To be a great SEO, you need to be able to read SERP like a book.
With each query comes a unique marketing challenge and opportunity. It is your job to discover what that is and to bring it about.
By performing SERP analysis, you can identify your challenges and opportunities and design an SEO plan to get to the top of the results and attract new traffic to your site.
Semrush offers two free SERP checks to facilitate SERP analysis (sign up here for a free trial).
- Keyword overview– For each keyword in our database, you can analyze the SERP with keyword metrics such as search volume, trend, CPC, level of competition, keyword difficulty, and more.
- Position tracking– To track the rankings of a specific keyword list on a daily basis, you can set up this tool to track changes in your SEO position on Google. Set the target keywords you want to track to follow your ranking as you scroll up or down in any location and on any device.
What is SERP analysis?
SERP analysis is a process of studying a search engine results page to find out why the top-ranked pages rank well for a search query.
With the SERP verification tool, SEOs can understand the opportunities and challenges associated with targeting a particular keyword.
How to analyze SERP
SERP analysis can be performed in several ways for different levels of insight. We will guide you through a faster and more in-depth way. But first, let’s start with the goals of the SERP analysis.
You need to run a SERP analysis for:
- Understand the level of competition on the keyword results page
- Find unique opportunities, SERP features, and other rich results that you could target with SEO
- Decide whether the keyword is a reasonable opportunity for your SEO or PPC strategy
- Consider a unique perspective on the content of your site that would offer searchers more value than is currently available
Following the SERP analysis, you can continue to create a content strategy that targets this keyword based on a unique challenge and opportunity.
Quick SERP analysis: keyword overview and difficulty
The quickest way to analyze SERP could be to enter a keyword in Semrush’s Keyword Review report and find its estimate of the keyword’s difficulty. This number tells you how difficult it would be to break into this SERP through SEO.
- 0-14: Very easy
- 15-29: Simple
- 30-49: Possible
- 50-69: Hard
- 70-84: Difficult
- 85-100: Very difficult
Then scroll down in this report to see an actual list of unpaid search results for your query.
Here’s what the SERP analysis tool for “guitar strings” looks like.
This part of the report gives you a quick overview of your SERP competitors. The columns show how powerful their SEO could be based on:
- Authority assessment each page
- Common referral domains pointing to each page
- The total number of backlinks pointing to each page
- Estimated monthly organic search traffic per page
- How many common keywords do URLs also rank in Google’s top 100 results?
While the above screenshot shows a “difficult” SERP with a KD% of 79%, the screenshot below shows a “very easy” SERP with a KD of 14%.
Here’s what a SERP analysis tool looks like for “does a metal guitar damage strings”.
Did you notice the difference?
We see that 5 pages on this first page of Google have 0 backlinks. The highest score containing the presented fragment has only 1 feedback.
This is possible because this SERP is for a long-tailed keyword with low competition (damage the strings of a metal guitar), making it easier to rank with SEO.
Quick tip: You can also view a mini keyword review report to check your SERP analysis if you’re viewing an organic position report, a keyword magic tool report, or any keyword-based report by clicking these >> arrows next to the keyword (see below)
Use position tracking as a daily local SERP check
You can use Semrush to check the SERPs daily for your site’s target keywords Position tracking tool.
This tool provides you with reports and dashboards to compare the visibility of your SERP site against the competition.
Check SERP versions on desktops, mobile, and tablets for any geographic location.
For each keyword you follow, you can analyze the purpose, competition, and features of the SERP.
You can click “Show SERP” to open a snapshot of the results page as seen by Semrush to further review the SERP.
This allows you to constantly check the SERPs that are most important to your business.
In-depth SERP analysis: study of SERP content and functions
Now, to delve deeper into the search results, you’ll want to examine:
- The purpose of the query search
- Presence of presented snippets and rich results
- If it is local SEO or non-local specific search
- Competitive position of your competitors
Intention to search
Understanding the purpose of search is crucial for SEO. People use search for a million reasons – to shop, study, search for entertainment, search for the capital of North Dakota – the list goes on.
The more you know the purpose of the search engine for each keyword, the better you will be able to achieve their purpose with your content strategy.
