The “marketing automation” keyword and the optimized content I’m referring to throughout the article is here: Marketing Automation Tools – The DIY for Beginners
This review is my honest feedback as a dedicated SEO enthusiast in constant pursue of optimisation tools that provide the best results.
So, here’s how both of the tools go about doing content optimization.
How To Do Content Optimization Correctly? – Seed Keyword Analysis
First, both CognitiveSEO and SimilarContent analyse the top searches to find who gets the Google engine ranking right and who doesn’t. After the tools combine the findings, an equation is run to assess the outcome. The idea is to get you information that is easy to interpret and provide you with a general direction in which to take your raw, unoptimized article.
As an example, I decided to drop a hard keyword: “marketing automation”.
CognitiveSEO Keyword Analysis
The tool does an excellent job of showing you the entire picture at first sight. Without clicking away, I see:
🠮 Content Difficulty
The “gist” of the keyword analysis step and the number from 0-100 that tells you how sharp your content optimization needs to be if you want to enter the content marketing competition at the top of Search Engine Result Page (SERP). “Marketing automation” scored 77, marking it as a “very hard” keyword.
🠮 Links Difficulty
CognitiveSEO goes an extra step here and also lets you know that the content optimization alone ain’t going to cut it. The same scale as before – from 0-100 – and “marketing automation” is marked at 72 (“very hard”). Underneath the Links difficulty score, I see an extra piece of information about how many referring domains do “Score 72” actually mean (“~49 sites” backlinking to my “marketing automation” article to enter the top SERP online competition).
🠮 Monthly Searches
It shows a popularity trend (Google Trends) of a given keyword in the selected country. For “marketing automation” keyword in Google.co.uk the Monthly Searches feature did not work (the result was “N/A”). Surprisingly it did work for Poland or the USA but not for the UK.
But it doesn’t end there. Still, in the same birds-eye view, CognitiveSEO goes even deeper with the Keyword Analysis. And if there was ever any doubt if you should spend the next several hours working on your SEO content optimization, Keyword Explorer and Rank Analysis features should swiftly dispell any uncertainty.
🠮 Keyword Explorer
The software breaks it down on a table with primary filters such as Search Suggestions, Focus Keywords and Questions. These I believe, are self-explanatory keyword categorisations that provide a full panoramic view of your seed keyword landscape.
There is also “Filter” option for a more refined inspection and an excellent feature “Group by Topic” that in one click reveals the central themes around your chosen keyword. Here you can educate yourself on the search intent behind the chosen keyword. A handy feature and possibly a game-changer if the topic you attempt to target is new to you.
Keyword Explorer also shows a set number of keywords they called “opportunities”. For “marketing automation” I was given 916 keyword ideas, that CognitiveSEO artificially limits on my “Starter Plan” ($129.99/mo). Apparently, I could enable the hidden data and “up to triple” the number of keyword opportunities listed if I was to upgrade to the “Business Plan” with “custom pricing”.
🠮 Ranking Analysis
The tool shows you the other performing websites and their optimized content ranked at the top of the Search Engine grid. It lists the main ingredients of your digital content optimization and marketing strategy you need in order to compete with the top contenders, such as:
- Content Performance (from 0-100),
- Focus Keywords (the number of topically related keywords),
- No. Of Words (of the entire article)
- Domains To Url/Site (backlinks needed)
- Date Published (how old is the original piece)
I was able to review the Top 20 Pages on the Google Search, again with an option to expand it up to the Top 100 on a “Business Plan”.
Finally, the Content Assistance tool is where the rubber hits the road. I’ll break it down right after I visit…
SimilarContent Keyword Analysis
The software splits it down to three separate tools. Suddenly I wasn’t getting the useful “birds-eye” overview that CognitiveSEO provides in one spot. I think the analysis and content strategy tips are much more partitioned and hard to follow when compared to the other software.
🠮 Topic Difficulty (TD)
The gist of your keyword investigation will happen under Topic Difficulty tool. SC runs their formula against the top 20 articles on Google Search and presents you with the 0-100 scale of keyword difficulty at the top of the side panel. “Marketing automation” scored 79.9, which is similar to CognitiveSEO. There is no backlink analysis letting you know the number of referring domains needed for your optimized content, but rather a vague statement “Hard & Need High Authority Site”.
