In this guide, I’m going to teach you what a SERP analysis is, why they’re crucial for SEO, and how to do an in-depth analysis.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. — Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Now, while that’s a quote about war, it applies pretty strongly to the SEO marketing world too.
If you don’t know your “enemies,” you can expect to lose a lot more than you would otherwise. And in the world of SEO, this is especially true.
One of the best ways you can learn about your competitors is through SERP analysis.
- What is SERP Analysis?
- Why is SERP Analysis So Important for SEO?
- How to Do SERP Analysis to Ensure You Land at the Top of the Page
- SERP Analysis Implementation Tips
- Using SERP Tools to Simplify the Process
What is SERP Analysis?
SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page, and it’s the page that comes up when you look for anything on Google. So a SERP analysis is simply an audit of a SERP for any given keyword that you wish to rank for.
For instance, if I look up “cat toys,” the SERP looks like this:
And assuming your business’ goal is to make money (which it probably is), this first page on Google is crucial for your online success.
Let’s talk about why.
Why is SERP Analysis So Important for SEO?
Let me ask you a question:
When you look at Google’s search result pages, do you usually go past the first page?
How often do you make a purchase from any site on page two or beyond?
If you’re like most people, the answer was probably “never.”
A study on the subject even showed that the click-through rate of any search result beyond the first of Google is less than 1%.
That means any result that lands on a page past the first is losing out on over 99% of potential customers for any given result.
And the only way to consistently beat the competition on Google’s SERP pages is through careful analysis and planning.
If that doesn’t speak to SERP analysis’s importance, then I don’t know what will.
And with that out of the way, let’s get into the exact processes you can use to land you at the top of the page.
How to Do SERP Analysis to Ensure You Land at the Top of the 1st Page
Sure, it’s possible to get to the top of Google by “winging it,” at least for a keyword or two.
But just a keyword or two won’t get you the kind of traffic you need to drive considerable revenue.
To get to the top of the page consistently, you’ll need a structured process that you can repeat.
The First Step: Find Your “Primary Keywords,” and Use a Tool to Help You Track Them
Before anything else, you’ll need to think of the primary keywords you want to target for any given page.
The primary keywords will be what the page revolves around in large part, so choose carefully.
Before you even start a SERP analysis, you have to know which SERP for which keyword you need to analyze.
In general, you want your primary keywords to be broad, popular enough that they get a decent amount of search volume, and not overly saturated with competition (so you have a shot at out-ranking them). But most importantly, you’ll want to target keywords that have search-intent that aligns with a call-to-action for your business.
To use this blog post as an example, our primary keyword is “SERP Analysis.”
From there, we have plenty of ways to branch off into subtopics, which are keywords in and of themselves.
But with all of this talk about volumes and competition, we’ve got to talk about the next part of this step:
Finding a tool to help you perform SERP research.
Now, technically it’s possible to do all of your research with Google’s search bar alone, but if you want the best chances at success, you’re better off using a high-quality research and tracking tool.
What is the Best SERP Tool to Assist with SERP Analysis?
The world of SEO is rough, competitive, and filled with unexpected bumps and challenges — but a robust SERP tool is the perfect off-road vehicle to help you navigate that dangerous terrain.
The problem is that not all SERP tools on the market right now are all too strong.
The last thing you’d want for traversing the SEO world is a vehicle with a few flat tires.
ProRankTracker is one of the best SERP tools available for one of the best values out there. From rank tracking to keyword research and more, it’s got the full package to get you from Page 100 to #1 on the SERPs.
If you haven’t already, consider checking out our Free Trial Plan by clicking here.
Using a SERP analysis tool like ProRankTracker is one of the easiest ways to scout the competition in-depth.
Next, Identify the SERP Competitors Ranking
Once you’ve identified your primary keyword, you can get into the critical part of SERP analysis:
Studying the competition so you know exactly how to out-rank them.
The Page That Counts: Page One
When you break down the click-through rate on each search result, you’ll find that the first result alone gets over 25% on its own.
And out of all searchers, less than 25% ever travel further than the first page.
All of this info means one thing:
For research purposes, anything past page one isn’t going to get the conversions your business or clients need.
So taking this all in, remember that we’re only really worried about the top 10 results.
