You’ve got lots of choices regarding MarketMuse alternatives, depending on your focus and your budget. Prices can range anywhere from $0 to mid-five figures for an enterprise solution, just to start. But you won’t have to spend anywhere near that with MarketMuse, and you’re always welcome to use our FREE version.
So let’s look at the most popular choices that come up for people considering their options — it’s over 20 different brands!
And it’s a diverse bunch, too, with various software focusing on different aspects of the content cycle, including:
- Content Strategy — Helping content strategists make better decisions about what to write or update.
- SEO — That could be any combination of technical SEO, keyword research, paid search, rank tracking, backlinks. Software in this category is typically considered a jack-of-all-trades.
- Keyword Research — Software that makes it easier to manipulate vast quantities of keywords. Can be useful for agencies and in certain cases, very massive sites.
- Content Optimization — Applications that compare a content’s topical coverage against a prescribed model.
- Content Writing Assistant — These platforms typically use some sort of Generative AI.
- Content Briefs — Here, the focus is on creating a set of instructions to guide writers in consistently creating high-quality content.
- Content Planning — Think of this as project management for content marketing teams. The emphasis here is on workflows and collaboration.
Keep in mind that there’s a lot of overlap as well. So when I associate a particular software with “content optimization” it doesn’t mean that’s all they do. But their marketing message leads me to believe that’s their emphasis.
All of which makes this process like comparing apples to oranges. How do you compare a content strategy platform against software that helps you write better? A feature matrix would be too unwieldy and not very useful.
So what I’ve done is take MarketMuse’s differentiating factors:
- On-demand content inventory
- Personalized metrics including Personalized Difficulty and Topic Authority
- A unique research process that goes beyond string matching and basic semantic connectedness.
- Competitive content analysis
- Content cluster analysis and creation
- Our approach to content optimization
And compare them against the competitive environment.
On-Demand Content Inventory
Our industry-leading on-demand inventory technology is available in the premium version of MarketMuse. It enables us to understand everything about you and your business, so we can help you reach your goals. We read all of your content and extract all of those entities.
We show you how you rank for those topics, plus the keywords for which you already rank. And you can always add your own keyword lists.
We can analyze an important competitor, in the same manner we study your content, to compare how you’re doing against what they’re good at. We take all that information to determine your performance, where you rank, and where you have a competitive advantage.
Semrush, a popular all-in-one SEO tool, enables content marketers to do a variety of things. One of those is running a content audit — you’ll need to set this up and run it yourself, and there are some pretty significant restrictions on how many URLs you can process. It requires a connection to your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts and only pulls in some basic data like Pageviews, Avg. Session Duration, Bounce Rate, etc. So it’s not analyzing your content like MarketMuse.
Ahrefs is another popular all-in-one SEO tool that also enables marketers to run a site audit. Like Semrush, their audit concentrates on the technical aspects of pages. While they check for content quality, they’re only looking at low word count or unconsolidated duplicate pages.
Frase connects to your Google Search Console and gives you that data inside their application. Beyond that, they use a combination of ranking and clicks to offer recommendations.
Ryte (Enterprise SEO) has a technical website audit (that’s what they call it) and according to the company, they report on over 350 criteria, including Google Analytics. An impressive figure, no doubt, but there’s nothing that indicates they do any content analysis, as MarketMuse does.
Like other platforms already mentioned, BrightEdge (enterprise SEO) enables content marketers to complete a variety of tasks for enterprise clients. ContentIQ is one of its products which sounds like it would know something about your content. Unfortunately, it’s only a technical audit — not to discount that because huge sites can have significant issues that aren’t always easy to uncover.
Surfer (content optimization) has something of a content audit for “your 100 best-performing pages” but the miniscule sample is nowhere near enough to generate any substantial insight or personalized metrics based on your site’s content. And while they use the term “full audit,” it turns out to simply be an audit of just one page, which also covers some technical aspects.
Outranking (content writing assistant) relies on connecting with Google Search Console to conduct any content analysis. But it doesn’t keep track of your content, it’s performance, and can’t use any data to calculate personalized metrics. While they often talk about topic authority, it’s not clear if they have a calculated metric, and if so, how is that determined. I’m guessing that it’s just based on topical coverage. It’ll be interesting to see how that evolves.
Clearscope (content optimization) has a simple content inventory system — it’s more like a list of previously optimized pages. There are very few data points available, and with only 20 content inventory pages per month available in their base plan, don’t expect to be doing a full site analysis of your content. On the plus side, it has a visually appealing layout. And providing the ability to tag pages is a nice touch.
