Creating a high-quality piece of content is by no means an easy task.
Skills, experience, and the right set of tools are some of the most important things a great content writer should be equipped with to be truly great.
This is why there’s a plethora of tools out there that any content writer will find useful, many of which utilize techniques like AI and NLP, to generate better results.
One tool that uses them to help writers in their content creation efforts is Clearscope, which we’ll cover in the following guide.
Although this is an advanced guide for anyone who wants to dive deep into the tool and learn it inside out, it’s also ideal if you’re a newbie.
By the end of this guide, you’ll know how to use Clearscope as part of your internal processes when creating or updating content.
Let’s get into it.
What is Clearscope?
Clearscope is a keyword research and content optimization tool that uses NLP (Natural Language Processing) to not only provide you with the best keyword opportunities but also a list of the terms you should use in your content, in order to have more chances of performing better organically.
The way this works is that Clearscope identifies and extracts all key terms the top search results are using for a certain keyword.
Image Source: Clearscope
In other words, Clearscope is ideal for content optimization, because—besides the key terms—this is part of the content optimization process which includes suggestions about what questions and citations you should use, as well as ideas about your content’s outline based on the competing pieces.
How to Use Clearscope for Content Creation & Update
Now that you’ve seen what Clearscope is all about, let’s dive deeper into its features and how to use them, starting with Clearscope reports.
How to Use Clearscope Reports
Learning how to use Clearscope’s reports is essential, in order to get the most out of the tool and optimize your content writing efforts.
Let’s have a look at how you can use them.
Once you log in, this is what you’ll see:
First things first, enter your target keyword in the search bar and choose your Google locale…
…and then your preferred language…
…which you want Clearscope to analyze the top results for.
When ready, simply hit Run Report.
Clearscope will now analyze the top results for that keyword and create a new report for you based on its analysis.
Keep in mind that you can also access your most recent reports on the same page and see your complete reports history, but we’ll elaborate on this further on.
Let’s assume your keyword is “saas seo” because you want to create a piece of content around this term.
After inserting it in the search bar, choose the US as the locale and English as the language…
…click on Run Report and wait a few seconds for Clearscope to complete its analysis.
Your new report will now be added at the top of the Your recent reports list, so you can access it anytime and use the tool’s editor; a core feature that will help you create quality content.
Alternatively, instead of creating new reports one by one, you can use the Batch option.
All you have to do is add your target terms, one per line, choose your locale and language, and hit “Run” for Clearscope to generate all your reports.
You can also optionally add any URL you like to extract content for evaluation, but the batch reports are what we’re most interested in here.
Let’s now see how the editor works in action, by simply clicking on the Editor button or your target keyword.
Using Clearscope’s Editor
As we mentioned, Clearscope’s editor is a core feature and the most important part of our process.
Understanding how to use it is essential, so we’ll go through the steps thoroughly.
However, before we do that, you should know that there are three ways that you can use Clearscope:
- Through Clearscope’s Built-in Editor
- Through Clearscope’s Google Docs Add-on
- Through Clearscope’s WordPress plugin
Let’s see what each of those ways is all about.
1) Clearscope Built-in Editor
Once you’ve selected the Editor button, you’ll be inside Clearscope’s Built-in Editor.
This is what it will look like:
At first glance, it might seem like there’s a lot of information on the page—and indeed there is— so let’s do a brief breakdown of it.
Starting from the left-hand side, you can see the following:
- Content grade: A score from F to A++ which increases the more suggested terms you add to your content.
- Word count: Your content’s word count as well as the typical word count of the top search results.
- Readability: The readability grade level as measured by the Flesch-Kincaid readability index.
Author’s Note: Keep in mind that Clearscope is simply suggesting what content grade or word count you should aim for. The most important thing is to pay attention to creating a valuable piece of content that will sound natural, instead of obsessing over reaching a certain word count for instance.
On the right side of the page, we have Clearscope’s recommended terms.
As we mentioned, these are terms the tool extracts from the top results and are what we call LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Keywords), which are conceptually related terms that help search engines understand what a page is all about.
In our case, Clearscope has provided us with 85 terms relevant to our target keyword, saas seo.
The more suggested terms you add to your content, the higher your content grade will be, but it’s imperative that you try to add those terms naturally to your content, instead of adding them just for the sake of it.