Next to the Topic Difficulty score, SC presents you with a bar chart of the top 10 articles and their current SEO content Performance Score (from 0-100). I have to note that the Bar Chart was confusing to me at first, and I had to watch the instructional video to confirm what it actually shows (the Article Performance for each page ranked).
A little bit below, I’m happy to see a summary of Google Entities (or Snippets) for my “marketing automation” keyword:
- Ads: 3
- Video: 2
- Questions: 0
- AMP: 20 (and why 20 suddenly? Shouldn’t it be the top 10… ?)
It is a nice feature and… utterly inaccurate in my case.
I’m not sure if this is desktop or mobile SERP or both? The entities I see on “my Google” are (desktop/mobile version):
- Ads: 4/4
- Video: 0/6
- Questions: 4/4
- AMP: 0/2
Also missing from the tool are: Featured Snippet, People Also Search For, BoP (Bottom of the Page) Ads. I’d like to see those search engine services to be counted in the KD’s SERP guide.
META Title/Description Optimization
For some strange reason, SimilarContent thought to place “To Optimize Title/Description” suggestions and take 30% of the screen’s real-estate for that information. There, in fine-grain detail, SC tells you where you should put your focus/LSI/variable keywords to compete on organic searches. But why do I need to see these recommendations here?
In any regular SEO content optimization workflow or blog creating practices, the META Title/description content optimization is the very last part that you sort out AFTER the entire article is thoroughly developed, optimized and implemented on your website or blog.
Therefore at the early stages of the Topic Difficulty checks, the Title/Description content suggestion is an entirely unnecessary technical trivia. A one that you usually sort out at the end of the journey with different page optimization tools for your convenience (like Yoast or PageOptimizerPro). However, if SimilarContent insists on informing me of how the top 20 strategised their Titles/Descriptions and existing content, I’d rather had that info located somewhere on the main table grid. And use the saved space for something more useful, like Keyword Brainstorming or MicroNiche Finder that are separate tools but could easily fit in that view (and be much more relevant to what I intend to do at the Topic Difficulty search phase).
Then there is the “Synonym” feature that I can only describe as some kind of digital content creation helper or a keyword ideas/opportunities tool in its early-stage zygote form. For “marketing automation”, it revealed “About 5 results” (SIC!), and, I suspect, there are some issues with pulling in the data like search volume and frequency of appearance. Currently, it offers less than Google Suggestions but, hopefully, something better will come out of it. Although I can’t say if it’s a “boy” or a “girl” (or something else) yet…
Topic Difficulty Competitive Breakdown and Content Optimization Strategy
Finally, we have the Topic Difficulty table breakdown, and similarly to CognitiveSEO, they go about exploring the chosen topic and its digital landscape.
But rather than listing keywords ideas or content “opportunities”, they focus your attention on the Top Sites that rank for the keyword in two different types of views: an existing page content data breakdown and a Search Engine list.
In my opinion, both SimilarContent Data and SERP breakdown views show almost the same information (Rank, Domain, Score, Score Chart and Facebook Shares all repeat). Both views could easily be put together under one tab and have another tab(s) revealing something different and aiding your marketing research.
In any case, the Keywords Difficulty keyword breakdown is more akin to what CognitiveSEO shows under Ranking Analysis tab. Although the table goes in-depth in some areas, I’m not sure about the practical use of what SC analyses:
- The table lists only the top 10 SERP results with no possibility to expand (CognitiveSEO shows 20 or more on a higher tier plan) – this is strange because SimilarContent claims they run analysis against the top 20 domains – so, why would they “hide” half of their data findings from us…?
