Want to build a search engine marketing plan? Start with the SERP you want to be on.
SERP. It rhymes with “derp.” There, I said it. We were all thinking it. Now we can hopefully move on.
Its short for “Search Engine Results Page” — the page that appears whenever someone enters keywords into a search engine, like Google or Bing, and then hits the “Search” button.
Consumers see 5.6 billion of them per day on Google alone … but most of them don’t think about them. They just pray with clasped hands that the thing they are looking for appears near the top of the results.
Marketers think about them, though. Behind a fairly bland display of images and text — little better than the phone book of yore — is a complex ecosystem of brands vying for the attention of (what they hope will be) paying customers. Many of them pay handsomely for the privilege.
If you want to shell out good money to appear on a SERP, either through search engine optimization (SEO) or search engine marketing (SEM), you owe it to yourself to know how to analyze one. Here’s how to parse out some actionable information from a SERP…
Step 1 – Keyword Research
Before you analyze a SERP, you need to figure out which SERPs your warm buyers are even looking at – which means figuring out which keywords they are typing into those search engines.
Digital marketing professionals are usually adept at locating the keywords that get a lot of searches. Online tools can help you figure it out as well. Some of those tools are free; others sit behind a paywall.
The goal, though, is to find out what people in your warm market are actually searching. Then you can enter those search terms into Google, Bing, or Yahoo and see what comes up on the resulting SERP.
The best thing you can do? Ask your current customers what they searched.
Step 2 – Search Intent
Not all keywords are equal, though. Some are not only more expensive to target, but also useless to target.
Suppose you’re a pizzeria. What keyword do you want to target? “Pizza” is an obvious choice… right?
The problem is … what about pizza? If someone just enters the word “pizza,” who knows if they are looking for a pizzeria in your neighborhood? Maybe they want to compare brands of frozen pizza. Or learn the history of pizza. Or find a toy pizzeria playset for their kid. Or find recipes for DIY vegan pizza.
To target the right keyword, you need to identify search intent. “Pizza place near me” would be great for the local pizzeria … provided they are leveraging Google’s localized search algorithm. Meanwhile, “How to make vegan pizza” might indicate better purchase intent for a vegan culinary education brand.
Step 3 – Competitive Analysis
Once you know which keywords indicate purchase intent, it’s time to look at some SERPs. What websites come up first in the organic search results (below the ads)? Take note of the page titles and metatext. Navigate to the pages and get a sense of the headers, subheaders, content, etc.
SEO tools can help you evaluate the algorithmic strength of the top websites if you want to try to outrank them with search engine optimization. SEM paid ad platforms can help you discover how much it will cost to beat out competitors currently bidding for that keyword to become sponsored content at the top of the page.
Step 4 – Opportunity Analysis
Now that you know what you are up against, you can start looking for opportunities. Maybe your competitors are using attention-getting techniques or topics you can mimic. Maybe a particular keyword has low-quality results near the top of the SERP and you can target this keyword directly. Maybe you can outdo some of the top results in terms of content length and site performance.
On SEM platforms, a particular keyword might be particularly inexpensive to target, meaning it isn’t in high demand. This could be because it isn’t profitable to target … or it could be a chink in the armor you can exploit with a high-converting website.
Have more questions about analyzing a SERP page? Whether SEO or SEM is right for your company to start driving revenue through search engines? Reach out to us. We help companies grow online, through search engine marketing and other digital channels.