You can sort those terms by:
- Heading Presence: If the term is used as a heading in competitors’ content
- Unused: The terms that you haven’t yet used in your content
- Importance: How important the term is based on your target keyword
You’ll notice that every time you add one of those terms in the text editor, Clearscope will check off the term so you know exactly which ones you’ve used and which ones you haven’t.
Plus, by clicking on any of those terms a small window appears, showing the term’s importance on a scale of 1 to 10, its typical uses from competing articles…
…as well as some examples of how your competitors have integrated that term into their content.
What you should also know is that besides the terms Clearscope recommends, you can add your own terms that you believe are relevant.
This is particularly useful when you’re creating a content brief for your writers and want to include certain terms.
Author’s Note: Keep in mind that the terms you manually add don’t contribute to the final content grade.
In order to do that, simply select the plus sign…
…and you’ll then be able to either type in your term or select some of the recommended ones.
Last but not least, toggle the switch next to “Semantic grouping” for Clearscope to group all terms that are semantically associated with each other.
Apart from the list of terms, you’ll also notice two more options:
When selecting Research, the tool provides you with:
- Some of the most commonly used questions for you to add
- Some commonly cited external links
- A few useful external resources, usually from Wikipedia, Quora, and Reddit
On the other hand, when selecting Outline the tool will show you your competitors’ detailed content outlines (meaning all headings), so you get a better idea of how they’ve structured their content.
Very useful, right?
Lastly, in the middle of the page we’ve got our text editor, where you can write your content, in a similar way to how Google Docs or WordPress work.
Before we see how you can use Clearscope’s Google Docs plugin, you might have noticed a few more options in the top right corner.
To be precise, if you select the Term map…
…you’ll see something very interesting, which is a map showing which of Clearscope’s recommended terms have been used (green box) and which haven’t (white box) by your top search competitors.
Now, if you select the Competitors options next to the term map, you’ll find something even more interesting, which is a chart showing the organic position of each of your competitors (X-axis), based on how low or high the content grade they’ve received is (Y-axis).
This gives you a good idea of how including LSI keywords contributes to better organic performance or not, specifically for your search competitors.
And if you scroll down you’ll see in detail the…
- Google desktop position
- Google mobile position
- Word count
- Content grade
…of each of the competing pieces.
Once again, this is a great way to see where your competitors stand in terms of their organic performance and what you can do better in terms of word count and content grade.
Author’s Tip: When possible, try to spot patterns based on how the word count or content grade affects positions in the SERPs, for your target keyword.
Now that we’ve seen how to use Clearscope’s built-in editor, let’s move on to the next way you can use the tool.
2) Clearscope’s Google Docs Add-on
Clearscope’s Google Docs add-on is ideal if you prefer working on Google Docs and sharing documents with your writers, as an alternative to the built-in editor we just saw.
To begin with, you need to install the add-on from Google’s Workspace Marketplace.
The way this works is simple; under the list of your recent reports, select the button to copy the report’s URL.
Then go to your Google Doc and paste the URL into Clearscope, as shown below.
This will link your report to the doc and you’ll be ready to go!
As you can see, everything is similar to the built-in editor, with the only exception that all the necessary information (content grade, word count, suggested terms, etc.) is on the right-hand side of your document.
You’re now all set to start writing!
All in all, this is how you can use Clearscope for Google Docs.
Let’s move on to the third way.
3) Clearscope’s WordPress Plugin
The third and last way to use Clearscope’s editor is through its WordPress plugin, meaning that you can use the tool while writing your content directly in WordPress’s CMS.
All you have to do is install the plugin and embed your reports.
After that, you’ll have the full Clearscope experience, with the recommended terms, the word count, content grade, and everything else on your right-hand side.
As you can see from above, nothing really changes compared to the other two ways, but considering how many users write directly through WordPress, this plugin is definitely useful!
Although we saw earlier how to create reports, there are a few more things you should know when it comes to accessing and organizing them.
Let’s have a look.
How Clearscope’s Report History Works
As we mentioned, Clearscope allows you to access and organize all the reports you’ve generated.
To do that, simply select “View all reports” from the main page.
Here’s what you should see:
In the center of the page, you have all the reports you’ve generated, meaning you can access them at any time.
