Surfer SEO Hobby Plan Review & Case Study

This is my full and honest review of Surfer SEO Hobby Plan. In addition, I’ll be running a test with the tool on three separate webpages on three different websites and publishing the results, so you can see what sort of impact the guidance provided by Surfer SEO could have on your own website.

For transparency, there’s currently no affiliate link to Surfer SEO on this page, although my application to join their affiliate program is pending.

What is the Surfer SEO Hobby Plan?

Never heard of the Hobby Price Plan? I’m not surprised. It’s not made entirely obvious on the website. Let me show you where it is.

Click here to go to the Surfer SEO pricing page. You’ll see the Basic, Pro and Business Pricing Plans in plain sight. Now, scroll down and you’ll see some more plans, including the Hobby plan for just $29 a month – a lot less expensive than the $59 Basic Plan.

Now, admittedly, you do not get all the features of the more expensive packages, with the Hobby Edition, particularly the NLP stuff. But it does allow you to do basic content audits and compare your webpages with the competition, amongst other things.

This makes it an idea choice for website owners or small businesses that are not optimising content each and every day and cannot justify the higher price tag of the other plans but would still like their websites to rank higher.

What does Surfer SEO do?

For low to medium competition keywords, you can often rank higher in the Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs) by simply optimising your content – that is, the words and pictures on your own website. No need for backlinks, social signals, etc. Just make your content better, resubmit it in Google Search Console (GSC) to be reindexed and boost your ranking.

But how do you know what you should change?

Well, you could look at what is currently ranking in top positions for your chosen keywords – Google is already ranking these guys high so, in effect, Google is telling you what it wants to see at the top. Then use your analysis to tailor your webpage in a similar fashion.

It’s a long-winded, time-consuming and energy-sapping task that is prone to error. If only there was a piece of software to do it for you.

Well, that’s exactly what Surfer SEO does. It takes a look at top-performing content and tells you factors that are common to them all (it can be used for other stuff as well but this is the most valuable, in my opinion).

So, after feeding your keyword and webpage into Surfer SEO, it goes out and scans all the top results (which you can filter) and tells you what you need to do to your content to make it fall in line with what Google wants to see. Examples of the factors it considers include:

  • Word count
  • Headings (H1-H6)
  • Paragraphs
  • Images
  • Title

It also gives you a list of related keywords that are common on your competitor’s website as well as an idea of how many of each you should be using on your webpage.

It can also advise you on some potential backlinks as well as comparing TTL and load-time (although these features are only available with the more expensive plans, not with the Hobby plan, and to be honest, not really necessary unless you are up against some big competition).

What is included with Surfer SEO Hobby?

Surfer SEO Hobby includes:

  • 5 Content Editor queries per month
  • 5 Serp Analyzer queries per day
  • 20 Content Planner queries per month
  • Keyword Research Tool
  • Audit Tool

Compared to other packages, the Hobby Plan has lower query limits but it should be plenty for occasional users. In addition,the Hobby Plan does not analyse NLP, provide domain score or pagespeed metrics.

Surfer SEO Hobby Plan Case Studies

So, now we know what Surfer SEO does, let’s see if it can have a positive impact on search engine rankings.

For this test, I chose a page from three different websites, ran them through Surfer SEO, implemented the recommendations, submitted the page to be reindexed in GSC and awaited the results.

Each of my websites were less than a year old with less than 50 sessions per day, low authority and competing with some much bigger businesses.

I’m happy to share the URL of two of the webpages (in fact, one of them is actually on this website), however one of the webpages will be kept anonymous – I don’t like to share all of my secret projects 🙂

Case Study 1: NoodSEO

The first case study is on this very website. It is a review I did a few months ago of the SE Ranking SEO Suite of tools. Here’s the details:

WebsiteKeywordPre-Surfer RankPostSurfer Rank
NoodSEOSE Ranking Review8435

What Surfer SEO recommended

Surfer SEO reported my ‘Content Score’ (proprietary) to be 58 compared with an average of 70. My word count was about 1000 words less than my competitors and I used far less headings. My partial keyword density was much lower than my competitors and Surfer SEO gave me a list of recommended related terms I should be using in my text.

What I did

I went ahead and applied as many recommendations as I could in about 2 hours, increasing my word count and headings with additional sections and using the suggested keywords within the text. I didn’t apply all recommendations – just what felt right to improve the article whilst still providing a good experience to readers.

When I’d finished, I rescanned (I believe rescans are free because I did loads of them during the editing) and my final content score was 71.

I then used GSC to submit the page for reindexing, ready to check on it in a few weeks.

Case Study 2: <secret project>

I won’t be revealing the url for this website but I will say that it is in the personal finance niche. The webpage was already doing okay in the SERPs, hovering around the 2nd/3rd page of Google but I wanted to see if Surfer SEO could help push it into the top 10.

WebsiteKeywordPre-Surfer RankPostSurfer Rank
It’s a secret!Personal Finance Related209

What Surfer SEO recommended

There was a lot wrong with the content of this webpage according to Surfer SEO. My word count was low related to the competition and I didn’t have as many headings. There were a lot of related terms I should use and Surfer SEO advised that I add more images to the page.

What I did

I made enough of the recommended changes to take the ‘Content Score’ from 34 to 70. I had to write a lot more content and go into a lot of other topics in detail. This took about 3 hours work.

Case Study 3: Leadership Theorist

Leadership Theorist is a website I made when I became interested in the Theory of Leadership. I knocked the website up very quickly, with the plan of adding content about each of the theories. However, I got board and used some shitty spun content as a placeholder until I was ready to revisit it. Here’s the deets:

WebsiteKeywordPre-Surfer RankPostSurfer Rank
LeadershipTheoristGreat Man Theory of Leadership7852

What Surfer SEO recommended

The crappy existing content had a Content Score of 59, compared to an average of 70. Lack of headings was the main concern as well as not having enough related terms.

What I did

I spent about 15 mins adding some headings and related keywords and this took the content score up to 78. The content was still crap but it hit Surfer SEO’s markers. I will be surprised if this has a massive impact on rankings.

Summary & Verdict

So, I’ve gone over what Surfer SEO does and why the Hobby Plan might be a cheap alternative for those that cannot justify the price tag of the other options.

I’ve also used the Hobby Plan to (hopefully) improve the content of three different webpages.

A few weeks later, the results were in. Two of the pages jumped around 25 positions and the third gained 8.

On the whole, some positive movements in the right direction but not quite enough to make a big impact in organic clicks.

This is probably down to me not spending enough time optimising the pages, however I think if I do a second run on each of them, results will improve again. I’ll put it on the todo list.

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