Understand SERP Analysis and Stand Above the Competition

SERP analysis is the process of exploring search engine results pages in order to discover what top ranking websites are doing to be in such good positions (and what you can do to outrank them).

Updated: April 23, 2024
Understand SERP Analysis and Stand Above the Competition

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Your website is an essential part of your digital marketing strategy.

Not just because it’s often the first point of contact that customers will have with your brand, but because it’s the key source of SEO that will allow you to rank high in Google searches. 

However, many marketers are unsure how to monitor their website’s performance and how they can find opportunities to improve their SEO and rankings. 

One way is to conduct a SERP analysis and optimize your content based on the results of the analysis. 

But what exactly is SERP analysis? How do you run one, and what tools can help you? 

This article will answer these questions and others in order to give you a well-rounded picture of SERP analysis and SEO strategies.

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    What is SERP Analysis?

    SERP stands for “Search Engine Results Page” — the pages of results that are generated after a Google search query is submitted. 

    So, SERP analysis is a critical component of any SEO strategy. It involves examining the results that search engines display for specific keywords to understand better what users are seeking and how search engines are responding to those queries. This analysis is crucial for optimizing your content to meet current search engine standards and user expectations.

    The SERP displays the top-ranking websites, paid ads for the queries, and other specific SERP features, which we will discuss shortly. 

    A SERP analysis is the process of examining top-ranking websites to evaluate opportunities to rank for relevant keywords and outrank your competitors. 

    By reviewing the top ranking websites for particular keywords and searches, you can uncover how those top-ranking pages reached the highest positions and see how your content displays for searches. 

    As mentioned earlier, there are different ways that content will be displayed on the search engine results page beyond just the blue links of the past. 

    In order to present relevant information to search queries, Google has developed other SERP features. These can include:

    Featured Snippets

    Featured snippets are brief excerpts from a webpage that displays at the top of the Google results page to quickly address the question without the searcher needing to click on any of the available ranking links. 

    Featured snippets tend to be formatted in the following layouts: 

    • Definitions
    • Paragraphs
    • Lists
    • “People Also Ask” Dropdowns
    • Steps
    • Tables

    Understanding SERP Features

    As part of SERP analysis, it’s essential to recognize various SERP features that significantly influence how information is presented and accessed. SERP features include:

    • Featured Snippets: Often called “position zero,” these are brief excerpts from a webpage that answer a search query directly in the SERP, above the standard results.
    • Knowledge Panels: These panels aggregate a wide range of information about entities such as businesses, people, and places, and are typically displayed on the right side of desktop search results.
    • Local Packs: Display local business listings and maps related to the search query. They are crucial for local SEO.
    • Image Packs: Collections of images related to the search query, which appear within or alongside traditional search results.

    Each of these features can dramatically alter the user’s search experience by providing different types of information and interaction opportunities directly in the SERPs.

    Knowledge Panels

    A knowledge panel is an information box that appears when you search for people, places, organizations, or things. 

    They automatically generate information from various sources and typically include images, definitions, and links. 

    Knowledge panels will only display what the Google algorithm has determined to be a fact from a reputable source, and are meant to give a snapshot of the search subject from what the algorithm finds available.

    Video Carousels

    A video carousel in the SERP will appear as a scrolling list-like result that mobile users can swipe through. 

    Each option on the list will format as a box with a thumbnail of the video, a title, the uploader, and the hosting site for the video.


    Maps will automatically generate on the SERP for searches that deal with locations, businesses, or local SEO queries. 

    The map is generated on the right side of the screen on desktop layouts or as the first feature on a mobile device and will include a map of the location or area, reviews, relevant links, geographic information and location features.

    Image Packs

    Just like a video carousel, an image pack on the SERP will display when Google believes that visual information is the best way to address a search query. 

    These images will typically be displayed in a row at the top of the page or as a block among the organic results and often include a link to the Google Images tab.

    Impact of SERP Features on SEO

    Understanding SERP features is not just about recognizing them—it’s about comprehending their impact on SEO strategies. For example:

    • Featured Snippets can dramatically increase a site’s visibility and click-through rates but may reduce visits if users get all the information they need directly from the snippet.
    • Local Packs are vital for businesses operating locally, as appearing in this feature can drive significant foot traffic and local online traffic.

    Optimizing for SERP Features

    To leverage these SERP features effectively, marketers need to adopt specific strategies. Here are some tips on how to optimize for key SERP features:

    • For Featured Snippets: Provide clear, concise answers to commonly asked questions directly in your content. Structure your content with well-defined headings and bullet points to increase the chances of being picked up as a featured snippet.
    • For Local Packs: Ensure your local business listings are complete and accurate on Google My Business. Regularly update your profile with current information and encourage customer reviews to enhance visibility.
    • For Knowledge Panels: Establish a strong online presence across various authoritative platforms. This includes having a Wikipedia page, maintaining active social media profiles, and getting mentioned on reputable sites.