On Semrush, you can immediately see the purpose of any keyword with a dedicated column in each keyword-based report. The purpose is divided into four main types:
- Information keywords – searchers looking for an answer to a specific question or general information
- Keywords for navigation – search engines that intend to find a particular site or page
- Commercial Keywords – Searchers who want to research brands or services
- Transactional keywords – searchers who intend to complete an action or purchase
When you enter a keyword in the keyword overview, you can see which segment it belongs to at the top of the report.
Once you know what the SERP is for, it can affect your content strategy.
- When looking for information, your goal should be education.
- When searching with navigation, your goal should be to steer people to the right place.
- In commercial searches, your goal should be to help people make informed purchasing decisions.
- In transaction searches, your goal should be to offer a smooth way to complete the transaction (purchase, transfer, login, etc.).
Presence of SERP functions
You can then take a deeper look at the rich results and SERP features that Google puts on the front page.
These special results that Google chooses to display can tell you what content the algorithm believes the search engine is looking for.
Here, for example, is the top SERP for the commercial keyword “best strings for a bluegrass guitar”.
We can see that Google is trying to offer search engines options with different types of content – blog posts, related questions, buying guides, forums and product ads are all on the first page.
This tells us that Google believes that the search engine wants to find information related to the purchase soon.
So, if you were to target that keyword, you would want to create content on your site that contains a little bit of everything about this SERP (and more) to help people decide which guitar strings to buy for bluegrass music.
Of course, the content from the above question “People also ask” also comes from the first organic result on the SERP.
If we look at the second keyword, “marked guitar strings,” we can see that the first plain organic result is right at the bottom of the first page, below the presented snippet, picture block, and people also ask for the block.
So the challenge and opportunity to be ranked on this SERP would be slightly different from the one above. To gain visibility on this SERP, you want to include it optimized images corresponding to the purpose of the searcher – to see a picture of the marked guitar strings.
In addition, we would like to focus our content on answering the questions of people who ask questions and design our content with a list for aim at the presented piece.
Another type of purpose for SERP analysis is if the query is location-based. This is quite easy to notice by the presence of local packets on the SERP.
Local package = local purpose.
If your business operates locally, then definitely try to optimize your own local visibility for all SERPs with local purpose.
Competitive analysis of SERP
Last and perhaps most important is the competitive analysis of the SERP. It consists of:
- Identify successful strategies / positioning of your competitors
- Understanding the level of competition – how difficult it will be to take the top spot
- Prepare your unique sales offer (USP)
Instead of immersing yourself to the fullest SEO competitive analysis your competitors, you only need to look at the best results of this SERP and come up with a plan to separate your website from the crowd.
Although the keyword problem sums up the level of SERP competition well, you can also look at all the page titles in SERP to see it as each competitor.
Writing convincing and unique page title is just one tactic to stand out on the SERP.
In order for your content to stand out, you will need to follow SEO best practices that include writing compelling headlines and descriptions, optimizing internal linksand creating useful content.
Five quick tips to make your content more useful than your current competitors:
- Have a compelling and unique title
- Collection of original data
- Including custom visual elements
- For easier reading
- Facilitate sharing
Each of these five perspectives could be a unique sales proposition to help your content stand out.
What is a unique sales offer?
Your unique sales offer is what makes your product or service stand out from the rest.
It’s not just about what you say on your website / blog / video, but it’s important to the person you’re trying to reach.
If you want to find your USP in SEO, think about its advantages and how it differs from your SERP competitors. Or take advantage of a competitor’s weakness.
Advantages and disadvantages of SEO you can do many different things. Your rating of authority could be higher than the one currently on the first page – that would be your advantage. If you have more expertise and can provide more in-depth, informed content, that would also be a strength. Then connect everything to why your power is important to your audience.
Can you provide the best visual content that addresses the purpose of the search? It could also be a power and therefore a USP to help you get to the top.
Next step: Content strategy
If you haven’t already, sign up for a free subscription to Semrush to gain access to our keyword review and position tracking tools.
These tools will allow you to:
- Examine the SERP level of competition of any keyword
- Recognize SERP features and rich SEO targeting results
- Invent USP to position your website
- Track daily changes in SERPs for desktops, mobile, and tablets anywhere