Keyword research is the basic SEO strategy. We do it during the early stages of website optimization, and it usually goes together with user analysis. During the process, our main goal is to find target keywords, which we would later use for our content strategy.

Most people think keyword research is done exclusively with tools by assessing numbers in SEMRush, AhRefs, and similar platforms. However, the process is much more complex than that. It also involves SERP (search engine results page) analysis, where we assess competitors within the Google search engine results for that particular keyword.

In this article, we’ll talk more about the concept and why it is important for discovering relevant keywords for our website.

What is SERP analysis?

SEO tools can be extremely misleading, especially when it comes to keyword difficulty. Many of them rely on algorithms that calculate the number of pages as the main indicator of competitiveness. As a result, you can get the impression that a search query is much easier or harder to rank than it actually is.

In practice, you’re only interested in the first 10 pages in search rankings. If you can’t outrank these articles, it doesn’t matter what you do otherwise. So, during SERP analysis, we take a peer at top-ranking websites and assess the likelihood of outperforming them.

MiroMind has a very meticulous approach to competitive analysis, taking into account various parameters such as domain authority, number of links, user engagement, page optimization, and much more. That way, we have a better understanding of how much work it would take to topple each top-ranking page.

How to perform SERP analysis?

Here’s how MiroMind’s team tackles this task:

  1. Keyword research

Keyword research is the basic process that helps us identify all the keywords relevant to our business. Among others, it’s a fantastic precursor for other optimization processes, as it gives us more insights into clients’ markets and what people are looking for in search engines.

While still in the tool, we make the basic breakdown of keywords based on the following factors:

  • Search volume
  • Keyword difficulty
  • Relevancy

Nowadays, most of these platforms have keyword scores that reduce the leg work. Basically, a SERP checker gives us a quick breakdown of most prospective phrases that are potentially easiest to rank for and would provide the highest-possible return for that level of difficulty.

In general, the best keywords are so-called long-tail keywords. Although they have a lower volume than root phrases, you can realistically rank them even if you’re a new blog with low domain authority. During the process, we also try to find related keywords that might not be as obvious choices but can still be vital for our businesses.

  1. Search intent

Besides assessing competitors’ power and authority, we also analyze search results to have a better understanding of search intent. In the end, getting 100 clicks for an educational keyword isn’t the same as getting 100 clicks for the “cheap sneakers in Houston” search query.

Here is the most common categorization of search intent:

  • Informational
  • Navigational
  • Commercial
  • Transactional


Informational intent is the most common reason why people use search engines. Basically, they use informational keywords like “How tall is Mount Everest?” or “How do I make brownies?” to improve their knowledge of a topic. When you check the first page of Google for one such query, you’ll notice a lot of blog posts, ultimate guides, How-To articles, and case studies.

One of the SEO best practices is creating numerous educational articles and tying them together with internal links. As you start getting lots of clicks from organic results, you can turn these visitors into paying customers by putting them into a well-designed funnel. Still, don’t expect miracles, as conversion rates will still be lower than those for “money” keywords (phrases with commercial intent).


People use these terms when looking for specific brands to buy products or learn more about them. If you’re a new brand, navigational queries are probably the least relevant for your business. However, as you grow in size, they become every bit as important as some other types of commercial intent phrases.


After typing in a commercial query, a user will browse websites with a specific product or service. A person will check the prices and additional features they can get at each webshop. After having a better understanding of what each brand provides, they will read online reviews and find comparison articles and Best Of lists.

Although a user is highly interested in a specific product or service, there are still cases when they’ll pull out of a transaction at the last moment. For example, if they notice that prices are too high on the domestic market or are waiting for discounts.

In a nutshell, the interest level is lower compared to transactional queries


As the name indicates, users who are browsing transactional phrases are ready to make a purchase. They have a clear understanding of what they’re looking for, so all they now need is to contact a provider of their choice.

Keep in mind that purchasing process isn’t finished at this point. Depending on a complexity of a product or service, a future client might need a video call to discuss terms or might require product testing. Out of all query types, transactional keywords are the most lucrative ones as they bring you closest to a sale.


Understanding the searcher’s intent is every bit as important as performing competitive analysis or checking organic volume. Not only does it indicate the traffic potential for making sales, but it also helps us create content that would be appropriate for such a search.

