Product Review

Clearscope Review: Is it Better Than Marketmuse?

Danielle Antosz
April 29, 2020

Let’s talk about the most common — and the most infuriating — content marketing advice on the internet.

“If you want better search rankings, you just need to write better content!”

Thanks, I guess? What does better content even mean?

Does it mean longer content? Well, sometimes. But not too long and not just for the sake of length.

Should I add more links? Those can be a ranking factor, but they need to be relevant for the content. Oh, and don’t forget to use relevant anchor tags.

Should I cover related topics? Search engines do like to see those, but you also need to stay on topic.

screaming gif

via Broad City on GIPHY

It’s enough to drive you mad.

This is why a lot of content marketing teams are turning to SaaS tools like Clearscope that assign content a score and make content optimization recommendations.

But, will Clearscope actually help your content rank better on Google?

That is what we are here to find out.

Our Verdict

While other tools might offer more features, Clearscope offers a solid balance of resources and affordability that medium to large growing companies will appreciate. If you are looking for a single tool that will improve your content strategy and help you write content that ranks better, give Clearscope a try!

But first, the basics.

What is Clearscope?

Clearscope is a keyword research content optimization tool designed to help content marketers and content creators develop content that is more successful in search engines — without being forced or fluffy.

Founded in 2016, the tool uses IBM Watson services to automate SEO research and content optimization by comparing and analyzing content pieces that search engines rank the highest.

This is Matt Sornson from ClearBit.
This is Matt Sornson from ClearBit.

Source

How Do You Use Clearscope?

To use Clearscope, type in a keyword you want to target, then run the report. Clearscope will give you a list of key terms and topics as well as competitors who are currently ranking for that term.

This can help you outline the scope of work, decide what topics to cover, and determine how long your piece should be.

It also assigns completed content a score based on features like word count, readability, and search volume, then ranks your content against the top competitors. The report will suggest keywords and relevant topics that can improve your content score.

Here’s an example of a Clearscope report on the Overview page tab. Notice the top competitors in the right sidebar, the search volume list, and the tabs at the top of the page.

An example of a Clearscope report on the Overview page tab.
An example of a Clearscope report on the Overview page tab.

But, is it the right content optimization tool for your team? It depends on your content needs and your long term business goals.

Clearscope: Main Features

In this Clearscope review, we’ll take a deep look at how this SEO and content tool works, including main features, ease of use, support, major pros and cons — and how it compares to competitors like MarketMuse.

What you really want to know is will Clearscope help you get higher rankings in Google, right? It can.

Here are a few of the top features that can help your team create better content — and streamline the content creation process.

Ease of Use

When it comes to ease of use, Clearscope really shines. The platform is incredibly intuitive to use and easy to navigate. Features are clearly labeled, and the tabs make it easy to explore all the information. The report also loads all at once, so there’s very little lag time once you’ve run the report.

The team does offer free onboarding and great support, but it isn’t really necessary for most. Simply type in your search term, and you can start digging into topics, keywords, and exploring what your competitors are doing.

You can also create and optimize your content right in Clearscope — so no more copy and pasting content back and forth if you don’t want to. There are no collaboration tools, however.

Topic and Keyword Research

To get started using Clearscope, you will need a basic key term you want to target. Plug that into Clearscope and run a report. The tool will give you a list of words and topics that are popular for that term.

This is a great feature to use for content ideation, especially for a potential client. Instead of doing hours of research in the search console and digging in an SEO tool like Screaming Frog for a client who hasn’t signed a full contract yet, you can use the Clearscope report to suggest SEO-backed content ideas to help close the deal.

Clearscope also provides search volume data, so you can see if the term you are targeting gets enough traffic to justify targeting. This 12-month search volume chart appears just below the grade summary on the Overview tab.

Clearscope also provides search volume data.
Clearscope also provides search volume data.

In the Page Type section, Clearscope tells you if an article is the best format for the topic. While they don’t suggest other mediums — like video or graphics — this can be useful when trying to determine what type of content will be most effective in the search results, say an article versus an ebook or white paper.  

Content Optimization is one of ClearScope's main features.
Content Optimization is one of ClearScope’s main features.

Content Optimization

Once your content is written, you want to know how it will rank against your competition. You could publish it and wait a few weeks to see what happens in Google, or you can get an idea of how well your content will do with Clearscope.

Plug your content into Clearscope and you’ll get a  fully customized report that ranks your content and gives you topic suggestions to improve your content. Here’s an example of a content report from the Clearscope website:

This is a sample of a fully customized report.
This is a sample of a  fully customized report.

Source

As you can see, Clearscope provides detailed tips and suggestions for improving your content, such as adding relevant terms, increasing the word count, and writing content for a higher-level audience.

Does Clearscope provide content briefs?

No, unlike MarketMuse, content briefs are not a feature Clearscope offers. However, their keyword research can be used to craft an outline.

Integrations

Clearscope only appears to integrate with Google Docs. For all other tools, such as Grammarly or your CMS, you will need to copy and paste your content from Clearscope into the tool.

Does Clearscope integrate with WordPress?

No, Clearscope currently does not integrate with WordPress. However, the team is constantly rolling out new features, so it is possible they will release an update with this feature in the future.

