.

  1. Pick the URL you'd like to Audit.

    Surfer's Audit will base its suggestions on the exact page you enter in the dashboard. If you'd like to create a domain-wide query, try out our Content Planner for Domains.

  2. Choose the location you'd like to target.

    You can pick a country or city from the list available when running your query. Surfer will then mimic a query run from that place so you get results relevant to the location. SERPs can vary depending on the city the search is generated in, which means that there will always be a specific location included when you run a search on Google.

  3. Use additional settings if needed.

    You can choose between Mobile and Desktop crawlers and decide whether to include the sentiment for NLP Entities.

2. Why is it crucial to pick both the keyword and the URL?

Surfer's approach is based on finding similarities between the top-performing pages. In order to fetch those pages, we need a search term – keyword – to know who your competitors truly are.

If you have access to Google Search Console, consider reviewing what keywords you rank for, and identify phrases with positions between 12 and 20, and associated web pages.

3. Where do all the suggestions and keywords come from?

Surfer's suggestions are based on what we find in SERPs for the given keyword. We use averages for things like word count or number of images, but the relevance of terms is calculated using our own algorithms.

4. What does each of the Audit sections refer to?

  • Am I auditioning the right page for this keyword?

If you're wondering if this is the URL you should be targeting that keyword with, Surfer is here to ease your doubts.

We're running a site: your-keyword search to check if this is the URL Google considers as the most relevant to that topic. Not only that, but we will point you to the URL which might be a better choice.

  • Content Score

Content Score is a numerical value that ranges from 0 to 100 and represents the quality and relevancy of the website's content in reference to a given keyword.

If you created your content in our Content Editor, small differences in the Content Score might occur. For more details, check out our article on Why are my Content Score and guidelines different in Content Editor and Audit?

If you'd like to learn more about how exactly the Content Score is calculated, we have an extensive guide on our blog.

  • Missing common backlinks

Surfer is mostly known for its on-page optimization capabilities but it has a nice off-page feature too. In Missing common backlinks, you will find domains and specific URLs that link to your competitors, but not to you.

This is a side-feature of the Audit and unlike the rest of the tool, relies on a 3rd party database that isn't updated live.

  • Internal Links

Building the right structure of your domain using the internal links is one of the most essential things to do in 2022 SEO.

Surfer will look up linking possibilities using the site search and suggest other URLs within your domain you should consider as internal links sources.

  • Terms to Use

If you're not sure what to start with in the Audit, we recommend focusing on the Terms to Use section as it's going to make the biggest impact on your rankings.

This part would tell you exclusively which words and phrases you should use, which ones you're still missing and what are the suggested ranges based on your competitors.

All of the above are based on our AI-powered algorithms. For the number of occurrences suggested, we take the average density on competitors' pages and apply it to your current word count.

If your plan includes NLP, this section will also include NLP entities and sentiment coverage.

  • Word count

Word count suggestions are divided into four different aspects:

  • Words in body

This section analyzes everything that's within the <body> tag of your source code, so not only the main content but also every surrounding element.

  • Words in h2 to h6

Number of words in your headings, excluding h1.

  • Words in paragraphs

Number of words placed within the <p> tag of your code. Usually, it's the main content on your page.

  • Words in strong, b

Words that are bold – both in <strong> and <b> tags.

This section will depend strongly on how the pages of your competitors are structured. For instance, if they used more lists (so respectively <li> or <ul> tags) they might have less words in paragraphs, but the same amount of words in body.

If you want to find out how to fix that, a bit of scouting to check how your competitors' websites are structured might be needed 😉 .

  • Exact keywords

The exact keywords are the terms you created this query for – in our case, it was search intent in SEO. Surfer will show you how many times your competitors used those keywords on their pages, but also make suggestions according to good practices like putting at least one exact keyword in your title.

  • Partial keywords

Partial keywords are when the first 3 letters of a word in your content are the same as the first three letters of the exact keyword.

For example: if the main phrase is ‘best mountain bikes” the partials will be any words started with: bes*, mou* and bik*.

This section will guide you how you can cover the content gap with partial keywords and will point where you can add them. Sure, it’s probably not on the top of the list of priorities, we suggest that you focus on keyword density first but every little tool we have to optimize content helps.

We’ve found that using this strategy helps to fill any content gaps, it allows for natural variations that other sites are using which you don’t have to actually try and think up. It also helps the content to read naturally, so it improves the user experience.

  • Page structure

This section will analyze the structure of your page but will take into account only those elements that are visible and not anchored. It can't be placed within an <a> tag or its CSS display property cannot be set to hidden.

Always compare the results of the audit with the version of the webiste that was auditioned. If you picked the mobile crawler, make sure you're viewing the mobile version of your page as the content may vary.

Title and meta description length

While we can't help you with creating the best title and meta description, Surfer will check how long those elements are in comparison to your competitors.

  • Time to first byte

In this section, you can check the server response time and how long exactly it takes until Surfer is able to load the first byte of your website. It is worth keeping this ratio as low as possible. The faster the page, the better.

  • Load time (ms)

Our crawler will measure the time it needs for your page to load and present it a form of comparison to your competitors.

5. Best practices & what to do next

The audit is a detailed guide on what can you improve to make your page rank better. Even though it's advanced and smart on its own, it still needs the human touch.

Make sure that you match the search intent by inspecting your competitors for that keyword. You can do that for free by running a SERP analyzer query, or just simply opening the competitors' panel in your Audit:

Additionally, make sure to implement only those suggestions that make sense in your case. Since Surfer's guidelines are based on the URLs you picked, it could be that some of the terms wouldn't fit the content on your website.

If you implemented all the suggestions, it would take a while to see the results of your work. We also recommend checking out our blog article to find out how long does SEO take to show results.

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