Boost Search Rankings and Traffic with Better Content
Building a consistently growing base of ‘free’ organic visitor traffic and satisfied, engaged readers is a primary goal of most website owners and digital marketers.
Fortunately, there are now many software tools focused on creating SEO optimized content that both users and search engines will love. They help marketers and online writers improve search rankings, organic traffic, and user experience.
I introduce several of these tools in this post.
Tip: Use the collapsible yellow ‘Article Contents’ navigation below to jump to specific sections.
Last Updated: Jan 24, 2021
Why is SEO Content Optimization Important?
A Critical SEO Activity
SEO – search engine optimization – has many components to it. There are structural, technical, and on-page SEO aspects, as well as off-page aspects such as content promotion and link-building.
A critical aspect of on-page SEO is content optimization for better ranking potential and user readability. It is an SEO best practice and one of the top SEO techniques for improving search performance.
Common problem areas include content that is:
- Thin, weak, and lacking sufficient depth
- Poorly structured
- Slow to render due to page speed issues
- Poorly targeted to your intended topic
- Mis-matched regarding search intent
- Hard to read and digest
Developing SEO-optimized content involves both art and science. Since it’s something we can impact directly, enhancing content for search performance and visibility is one of the top SEO strategies available to us.
Today’s optimization software solutions can be a big help. There are quite a few of these SEO tools available! Let’s take a closer look below.
What Kinds of Optimization Tools Are Available?
These tools fall into the following categories:
- On-page SEO checkers and content scoring tools
- Readability analysis and improvement suggestions
- AI-enabled content generation
- Pure-play writing improvement aids (not directly tied to SEO goals)
Some of these are CMS plugins, such as Yoast for WordPress users. Others are available via extensions to writing tools, such as Google Docs and Microsoft Word.
Some are pure-play cloud apps (SaaS delivery). Others are free-standing PC / Mac applications.
Some of these tools are built directly into large SEO/SEM software suites (e.g., SEMrush and SEO PowerSuite).
Let’s take a look at some of the best and most popular SEO content improvement options below.
Disclosure: I’m an affiliate for some of the tools mentioned in this post. I may earn referral fees from purchases made via links in this article, at no additional cost to buyers.
Yoast for WordPress
Yoast is the very popular SEO plugin for self-hosted WordPress websites and blogs.
It covers many areas related to site structure, taxonomy, on-page SEO considerations, and even readability analysis.
Yoast has a good free version with all the main essentials for optimizing website and blog content. It’s one of the best known free SEO tools available for WordPress.
They also offer a pro level that adds support for multiple target keywords, among other upgrades.
Finally, Yoast offers premium solutions for ecommerce, local, news, and video SEO needs.
The brief video below explains the essentials of writing high quality content for search engines and users alike.
Yoast Content Tips
Yoast On-Page Content Improvement
For many users, the main value of Yoast is their on-page SEO analysis and suggestions for improvement. This is based on a target keyphrase that you select, hopefully after doing your homework via SEO keyword research to pick a good target search query that isn’t overly competitive.
Yoast covers a range of considerations with a quick visual scoring method. Green dots, yellow, and red, to let you know at a glance what they think of your page content from an SEO perspective.
The software offers suggestions about how and where to optimize your content for better SEO.
Yoast is a good way to get started optimizing your SEO for free. See below for an example analysis and suggestions. The links point to additional support materials and SEO tips to help you understand and fix the issues identified.
Optimizing for Readability
Yoast also includes an option for including readability analysis.
It should also reduce the chances of searchers ‘pogo sticking’, which means quickly leaving your page and returning to the search results page to find something better.
Many SEO pros believe that this user behavior, if done regularly, causes rankings to drop for that page. It certainly makes sense that search engines can indeed measure this and may factor it into their ranking decisions.
Yoast Pricing Details
For those needing more than what Yoast free provides, Yoast SEO Premium is available for $89 USD for a single site. It includes one year of free upgrades and support.
Other paid plugins from Yoast include:
Each of these costs $69 for a single site, and includes one year of free updates and support.
Several Yoast plugin bundles are also available, offering combined premium capabilities with attractive price discounts.
Yoast also has multiple online training paths in the Yoast SEO academy, including a track dedicated to proper search-optimized content development. Pricing ranges from free to $499 per year.
Learn more about the family of Yoast plugins for WordPress here, or hit the button below for more information about all Yoast products and services.
SEMrush is a powerful digital marketing toolbox for SEO and SEM pros, plus content and social media marketers.
They offer a wide range of content-focused tools and features, including some that are aimed directly at optimizing content for search.
SEMrush for Content Improvement
Their content optimization tools include a content template and an SEO writing assistant.