If there’s a winning trend for a given keyword (which there always is), the top 10 is where you’ll find it. After all, you’re not trying to compete for the top of page two, right?
But what are you looking for in these top ten results, exactly?
Check SERP Competition: What to Look for in Competing Pages
Let’s cover some of the essential details you should be gathering from each of the top search results.
The Most Important Thing: Rankings
Rankings are one of the most important KPIs in SEO.
For the most part, the top 10 rankings are going to be the competition you’ll be eyeing to beat.
But for some high-value keywords, you’re going to want to do a deeper SERP analysis to make sure there are any trends going against or with you.
Using an in-depth SERP checker like ProRankTracker, you’ll be able to see pages coming in hot to the 1st page, and how algorithm updates affect your rankings.
A tool like this also comes in clutch for protecting your current first-page rankings.
Content Quantity = It’s Less Important Than You Think
There’s a common trend of trying to beat the competition via word count alone when it comes to SEO.
At one point in time, this worked, too.
It worked well enough that people could get their websites ranked just by jamming as many keywords as they could onto a page — a practice known as “keyword stuffing.”
The thing is — Google’s algorithm has gotten a lot smarter since these days.
Long gone are the times when you could fill up a page with copy and paste keywords to rank. Now, you’ve got to do better than beating your competition via quantity.
You’ve got to compete with their quality.
Content Quality = Where the Money is At
The algorithm that Google uses to determine a page’s rank is now clever enough to know whether your content is high-quality or not.
And the biggest determining factor for a high-quality piece of content?
The sole goal of Google is to provide the results with the most value to its users. So to earn those top spots, you’ve got to provide more value than your competition.
When you’re looking through the SERP results, ask yourself this:
“What am I getting out of this?”
How is that specific page helping you?
Once you’ve determined that, your job is to build a page that helps web searchers more.
But there’s a quick thing to note:
It’s not just about helping more, but also about helping searchers while matching their intent.
When a user enters any given term, they’ve got a purpose behind it.
Maybe they need help learning how to do something.
Or, perhaps they’re online shopping.
And the results that get clicks are the ones that match that purpose.
When you do SERP analysis, you’ll notice that the majority of the results fall into a select few categories, and there’s a reason for this.
Those are the topics that searchers are looking for.
Not matching search intent will be a major mistake.
Think about it:
You wouldn’t want to try ranking a sales page when searchers are looking for something educational.
So take note of the content nature for each SERP.
Is it a tutorial?
A step-by-step guide?
A list of quick tips?
A sales page?
An ecommerce store?
Are the top results YouTube videos?
From there, you can get a pretty good idea of search intent for any particular term. And once you have that, you can match it in your own content.
How In-Depth Are the Competitors’ Content?
This is the time to run an in-depth audit of your competition.
Another factor that ties into the search intent is the depth of each article.
If each of the top ten articles is only a landing page, your chances of getting a definitive mega-article ranked probably aren’t the greatest.
But if blog posts are ranking that are full of shallow content, this could be your time to shine and out-do the competition.
Gaps & Opportunities
The next thing you should look for in the competing article isn’t just what they’re doing right, but also what those competing articles are missing.
We’re not just trying to make an exact match of the competing articles for our primary keywords; we’re trying to beat them.
So while you’re reading, take mental (or physical) notes of what they could’ve done better when writing the content.
If you were a reader looking for value from this article, what else would you have liked included?
And the flaws in your competitors’ content? Well, those are perfect opportunities for your content to shine.
Putting Your SERP Analysis Into Action: Tips for Out-Ranking the Established SERP Results
Let’s cover some of the best practices that you should put into place if you want your content to take the place of the current kings of the search-engine hill.
Match Intent, but Put a Spin on It — Be Unique
Remember all that talk about search intent? There’s a bit more nuance to all of that.
Search intent is a critical piece of getting ranked, but that doesn’t mean the goal is to create a carbon copy of what’s already out there.
When writing a piece of online content, make sure you’re putting your own unique spin on it. Otherwise, there won’t be anything to set you apart from the competition — which means no reason for searchers to click on your article versus theirs too.
Keep the User Experience in Mind
When it comes to user retention and each visitor’s time-on-page, user experience is everything.
Even with the most useful info out there, no one wants to hang around on a broken, slow, or unresponsive site.
