SERPs (search engine results pages) are full of useful information. Based on what algorithms decide is worth showing a searcher, here’s what they can teach you.
For searchers, results are essentially a response to their query.
However, from an SEO perspective, that’s not the whole story. Search results can provide you with a lot of insight into what Google thinks is relevant. Understanding this is key to ranking your own content and pages.
These insights can save you time and effort, give you SEO opportunities and even content ideas–if you look close enough.
Here’s What You Can Learn from Google SERP:
1. Top Rankings Reveal Searcher Intent
As we mentioned in our article about HubSpot’s “New Age of SEO” webinar (which you can read here), the way people search through Google has changed over the years.
It used to be that people searched for concrete terms. It’s almost as if people were trying to speak to a computer in its language by including key terms in a formulaic manner (i.e. “new cars <$15,000”).
These days, however, people tend to search in a more conversational manner (i.e. “the cat that says oh long johnson”)
Because of this, there are many times where searchers are not specific enough with their searches. Some queries are pretty ambiguous. Different searchers can use the same keywords for search queries but with different intentions. This leaves Google at a loss as to the true intent of these queries.
An example is “used clothing“.
- Searcher A may be looking for a place to buy used clothing for personal use.
- B may be equally looking for a place to sell them.
- C may be looking for a place to donate used clothing.
- D may be looking for a place to buy wholesale used clothing for resale.
If you’re trying to rank for these keywords, then it becomes difficult to know whether the intent for which you want to rank is what searchers are looking for with those keywords.
You may want to rank for this long-tail keyword phrase: “starting a used clothing business“.
This is where it’s important to look at the top rankings for the keywords you want to rank for. What you find on the first page represents the majority of intents of searchers.
If your intent is not included in the first page results, you should strongly reconsider picking different keywords because it’ll be very difficult if not impossible to change the SERP.
On the other hand, if your intent is included in the first page results, you have a better chance at ranking for these keywords.
2. What Older Years in Related Search Phrases Mean
Sometimes related searches can be a good place to get keyword ideas or further ranking opportunities for your content or business.
If you’ve paid attention to the related searches at the bottom of search results, you’ll notice that at times the phrases there will be the same as your query + an older year as seen in the image below.
We searched for “best website design“.
What this means is that there were more searches for this query in the year added and there’s a possibility that the search for the same keyword has declined in the current year.
It’s worth using Google trends to check before you make any commitment to rank for this keyword.
3. What Images in top Search Results Mean
Whenever images rank on top of any Google search results before text content, what it means is that a majority people who make this query look at images.
For this reason, Google prioritizes images over any form of content in the search results for this query.
If you want to rank for this keyword, it’s important you prioritize image SEO.
4. What Videos in top Search Results Mean
Just like images ranking first in search results, videos can do the same. When most people view video content from a search query, they appear on top of SERPs.
Videos that rank first on Google are predominately from Youtube which makes perfect sense considering it’s the largest video sharing platform and is also owned by Google.
It’s worth investing resources into video content and Youtube SEO if you notice Google prioritizing videos for keywords you want to rank for.
5. Multiple Content Pieces From the Same Website in top Results
In addition to images and videos, Google may sometimes prioritize content from a particular website. A search for “dining room ideas” showed a lot of Pinterest content in the search results.
In such a scenario, you’ll have a better chance of ranking for this keyword phrase on the first page of Google if you post and optimize your content for Pinterest instead of your own website.