Highlights of the SEO Content Template include:
- Content recommendations based on your target keyword and location
- Analysis based on your top 10 competitors for the target keyword in Google search, including competitor keyword usage
- Suggestions for semantically-related keywords
- Relevant domains for link-building efforts
- Readability analysis and recommendations
- Suggested content length
- Further recommendations for specific on-page elements, such as the HTML page title and meta description, H1 tag, and body text
- Real-time checks to measure the ‘SEO-friendliness’ of your content as you develop it
- Exporting the template to a content brief for copywriters
The three videos below will help you better understand this area of SEMrush’s feature set, They introduce the basics of the content audit, SEO content template, and on-page SEO checker tools.
The SEMrush Content Audit Tools
SEO-Friendly Content Development with SEMrush
Checking On-Page SEO Factors
SEO Writing Assistant
For content writers, SEMrush offers a neat assistant tool that uses competitive content analysis to provide SEO writing suggestions.
Main features include:
- Keyword suggestions based on the top 10 competitive results in Google search
- Keyword frequency analysis to help avoid any keyword stuffing issues
- Readability analysis based on the Flesch reading ease formula
- Plagiarism checker to ensure content originality
- Tone of voice analysis
- Checks for broken outbound links, issues with image alt attributes or title tags
- Word count recommendations
- Available via the SEMrush interface and as a Google Docs add-on and WordPress plugin
Everything gets calculated in real-time as you update your content, so you’ll see results and improvements as you edit your copy drafts.
SEMrush Pricing and Trial
SEO PowerSuite includes content analysis, scoring, and editing features within their WebSite Auditor application. I use this tool regularly to check my pages and posts for SEO issues.
I like this SEO suite since it’s one of the more affordable and comprehensive SEO platforms available today. I also use their Rank Tracker app for keyword research during the content planning process.
WebSite Auditor’s main features for content analysis and optimization include:
- Discovery of both technical and content problem areas
- Optimization for multiple target keywords / keyphrases
- Content analysis vs. top ranking competitors
- TF-IDF analysis for related keyword ideas and avoidance of keyword stuffing
Content Editing Tools in SEO PowerSuite
SEO PowerSuite Pricing and Free Starter Version
The Pro version of SEO PowerSuite costs $299/year (~ $25/month). The Enterprise version is $699/year (~ $58/month).
The free version is great for trying out the software for as long as you like. It comes with no specific time limits, though there naturally are some feature limitations vs the Pro and Enterprise levels.
One great feature of the free version is that there are no limitations on the number of websites or number of keywords.
See their features and editions page for complete details. Or learn more by hitting the button below.
Ryte is another SEO platform that provides content analysis and improvement tools.
These are part of their broader suite of tools for SEO and website quality assurance.
Highlights of Ryte’s Content Success tools include:
- Intelligent keyword recommendations for your target topic based on the top-ranking competitive content
- Keyword analysis and suggestions based on TF*IDF analysis (also often written as TF-IDF)
- Insights and recommendations from your Google Search Console data
- A content editing workspace with import/export tools (e.g., for copy/paste from and to CMS platforms such as WordPress)
- Schema.org tagging support
This brief video shows the Ryte content optimization features in action.
Write Better SEO Content with Ryte
Ryte Pricing and Trial Information
Clearscope is an interesting platform from Mushi Labs that is completely focused on helping people write highly relevant and SEO-friendly content using AI-driven analysis and recommendations.
Aimed at writers, editors, and content teams with organic traffic growth in mind, Clearscope will help you write the best and most relevant content that will elevate your visibility in search.
They explain their process well in this page about integrating content and SEO in a way that is attractive to your readers and search engines.
Clearscope’s main features include:
- AI-driven content analysis and recommendations
- User-friendly interface and editing workspace
- Keyword research and basic metrics (monthly searches, PPC costs and competition level). Available at the Pro level and higher plans.
- Competitive ranking content analysis, related keywords, and suggested uses
- Key target content metrics and goals, including content grade (A, B, C, etc.), word count, and readability grade level
- Google Docs integration
- WordPress integration via plugin
- Multi-language support
- Free training and onboarding
- Unlimited sharing and exporting
See the following video from the SEO experts at TM Blast for a brief overview of how Clearscope can be a big help during the content development process.
Clearscope Writing Example
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Like Clearscope, the Topic platform from Chia Labs is all about helping people write better SEO-optimized content using AI-enabled tools.
Topic’s value proposition centers on helping editors and agencies write better content briefs in half the time it takes when using more traditional manual processes.
They have a strong focus on speeding up the content research process at the front end.