You can also sort reports by date…
…based on when they’ve been created or edited.
This will give you the chance to organize your reports and find the ones you’re looking for.
When choosing a report (by checking it off), there are four options available:
- Edit Tags: Add a tag to the Report based on your categorization system
- Archive: Put the Report into Archive (ideal for outdated Reports)
- Unarchive: Remove the Report from the Archive
- Delete: Remove the Report entirely from your Report History
The first option (Edit Tags) is really important for us here at MINUTTIA because each tag (previously known as Labels) represents a client, thus making it easier to find a report about a specific client, especially when handling a large volume of them.
Obviously, you can create your tags based on whatever suits you best, not necessarily on clients like we do, but for example the stage a report is in:
- In progress
- Needs update
Or even based on the person who created the report.
In order to create a tag, simply select “Edit tags” and enter your new tag in the bar…
…and click “Apply” when ready.
Your tag will then be added among the rest, in the list of tags on your left-hand side.
Lastly, you’ll notice that above the list there are three statuses.
- Active: The Reports that have been created but not edited yet.
- Graded: The Reports that have been worked on and given a content grade.
- Archived: The Reports you’ve archived yourself.
Overall, that’s how you use Clearscope’s Report History.
It’s a great feature that can help you keep track of your reports if you use it correctly.
Let’s now see another important feature of our tool, the Keyword Discovery.
Using Clearscope’s Keyword Discovery
Besides being a content optimization tool, Clearscope is also a keyword research tool, meaning that you can search and find the best keywords to use in your content.
When you select Keyword Discovery, here’s what you’ll see:
You have two basic options:
Let’s dive deeper into them.
If you select “Query” you can enter any keyword you like in the search bar, as well as the locale and language you want Clearscope to find data for.
Let’s continue with our previous example and enter saas seo as your keyword, with US as the locale and English as the language.
Once you hit “Run”, you’ll then get a list of relevant keywords based on the target keyword you inserted.
As you can see, each keyword has certain metrics that give you a better idea of how strong the term is or isn’t.
To be precise, those metrics are…
- Average Monthly Searches
- Competition (Low-Medium-High)
- CPC (Cost per Click)
…but we’ll elaborate on them further on in our Clearscope review guide.
You can also sort your keywords based on one of those three metrics.
In case you want, for example, to see the keywords with the highest commercial value (highest CPC) or the lowest competition.
You can also choose to display only keywords that are questions (e.g. have modifiers like what, why, when, how) by selecting the “Questions” option, instead of “All” which is the default.
Questions are particularly useful as H2, H3, or H4 headings, and give exact answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Next to the questions, there’s the “Trending” tab, which provides you with the most trending keywords for this period.
The last option is the “Exact match” which presents you with all the keywords and keyphrases that include your target term (in our case saas seo) as an exact match.
That way, you can find keywords that include your target term as it is and not just a close variation of it.
Keep in mind that you can also export your keywords as a CSV file, by selecting the “Export” button.
It is recommended that before you run a new Report, you use Clearscope’s Keyword search function—as part of your overall keyword research process—to discover the best keywords for the content you want to create.
Let’s take a step back and select “URL” to see how this works.
Here you can enter the URL of any website you like and see all the organic keywords it ranks for in the SERPs.
Simply enter the URL, as well as the locale and language as always.
When you hit “Run”, Clearscope will present you with the list of keywords…
…as well as all the necessary information about each one, which are the same metrics as before (monthly searches, competition, CPC).
You can also have a look at the questions our desired website has visibility for, plus the trending keywords by selecting the tab accordingly.
Keep in mind that exact match keywords don’t really make sense here, because you’re presented with keywords and not searching for them like in the previous case.
All in all, this is how Keyword Discovery works.
Although there are many powerful keyword research tools like Ahrefs and Semrush, Clearscope is also a great option when it comes to finding the right keywords.
Let’s now see in detail what each of Clearscope’s metrics means, so you get a better idea of them.
Like other content and search engine optimization tools, Clearscope has its own metrics, which are tied to different features and capabilities.
Although we briefly saw them earlier, it’s imperative that we explain exactly what they’re all about, starting with the monthly searches.
Metric #1: Average monthly searches
As you might remember in Clearscope’s Keyword Discovery feature, one of the metrics was the average monthly searches.