MarketMuse is the only platform that maintains a content inventory to provide insights at the page and site-level. SEO software all offer content audits, but these are all technically focused at the page-level. Very few content optimization tools have begun to incorporate some sort of content inventory, and in those cases, it’s on a very limited basis.
Creating a content inventory allows us to generate personalized metrics including Personalized Difficulty, Topic Authority, and Page Authority. These metrics offer better insight into the probability of your success because they take your existing content into consideration.
Personalized Difficulty, shows hard it’ll be for your site to rank and your competitive advantage, unlike keyword difficulty which applies to everyone (and no one in particular). Which gives rise to our Topic Authority calculation — we’re the only in-market solution with a usable metric of this kind. Our Page Authority metric is also one-of-a-kind, indicating how well these pages cover, the topics they’re about, and their momentum.
To my knowledge, no one else in the industry offers personalized metrics. They have no knowledge of your content and can’t take it into consideration.
Out of the bunch, seoClarity has what appears to be a more sophisticated approach where they frequently consider numerous factors in their metric calculations. If you have the budget (a mid four-figure monthly investment to start with), they’re worth considering.
Since keyword difficulty is so popular, let’s take a quick look at how the competitive landscape approaches this metric.
Basically, they’re all link-based — the only question is to what degree:
- Semrush: primarily link-based with some SERP-related considerations. They also have an authority score based on backlinks and traffic.
- Ahrefs: solely link-based. Their URL rating is link-based, similar to PageRank. They have a domain rating based on the website’s backlink profile. Ahrefs Rank sorts the strength of all the world’s backlink profiles.
- SERanking: based on link profile in Top 10.
- SEO Power Suite: uses link-based keyword difficulty.
- Surfer: linked-based at the site level for the top 10.
- SerpStat: considers links, how many keywords a page in the top 10 ranks for, plus search intent.
- ContentHarmony (content briefs): considers content difficulty (how optimized the top 10 pages are — in what they acknowledge is a “simplistic” approach — their words not mine), Link Difficulty (which counts links to the top 10 pages), and Domain Difficulty (Moz DA averaged for the top 10 pages, which is again link-based).
- Clearscope uses Google Keyword Planner data, so their competition metric isn’t organic competition but rather paid search.
- Growthbar (content writing assistant) – based on domain authority and domain age of top-ranking pages.
MarketMuse is the only one on the market that offers personalized metrics to help determine your competitive advantage, how much content you’ll need, and the likelihood of success.
At MarketMuse, we don’t just look at a list of string matches to find keyword data. And we go way beyond basic semantic connectedness. MarketMuse research reveals:
- The topics you should cover.
- Additional keyword ideas and variants.
- Questions that you should consider answering.
- What you’re already covering and what you aren’t.
- What the search results look like today and how those pages are structured.
- How competitors are covering these topics.
- How you are covering them.
- Ideas for internal and external linking.
Topic research and keyword research are distinctly different. Keyword research indicates how people conduct their search, while topic research reveals how to write about a subject. So how does the competition approach topic research, if they do at all?
Semrush has a topic research application used “to generate ideas for new articles, headlines, and topics to write about.” No topic model to guide you in crafting a topically rich article is linked to this process. Neither is there any competitive content, or SERP analysis. They provide a “topic efficiency” metric which sounds more exciting than it is — essentially keyword difficulty vs volume, which has limited value.
With ahrefs, the closest application they have to topic research is their Content Explorer, which is built for a different purpose. While you can perform some competitive analysis, it’s not content-related.
Conductor (enterprise SEO) doesn’t really talk about topic research. The only evidence I could find was a screenshot showing keyword details (search volume, social mentions, and related keywords).
Frase (content optimization) uses a topic model to help you in creating content, along with link suggestions and questions to answer. They also offer some competitive analysis through the SERP and a heat map.
As a content optimization tool, CognitiveSEO has some sort of topic model to help with your research, plus some degree of SERP analysis.
Searchmetrics — The platform helps marketers understand what people search for, looking at seasonality, topic clusters, search volume, and more. But I don’t get a sense that there’s a competitive content analysis to help make decisions before creating any content.
Surfer uses a topic model, not surprising since it’s a content optimization app. So it can offer some insight on what topics to cover when writing about a subject.
Dashword (content brief builder) also has content optimization capabilities. So it too offers insight into topical coverage when creating content around a specific subject.
seoClarity takes a pretty robust approach to topic research that helps discover intent overlap, keyword patterns, and questions being asked around a specific topic.
Outranking offers content optimization and so relies on a topic model — you can use that as part of your topic research. It also offers some insight into topical authority and link building ideas.
