You are already doing SERP analysis if you do any kind of digital marketing. Even if you are just a user of Google or other search engines then you have done basic SERP analysis and might not realize it.
And knowing how to do it better means getting more information and better research out of the search process.
What is SERP analysis and why is it important?
What Is SERP Analysis?
SERP refers to the Search Engine Results Page, which shows the results of a searcher’s query on Google or other search engines. And understanding what shows up there (and why) is essential for success as a digital marketer.
Any marketing professional that hopes to rank a page organically or effectively run paid ads needs to do a careful analysis of both the ranking pages and the native rich media features that appear in a search engine’s SERP.
Why Is SERP Analysis Important?
Google won’t tell you how their ranking logic works. And search engines grow more sophisticated every year. Doing SERP analysis can help you better understand the search engine landscape. It helps organic SEOs achieve higher ranking and paid marketers better target topics and keywords.
And the searcher experience can vary widely from niche to niche, and even from one keyword to the next. This can be seen in how Google treats a given search term, based on the pages ranked but also the numerous, native rich media features that are also included in the results page. Here are some specific benefits of doing SERP analysis.
Validate Keyword Selection
In most cases, a publisher will generate a broad keyword list in advance, during the keyword research phase. This may include data like search volume estimates, cost per click (CPC), a paid ad metric, and sometimes a keyword “difficulty” score, usually provided by a marketing tool.
Is Google ranking the kind of content you were planning to make? Is it treating the search term in the way you were thinking about it?
But before creating content for an actual keyword it’s important to do analysis on the SERP itself. This lets you answer some important questions.
Is Google ranking the kind of content you were planning to make? Is it treating the search term in the way you were thinking about it? Is written content being prioritized, or video, podcasts or something else? And is Google answering the query directly in the results page, making it less likely that the searcher will click a link and visit your content? Or, in contrast, is there no quality content effectively addressing the search query (leaving an open field for you)? AND even if you can rank or win the ad position, will you get meaningful (convertible) traffic from a given term?
These are important questions that the SERP analysis seeks to answer.
Confirm Search Intent
Every user of Google has a reason for searching. And that intention that prompts a search on a certain search term has a big impact on the results. Search intent of the keyword strongly influences what Google or other search engines present. So, it’s important that your content serves the intent of the searcher, as Google understands it.
There are some basic, high-level ways to distinguish types of search intent, often associated with stages of the sales funnel or journey. But going deeper on this analysis, into sentiment analysis, can yield even more insights to help fine tune content for specific audiences.
Sentiment analysis covers not just general intent but emotions and opinions towards a topic, product or brand. This incorporates data from reviews, social media posts, news and the like. In the case of negative sentiment, this information can give you an edge over competitors. In contrast, a competitor with a large, loyal fan base may be harder to beat, and not worth taking on.
Perform Competitive Analysis
Doing a comparative analysis of the pages that actually rank for a given search term is a primary focus of SERP analysis. If competing pages are on well-established, authoritative sites it will be harder to rank. And the higher the search volume for the keyword the greater the competition, because they will invest more in keeping their position in the ranking.
…when you can find them, both content gaps and non-targeted pages in the SERP are great opportunities to move up the ranks and onto page one.
But large competitors are sometimes distracted, fighting on many fronts. Finding content gaps or ways to provide a better searcher experience can allow even small sites to beat bigger competitors. And sometimes there are only a few strong content pieces, with the rest of page one filled with forums and other pages not specifically targeting the keyword.
Remember, Google will always put something in as an answer to the query, even if it’s not a perfect fit. And, when you can find them, both content gaps and non-targeted pages in the SERP are great opportunities to move up the ranks and onto page one.
Optimize New or Existing Content
If you have done the above analyses and decided to pursue a given search term, then the next step (and another reason to do SERP analysis) is to reverse engineer the search results. By unpacking the details of what currently ranks and appears we can identify what the Google algorithms expect. And, hopefully, we will exceed those expectations.
New Content For Keyword Opportunities
It’s great when you find an under-served niche, topic or keyword cluster. But the best ideas are only that. To take advantage of good opportunities you have to execute well.
That means optimizing your article or content cluster to meet the searcher’s needs, and matching what the search engine expects. Identifying content gaps and short supply for new content is why we do SERP analysis.
New Content For Competitive Terms
Such analysis is valuable for all sorts of content creation. Even if a search term is too competitive for you to get into the top 10, you may still want to include the piece on your site.
Usually, ranking for a keyword involves having other, supporting content on the site, which links to that target article. SERP analysis is an excellent way to source new topic and keyword ideas, as well as build effective plans for keyword clusters.
Existing Content Struggling To Rank
Doing SERP analysis for existing, struggling pages is even more important. If an article is anywhere in the top 100, it has a chance. If it’s in the top 50, it’s a contender. If it’s on page 2 or 3 it is begging for your attention. And there are almost always ways to improve it.
Moving up the rankings is rarely just a matter of getting more backlinks. And that’s a good thing, because we have control over what is on the page.
Moving up the rankings is rarely just a matter of getting more backlinks. And that’s a good thing, because we have control over what is on the page. Seeing what the top pages are doing right (or wrong) and the SERP features presented reveals how to optimize and improve existing pages.
Existing Content Already Ranking
Even for existing content that might already rank, it’s also important to do SERP analysis. Doing periodic checks of keywords that you currently rank for is how you keep your position at the top.
Many folks use rank trackers to keep an eye on their average rank position, but they rarely visit the SERP until they have dropped to page 2 (or lower). No matter how strong your position may be, make a point of actually visiting the SERP on a regular basis if that keyword is driving a lot of your traffic and/or revenue.
For existing content, it’s important to periodically review and adjust keywords and semantically related words, to counter changes by competing publishers.
In all cases SERP Sonar allows you to confirm the structural requirements of your content, such as word and image count, keyword saturation, article structure, schema usage, and the like. It helps to refine title and description tags, to better match the intent.
For existing content, it’s important to periodically review and adjust keywords and semantically related words, to counter changes by competing publishers. And most of this can be done without expensive, complicated tools.
SERP Analysis With SERP Sonar
There are many benefits to doing SERP analysis. As SEO legend, Kyle Roof, has said, “the secret to ranking is hiding in plain sight.” Many of those “secrets” are found right in the SERP.
In addition to the Google rich results and SERP features, the organic results are critical to a thorough analysis. There are many paid power tools that can help with a deep analysis of ranking pages.
But much of what you need to know can easily be seen right on the search engine results page. And SERP Sonar makes it even easier. The free app provides at a glance in the main app bar, and a detailed report with many stats, derived metrics and a rules-based summary that offers suggested steps. Try SERP Sonar for free!