How to Use SERP Analysis to Guide Your Content Efforts with @Kristen_Vaughn #vcbuzz

How to Conduct SERP Analysis for Actionable Content Insights with

Google gives us lots of clues as to what types of content satisfy their users best and what your content should include.

Let’s try and learn to read those clues to high-ranking, create better performing content!

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About @Kristen_Vaughn

@Kristen_Vaughn is no stranger to #vcbuzz. She already hosted a pretty awesome chat talking about content repurposing.

@Kristen_Vaughn does SEO, content and social over at @komarketing

Follow @Kristen_Vaughn over at her blog

Questions we are discussed

Q1 Let’s start with the basics: What are SERPs and why do we care?

SERPs (or search engine results pages) are the list of results displayed on search engines for a specific query. On the most basic level, it’s what shows up on Google for a search.

The thing about SERPs… they are constantly changing. New content is constantly being indexed. And, Google is constantly displaying new and more advanced features.

Knowing what’s showing up in SERPs around your keyword priorities is absolutely critical. This type of analysis will help you understand the key components and commonalities of the results listing, and what’s required to rank.

Q2 How have Google SERPs been changing over the years? Why do you think they keep working on the layout?

Looking at Google’s changes more holistically, there are a few key takeaways worth noting:

  • Increased need for quality
  • Fewer high quality pages is better than many low quality pages
  • More advanced features (snippets, ad placement, etc.)
  • Focus on the UX

Love that point – we are seeing SERP features become way more advanced. And, Google is also displaying more of its own answers to queries/questions rather than driving users to a website.

For realz, it’s all about the experience.

Q3 What kind of insight can SERPs provide us with?

We can’t control what Google displays in search results, but we can take advantage of the SERP features appearing. And, we can look for cues on what type of content Google thinks is most applicable to rank.

By staying on top of what’s showing up in SERPs around your primary keywords, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s required to rank, and the types of assets needed to get there.

Understand what components are essential in the results listing by finding commonalities between the top ranking assets. For example, are results made up of mostly informational and educational articles, or are product/services pages appearing?

What types of articles are showing up in the top results? Do they reference particular words, styles or formats? For example, are you seeing that the top results are all list-style (X ways to), or how-to, or maybe question-based? We’ll go into this further…

Q4 What are the actual steps of SERP analysis for the sake of content audit?

The first, and probably most important, step is to know your priority keyword targets. Unless you have unlimited resources (doubt it!), you can’t try to rank for everything. Narrow your focuses to the 10 – 20 priority keywords you truly want to be know for.

Now, start looking at the top results showing up around the phrase(s) – one phrase at a time, as each search query result should be specific to a keyword, and will likely require the creation or optimization of a unique asset.

Woahh, you’re not playing around over there Ryan. Organizational skills are clearly on point.

Did you know that Google generates personalized search results based on key data points like device, location, behaviors, search query history, etc. So, you are likely seeing results that are tailored to you. This is why you must go in incognito mode!

Look beyond the basic features like title and description – click into the actual assets ranking. Pay attention to the type of content, key elements used in the content (length, headings, keyword usage, images), and authority of sites rankings.

Maybe you need to create an entirely new content asset. In that case, it’s time to build out the topic and outline (that is aligned with your SERP analysis findings), and get it in your editorial calendar.

Once you have these insights, it’s time to think about your content needs. Do you have an existing asset that is ranking for the term at hand? If so, how can you better align it with what’s proven successful (top SERPs)?

Q5 What are your favorite analytics tools?

Google Analytics and Search Console are helpful when looking at existing asset performance and thinking about opportunities to further optimize posts based on SERP insights.

@SEMrush’s SEO Content Template helps eliminate some of the manual steps of SERP analysis. How it works:

  • Enter the keyword(s) that you want to target
  • The tool analyzes Google’s top 10 results
  • Get recommendations on how to create content that is aligned

I always recommend looking right in Google results as well. Remember, incognito mode is key. And, don’t forget to check what results look like on mobile vs desktop

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