Content Harmony does content optimization, so obviously you can use their content model to inform your decisions. They also offer a “keyword report” but it’s not like your typical SEO keyword report. It’s more akin to what you get from topic research conducted using MarketMuse, including search intent, topic analysis, questions, competitor analysis, and the very handy inclusion of competitor outlines.
Narrato (content planning) also has content optimization abilities, so there’s a topic model to indicate topics (although they call them “keywords”) and questions.
As a content optimization tool, Clearscope unsurprisingly, uses a topic model. That’ll help you understand what topics to cover; however, they also include questions to address, and offer external link suggestions plus a look at competitor outlines.
Growthbar provides a few ways to assemble topic research, including keyword data and internal link recommendations from their on-page audit tool, related keywords from their keyword research tool. They have some competitive research, but that’s at the site level and won’t help you understand what’s required to compete in a particular SERP.
SEOscout (SEO) looks to have a decent feature set for topic research, including what topics to cover, questions to answer, along with internal link suggestions.
You’ll find that topic research is mostly limited to tools that offer content optimization. But the extent of that research varies dramatically.
Only MarketMuse integrates existing content into the research process. So you can understand your existing topical coverage site-wide when looking to create new content or update existing pages.
Competitive Content Analysis
Typically done at the site-level, most content marketers refer to this as SEO competitor analysis. But with MarketMuse you can perform competitor content analysis at both site and page level. The difference is that we’re looking at a piece of content and comparing that against the SERP competition.
The purpose of this is to compare how content is constructed and what topics are covered on the page. That way, we don’t miss coverage of any critical topics and can find gaps to fill and thus differentiate our content.
MarketMuse helps you conduct competitive content analysis in two ways, using SERP X-Ray and Heatmap. SERP X-Ray compares your topical coverage against the top 20 SERP competitors, answering important questions like:
- Where am I inferior?
- Where am I superior?
- Do I have a shorter page?
- How does my Content Score compare?
- What about the sections?
- Does my page match the search intent?
- What about images and videos?
- Internal and external links?
Heatmap examines the top 20 pages in the SERP against the topic model and shows, through simple color-coded squares, where the gaps exist and what topics absolutely need to be covered.
Semrush, ahrefs, Conductor, Brightedge, SE Ranking, SEO Power Suite, Searchmetrics, SERPstat, growthbarSEO, and SEOScout all offer site level analysis. As a result, their data revolves around things like traffic, keywords, backlinks, ads, and cost-per-click (CPC).
seoClarity offers some useful competitive insight through their research grid, competitive rank tracking, and content gaps. Since it occurs mostly at a high-level (enterprise SEO software deals with large sites), it’d be a great complement to MarketMuse’s competitive content analysis.
Like MarketMuse, Frase and ClearScope use a heatmap to indicate topical coverage among the top SERP competitors.
CognitiveSEO provides limited competitive content analysis, but there’s no way to understand topic coverage across the whole SERP, just at the individual page level.
MarketMuse offers a unique approach to competitive content analysis not available on any other platform. We offer the ability to analyze and compare the actual content itself, as opposed to your typical SEO data. Plus, our best-in-class topic modeling (see more in the section on content optimization) offers more robust analysis. While Frase and Clearscope also offer some competitive analysis, it’s limited in comparison.
Content Cluster Analysis
Content strategists often conduct competitive gap analysis as a substitute for analyzing content clusters. But the problem is that they’re not assessing the cluster, evaluating content quality and taking topical authority into account.
We offer the world’s only cluster analysis solution — turning what used to be a 40-hour process into mere seconds. It enables you to dive in and see the extent of a cluster, what content you have on a topic and how well it covers the subject.
You can uncover any blind spots across your entire cluster with our on-demand content cluster analysis:
- Where are the gaps?
- Do we need an individual page for that concept?
And then weave it into this infrastructure.
And the best part is, you can apply this same process to your competitors! So cluster analysis like this, a 40-hour process I used to have to do, is now done in seconds.
There’s very little to say here. Searchmetrics ventures somewhat into topic clusters — they have an attractive way of visualizing topics clustered by semantic similarity. Semrush, ahrefs, Conductor, BrightEdge, seoClarity and others offer gap analysis. But as we’ve already explained, that’s not the same as content cluster analysis.
If you’re interested in going beyond traditional gap analysis to really evaluate content clusters, on your site and your competitors, it’s worth taking a look at MarketMuse.
Content optimization has become a commodity recently with a slew of tools available across a wide range of price points. Successful content optimization relies on the data quality of the topic model as that’s what you’re basing your decision on.
