SERP analysis is a crucial part of keyword research. Essentially, it’s the process of examining top-ranking websites to determine if the keyword you want to rank for is relevant and if it’s possible to outrank your competitors.
In this guide, we’re going to be using the SERPChecker tool by Mangools, however, you can apply the same methodologies to other SEO tools as well. Feel free to watch the video to follow along, otherwise keep reading.
Make sure you select keywords relevant to your niche
The first step is to make sure you’ve selected a relevant keyword. This is in the realm of keyword analysis, which we’ve covered here. For this guide, we’ll assume you’ve read through our other guides, and that you’ve selected a keyword that you can rank for.
With that said, we’re going to be analysing the SERP for the long-tail keyword “how long to cook steak”.
Jumping right into it, on the starting page for SERPChecker, we see a search field, a country field, and a field we’ll call the platform field. The first two are pretty self-explanatory. The third, however, needs a bit more introduction.
If you were to Google something on your laptop, you would get different results than you would if you searched for it on your tablet or phone. One thing that Google’s algorithm ranks for is how a site appears and behaves on mobile devices. This is why it’s important to have responsive websites that work well on both desktop and mobile devices. With the SERPChecker tool, we can analyse both separately to see what the competition is like for both platforms.
Moving on, let’s enter our test keyword “how long to cook steak”.
Let’s get started by entering our keyword into the search field. Leave the country set to United States and the platform set to Desktop.
The first thing you’ll notice is a set of large metrics across the time. Let’s take a closer look at them.
The SERP Features Impact measures the impact of SERP features on engagement. The lower the score, the higher the chances are of engagement. Our keyword is sitting at 2/5, so pretty good.
Finally, we have the total number of search results for this keyword. This isn’t a number that’s terribly important, but it can give you an idea of how much content is out there for a given keyword.
One last thing to take note of before we dig into the metrics themselves is the “Preview snapshot” button. This shows you the actual live results of the Google search results page for the given keyword, location, and platform you searched for. This can be especially useful if you’re optimizing content for other countries or for mobile search.
A note on metrics
Getting down into the actual results, you’ll see many of the same metrics that KWFinder uses, along with some others. One thing to keep in mind regarding metrics: you can select and customize what metrics you see by clicking the “Metrics settings” button at the top. The are a plethora of metrics available, and if you really want to get into the granular details of SEO, there’s a lot you can learn by researching these. For the sake of brevity, we’ll be sticking with the default metrics for this guide.
Picking a target and honing in on it
With SERP analysis, you want to look for holes in the rankings. In other words, you want to look for results that you can supplant using strategies based on weak spots in your competitor’s SEO.
For example, using our keyword, we can see that the second result has an overall Link Profile Strength of 23. This is relatively low, but we need to find out why it’s low so that we know where and how to focus our efforts.
Is the content relevant?
For our keyword, the second search result appears to be a cooking chart. While this will no doubt answer the question of “how long to cook a steak”, the content itself probably isn’t very engaging. So a good strategy here would be to create content that’s highly relevant to the query as well as being entertaining and engaging.
You want to look for results that you can supplant using strategies based on weak spots in your competitor's SEO.
What’s the page and domain authority?
These are rankings calculated by Moz that indicate how well a page will rank and how authoritative a page is. These are generally the hardest to beat unless you’re dealing with a site that’s extremely well established.
For our keyword, the second search result’s metrics on these are moderate, but not impossibly high. Let’s keep looking at the other metrics to see what other weak spots it may have.
What’s the citation and trust flow?
These metrics tell you how trusted a website is and how many backlinks it has. Are these metrics high? If so, you’ll have to focus on building a robust catalog of quality backlinks to knock it out of position.
In the case of our keyword, both of these are 0, which means it’ll be extremely easy to get a few good backlinks and round out the SEO profile for your content.
What are the Facebook shares, links, and referring domains?
The combination of these metrics indicate how popular a site is, and they can be a great way to knock pages off of the SERP.
For our test keyword, there are absolutely zero Facebook shares, one backlink, and one referring domain. These particular metrics would be ridiculously easy to overtake, so should be a key focus when attempting to overtake that second search spot.
When doing a SERP analysis, the overarching strategy is to start with the big picture, choose an easy target ranking, look for its weaknesses, and then drill down to the details and see what it will take to overtake it.
In the case of our test keyword, the conclusion we might draw is that if we create very relevant content that’s also entertaining and engaging, and then add in some quality backlinks and get some social media engagement, it would be relatively easy to overtake the number two spot on the first SERP.
As you can see, SERP analysis is an invaluable in your SEO arsenal. Using these methodologies along with solid keyword research will have you ranking on the first page of Google in no time.