- for “marketing automation” the top 10 SERP are somewhat similar, but I find CognitiveSEO to be a bit closer to what I see when Googling “marketing automation” keyword in my (UK) browser – it is not a big difference though
- both tools show the SEO content optimization performance/score for each ranked domain and, although the approach is different, the conclusions are very similar
- KD displays the entire SERP snippet with META Title and Description (CognitiveSEO shows only the URL path) – I like that and find it useful to see there, but I’m missing the addition of Google Entities and Snippets (CognitiveSEO has it)
- KD also shows the number of times the targeted keyword appeared in the description (it doesn’t count the title and the slug for some reason, so I find it half-done or not that useful)
- Finally, KD goes into great detail to analyse how many times each focused/recommended/similar word is used in the competitive articles – but I’m struggling to understand the usefulness of that information at that particular stage of the keyword research. I mean, I’ll go and keep working on the article under a different tool/view – SC’s Content Optimization. There I’m expecting to find all the fine-grain keyword suggestions and where to put them. I find the Topic Difficulty detailed analysis – “who-used-how-many-keywords” examination – completely inconsequential at the point of reviewing target keywords and searching for opportunities. The “who-used-how-many-keywords” information has no weight whatsoever on whether I chose to pursue the keyword or not.
The Topic Difficulty Tool is the weakest point of SimilarContent and a one that requires almost complete revamp to be able to compete with CognitiveSEO Keyword Explorer tool.
Keyword Brainstorming/MicroNiche Finder (separate tools/views)
Once again, SimilarContent thought to split the Keyword Research onto separate tools/views. I don’t quite understand that. If you’ve done your Topic Difficulty due diligence already, surely Brainstorming and MicroNiche Finder are a step back at that point, no? Why are these tools/views “a next step” on the interface grid? Their placement makes no sense for any keyword search workflow I can think of.
is just a list of keyword ideas that contain all of the terms of a target keyword in them, e.g. “marketing automation tools”. It also shows the frequency of their appearance in the top 10 search engine results. For my “marketing automation” I was presented with “About 15 results” under “Similar and top 1 words” (meaning a Target KW + 1 additional keyword) and “About 5 results” under “Similar and top 2 words” (TKW+2).
The results were disappointing and knowing what other search engine optimization companies provide in the “keyword brainstorming” department; the tool is completely unreliable. For example, Ahrefs Keyword Explorer “Having the same terms” tab for “marketing automation” suggested 2001 keywords for the UK alone and 8064 keyword suggestions for the USA (+ 500 “Questions” and 1641 “Also rank for”). Now THAT is what I call a “Brainstorming”. But even CognitiveSEO with its 916 “keyword opportunities” comes out much better. I use Google Suggestions or Answer the Public with much better outcomes than SC keyword ideas.
Keyword Brainstorming gets F- and Gryffindor loses 150 points.
this, on the other hand, is a very interesting idea that can aid your SEO content. Especially useful if you want to nail an accurate tag(s) or a category to your article. MicroNiche Finder is just a category path or a breadcrumb of the topical relevance of your targeted keyword. It listed seven different paths for my “marketing automation” keyword, and I found it uniquely missing from other tools, including CognitiveSEO or even Ahrefs.
Ahrefs “Parent Topic” or CognitiveSEO’s “Group by Topic” could be considered a similar option. Still, it’s not entirely the same, and SimilarContent seems to define the “root path” or the theme’s origin of the keyword more in-depth.
I can also see myself using the paths for topical interlinking within my website content. Or at least as an optimized content tiering and content creation strategy.
I think if applied correctly across a website or blog, MicroNiche Finder feature could make a positive difference for your search engine optimization ranking.
Like the name suggests it is an article spinner. I use other tools for that already and don’t find it particularly beneficial. SC claims to use “advanced AI” in the text spinning and suggests to use it only in “chunks” of no more than 100 words for the best results. I tried a couple of short eCommerce product content descriptions I’m working on at the moment. The results were mediocre, not terrible and better than some “mainstream” content spinners. Although it is a nice addition and SC says they’ll keep improving it, I won’t hold my breath, because this isn’t something I’m after when I’m logging in to SimilarContent dashboard.
Today’s Fresh Keywords
This is just a Google Trends with the most popular search terms for a given day. This feature is cute, but not particularly useful in my opinion (unless you’re working on a gossip/news niche – but even then would “Today’s Fresh Keywords” feature be a real “game-changer” for you? … ).
