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SERP Optimization Guide

What is a SERP?

You probably see SERP’s every single day without realizing it!

A “SERP” is an acronym for “Search Engine Results Page” or in other words the results of any search you do on a search engines. Here is an example of a SERP for the term “car insurance” on Google. Look familiar?

SERP Example

Short History Of SERP’s

For years all of the SERP’s looked exactly the same, which was having some ads at the top and sides followed by 10 natural links that the search engine deemed most relevant. Since every search query looked the same, we as searchers got in the habit of clicking on the top results because they all look the same and the top result should be the most relevant.

The following image shows a 2006 Cornell study where the #1 result gets over 56% of the clicks on the first page.

SERP CTR

How SERP’s Have Changed

As the internet has evolved over the years so has search engines technology and their ability to better answer searchers queries.

Everyone is still fighting to rank #1 on the Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page), but now there are several ways to stand out and gain more clicks than the competitors that outrank you.

To show you an example on how the SERP’s have changed we can look at the search results for the query “Enders Game”. Speaking of games lets do a quick 15 second challenge!

The 15 Second Challenge: Look at the following screen shot and list all of the items that pop out at you. Ok, Ready? Go!

A New SERP Example

Alright, how many items did you find? Here is a list of what I found in the image that goes beyond links to the sources:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Ratings
  • Reviews
  • Mini site links
  • Knowledge Graph box

Want to play another game? Alright which of these 4 results would you most likely click on?

Which result would you click?

Did you decide which number you’d click? 

Awesome, is it by chance #4? It is!? No I’m not a mind reader, but it’s the result that attracts the most attention with the ratings, review, and price next to it. Even though it is outranked by huge websites like Amazon and Kingston, NewEgg’s Schema markup definitely makes it stand out and is more likely to get clicked.

How People Search Online

When it comes to searching online, most people search in a F pattern. There are a few reasons for this.

  • Most languages are read left to right, top to bottom
  • Most search engines have the best non – ad content at the top left of the page

How People Search Eye Tracking

(Source)

The Benefits of SERP Optimization

Gain More Clicks

The greatest benefit of SERP Optimization, or SERPO as I call it, is that you can grab the searchers attention and get them to click on your site over your competitors who may be outranking you!

Like the example from before with NewEgg.com that can steal clicks away from the website that are outranking it.

Which result would you click?

Cost Effective

If you’ve tried to do any SEO you know it can be really difficult, expensive, and time consuming to move up a couple spots in search results for really competitive terms. Thankfully most of the strategies covered in this guide are very scalable, meaning you only have to make the changes once to your site to stand out and from then on it will be implemented.

What SERP’s Can I Optimize

This is a tough question because the SERP’s on search engines are constantly evolving so all of the strategies in this guide work, BUT they may not work for the query you want OR they may change in the future. R.I.P Google Authorship photos in search results!

There are several ways that you can check to find out if the SERP’s for your specific keyword has the opportunity to be optimized.

1. Best SERP Checking Tool – AuthorityLabs (Paid Tool)

If you want to look at SERP results across several keywords I suggest you use the AuthorityLabs rank tracking tool. It is the best tool I’ve found to show and track which SERP results are appearing across all of my keywords.

What you get from this tool:

  • Tracks your websites ranking for the term over time
  • The search volume for the term
  • Shows you a lot of different SERP results for each keyword term
    • Image results
    • News  results
    • Video  results
    • Shopping results
    • Snippet  results
    • Places  results

Authority Labs Logo

Authority Labs SERP example

2. Google Search – Incognito Mode (Free)

The quickest way to  find out if your search results have the opportunity to be optimized is to do a Google Search in Incognito mode. (If  you want results for a local result you can set the location to the area you are working for. )

For example when I look at the SERP for “wedding dresses” I see that it has a large block of  images of wedding dresses. 

wedding dress image example

3) Moz Keyword Research Tool (Paid Tool)

If you want to really understand the search results of a specific keyword I suggest using the Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool.  It’s doesn’t work for looking at groups of keywords but is great for a single keyword.

What you get from this tool:

  • Who is ranking on the first page of Google search results
  • Strength and authority of the  top ranking websites
  • The different type of SERP results shown
    • Image results
    • Video results
    • Local results

Keyword Research Image

SERP Optimization FAQ

Each section of the SERPO Guide will have a FAQ section to answer the questions about that specific strategy, but to save you from reading the same answers over and over I’ll answer the common questions that apply to all of the strategies here:

Q: Do these strategies increase my rankings?

A: Short answer is no.

Long answer, if you have a query that shows up an image snippet. People who see your image might use it and link to your website as the image source which could over time improve rankings. Be sure to check if you the query you are targeting already has unique results already showing up. For example if you create a high quality image to target a key term does not mean it will automatically show up for that term in the search results. If there are not other images showing up it is not likely that yours will show up either.

Q: Does doing these strategies guarantee increase in click through rate?

A:  First, every industry is different. Second, I don’t control search engine algorithms which are constantly evolving so there is no guarantee that implementing these strategies will increase your click throughs over night. But if you look at the leaders in competitive industries they are all doing of these strategies to get an edge over their competitors.

Q: How long does it take for these to start showing in search engines?

A: Short answer is it depends. Long answer, Once you’ve implemented these strategies on your site , search engines will discover it the next time they crawl your site. Once you’ve made the changes to your website you can let Google and other search engines know. In the next paragraph I will show you how to check for this. Please don’t think that just because you make a change to your website it will automatically be updated.

Q: Will these strategies always work?

The search engines are constantly evolving and testing how to change the SERP’s. You probably heard about how Google Authorship was recently removed so authors profile pictures are not showing up in Google searches any more. I will strive to keep this guide up to date on strategies that will help your company stand out.

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