As we know, better content that covers target topics thoroughly, matches search intent, and provides good reader experience, will rank better in search engines.
This is the basis of driving organic traffic growth through better content and brand visibility in search.
Topic’s key features include:
- Focus keyword research with insights from the top 30 ranking pages in Google
- Suggestions for keywords, headings, and related user questions that you can answer in your copy
- An outline builder, including suggested heading and sub-heading structure (H2, H3, etc.)
- AI-driven text suggestions based on the GPT-3 language model
- A content grader to help measure progress and identify areas for further improvements
- Add-on for Google Docs
Topic helps content teams write more like subject matter experts, developing deeper topical authority while producing more and better content faster.
This also helps content teams get more done with fewer people on staff. Working smarter, not harder, as the old saying goes.
Topic Pricing and Demo
Topic uses a sliding scale pricing structure based on how many content briefs you need to produce per month.
For example, it costs $50/month for 5 briefs per month, $200/month for 25 briefs per month, and $500/month for 100 briefs per month.
Custom plans are available for organizations needing over 100 monthly content briefs.
So, the range is roughly $10/brief for low monthly needs, to under $5/brief for those needing over 100 briefs per month.
Topic also offers a first month satisfaction guarantee.
Get full pricing and request a demo here, or just hit the button below to learn more about Topic.
Copywritely offers a broad suite of tools aimed at SEO professionals with content optimization goals in mind.
Like other tools in this class, Copywritely helps writers make their content more search engine friendly while also delivering good user readability.
Main features of this platform include:
- Detection of content SEO problem areas
- Competitor keyword analysis and recommendations
- Built-in templates with writer task details
- Interactive writing tips
- Plagiarism detection and prevention
- Keyword stuffing / spamming detection via keyword density analysis
- Grammar checking, word counter, and paraphrasing tools
- Readability analysis based on Gunning and Flesch indexes
- Chrome browser add-on for quick landing page SEO checks
See the following short video for AppSumo’s overview of Copywritely.
They also provide an overview of their SEO content optimization process here.
Copywritely Overview Video
Copywritely Pricing and Free Trial
Copywritely currently has four paid plan levels, starting at a very competitive $15/month when paid on an annual basis.
Pricing continues upward from there to $57/month on an annual plan for higher end Enterprise users.
They offer a free trial as well. See their home page for how to request one, or just hit the button below to learn more.
The Hemingway Editor program is one of the more popular tools focused purely on improving written text. It can be a writer’s best friend in crafting tight, clear, and compelling copy.
It’s not an SEO-centric tool like the others covered earlier in this post.
However, it still offers many benefits for SEO content producers since readability and good user experience help content rank better.
Core features of the Hemingway Editor include:
- Traditional software application for Mac and PC
- No internet connection required (not cloud based)
- Identifies text problem areas such as wordy sentences, adverbs, passive voice, and dull or complicated word
- Readability analysis (grade level)
- Integrated editor with standard text and HTML formatting tools
- Integrations with WordPress and Medium
- Imports from Word (docx) files
- Exports to text, PDF, or Word
- Can also export PDFs with Hemingway markups included (e.g, for hand-offs to other writers)
See the short video below for an into to the Hemingway app.
(Note: She mentions up front that Hemingway is a ‘web-based app’. It’s not web-based anymore. It runs locally on your Mac or PC.)
Hemingway Editor Overview Video
Hemingway App Pricing
This one is easy. Hemingway Editor 3 is $19.99 as a one-time buy for either Mac or PC.
There is no free trial that I’m aware of.
Learn more about the Hemingway desktop app here, or just hit the button below.
As the name strongly suggests, Grammarly was originally focused on analyzing and improving the grammar elements of written content.
It has other tools as well now, including checks for plagiarism and tone. It’s now a very capable AI-powered writing assistant designed to make you a much better and more confident writer. It can even help with your writing on social media platforms.
For content producers, this translates into better readability for your organic search audience. They’ll stay on your pages longer and do less of the pogo-sticking back to the search results page (the SERP).
Over time, this should result in higher and higher rankings for your Grammarly-assisted content.
Grammarly’s core features and platforms include:
- Grammar and spelling checks as you write
- Writing style and tone checks
- Wording suggestions
- Plagiarism checker based on billions of web pages and ProQuest’s academic databases
- Advanced tools for team-based writing (e.g., enterprise content teams)
- Grammarly Keyboard for mobile devices (a virtual keyboard app)
Grammarly Plans and Pricing
Aside from the free Grammarly browser extension, it comes in a few paid options as well. Of course, the more advanced features come only with the paid versions.