Content Optimization vs Content Optimisation
We arrived at the heart of the matter. The point of all those previous searches and crafting strategy was to figure out the subject and write what I call a “raw version of an article”. I’ll take a step back and introduce my 7-step workflow for an optimized content creation that looks roughly like this:
- An idea pops in my head, or I’m ranking client’s website/blog.
- I do keyword research.
- I create a raw version of an article.
- I drop it to the content optimization tool and edit it.
- I launch it on the website.
- I further optimize page content and run the URL through SEO on-page optimization tool.
- The fully optimized page or blog gets officially launched and spreads on my IFTTT and social media network.
I use multiple SEO, content optimization and marketing strategy tools to wrap it all up. CognitiveSEO or SimilarContent can only play a partial role in all that, but an important one. Here’s how each plays it.
CognitiveSEO’s Content Optimization
You drop an article to the editor, and a list of suggestions appear on the right-hand sidebar. CognitiveSEO groups the suggestions into five “dropdowns” or lists where numerous “focus keywords” are given:
- Keywords already used
- Keywords you should use
- Keywords you should use more often
- Keywords stuffing (so the ones you’ve used too many times)
- Content Ideas via Questions People Ask
The sidebar also provides you with current Performance Score of your article (0-100), a number of focus keywords used, Flesch-Kincaid readability score (0-100) and the overall number of words you used in the article.
Further, underneath the article Performance Score, the tool tells you whether your optimized content “can rank in the top 3 Google results”, and what the possible Searchers Intent is for the targeted keyword.
CognitiveSEO Keyword Highlighter (FTW)
However, the real highlight of the CognitiveSEO Content Optimization editor is the “Highlight Keywords” feature. I love that feature. It highlights all the keywords in your article with colours matching the keyword suggestion dropdowns. That way, you can really see the spread of keywords in your article, strategise the placement and have your material, literally, coming to light right in front of your eyes. CognitiveSEO Keyword Highlighter is a simple feature aiding your content strategy, and it’s an unbelievably fun one. It motivates me to pursue the content optimization further and max-out the performance score of my articles. Well done, CognitiveSEO!
The keyword suggestions given are spot on as CognitiveSEO uses a complex Search Engines LSI with multiple other indicators and formulas to lay them down for you and transform your text into a search engine friendly content. In fact, all the articles that I’ve treated with CognitiveSEO content optimization immediately ranked in top 20 without any backlinks, while the “marketing automation” – which is a tough keyword – picks up in the top 50 (without backlinks).
The overall interface is clean, sharp and extremely well-thought-out. CognitiveSEO Content Optimization Tool is an A++ product and a true highlight of their search engine optimization software package.
If you want an excellent content optimization software and can afford it, this is it, folks!
SimilarContent’s Content Optimization
Similarly to CognitiveSEO, SimilarContent uses a sidebar to list keyword suggestions grouped in three distinct tabs:
- One word (meaning single-word suggestions)
SC computes each tab’s keyword suggestions under four distinct indicators:
- Not found
- Extremely (poor choice of words, should be “overused”, “excessive” or something…)
The content strategy implications are similar to that of CogniticeSEO list dropdown, but I see a potential to fine-grain the keyword placement. I am starting to like the idea of “one-word” and “multi-word” suggestions, and I’m beginning to see how it could work to my advantage. CognitiveSEO is much more rigid in that, and the suggestions are fixed – which has its own pros, like keeping it simple, and making it easy to implement.
The main thing is the SimilarContent keyword suggestions overlap with CognitiveSEO ones, and I suspect they use similar formulas to pull them out.
Worth noting is that SimilarContent uses “AI text analysis” that is available only in English. I believe that feature makes all the difference in the quality of the keywords scoring and suggestions. That makes the optimization in other languages inferior.
SimilarContent also gives you a Relevancy Score, which is the same as Performance Score on CognitiveSEO but works a bit different. While the first tool gets you to score from 0 to 100, SC makes you land somewhere between 55-75 points for the best results. More would be over-optimized, which is a strong (negative) signal for Search Engines. CognitiveSEO has its Keyword Stuffing list of course, but SC might be more risk-aware in not letting you go overboard. “Marketing automation” example on CognitivSEO has nothing listed under Keywords Stuffing, while the same article on SimilarContent lists 36 keywords under “Extremely”. These are all suggestions only, but important ones and SC does a great job at letting you know whenever you’re trying too hard.
