Last updated Nov 21, 2021
What is SERP Analysis and Which SEO Tools Provide It?
In SEO work, understanding the SERP – Search Engine Results Pages – is fundamental. This includes manual visual inspection of top search results for a target keyword or keyphrase, as well as more quantitative analyses provided by SERP analysis features found in many leading SEO tools.
This activity helps website owners, bloggers, content writers, and digital marketers understand the competitive SEO landscape for their target topics, and provides clues about how to develop content that can ‘win the SERP’ and drive more organic traffic to the target website.
This post introduces SERP analysis concepts and some of the top SEO software tools that help us in this area.
What Is SEO SERP Analysis?
Understanding SEO Competition and Ranking Content
As mentioned in the intro above, SERP analysis tools give us a detailed look at the top search results for a given target keyphrase and a specific search engine.
Typically, this is the Google SERP (e.g., ‘Google Page 1’ results). But it could be for other search engines and specific geographic indexes and user locations as well. Targeting the desktop or mobile SERP is also an important consideration.
For any keyphrase of interest to us, the SERP provides a snapshot of our ‘SEO competition.’ These are the content pages, posts, images, and videos that we need to beat in order to rank high on Google or other search engines (Bing, YouTube, etc.)
We also need to look at various ‘SERP Features’ that can occupy important areas of search results pages and negatively impact the odds of user click-throughs to the organic content results.
Good SERP analytics tools help us with this task as well.
Let’s take a look at some of the more popular software tools that include SERP analysis as part of their overall SEO capabilities.
SERP Analysis Software Tools
Which SEO Tools Provide Detailed SERP Analysis?
Some of the better SEO tools available today provide focused SERP analysis features that collect lots of helpful SERP insights into a single dashboard or report.
There are definite similarities among the tools that provide detailed SERP analysis. These include:
- Listing the top URLs that appear in Google for a specific keyword or keyphrase of interest. This typically includes at least 10 URLs (Google Page 1), and up to the top 100 ranking pages. These are your current or potential ‘SEO competitors’ for the keyword being analyzed.
- Providing insights into the various ‘SERP Features’ present in the Google SERP for this keyword. (Many but not all SEO tools provide this.)
- An assessment of overall organic SEO keyword difficulty for the target keyword. This is a numeric value in the 0 – 100 range, with higher numbers indicating greater ranking difficulty.
Now let’s take a closer look at a few of the better tools in this area.
The screenshot below shows a SERP Analysis example in the lower section of the overall keyword report.
Here you can click through the top 10 results pages found in Google and also click an option to view the actual live SERP. See the two red arrows in the screenshot above.
The screenshot below provides another larger look at the SEMrush SERP Analysis report.
Page-level metrics include page Authority Score (Page AS), referring domains, backlinks, estimated monthly search traffic, and unique ranking keywords for each page (URL) found in the SERP.
Overall, the SEMrush SERP Analysis provides a fairly standard competitive overview of the Google SERP. It’s certainly helpful as part of their overall keyword research toolkit.
SEO PowerSuite handles SERP analysis primarily within their Rank Tracker application, which also provides keyword research and SEO competitor analysis tools.
For years, SEO PowerSuite included helpful SERP analysis data for the top 10 ranking positions for a selected keyword in the lower section of the Rank Tracker application.
Then in August 2021, they released an updated SERP Analysis module that really takes it to the next level. See the example screenshot below.
SERP Analysis in SEO PowerSuite’s Rank Tracker now includes:
- A single dashboard with all SERP analytics for a target keyword
- Available in the dedicated SERP Analysis module; also launchable from within the Rank Tracking and Keyword Research modules
- Analysis of the top 50 ranking pages (approximately the top 5 SERP pages)
- Coverage of a broad range of search engines and countries
- Summary of SEO keyword difficulty and traffic potential
- Correlation data between ranking factors and actual URL positions
- Page strength and backlink profile scores for each SERP competitor
- SERP features noted when detected for ranking URLs (e.g., Featured Snippets)
- Estimated ranking keywords and traffic for competing domains
- Google PageSpeed Insights and Core Web Vitals scores for each ranking URL
This is a really solid update to an already good SERP Analysis capability within Rank Tracker. The new correlation factors and user experience data (PSI and Core Web Vitals) are useful additions that set SEO PowerSuite apart from other SEO tools.
Moz provides SERP analysis in at least a couple of ways.
It’s part of their Keyword Explorer tool, as depicted below.
In their detailed SERP analysis report, Moz provides helpful metrics like Page Authority and Domain Authority (PA and DA), SERP features, and even an On-Page Grader Score for each URL, based on how well the page is optimized for the target keyword.
Get more details about Moz SERP Analysis here. This is a very helpful overview and guide.
Enterprise-Class SERP Analytics
SERP analysis is also part of the MOZ STAT tools for enterprise rank tracking and SERP analytics.
If you’re a larger organization with big SEO aspirations, thousands of keywords to analyze and track, and a healthy budget for SEO tools, then MOZ STAT may be ideal for you.
Ahrefs provides SERP analysis for over 200 countries within their Keywords Explorer and other Ahrefs tools.