Grammarly Premium – This is the next step up from free. Adds style, tone, and clarity improvements for individual work and school users. Starts at just under $12 US per month.
Grammarly Business – For writing teams of 3 to 149, this plan adds even more features for professional and clear written content. Starts at $12.50 per user per month.
Grammarly @edu – For educational organizations, including students and teachers / faculty members. Pricing provided on a quotation basis.
Get full details on Grammarly plans and pricing here, or just hit the button below to learn more.
Website Page Speed Testing
Don’t Forget to Optimize Page Speed / Load Times
To really optimize your site content for SEO purposes, you also need to think about page load times.
Lower load times are much better, of course, for both users and search engine crawlers. We know that Google factors in page speed as one of its ranking factors.
There are several free tools available that can help you identify and fix issues with slow page load times.
One of my favorites is GTmetrix, shown below.
Here’s the top part of a sample GTmetrix analysis.
GTmetrix provides scores using the PageSpeed and YSlow test routines, along with “waterfall” timing analysis, key timing breakpoints, and other useful features for load time analysis.
Importantly, it also identifies specific areas of your website and page structure that are causing slower load times.
For example, if your website server is slow, you can identify that here. Or if your images are too big, you’ll spot that here as well.
You and/or your website developer can review and prioritize these, and then optimize as needed for faster load times.
You should be rewarded with better SEO performance over time.
Other Page Speed Testers
There are other good site speed testers as well. These are also worth using when needed:
Other Content Optimization Options
Other Tools Worth Considering
This area of polishing content for both search performance and user readability has attracted lots of attention from software tools vendors. Many are incorporating AI and machine learning features wherever these can add value and provide competitive differentiation.
Other SEO software providers worth serious consideration include the following:
- Frase – Helps optimize content to match user search intent. Do topic research, build content briefs, and measure your content against top competition. Also has an AI-powered content editor.
- MarketMuse – An AI-driven platform for content strategy and planning, research, and development. Includes content difficulty scoring, content briefs, and writing support based on natural language generation features.
- Microsoft Editor – Intelligent writing assistance for users of MS Word, Outlook, and web-based apps via browser extensions for Edge and Chrome. Includes spelling, grammar, writing style, and other support to help strengthen your writing.
- PageOptimizer Pro – Advanced on-page SEO tool focused on optimizing web page content for Google search. Uses proprietary methods to recommend keywords and variations, LSI terms, header tags (h1, h2, etc.), word count, and schema details. Includes a Chrome extension for quick page analysis.
- SearchMetrics Content Suite – Tools for improving user content experience and search performance, assisted by machine learning technology. Detailed topic and keyword-level analysis, search intent insights, competitive scoring, and plagiarism checks.
- SEO Tester Online – A comprehensive SEO platform with 9+ tools. Includes SEO Editor and Copy Metrics tools for writing optimized content and gaining new keyword suggestions to help you produce more in-depth and engaging content.
- SimilarContent – Tools for scoring and optimizing your content against SEO competition. Includes keyword coverage and content relevance scoring, LSI keyword research, readability analysis, competitive difficulty, and TF-IDF analysis.
Picking the Best SEO Content Optimization Tools
Given the importance of organic search as an online traffic channel, it’s not surprising to find so many software vendors competing in the market for content optimization solutions designed to help boost search performance.
For digital marketers, the question becomes what combination of tools makes the most sense for building an SEO-centric content marketing tech stack?
Combining Tools for Maximum Impact
At the high end, you may want a full-fledged SEO platform such as SEMrush or Moz, coupled with an AI-enhanced content optimizing tool to tune your on-page performance as much as possible.
Additive to any SEO stack, the writing-centric tools like Hemingway Editor, Grammarly, or Microsoft Editor can also boost the readability, impact, and overall polish of your written work.
And oh yes, also remember to run your pages through a page speed checker like Gtmetrix, especially if your content is fairly long, complex, or full of images and embedded video, etc.
Total monthly cost matters too, of course. The optimal choices for a blogger or small business will likely be far different than the SEO content tools stack implemented by a large business or enterprise.
The good news for penny-pinchers is that there are several good SEO writing support tools that are either free or relatively affordable on a monthly basis.
Comments and Feedback
Which tools have you used for optimizing your SEO-focused content?
Are the all-in-one major SEO platforms doing enough for you in this area?
Do any of the lower-cost SEO suites do a better job with content optimization?
Do you use one of the newer AI or machine learning based tools to help improve written content and topic coverage?
Are you focused more now on improved readability and on-page user experience, vs. a more traditional keyword-centric approach?
Should I add any other vendors or platforms to my discussion above?
Feel free to add your thoughts below.
Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing with your social networks.