Finally, there is a current article data breakdown, and SC’s Content Optimization tool informs you what language you use (duh!) and the number of words in your article; but also, the tool computes the number of letters, phrases, and even sentences. These are great additions to the overall excellent content optimization SaaS for SEO.
The main thing that I miss is the Keyword Highlighter, which makes working on SimilarContent dull. But once the content strategy highlighter is implemented, and they get the interface cleaned up a bit, SimilarContent Content Optimization offer is going to be hard to dismiss. And all those $100+ ticket SEO tools may struggle to make a case against it.
Overall, SimilarContent Content Optimization for SEO is extremely well priced and well done for a product in just under a year of development.
Multi-Language Content Optimization
I primarily work in the realm of the English language, but I always felt that the part reason for my reluctance to work in my native language is the lack of focus and effective tools that support search engine optimization in non-English (hence, lack of awareness). And I don’t blame anyone. I can’t expect an SEO SaaS companies “from California” to focus on some small country with an obscure language no-one else is using. Traffic and users behaviour will dictate what we bet all our chips on. However, the fact is that the non-English language countries are left behind, only catching-up to the SEO cutting edge. This ultimately can mean only one thing: the audience from these countries hold keys to uncharted Gold Mines. Some of these digital markets are like Lost Cities of Z waiting to be explored by Westerners looking for treasures and fame.
My point is that there is a massive discrepancy in the way SEO works in the UK when compared to the USA. There is an even bigger difference when I compare the UK to other European countries. Some premium tools already support general Keyword Research in multiple languages, but we need more focus on niche languages.
At the beginning of October 2019, CognitiveSEO added all Google supported languages in their Content Optimization Tool. I checked the Polish language option, and I can see that I could use the tool right away.
I think this is a sign of maturity in the industry when such advanced tools start including other languages than just English. Although I find CognitiveSEO Content Optimization for Polish slightly miscalculated in difficulty scoring, it is extremely helpful to have that in my SEO tool kit.
SimilarContent already supports 15 languages and claims to add more. Unfortunately, my language (Polish) is not one of the supported (yet) and the fact I didn’t pay attention to my German teacher in school; I just couldn’t test the multi-language options. Hopefully, when they update the software to include the Polish language, I check it out and submit my findings in this article.
In any case, kudos to both for a great attempt to include more languages and open more countries to an advanced SEO.
How much SEO content optimization tools cost
Content optimization tools follow a “pay-per-click” pricing model we know from Google, Facebook Ads. In that, certain operations cost you “a credit/query balance”. This means that you will have to work on optimizing all your clicks to get the most out of each tool. The prices range wildly and I’ll try to explain the value you get out of each SEO package below.
CognitiveSEO starts at $129 per month and has its balance calculation simplified. They give you one pile of credits/points (“queries” they call it), 250 points per month on the Starter Plan, and every “Submit” costs one point. If you’re not careful, you can nuke the entire balance at the beginning of the month. And with the way CognitiveSEO approaches the thing, it is easy to do. For example, I found that when I click the “back” button on my browser, points disappear. When I do a repetitive search, something I searched a second ago without an update, points disappear. Or I merely open previously edited article, again, points disappear.
I also find it vial that clicking to analyse the entire existing content carries the same point value as peeking at some obscure long-tail keyword in their keyword database. Because I don’t use their Keyword Search or Site Explorer tools much, I was lucky enough to have never run out of my credit balance, but I hate that aggressive approach to quota, anyway, and I see it as the weakest point of CognitiveSEO package.
SimilarContent range from $19 to $79 per month and handles the balance computation much better than CognitiveSEO. SC splits the clicks into four different segments and count each separately: Keyword Ranking, Analyze Article, Keyword Research, Niche Discovery. The best thing is that the quota resets every day rather than every month. So there is some freedom in that, and if you go overboard one afternoon, you only need to wait till the next day to have a blast again. Also, SimilarContent gives you plenty of options to scale your use as different pricing tiers are available – starting from only $19/m is a tremendous value.
CognitiveSEO shoves you at one fixed tier ($129/m) and then offers a “business plan with custom pricing”, which I guess means higher costs.
