Search engine results pages (SERPs) are the most resourceful and yet very often overlooked sources of knowledge and inspiration for SEOs.
By merely testing different search queries and browsing the search engine result pages, you get access to both the minds of the searchers and into Google’s algorithm model for ranking websites like yours and those of your competitors.
SERP analysis is precisely this. The process of pulling SEO insights directly from the search engine result pages.
Through SERP analysis you can:
- Check the relevancy of your targeted keywords
- Figure out how difficult it is to rank in a Google search
- Understand how other websites, your competitors, have gained their ranking
- Evaluate the opportunity to outrank the competition in SERPs
In this article we’ll have a look at how Advanced Web Ranking can help you with SERP analysis, and get you started in performing this process for your keywords right away and with max efficiency.
If you’re new to AWR, sign up for a free 30 day trial to perform this SERP analysis for your own set of keywords.
Determining keyword relevancy from SERPs
Some keywords are more explicit than others about the searcher’s intent, but very often, especially with head terms, the intent is ambiguous.
Google however learned from the billion queries they serve and from the searcher’s behaviour to the results they provide – what they click on and how long it takes before they return for another query – what type of results people find satisfactory for each query.
Therefore, if you are wondering about the people’s intent behind a query, the most accurate answer will come through SERP analysis, directly from Google. The type of content you find listed in SERP for your query is the type of content Google learned to be the most relevant for that query.
So, once you’ve decided on the set of keywords you wish to target, it’s best to see first if your content is relevant for those keywords and vice versa.
For that, you can start with the Top Sites report in AWR, which presents the top 50 SERPs for your keywords and the selected search engines.
Tip: with AWR you can analyze SERPs in Google, with any country or location, as well as for any other search engine.
With your SERP listed in front of you, you can start analyzing URL structure – see how the competitors’ URLs are matching the targeted keyword. At this point you’ll probably also recognize in the SERP the websites of your main competitors.
But, to deeply evaluate your content’s relevancy for this query, you need to walk the extra mile and visit as many pages from these SERPs as you can.
The best way to understand what type of content Google deemed as relevant for each query, is to individually examine each search result.
You can navigate to competitor URLs directly from the Top Sites report or you can go one step further and check out the SERP HTML page:
Tip: For each Top Sites report, AWR also saves the actual SERP in HTML format. To access it, use the [View SERP] button at the top of the Top Sites report.
Features triggered in SERPs
Most SERPs include different types of features, which is also an important thing you’ll want to take note of in your SERP analysis and take advantage of, further on, in your SEO strategy.
The fastest way to get a quick glimpse of what each SERP has to offer in terms of features, is to simply use the SERP features filters in the Top Sites report:
SERP dynamic across time
In addition to SERP structure, another thing to consider for your analysis is how volatile are the SERPs you wish to take part in and how often the results delivered for these queries change.
In AWR, the Top Site in Time report shows you how the top 20 search results vary over time for your queries:
Notice how for this keyword, the first 5 positions are way more stable than the lower 6 to 20 SERP listings.
Since the top 5 results have been constantly deemed most relevant while other new URLs went in and out of the SERP for this query but always on lower positions, this tells you that those top 5 URLs are more difficult to outrank.
Ranking shifts and opportunities
So, the next thing you’ll want to look for is the URLs that shift most often in this SERP, since those are going to be the easiest ones to replace.
Tip: To zoom in the AWR Top Site in Time chart to a smaller time frame, simply drag the mouse over the chart interval you are interested in.
At this point in your SERP analysis you may find additional filtering useful, to figure out which URLs moved up/down, which are the new entries and which dropped out of the SERP:
Tip: These filters compare the URLs’ rankings at the beginning and end points of the selected time interval. Any URLs that have entered/dropped out of the SERP anywhere in between, will not be filtered. Therefore, please be sure to define your date ranges accordingly.
SERP analysis in bulk
One feature that’s been used extensively and loved by lots of AWR users is the Top Sites csv export that enables you to analyze multiple SERPs at a time and get a wider perspective over your competitor landscape.
You can either export top ranking sites for each keyword group or for your entire keyword list:
Moreover, through API you can pull all this data, along with additional SERP information:
- URL Title
- URL Meta Description.
Note that the title and meta description exported will be the ones Google included in the SERPs, which are very often different than the pages’ meta tags.
Give it a try!
If you give this process a go, please let me know how it works for you. Would love to hear your feedback on this.
Except for the export through API which is only available to Agency and higher AWR subscription plans, all functionalities presented in this article are included in all plan types.