Optimization tools vary drastically in their approach to topic modeling.
Out of this group, only MarketMuse, Frase, and seoClarity rely on their own NLP technology for topic model creation. The rest either rely on an application interface (API) from Google or IBM Watson, or in the worst case, use latent semantic analysis or TF-IDF.
I’ve written extensively on the problems of these methods, which you can read about here.
Some approaches are better than others, and there’s always trade-offs. MarketMuse is the only software that analyzes hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pages to create its topic models. We’re trying to model expertise, which requires more than analyzing the top 30 or 40 pages, which seems to be the standard industry approach.
The upside to basing a topic model on such a small collection of pages is that it’s a little faster and much cheaper. But the downside is that you pay a price for the reduced quality of data modeling.
You’ll need to decide whether that’s a price you’re willing to pay.
MarketMuse uses its own patented topic modeling technology to analyze hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pages on a subject to create a model. So we’re not just telling you how to copy your competition. We’re building the topic model as a lens of expertise and quality, and showing you what your competitors do so that you can make decisions that are great from an editorial perspective and from a perspective of how to level up your search engine optimization performance.
Most companies aren’t forthcoming on how they create their topic models, but here are our notes on what we’ve gathered, either through documentation or marketing material.
Like MarketMuse, Frase uses its own technology to create topic models. The difference is that they only analyze the top 20 results for a search query.
According to seoClarity, they’ve spent more than five years testing and refining the NLP used in their content optimization tool. That’s far better than the others on this list, except for Frase (founded 2016) and MarketMuse (founded 2013).
Conductor’s Content Guidance doesn’t generate a semantically related topic model. Instead, they look at the top pages for a query, see what keywords they rank for, and build their list.
Dashword says they use NLP, but they don’t talk about how their topic modeling works. Most likely they’re using an API from either Google or IBM Watson.
Outranking uses Google’s NLP API.
Content Harmony uses IBM Watson’s API as does Clearscope, both analyzing the top 30 to 40 results to build their topic models.
CognitiveSEO offers content optimization and provides a content score in addition to the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale. With no mention of its topic modeling technology, we can’t say very much in this regard.
Same with Semrush Writing Assistant. It evaluates SEO (mentions) but doesn’t say how. They also analyze readability (grade-level and text length), originality (plagiarism detection), and tone of voice. To their credit, they’ve got a great way of displaying this matrix.
Surfer’s pricing page says “guidelines enhanced with NLP” which indicates that it’s layered on top of some other sort of analysis. It’s likely based on TF-IDF as they mention True Density, their interpretation of keyword density, elsewhere in their documents. Where available, they use Google’s NLP API or their own purpose-built NLP solution.
SERanking and SEO PowerSuite don’t reveal much about their optimization software, but according to their websites, they mention “keyword density” and talk about a “TF*IDF metric.”
Narrato’s content optimization tool includes a grammar and readability assistant. But there’s no mention of what technology they use for topic modeling.
Growthbar is another tool that provides Flesch Reading Ease scores along with their content optimization recommendations. And like others on the list, their method of topic modeling is opaque.
SEOScout is also very secretive regarding its topic modeling method. However, their mention of NLP and entity salience indicates they likely use Google’s NLP API.
Both SERPstat and Page Optimizer Pro indicate that they use latent semantic analysis (LSA) as their websites often mention the term “LSI keywords” which don’t exist by the way.
There’s so many choices available in the market now. If content optimization is your primary concern and you’re only producing a handful of articles a month, I’d suggest trying the free version of MarketMuse. That gives you best-in-class topic modeling at a price that can’t be beat.
If you produce more than five articles a month, and budget is a major issue, I’d suggest checking out Frase. They probably offer the best modeling at that price point. I’d avoid any of the tools using TF-IDF or LSA, regardless of their price, as that modeling technology is far inferior.
MarketMuse is a powerful AI-driven platform with unique features that assist content strategists in creating better content faster. For those seeking alternatives, there are a few key factors to consider.
One of the primary benefits of MarketMuse is its on-demand inventory technology, which provides a detailed analysis of existing content and identifies areas for improvement. Personalized metrics, such as Personalized Difficulty and Topic Authority, provide a clear understanding of the topics to focus on, how hard it will be to rank, and how much effort is required.
MarketMuse’s patented topic modeling technology is best-in-class, offering a deeper level of analysis for content research. While MarketMuse may be the most comprehensive solution available, we’re not for everyone. There are alternative platforms that may better suit the needs of certain individuals and organizations, depending on their goals and budget.
What you should do now
When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:
- Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
- If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
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