For the top rankings URLs found in Google for a specific keyword / keyphrase of interest, you’ll find lots of page-level SEO metrics. These include:
- AR – Ahrefs Rank
- DR – Domain Rating
- UR – URL Rating
- Backlinks – Number of incoming backlinks to the URL
- Domains – Number of referring domains for the URL
- Traffic – Estimated monthly organic traffic from all keywords
- Keywords – Number of keywords for which the URL ranks
- Top Keyword – The top keyword or keyphrase for the URL
- Volume – Estimated monthly search volume for the keywords
The Ahrefs SERP Overview report also indicates which SERP features, if any, are present on the search results page.
There is also a report tab to show the SERP position history for the keyword. This can provide a sense of the overall SERP volatility, as the competing pages gain and lose ranking positions over time.
Mangools is especially interesting in this area because they have a dedicated SERP analysis tool called SERPChecker.
Mangools’ SERPChecker provides a wealth of SERP analysis data all in one user-customizable, color-coded interface for easier interpretation. It also provides a Snapshot feature to show a representation of the actual live SERP.
For each ranking URL discovered in the SERP, Mangools provides a variety of metrics, including these defaults:
- LPS – Link Profile Strength
- DA – Moz Domain Authority
- PA – Moz Page Authority
- CF – Majestic Citation Flow
- TF – Majestic Trust Flow
- FB – Facebook Shares
- AR – Alexa Rank
- Links – Number of backlinks found
- RD – Referring Domains
- RI – Referring IPs
The actual metrics displayed are customizable via the metrics settings area.
SERPChecker also includes a SERP Features Impact score on a 1-5 scale. This score indicates the likelihood of the SERP features reducing user engagement with the organic listings.
In other words, if the SERP contains lots of features that clutter the page, especially the content ‘above the fold’, then it’s less likely that users will actually click through on any of the organic links provided. This is what Mangools’ SERP Features Impact scoring tries to measure.
Other metrics like Visibility and estimated CTR are also helpful for assessing actual click-through potential for the ranking content.
For more details, see the Mangools SERPChecker Guide here.
Last but not least in this roundup of SEO tools with integrated SERP insights is Ubersuggest.
Ubersuggest provides basic SERP analytics inside their Keyword Ideas tool.
Data columns in the Ubersuggest SERP analysis include estimated monthly traffic from Google, backlinks to the entire domain, Moz Domain Authority, and Social Shares (Facebook, etc).
Ubersuggest’s SERP analytics may not be as extensive as some of the other SEO tools, but they cover the basics within a clean and easy-to-understand user interface.
Visual SERP Inspection
Importance of Manual Visual SERP Review
As powerful and data-rich as the various SEO tools may be in this area, it’s also important for us to review our target SERPs from a completely human perspective.
Take a topic and target keyphrase that’s important to your business and type it into Google search (preferably using a private or incognito browser tab or window).
What do you see?
Understand Your Top SEO Competition
Do you see many of your main product or service competitors dominating the top ~ 5 positions in Google? Or is it a mixed bag of legitimate ‘commercial’ competitors combined with other information sources like Wikipedia, articles on Medium, Q&A on Quora or Reddit, etc.?
(These other informational content pieces are still your ‘SEO competitors’, even if not from your actual commercial competitors for customer acquisition and sales revenue.)
How ‘busy’ is the top of the SERP? Are there lots of PPC ads up top, or ‘SERP features’ such as Featured Snippets, image and video carousels, People Also Ask sections, etc.?
Google is famous (notorious?) for experimenting with SERP features, adding and deleting things that can greatly affect the visibility and CTR of the actual organic search results.
Some tools, notably Ahrefs and Mangools SERPChecker, try to estimate the impact of these SERP features on click-through activity to the organic results.
Examine Ranking Content Pieces
Now click through and open the top few content pages.
How long and authoritative are they? Is it truly great content for your target audience and their actual ‘search intent’ based on the keyphrase or query used?
Can you produce something better with the resources available to you?
Or should you focus more on closely adjacent topics that might be easier for ranking purposes?
These are some of the questions you’ll want to ask yourself when actually looking at the SERP itself. SERP analysis tools can help too, but don’t rely *only* on the tools data for your keyword targeting decisions.
SEO SERP Analysis Tools — Final Thoughts
This article highlights the importance of combining SEO tools data with human-level visual analysis when understanding SERPs on Google or any other search engine.
Fortunately, some SEO tools make this easier with well organized SERP analysis features. These include SEMrush, SEO PowerSuite, Moz, Ahrefs, Mangools, and Ubersuggest.
These tools handle SERP analysis at varying levels of detail, with different approaches for presenting SERP data and features. Some of the more unique metrics included by Moz, Mangools’ SERPChecker, and SEO PowerSuite’s Rank Tracker add extra value.
SERP analysis features shouldn’t be the only reason to choose one SEO software platform over others, but this area should certainly factor into your selection process.
For lower SEO budgets, tools like Ubersuggest, Mangools, and SEO PowerSuite may be the best overall options.
For those with deeper pockets, one of the premium SEO tools — Moz, Ahrefs, or SEMrush — may be the best option.
Also see the posts highlighted below for related information.
Questions or Comments?
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