    SERP analysis, especially understanding and optimizing for SERP features, is vital for any SEO practitioner looking to improve their visibility and engagement on search engines. By strategically targeting these features, you can significantly enhance how your content performs in search results, meeting both user needs and business goals.

    How Do You Conduct a SERP Analysis?

    Now that we understand what SERP means and how a SERP analysis can benefit your business, let’s talk about the steps you need to take to conduct your analysis. 

    There are a few different ways to approach SERP analysis, but each option should include the following.

    1. Kicking Off Keyword Research

    Before checking to see how your content ranks against competitors for search queries, you first need to understand what keywords you’re targeting and where they currently rank. 

    Compile your existing keywords and also make a list of the keywords you don’t rank for that you want to target. 

    Keep an eye out for keywords in your industry that you could address, and find related keywords to your products and services. 

    You should also keep in mind keywords that reference your location and your company name.

    2. Identifying Search Intent

    Every keyword has a search intent, and identifying what that intent is will be the next step in your SERP analysis. 

    Take a look at your lists of keywords and try to think of what information a searcher using that keyword wants to find. 

    Once you’ve identified the logic behind a user’s search, you can optimize your content to answer those questions to improve your SEO and conversion rates.

    3. Making a Competitive Analysis

    A large part of your SERP analysis is comparing where and how you are ranked compared to your competitors. 

    If a majority of your authoritative competitors are all trying to rank high for specific search terms, it can be difficult to get your pages to display above others. 

    Check to see where sources like Wikipedia or Quora are ranking, and see if leaders in your industry are also ranking high for the keyword you want to target. 

    You can also see what the top displaying content addresses for the keyword and make sure your content is even more complete, addressing topics in an original way. 

    4. Finding Ranking Opportunities

    In order to know what direction to go in after your SERP analysis, you will need to understand where your hidden opportunities lie. 

    Look for ranking keywords that could go up on the SERP page, and try finding keywords that your competitors aren’t using. 

    Another trick is to look at keyword length. 

    If short-tailed keywords all have high difficulties, then try finding long-tailed, more specific keywords that might not be as competitive. 

    Not only are those keywords less likely to be highly competitive, but they can also answer specific queries that users input into search engines.

    5. Optimizing Content

    As discussed in the competitive analysis section, you should click on top results and see what type of information your competition is sharing for each keyword you want to rank for. 

    Optimizing your content so it is more complete and relevant can help you rise up and be a better answer to the search intent of users. 

    You should also be consistently evaluating your content, adding new information, and upgrading your existing texts and images with SEO best practices and updated keywords. 

    By continually improving your content, the search algorithms will constantly be scanning your pages and giving you chances to rank higher.

    How Are SERP Ratings Calculated?

    While keywords are the primary ranking tool for SERP results, there are a few other factors that come into play. 

    Keeping these other metrics in mind will help you during your SERP analysis and help you find other areas of optimization. 

    Metrics to incorporate into your analysis include: 

    • Time Spent on Page.
    • Number of Backlinks.
    • Website Authority.
    • Bounce Rate.
    • Click-Through Rate.
    • Page Speed.
    • Conversion Rate.

    The 5 Best SERP Tools That Can Help You Get on Page One

    Conducting a SERP analysis can seem like an overwhelming task to a marketer. 

    Luckily, there are plenty of SEO and SERP tools out there that can help you out during your SERP analysis.

    1. Moz Pro SERP Analysis Tool

    Moz offers one of the best SEO tools around, and the Moz Pro SERP Analysis Tool helps you analyze metrics like: 

    • Potential.
    • Opportunity.
    • Domain Authority.
    • Page Authority.
    • Difficulty.

    2. SEMrush Position Tracking Tool

    SEMrush has a Position Tracking Tool that helps in SERP analysis by creating search rankings and competitor analysis reports. 

    You also can examine detailed keyword analytics and organize your keyword searches.

    3. SE Ranking SERP Analysis Tool

    The SE Ranking SERP analysis tool will help you do competitor research, build a smarter SEO strategy, and improve page performance based on:

    • In-depth SERP knowledge for any keyword.
    • Page quality score by SE Ranking for each SERP competitor.
    • Additional information on each SERP player including backlinks traffic data.

    4. SERP Checker

    SERP Checker is a competitor analysis tool that helps you gather information about your competitor’s SERP positions. 

    You can also manage the metrics you want to track and customize the location of the SERP results you want to compare with yours.

    5. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

    The Keyword Explorer tool from Ahrefs allows you to examine the top-ranking metrics of your SEO competitors and give you historical data on their past performance. 

    You can also get a sense of the difficulty of your keywords and the clickthrough data for each search query.

    Wrap Up: All Roads Lead to SERP analysis

    SERP analysis is a key tool to understand how Google reads important SEO data and what elements influence how web pages are displayed on the search results page. 

    A SERP analysis not only lets you see the gaps in your own content but helps you find places to optimize and overtake competitors by telling you places to go to improve your SEO strategy.

    Are you interested in learning more about your SEO plan? 

    Take our Maturity Assessment to diagnose your SEO strategy, find room for improvement, and learn more about ways to bolster your approach.


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