Clearscope Support

Clearscope says they offer “premium” support to all their customers, which means they don’t provide better support for higher-paying plans, which is nice. But, support is available online only and during regular business hours, which feels pretty limited for a cloud-based SaaS tool.

Clearscope offers extremely limited documentation on their website, there is no resources tab, just a short FAQ at the bottom of most pages.

Pros of Clearscope

By now, you should have a clear understanding of what Clearscope is and how it works — but is it the content research solution you need? Here are a few of the top reasons why Clearscope is a fantastic option for content teams.

Saves Time on KeyWord Research

Their keyword research is easy to use, fast, and thorough. If you are looking to get a general lay of the land before creating a content outline, Clearscope is the perfect fit. Type in the main keyword, and Clearscope will give you a list of 30 to 40 related terms to include in your content.

And it works — in this case study by Optimizely, they showed how they increased their conversion rate by 52% using Clearscope.  

Helps With Content Ideation

Have a keyword in mind, but not sure where to go with the topic? Research your main term, then click on the Relevant Terms tab. You will get a full list of relevant key terms listed by importance — including related terms and whether they should be in a heading.

This is the Relevant Terms tab from MarketMuse.
This is the Relevant Terms tab.

This information can be used to build an outline.

Makes the SEO Writing Process Much Easier

Most marketers know that SEO matters — but adding SEO into writing can be a complex task. Content writers want to write for readers, and sometimes SEO folks focus too much on the details. Clearscope offers the ideal balance by providing writers with guidelines and using an easy-to-understand content score.

The content review process is really fast, which means your team can make quickly optimize your content and get it published faster.

Easy to Use

Unlike other tools, like Screaming Frog or Marketmuse, Clearscope is incredibly easy to use. Their report is well labeled and the tabs at the top make it incredibly easy to navigate. Their report is a bit less detailed, but it provides all the information you need to do SEO research for content.

Cons of Clearscope

Where does Clearscope fall short? Here are a few cons to keep in mind when deciding if it is the right content optimization and SEO research tool for your company.

Limited Integrations

Clearscope only integrates with Google Docs. It does not work with WordPress, you will need to copy and paste your content from Clearscope to WordPress.

While that is not a huge deal, you will need to make sure you don’t bring over any extra coding, like div or span tags, to prevent slowing down your WordPress site.

No Link Help

Clearscope reports focus mainly on keywords, content length, and relevant topics. There is no linking feature to help you determine what type of backlinks to pursue or even what internal links to add. Marketmuse, on the other hand, offers an internal linking suggestion feature.

Limited Support

Clearscope only provides support via email and only during business hours. They also lack the on-site documentation that most other SaaS companies offer. This could be a pain point for some users.

However, most Clearscope reviews, like the one below, only have good things to say about their support.

No Content Briefs or Collaboration Tools

Clearscope will provide you with the information you need to create better content, but it won’t help you with the actual process. They do not offer content briefs or collaboration tools, such as collaborative editing or task assignments. The best you can do is send colleagues a link to your report in Clearscope. If you are looking for an all-in-one writing process tool, this isn’t it.

Clearscope Plans & Pricing

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

Clearscope plans start at $350 a month for their content optimization and keyword research tool. This price includes up to three users, up to 50 reports a month, and support for five languages including, English, German, Spanish, Frenchy, and Italian.  

All plans include free training, onboarding, and priority customer support. This means you won’t get lower-tier support just because you have a cheaper plan.

What if you need more than 50 reports from Clearscope? Once you sign up for a plan, you can easily upgrade and downgrade your plan as your needs change.

Larger agencies can opt for an agency or enterprise plan, which includes additional tools, including a Whitelabel feature you can use to share reports with clients under your own branding.  

Who is Clearscope best suited for?

Clearscope is best suited for medium to large agencies and brands who are looking to create competitive content and streamline the writing process.  Smaller companies or companies that do not produce a lot of content may find the price is too high for their needs.

Brands that use Clearscope include Optimizely, Backlinko, and Eventbrite.

Optimizely, Backlinko, and Eventbrite are just some of the brands that use ClearScope.
Optimizely, Backlinko, and Eventbrite are just some of the brands that use ClearScope.

Is Clearscope Better than Marketmuse?

Feature-wise, I’ve got to say Marketmuse wins out. They offer additional features such as content briefs, internal link building suggestions, and far more detailed reporting tools.

Marketmuse also offers Pages, which stores content that is already on your site and makes suggestions for ways to rank better in the search engines. This is ideal for doing content audits.

But, Marketmuse is far more expensive, which makes it a hard pill to swallow for many smaller companies. At $350 a month, Clearscope is still a powerful tool for keyword research and content optimization.

Final Thoughts: Is Clearscope Worth It?  

Hopefully, this Clearscope review has given you all the information you need to determine if it is the right tool for you. The reality is, it is an incredibly powerful tool for streamlining the SEO review process and creating content that shows up in the search results.

While other tools might offer more features, Clearscope offers a solid balance of resources and affordability that medium to large growing companies will appreciate. If you are looking for a single tool that will improve your content strategy and help you write content that ranks better, give Clearscope a try!