SimilarContent is a clear winner here.
What about CognitiveSEO Campaign Tools and the Site Explorer?
I deliberately skipped the more fundamental SEO tools that CognitiveSEO offers, because I don’t think they hold any relevance to the subject of this comparison (SimilarContent doesn’t offer anything like it). Ahrefs or Semrush would be more suitable to line up against CognitiveSEO, and that is a subject for another article.
Summary and which content optimization tool should you choose
While I find the Content Optimizers a head-to-head competition, CognitiveSEO wins with SimilarContent in the Keyword Analysis department by a long shot. But here’s the thing: both are sore losers to Ahrefs.
I find it especially saddening information for CognitiveSEO that put a lot of effort to provide as much information as Ahrefs Keyword Explorer does. And for a price of $129 – CognitiveSEO is not even close, I’m afraid.
I can have Ahrefs with all their bells and whistles for a not-far-off price of $179/m and completely smash whatever I can find on CognitiveSEO’s Keyword Explorer and all other tools they provide. Which is precisely what I do: I use Ahrefs for all the keywords, backlinks, content/site explorers and web-audit analysis. Then I use CognitiveSEO/SimilarContent for LSI Content Analysis and Content Optimization. And even further, I use PageOptimizationPro for a technical onPage SEO. That way, I can enjoy the best of all worlds without taking half-measures.
In that sense, I find SimilarContent a much better option than CognitiveSEO somewhat steep entry point package. If you use Ahrefs/Semrush for keyword research/backlink analysis already, you really should consider checking out SimilarContent offer. If you work in English, for a price of $19/m you get enough to put your articles next to whatever comes out of CognitiveSEO’s Content Optimization soft. Just make sure you’ve done your due diligence on Ahref/Semrush keyword explorer tools first.
Otherwise, if you like to keep all your essential SEO tools in one place and looking for an accurate, extremely well thought-out and fricktionless Content Optimization tool, CognitiveSEO should be the one. A high ticket price but no comprimises on the optimizations either.
SimilarContent is a startup, and an exciting roadmap is in place. They have a long journey ahead of them. Still, if they stay the course and keep themselves out of depth (e.g. not trying to be second Ahrefs), they may be one of the top contenders in their particular “multi-language diverse and multi-national inclusive content optimization niche”.
I truly wish them well and not just because I had the opportunity to get my spot at the front seat but, because, SEO is so much more than “Yoast and backlinks”.
Better content optimization tools = better content = better Internet.
Things I’d like to see SimilarContent focusing on:
- Keyword Highlighter – I love that feature on CognitiveSEO. I think many people do. CognitiveSEO gives you a visual overview of your entire keyword placement strategy right inside your text. It is also a strange psychological trick that motivates me to keep filling-in the text with “more colours” (missing LSI keywords). Looking at the block of boring text on SC takes all the fun away.
- Article History – this obvious feature is a must… I wasn’t happy when I discovered that I could not reaccess the past articles I worked on… Or still working on – the optimization takes time and often cannot be done in one sitting! Now I need to go through the entire process back again, copy-paste (fortunately I’ve made an external copy!) and waste additional credit. Really?!
- Default Settings – I’d like to have my default country and language saved in my profile. Majority of my searches go against the UK market and are in English. I don’t want to set it all up every time I log in to commit another search.
- Topic Difficulty (TD) – the Bar Chart with the Article Performance Score has the same purple colour as the Topic Difficulty Score placed next to it. It is, therefore, confusing on what score the bar chart shows as there is no tooltip explanation. There are multiple places on the dashboard where I’d like to see tooltips and different colours used to make it more clear. Also, some of the descriptions are inaccurate or confusing (e.g. “Extreme”… ?).
- The option “To Optimize Title/Description” in Topic Difficulty is unnecessary. Keyword Brainstorming/MicroNiche Finder tools are unnecessarily separate and in the wrong place on the dashboard. SC needs to rethink the whole KD and other supportive tools from scratch.
- Google Entities / Snippets summary in KD are inaccurate and they could be upgraded with additional Snippets that are missing (Bottom of the Page Ads, People also ask/Related Questions.