SERP analysis is one of the most important parts of keyword research. This article will tell you why and how to do it.
What is SERP analysis?
SERP analysis is a process of evaluating search results for a particular keyword or a list of keywords you plan to optimize for. It’s an important part of keyword research as it helps to find out whether the keywords are relevant and what’s the possibility to outrank your competitors in order to gain quality organic traffic.
Google SERP analysis will help you to:
- Make sure you picked relevant keywords for your niche
- Find out whether you are able to outrank the competitors
1. Make sure you picked relevant keywords for your niche
This applies to people who are well-experienced in their business field and look for new keyword ideas as well as affiliate marketers looking for their new niche.
It can easily happen that a keyword which seems to be super-relevant will end up as a wrong option because it’s not semantically correct. It simply doesn’t reflect the intention behind user’s search query. (To find our more about this topic, check out the SEOpedia article about search intent)
Semantic keyword research is a great way to find more related keywords. However, make sure to analyze SERPs of these keywords before optimizing for them.
Generally speaking, you don’t want to rank in the SERPs full of guides if you have a product landing page.
You may disagree with me on this one. But here’s an example #1: If you are searching for “how to make pizza” your intention is not to BUY a pizza, right?
Example #2: Likewise, if you want to buy a “small bedroom desk” for your new bedroom, you don’t probably want to make it on your own unless you’re a carpenter.
The informational vs. transactional search queries are the most common examples. Naysayers may argue that ranking for any related keywords will always bring extra traffic. That’s true, it will. But what will be the engagement?
Example #3: “keyword research” vs. “keyword research tool”
KWFinder used to rank #7 on “keyword research” with other keyword research tools. A few months ago, Google basically removed the majority of these product landing pages and pushed guides and “how-to” articles to higher rankings.
When I checked the search results for “keyword research” at the time of writing this article, 3 tools made it back to the 1st page:
- keywordtool.io which product landing page is basically a blog post so it’s enough for the Google algorithm
- Google Keyword Planner, well there’s nothing to discuss as it’s a Google product 😀 but if you would like to know how it works and how to make the best of it, check our GKP guide.
- serps.com with a modal window which includes a short “how to do keyword research in their tool” guide and it’s enough for the Google algo
Besides AdWords, there are 2 Google rich snippets in the search results: “People also ask” and “Search related to”. They give us useful ideas of what people search for = new keyword ideas. In this case, it’s a combination of both informational and transactional queries.
We can see exactly the same results in SERPChecker:
2. Find out whether you are able to outrank the competitors
As soon as you find SERP that you want to rank in, you automatically identify your competitors. The trick is to evaluate how difficult it will be to outrank them.
Traditionally, you would install one of many SEO extensions and toolbars and analyze the results by submitting a search query with selected keywords directly in Google search.
Recently, Google changed localization settings so it is no longer possible to see accurate search results for different locations in Google at all.
There are two things we can do about it:
- Submit the search query in ”google.com/ncr” in incognito mode – applicable only for the US (.com) location results
- Use browser developer tools in Google Chrome and set custom GPS coordinates. My colleague wrote a quick guide to local search results. Be sure to check it before using this option.
This way, however, is not so convenient for me, as it is very limited and I am forced to leave the keyword research tool and switch among browser tabs.
Keyword research tools
Another way is to use keyword research tools with SERP analysis. You’ll be able to cover the whole process of keyword research with sufficient information for search results analysis. When selecting your tool, focus on these features:
- Accurate results for specific locations
- SERP preview to see how it really looks like
- Incorporated rich snippets such as answer boxes, AdWords, featured snippets, carousels, etc. as they can have an important influence on the keyword relevancy, organic CTR and the ability to dominate 1st-page results
The screenshot below is SERP analysis available in KWFinder. You can analyze Moz metrics, the number of external dofollow links and the Link profile strength (LPS) for desired locations.
These metrics quantify the authority of URLs in SERP. Analyze them and compare with metrics of your website to determine your ability to beat them.
Don’t take these metrics as the only one reason (not) to optimize for a particular keyword. LPS is mainly based on the link profile of a website and Moz metrics. However, it’s possible to rank on the top positions with low DA and/or without any backlinks. It all depends on Google RankBrain and content you create.
You can expand the analysis in SERPChecker to:
- Compare your website with competitors
- Select from more than 45 SEO metrics
- Analyze Google rich snippets
- See search results snapshot
SERP analysis guide summary
At the beginning of this article, I promised to include a quick guide on how to do the SERP analysis. The process is covered in the content above but for your easier orientation, here is a checklist that will skyrocket your SERP analysis as an inevitable part of keyword research:
- Do the SERP analysis for every keyword you plan to optimize for
- It’s up to you whether you go the old-school way and analyze the results directly in Google search or you use a keyword research tool with SERP analysis and an option to see the SERP preview. But always make sure the SERP you analyze is accurate for your desired location.
- SERP analysis is a combination of metrics and relevancy. Once you know the keyword is relevant, the next step is to evaluate your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses thanks to different authority and backlink metrics based on various calculations to get a detailed view. That’s why I recommend using specialized tools such as SERPChecker or keyword research tools with basic SERP metrics.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. SERP analysis is another proof of how keyword research is complex. And how about you? Do you analyze search results when doing keyword research?