Product Review

What are the Best Content Optimization Software Tools on the Market?

Kevin Kessler
April 29, 2020

You know that SEO is important. The ability to rank on popular search engines like Google and Bing has become a necessity for businesses of all sizes. 

If you want to remain competitive in a crowded digital environment, you have to make sure you’re keeping search engines in mind when creating content. 

But that, as the saying goes, is far easier said than done. 

It’s likely that someone at some point has told you that the key to search engine success is to optimize your written content as part of your SEO strategy. 

Awesome…how do you do that? 

Thankfully, because SEO is such an integral piece of the content marketing puzzle, online tools have been created that will examine your content, compare it to other high ranking web pages, and tell you not only how you’re doing, but what you can do to improve. 

But which tool is right for you? Different tools have different functions, prices, and areas of focus. What works for one business might not be right for another. 

That’s why went to the trouble of reviewing some of the best content optimization tools in the world for you. By comparing and contrasting some of the more popular options out there, you can get a better sense of which content optimization tools are worth the money and which will specifically work for your needs and budget. 

Our content marketing agency produces over 300+ articles/month, so we use these tools on a daily basis.

Here are some of the very best content optimization tools on the market today, as reviewed by Codeless.

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Our Review Process 

In order to provide you with the best and most up to date information on the products we review, Codeless has developed a system to essentially test drive the website optimization tools that we review. We also perform thorough research on these tools and the companies they come from. 

The following steps go into every Codeless content optimization tool review: 

  1. We research the parent company, gathering backstory on the tool in question. 
  2. We sign up for the service. 
  3. We upload a piece of SEO content to the service and test the results.
  4. We reach out to the company’s customer service department to gauge their effectiveness. 
  5. We examine the tool’s pricing in order to determine if it’s worth the cost. Do you stand a chance of generating a return on your investment? 
  6. We offer our overall impression on the tool along with our recommendation. Sometimes we will recommend the tool for a specific audience but warn others away. 

Now that you know what goes into every review, it’s time to talk about some of the best tools that we’ve encountered. 

Our Picks for the Best Content Optimization Tools on the Market

Below you will see two of the very best tools that we’ve identified through careful research and testing. 

Each section will contain information on the tool in question, along with a number of their features and why we feel it is one of the best options out there. There will also be a link to our full reviews of each tool in their specific sections for more information. 

MarketMuse 

MarketMuse is a content optimization tool that was developed in 2013. Since then, it has evolved into an award-winning service that has earned its stellar reputation as being one of the very best content tools in existence. 

This is a sample result from MarketMuse's Optimize app.
This is a sample result from MarketMuse’s Optimize app.

When using MarketMuse, you have access to advanced keyword research, competitor analysis, and even topic suggestions, among other features that we will highlight here. 

Here’s the thing about MarketMuse; it’s very expensive. However, in our review we found that the high price to be totally worth it for the right company. 

That bit about “the right company” is an important disclaimer. MarketMuse isn’t for you if it’s going to cut into your profits. That’s why MarketMuse is only recommended for medium to large agencies that have a strong SEO foundation. Preferably, you should have a team of in-house SEO writers who can get a lot of use out of this tool. 

MarketMuse Features 

MarketMuse uses its features to provide you with hard data, which is essential in website optimization. That means there’s no guesswork involved when trying to determine the optimization level of your existing content. It also makes content audits of your site a breeze. 

MarketMuse's features can be located on the lefthand side.
MarketMuse’s features can be located on the lefthand side.

The Inventory section in MarketMuse has a number of fantastic features that are all available through a menu on the left side of the page. 

Through the Inventory section, you’re able to track content and reports regarding everything currently on your website.

Let’s examine these Inventory tabs one at a time.

The Pages tab will store the content you already have on your website. It will even give you advice on how you can improve it. 

When you access the Topics tab, you’re able to keep track of some of the most common topics covered by your website. MarketMuse will even make suggestions as to how you can improve your ranking for those topics through future content. 

The Plans tab allows you to engage in content planning. Create a fully fleshed out map of your content in order to better determine how your strategy will unfold in the future. 

Finally, the Reports tab helps you filter all of the data pertaining to your content. Data means nothing if it’s not organized. By filing this data into actionable reports, you’re able to see how your content strategy is working and what, if any, adjustments have to be made. 

When it comes to the Applications section, you’re working less on the content that you already have and more on optimizing new content that you are in the process of writing. 

Like the Inventory section, the Applications features has a number of tabs that are all listed in the menu on the left-hand side of the page. 

Let’s kick things off with the Research tab. This keyword tool feature allows you to type a topic of interest into the system. You’re then given a generated keyword suggestion list that pertains to your topic, along with the recommended keyword density (or frequency) of each term. Think of this as the first step in keyword optimization.

Let’s say you’re writing about plumbing services; you’d just type “plumbing” into the Research tab and it will tell you which keywords you should go after. This makes the all important Search Engine Optimization task of keyword research a cinch. 

The Compete tab is where you go to get the skinny on the people you’re trying to beat. Imagine that you’re the New England Patriots and the Compete tab is the camcorder that you’re using to tape the practices of other teams. Sports humor aside, you can get a good look at some of the pages that rank high for your specific search term (and no, it’s not cheating!). It also makes recommendations on how you can overcome those competitors by listing a number of focus areas they missed out on. 

A sample report from the Compete tab.
A sample report from the Compete tab.