  1. Competitors analysis

The reason why this process is so meticulous, and you can’t make a quick SERP analysis, is because you need to of through all top-ranking pages and assess them one by one. During this step, we analyze the following:

  • Page and website metrics
  • Number and quality of links
  • User engagement metrics
  • Content optimization

Page and website metrics

When analyzing pages ranking on top of Google, you should always start with domain authority or DA. This is the most common, most widely acceptable metric in the business, developed by industry giant Moz. The metric analyzes various relevant factors assigning scores to a website based on its industry relevance.

Page authority is relatively similar to DA, but it works on a page level. It provides a better approximation of how much it would take to outrank an article, and it usually works in conjunction with domain authority. Other metrics include trust and citation flow.

Bear in mind that many SEO brands have created their version of DA, and each one can give you specific insights about the power of a blog post. In theory, you should combine as many of them as possible to gain the most relevant insights about a page.

Number and quality of links

While there’s nothing you can do to compete against high DA websites, there are ways to improve your backlink profile to match those of top-ranking websites.

For the longest time, links were the indication of page quality. Backlinks show Google that your content is so good that other websites are compelled to feature it. When building links to a page, you need to pay attention to the following:

  • Quantity
  • Quality
  • Relevancy

Quality refers to links gained from top-tier sites, while quantity refers to the total number of links acquired. Although any good link can help your rankings, you get the biggest boost from those that are relevant to your website and, specifically, content. For example, if your post revolves around “Best restaurant chains in the US,” you should get a link from a piece that focuses on the same subject.

It’s also worth noting that you don’t necessarily have to check SERPs to analyze links, as this data is available in just about any SEO tool.

User engagement metrics

In the last few years, Google has stated that the company has started using user engagement metrics to measure content quality. Google believes that things such as click-through rate and bounce rate are much better indications of quality and relevancy than some other factors. Furthermore, they’re much harder to manipulate.

Most companies use Google Analytics to asses their website metrics. However, the platform doesn’t work for other sites, which is why you’ll likely have to create a SEMRush account or subscribe to a similar tool.

Content optimization

Nowadays, it’s fairly common for companies to use software such as SurferSEO, MarketMuse, and Frase. These platforms give us deeper insights into specific queries, outlining the perfect type of content for a particular keyword. Aside from providing a list of relevant phrases, these tools also show optimal word count and number of headings.

More importantly, you can see the content score for each article. If this score is too high, you might struggle properly optimizing a piece, or you might have to invest more money into creating a larger post. While the quality of content optimization isn’t something that SEOs often consider, it’s another bump in the road toward top positions within search engine results.

  1. SERP layout

During SERP analysis, you must also check what kind of content is ranking in the Google search engine. For example, if everyone’s rankings with their homepage, it will be very hard to overtake them as these pages are usually very strong. However, if the top results are littered with thin, innovative content, you can easily create something better.

Among others, you should count SERP features and ads. They rank on top of Google and will effectively drag all organic pages down. In other words, even if you manage to rank first on a page with three ads, you’ll effectively be placed on the fourth spot, which will significantly drag your conversions down.

Compared to paid ads, featured snippets can have a positive and a negative impact on your SEO plan. The existence of SERP features gives you an opportunity to rank twice for a keyword; once with your post and once with a snippet. Unfortunately, having a snippet on a results page can also be tricky, as most people will just read the answer without entering any website thus robbing you of a chance to make sales.

Certain search results can also go in your favor. For example, if there’s a video SERP feature on a page, this shows that there isn’t enough good, written content covering the topic. This provides ranking opportunities for brands who make good written blogs.

Tips to utilize acquired data

Now that you’ve done SERP analysis, it’s time to tie everything together and determine if you have a chance of ranking higher in Google. Here are some fantastic tips that will guide you throughout the process:

  • Given that people have been doing SEO for quite a while, most keywords are in “balance.” In other words, even if you notice phrases with high volume and low difficulty, there’s probably a reason why no one’s pursuing them. In other words, moderate your expectations when you find winners
  • Ideally, you should create a blog post for every relevant keyword in your industry. Covering all the angles usually removes the guessing game
  • The biggest benefit of keyword research and user intent is understanding which phrases would be more beneficial for your business. Even if two queries have completely the same metrics, you should focus on the one that has better conversion/sales potential
  • If the SERP results are littered with high DA and PA pages, it will be hard to topple them. These blogs gain a lot of traction, have high user engagement, and can easily gain links. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should aggressively pursue a keyword if you notice an opportunity
  • Social media can be a difference maker for boosting user engagement metrics as your followers have a high interest in your posts. Sharing a piece on your account can give you an initial boost in search results
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