According to Clearscope, this is the “average number of monthly searches over the past 12 months.”
For instance, for the term “saas seo” here’s the average search volume for some of the most relevant keywords.
Keep in mind that, when conducting a keyword search, the first keyword in your list will be the one you’ve used to conduct the search. Everything below this is a long-tail variation of that term.
Nevertheless, this gives you a good idea of how much a term is in demand, so you know whether it’s a good fit for your content or not, based on the search traffic.
We’re not sure what the source is for this metric, but we assume it’s data that comes from Google Ads through an API for search data.
Moving on to the next metric.
Metric #2: Competition
Competition shows you how competitive a term is.
According to Clearscope: “Advertising competition is measured by Google Ads. This can be used as a proxy for the amount of competitor interest for this keyword.”
This is another metric that can be found in Keyword Discovery and it uses the following scale:
Obviously, the higher the competition, the more difficult it’ll be to rank high for the term, but there are other factors to consider, such as the backlink profile of each search result.
Competition is a term that’s closely correlated with the CPC, due to the fact that they both derive from Google Ads, but you should take them with a pinch of salt.
In other words, a high competition can indicate a high commercial value too, but that’s not always the case.
Since we mentioned CPC, let’s have a closer look at it.
Metric #3: CPC
According to Clearscope: “The range of Google Ads CPC (cost per click) bids historically used to display an advertisement at the top of the search result page. This can be used as a proxy for the value of a website visit from this keyword.”
The CPC gives us a good indication of whether advertisers are bidding for that term and how much a click costs, on average.
Although a high commercial value for a term can be good, don’t pay too much attention to it as there are many more factors to consider, such as the relevancy, search intent, competition, and more.
Metric #4: Content grade
Unlike the metrics we just saw, the content grade is a unique Clearscope metric and possibly the most important of them all.
As we mentioned before, the more suggested terms you include in your content, the higher your grade will be and it can go from F all the way up to A++.
Reminder: What’s more important than the content grade itself, is adding the terms naturally in your content, so although the grade is important, don’t be overly obsessed with it.
According to Clearscope: “Better grades mean more relevant and comprehensive content, which is often correlated with Google rankings.”
This can also be backed up by studies, such as the one Backlinko conducted, which found that higher Clearscope content grades are associated with higher Google rankings.
Image Source: Backlinko
Let’s continue with our next metric.
Metric #5: Word count
Although this metric is clear and straightforward, it’s still an important one.
The word count is the number of words included in the content’s main body and is available in every Clearscope report.
Meaning that you can not only see your own content’s word count in the sidebar but also the average word count of the top search results, as we saw earlier when explaining how Clearscope reports work.
Now, your question might be: Does the word count really matter?
Although some research has shown that longer content is more likely to rank high for multiple keywords, the answer is that it depends, considering there’s no rule of thumb to follow in terms of the word limit for SEO.
In general, we suggest you keep the word count in mind, but there are other things to prioritize such as getting the search intent right and providing value to the user, especially since Google now favors content that’s made for the user and not solely to satisfy search engines.
Metric #6: Readability
Another unique Clearscope metric is a content’s readability level.
According to Clearscope, Readability is “the Flesch Kincaid readability index grade. This score indicates how difficult a passage in English is to understand.”
When it comes to the Flesch Kincaid scores and what each one means, the following table will help you get a better understanding of them.
Clearscope will not only inform you about your content’s readability level but also the typical level of the top search results for your target keyword.
This isn’t something that will affect your content’s performance and bring in more organic traffic, but it’s good to know how digestible your content will be for readers.
And with that, we’ve covered all the basic metrics that Clearscope uses in different parts of the product.
Let’s wrap things up with some final words.
One thing’s for sure: content creators shouldn’t stay stagnant.
Whether you’re one yourself or simply managing a team, you should know that things change rapidly so your content strategy should be agile enough to adapt.
This means learning new skills, staying updated, and improving your effectiveness and workflow with the right tools.
This is where Clearscope comes in, to help you streamline your SEO content workflow and achieve better organic results.
This is why Clearscope has been an integral part of our internal processes and a powerful tool to help us get better results for ourselves and our clients.
If you like what you saw in our guide, make sure to give Clearscope a try!