The Questions tab gives you a list of questions that have a connection to your keywords. This is an invaluable resource. Not only does it give you a strong sense of what your audience is searching for, it can also help you get ranked on Google’s “People Also Ask” section. If you can provide Google with a great answer to some of these questions, your page can wind up listed in a featured snippet for the search term. 

Next we have the Connect tab, which gives you ideas for internal linking. When we say internal linking, we’re talking about link building between the articles that are on your page. An internal link should not be confused with a backlink, which is a link to your website that appears on another highly ranked site. Each article that you post should be connected in some way with the other pages and articles on your site. This is an important ranking factor for Google and can’t be ignored in any SEO plan. 

The Optimize tab is probably the most useful feature of MarketMuse (and that’s saying a lot!). You can paste your page content or blog post into the Optimize tab and receive a score based on how your content is optimized for this specific topic. 

The Optimize tab will give you an average score and word count for the topic at hand along with a target score and word count. It’s the best way to make sure that the content you’re producing will help you from an SEO standpoint. 

How Much Does MarketMuse Cost?

As we mentioned before, Market Muse is effective, but it’s also very expensive. 

These are the available plans that MarketMuse offers.
These are the available plans that MarketMuse offers.

The lowest tier of service starts at $399 per month and it only goes up from there. The higher tiers can end up costing anywhere from $1,000 per month to $1,500 per month. 

There’s no free trial either, so you don’t get a chance to try it out before you’re charged.

Similar to our MasterClass review, the value you get from using MarketMuse is well worth the cost.

For a more in-depth look at MarketMuse, check out our full MarketMuse review

Clearscope 

Clearscope is a newer content optimization tool that was first developed in 2016. 

Clearscope uses IBM Watson services to conduct automated SEO research. It optimizes your content by forming comparisons with high ranking pages that are already out there.

It is used exclusively for the creation of optimized content. It excels at helping you create content that will rank high on a search engine without feeling forced. There’s nothing more painful than reading a blog post that was stuffed with keywords. 

To that end, Clearscope goes beyond the scope of an average content optimization tool by grading you on the readability of your content. This is something Google is going to judge you on, so it’s a very beneficial feature. 

Clearscope Features 

One of the best aspects of Clearscope is simplicity. You just type in your search term and get to work. 

The system runs a report once you enter your topic, generating a list of key terms that go along with it. It also shows you which of your competitors are currently ranking for those terms to give you a sense of the battlefield, so to speak.

This is a sample report from ClearScope showing the overview, volume, and top competitors.
This is a sample report from ClearScope showing the overview, volume, and top competitors.

One of the truly helpful features of Clearscope is that it assigns a score to your content using a variety of criteria like search volume, the aforementioned readability, and word count. 

Once that’s done, it makes suggestions on other relevant topics and additional keywords that can push your content past that of your competition. This is essential information that you need, especially if you’re trailing behind your major competitors. 

One of our favorite aspects of Clearscope is that it is easy to use and incredibly intuitive. A lot of that has to do with its clearly defined features. 

The overall layout of Clearscope makes it very simple to explore and sift through various bits of data. 

Once you enter that initial query, everything loads at once. That means you won’t have a lot of lag time, which is a common issue that plagues MarketMuse. 

What’s more, the Clearscope team offers free guided onboarding and support. However, the system is so easy to use that most won’t even need it.

All content can be created and optimized in the system, so you won’t have to do a lot of copy and pasting. 

Another truly valuable feature of this content optimization tool is search volume data. Clearscope will actually give you a bar graph that shows the volume of searches for particular keywords. This makes Clearscope a vital keyword research tool that can be a huge help when it comes time to plan out your content strategy. 

This is a sample search volume report.
This is a sample search volume report.

It doesn’t make sense to go after terms no one is searching for, and a target keyword that you may have assumed would be the backbone of your SEO campaign might end up being something that no one really cares about. 

You can use White Label services if you’re subscribed to one of their higher tiers. That means if you’re an SEO agency, you can generate reports for your clients with your specific branding on it. 

As for customer service, premium support is offered to everyone regardless of their chosen tier. That means there’s no higher levels of support reserved for more expensive tiers. Though, it should also be noted that Clearscope’s customer service department is only available during business hours. It is not a 24/7 service. 

How Much Does Clearscope Cost?

Clearscope is a more affordable option than MarketMuse. Plans start at $350 per month for up to three users.

There is no minimum contract for Clearscope, so you can cancel at any time. There are higher priced tiers, which will allow you up to 10 users.

For a more detailed look at Clearscope, check out our full in-depth Clearscope review.

Which is Better, Clearscope or MarketMuse? 

When trying to decide which digital marketing tool is better between MarketMuse and Clearscope, it really depends on the size of your company and what you’re looking for out of your content optimization tool. Both will help you optimize your content far better than a free SEO tool. Additionally, both with save you time so that you can work on other SEO factors, like generating backlinks and updating important backend content such as your page’s meta description and titles. 

To save even more time, we recommend checking out Wordable. It will not only clean and properly format your HTML, but also compress images, open links in a new tab, automatically set featured images, or create a table of contents, and lots more within a single click from Google Docs.

As an SEO tool, MarketMuse has way more features and goes into a lot more in depth with many of its reports. However, Clearscope is still a great platform and is the more affordable option. It’s also a lot more user friendly than MarketMuse for beginners. 

Basically, if your company can afford the investment in MarketMuse, that’s our first choice.

However, the power and usability of Clearscope can’t be ignored by any content marketer.