If you’re just getting started with content marketing and haven’t got access to huge budgets, the most important thing to start off with is SERP analysis.
Because the lack of it is what cuts a lot of campaigns short.
Most SEOs develop content strategies based on keyword research tools and their own beliefs of what makes good content.
Often, they don’t see the results they hoped for. They move on to something else, which means they’ve never optimized their site to be the best it can be – at least from a SERP standpoint.
What is SERP analysis?
Before jumping into the SERP analysis, let us first understand what is a search engine result page. As the name suggests, it contains all the results of a specific query.
The pages on these SERPs are ranked and displayed based on their relevance and authority to the search query entered by the user.
At its most basic level, SERP analysis is an essential step of your content strategy. When you are evaluating your analytical data, you are actually contemplating various different factors that affect the user’s online search experience.
For many analysts, SERP analysis starts with defining what a query is all about.
How to make the most out of SERP analysis
1. Analyze your competition
Analyzing search engine pages helps you understand your competitors and finding ways to outrank them. If the search engine pages are filled with high authoritative websites, and your website is relatively new, it might not be the best idea to try to compete for a certain keyword at this very moment.
Understanding what keywords your competitors are targeting can help you broaden your scope to find new opportunities with less competition, or determine if you want to go after the same keyword phrase with the same goal in mind.
2. Match keyword search intent
Let’s say you want to rank for “saas marketing agency” and your plan was to create a blog post around this query.
If you analyze the SERPs for this keyword, these results come up:
You’ll probably never rank your blog post for “saas marketing agency” because the intent of this keyword is navigational.
People are actually searching for saas marketing agencies, not for information about what a saas marketing agency is, or tips and tricks for running one.
In this case, SERP analysis helps you identify the exact intent of a keyword and gives you an indication of what types of content to create.
How to perform SERP analysis
1. Start with keyword research
Before even taking a peek at the SERPs, you should perform thorough keyword research.
Use your favorite tool, and divide your keywords by:
- top of the funnel keywords – these should be keywords that answer people’s questions. At this stage, they have a problem and they are looking for more information about that problem and any possible solutions. A top of the funnel keyword for a “SERP analysis” blog post would be “What is SERP analysis”.
- middle of the funnel keywords. Now, people have identified a viable solution for their problem but are looking for more information about specific problems that can ease their pain. A middle of the funnel keyword would be “SERP analysis tools”.
- bottom of the funnel keywords. Customers now have a list of brands that provide the solution to their problem. Bottom of funnel keywords should always include brand names. An example would be “Ahrefs vs. Semrush for SERP Analysis”.
However, if you’re on a lower budget and can’t afford a tool, feel free to use Google autocomplete.
2. Build keyword clusters
Keyword clustering is essentially grouping keywords together that you can target on the same page/same content piece.
- a parent keyword (e.g. SERP analysis) and
- cluster keywords (e.g. SERP analysis tools, SERP analysis process, etc)
Here’s an example:
3. Identify the search intent
Go through each keyword you identified and determine the search intent by analyzing the SERPs.
If you do this for the first time, it might be hard to get it right. You don’t have to use fancy terms like “navigational”, “informational” or “transactional”.
You can simply add notes next to your keywords, like:
- “content marketing tips” – people looking for a list of tips on how to do content marketing
- “what is content marketing” – people want to know more information about what content marketing is. They’re looking for a definition.
- “b2b content marketing” – people are looking for complete guides on b2b content marketing.
4. Analyze the competition
Look through the SERPs and identify which websites are ranking for your desired keywords.
You can determine the keyword difficulty by simply identifying their authority:
- a SERP filled with Wikipedia, Reddit, or Pinterest links means that the keyword is easy to rank for. Contrary to popular belief, although these websites have a high domain rating, they are easy to outrank because the content is user-generated. If you create a thorough piece of content, you are more likely to outrank forums or UGC.
- a SERP filled with your biggest competitors likely means that your keyword is slightly harder to rank for, depending on your website authority.
SERP competitor research also gives you an indication of how many words your piece of content should have. If the content on the top position has over 2,000 words, then a piece of content of 500 words won’t probably make it.
However, you don’t need to do this manually all the time! There are actually SERP analysis tools you can sign up for and use to maximize your ranking potential.
Did your content marketing budget increase? Let’s have a look at some paid SERP analysis tools
The best SERP analysis tool is actually analyzing them manually and doing heuristic analysis, no matter if you have a big budget or not.
However, SERP analysis can help you save a lot of time, when used right.
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
The tool helps you identify the SERP features for each keyword, such as:
- the presence of featured snippets;
- whether or not videos are ranking;
- image packs;
It lets you determine which features to optimize for with your content. If a keyword has a featured snippet, you should probably try to aim for that too in order to rank better.
SEMRush On-Page SEO Checker
The On-Page SEO Checker gives you insights on how your piece of content performs compared to Google’s top 10 pages.
It gives you tips on:
- word count;
- the number of referring domains and backlinks;
- use of videos;
- keyword usage – whether the keyword is in the headings, body, or introduction. It also gives you suggestions for other keywords to target;
Use SERP analysis to create better content strategies
Google’s algorithms are becoming stronger, and new content gets published every other second.
Not everyone has big budgets dedicated to marketing, and for a good cause – executives presume that just about anyone can create a piece of content and bring in leads.
That’s simply not true. With the amount of competition out there, you need to ensure that you’re one step ahead of them and driving maximum ROI through your content. So how do you do that? You analyze the SERPs and come back with better and stronger content.
Struggling with SERP analysis? Head over to Chillital and let’s spice up your content marketing game.