Nor do they want to read boring walls of text with no images or spacing to break all of it up.
When designing each post, keep these things in mind.
So when you’re doing a SERP analysis, see what your competition is doing to help users, and find a way to make it better.
Besides creating awesome content, you can do this by adding relevant internal links, external links, and a table of contents at the beginning.
Design each page to grab and hold your viewers’ attention.
One area that many websites mess this up big time with is with their mobile optimization.
The vast majority of people browse the web on their mobile devices rather than their phones — which is the exact reason Google implements a mobile-first indexing system.
What this means, in essence, is that a website that isn’t optimized for the mobile experience is one that’s never going to earn the top spot.
The Golden Rule: Give Just as Much Value as the Competition, and Then More
Remember, you’re competing against already established web pages here.
And this means that just giving the baseline amount of value isn’t going to cut it. Think about it, if you only provide just as much value as your competition, how is it going to replace their spot?
They’re on the defense, which gives them the advantage here.
If you want to swipe that top spot with your own content, you’ve got to go beyond.
Always remember to give just as much value as your competition, and then give some more.
Build Out a Strong Backlink Profile for Your Domain
Backlinks, backlinks, backlinks.
They’re a vital part of SEO, but they get treated in the wrong way far too often.
Backlinks are the links from other websites to your own, and they help build a website’s authority once enough of them are built.
People think it’s a viable tactic to exploit the system.
Plenty of self-proclaimed SEOs will implement “black hat” SEO strategies like buying backlinks and fake traffic to boost their rank.
The only thing this will earn you is a penalty from Google. But there is a way to get more high-quality backlinks organically, without implementing shady tactics.
Creating content that’s deserving of backlinks and then promoting it in the relevant online spheres.
If your content is valuable and unique enough, people will share it naturally. The more this happens, the more likely you are to start getting backlinks from websites with a lot of authority.
If you want to learn how to get SEO results faster without manually building links, check out our guide on ways to get organic traffic faster.
Internal Linking: Supporting Your Smaller Articles With Strong Foundations (Internal Links Matters)
External links aren’t the only relevant ones when it comes to SEO, either.
The way you link each of your webpages internally matters too.
When you’re building out an internal link structure, remember this:
When you link to a smaller article from one with much more authority, it helps build the shorter article’s profile too.
An internal link should ideally add value to a user.
It also tells Google which pages on your website are most important.
This means you can use your more extensive pillar articles to build out from. This is also a handy way to plan your content out naturally too.
SERP Practices to Avoid if You Want to Get Ranked
Now, that’s quite a bit of the things you should do; let’s cover some of the practices you should avoid when you’re doing SERP analysis. (and writing the content afterward)
The Quantity over Quality Approach
Word count isn’t everything.
In fact, one could argue that word count isn’t all too relevant anymore when it comes to SEO.
That’s not to say you should forget about it though, here’s why:
When you’re counting how many words a competitor’s article is, you’re not trying to match the number of words they write; you’re trying to beat the value they’re bringing to the table.
Many SEOs use word count because it can be a good indicator of content depth and value.
But never confuse this for a quantity-over-quality approach. A small article can leave a long article in the dust given the right circumstances.
Above all else is content value; the more high-quality information you bring to the table, the better.
As we mentioned before, search intent is critical.
If it looks like most searchers are looking for a quick answer, don’t give them a 6000-word, in-depth article.
Remember, give the searchers what they’re looking for, but with your own unique spin.
Using a Lackluster SERP Checker
We see people use lackluster SERP tools all the time (or no tool at all), and the results show.
You wouldn’t expect a top-tier artisan to use low-budget tools when building your home, would you?
Just because SEO is a digital process doesn’t mean the same rules don’t apply.
If you invest in a high-quality tool, you’ll be that much closer to high-quality results.
And that’s where ProRankTracker comes in.
ProRankTracker comes with practically everything you’ll need to get pages ranked at #1.
You can use it for keyword research, rank tracking, SERP analysis, competitor research, and seeing how algorithm changes impact the SERPs.
Implementing ProRankTracker to Take Your SEO Process to #1
Want to see what ProRankTracker can do for yourself?
We’ve got good news.
You don’t have to take our word for it; you can try it yourself before you make any decisions. If you want your site to show at the top of Google, get your free trial of ProRankTracker today.