Clearscope vs. Marketmuse: Content Optimization

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With the ever-expanding list of SEO toolkits available, it can sometimes be hard to know which service is right for you.

I’m a digital marketer, blogger and entrepreneur. I’ve used Clearscope and MarketMuse for content generation and optimization across my businesses. They’re both powerful, but they’re not necessarily interchangeable.

Source: Unsplash

Clearscope and MarketMuse are two of the market leaders in “content optimization.” Content optimization tools are a type of content/SEO tool that enable marketers to make Google-friendly content at scale. Sometimes called content generation tools, this category uses AI and Google best practices to guide you in writing incredible content and optimizing existing content.

Whether you’re a small blogger, a Fortune 500 marketer, or even an SEO agency, Clearscope and MarketMuse are worth a look. Below I’ll outline the pros and cons of both and help you determine which is right for your particular use case.


Any SEO knows that proper keyword usage and density in an article is one of the primary ways Google determines your webpage’s value, so it makes sense that Clearscope is a content optimization tool that focuses on keywords.

Clearscope enables you to simply enter a keyword you want to rank for and it will build you a custom blog post outline so that you or your writers can create content faster — and with Google best practices. The Clearscope content builder gives you:

  • Word count targets
  • Real-time article updates
  • Real-time link quality assessment
  • Real-time keyword suggestions
  • Letter grades on readability and content
Source: Clearscope

Clearscope gives you recommendations for how many times to use each keyword, and see its individual ranking score, which tells you how many other sites like yours are using that keyword to rank with their relevant articles.

Keywords in the window will also indicate if they are commonly placed in the header or not — Google looks more closely at headers, so it’s important to create content with keyword appropriate headers.

I also love that Clearscope allows you to check which questions Google is commonly being asked on the topic, telling you what people are typically looking for when they search. This ensures your article will answer all of a reader’s questions will improve the rank of your content.

Source: Clearscope

Also built into their service is an “Example Usage” feature — simply by clicking on a keyword, you can see the context of where and how it appears, to make determinations about where in the outline that keyword should go.

The example on their website, an article about White House Tours, lists several tourist-y keywords like “backpack”, “bag”, “purse”, “camera”, “strollers” etc – and under the Example Usage feature, you can see that these should all likely go under the heading for “Prohibited Iitems”, rather than “Don’t Forget to Pack”.

Distinctions like this can make all this difference in not just having helpful, but relevant content.

Source: Clearscope

But Clearscope doesn’t stop at optimizing new content drafts. You can also run previously written articles through the filters, to see how content can be tweaked to improve organic traffic flow. Maybe when you wrote the article, you didn’t know as much about content generation and SEO as you do now; or perhaps your article became prematurely obsolete. Either way, Clearscope’s content refresher is a way to help you boost an article that’s “nearly there” and just needs a few small tweaks.

Keep in mind, this process won’t turn a thin, poorly written article into a top performer, but just by running a quality report on your previous article, Clearscope will help you with the most recent relevant keywords add – you can sort them by searching “unused” to see what you need to include for your refresh.

Source: Clearscope

Clearscope Pricing

Clearscope includes free Training, Priority support and unlimited report sharing with every plan. Their terms are also flexible, and you can switch between plans any time without questions or hassles. Plans start at $170/month for 20 reports, 3 users and support for 5 languages (although it is unclear from their website whether this means their software is translated for ease of use, or whether it can actually optimize content in those languages.)

Read our full Clearscope Review here.


MarketMuse is another smart, AI-enabled tool.

It’s more of an enterprise product — as it’s more sophisticated and the price reflects that.

Unlike Clearscope, rather than developing a rubric based upon your desired keyword and topic, MarketMuse uses a patented, cloud-based AI module to analyze your website and create your Inventory — an organized list of all your topics/articles and their current traffic/ranking/income stats in an easily navigable dashboard.

Source: MarketMuse

From there, MarketMuse suggests the most authoritative, relevant and traffic-driving content for your individual brand and site, based on ROI. If that weren’t enough, the platform also organizes your content opportunities by priority level, and even helps draft the perfect content outline, ensuring you nail every article, every time. Explore in-depth metrics not only on what content will perform, but how and why exactly it will.

I love this approach. Just because a site is authoritative, doesn’t mean it can rank for any keyword. While WebMD and Healthline rank #1 for most health-related keywords, they would not perform nearly as well for marketing keywords. That wisdom is what makes the MarketMuse approach interesting and effective.

Source: MarketMuse

Now that you know which topics need articles, it’s time to create a content brief. Like Clearscope, MarketMuse’s proprietary software enables you to see which keywords will be most effective in your article. Unlike Clearscope, they’re ranked according to how critical they are.

Source: MarketMuse

So you’ve made drafted the perfect outline — now what? Well, MarketMuse isn’t about to leave you hanging. The next step of their all-encompassing content generation process is First Draft, their content generation software. It’s an easy process:

1. Browse your Inventory for the right topic
2. Use the Content Brief tool to loosely outline your content. Dictate which sections should be included, and which commonly asked questions it should answer.
3. Click “Get First Draft”

Now you have a high-quality, authentic, non-repetitive article up to 5,000 words, free of any racist, sexist, or other explicit/offensive content, ready for publish in an hour or two — just finalize to your preferences. The software even boasts the ability to write in “your particular style”, or gives you the option to use the writing style of another standardized publication.

Source: MarketMuse

Like Clearscope, you can optimize existing content with MarketMuse. The MarketMuse optimization tool will give you a step-by-step guide through what’s working in your article and what’s not. It does this by scanning other articles that rank highly in the Google SERP.

Source: MarketMuse

MarketMuse Pricing

Starting with a 7-day free trial, you’ll have access to 4 application workflows and unlimited queries.

If you decide to move forward, your $179/mo membership includes:

  • 1 domain
  • 500 pages
  • 50 queries/mo
  • 3 application workflows

Or, for more established enterprises, unlimited packages start at $999/mo.

Read about the best MarketMuse alternatives here.

So… Clearscope, or MarketMuse?

Ultimately, the choice is yours.

Both enable you to create content briefs in record time. Both will be very ROI positive and will help you scale your time.

Clearscope will provide you a keyword-targeted approach to outlining and reforming previous content, and offers multiple user access with their basic package which includes more reports than MarketMuse’s. I find that Clearscope is more suitable for smaller companies and blogs who just need a quick and affordable tool for making content fast.

MarketMuse is the more complete tool. The Inventory feature is interesting, but I question the accuracy of a software determining which topics I should try to rank for. There’s many other factors, including human intuition, that should determine your content roadmap. Still though, it’s an older, technically more sophisticated tool…. and the price definitely reflects this. Depending on your content needs it can get expensive very quickly.

Both are powerful. To me, this one comes down to pricing. Clearscope is more affordable, so for that reason I prefer it.

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