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Where our content shows up on Search Engine Result Pages – SERPs for short – certainly matters, but how about the lower rankings? For example, does a Page 4 ranking matter? I’ll discuss that topic in this article.
What is a SERP?
These are the results for search queries that people research in search engines like Google or Bing. They are a listing of results, often topped by ads. That’s page 1 of the SERPs. At the bottom are links to Page 2 and more.
How to analyze SERPs performance
There’s a wide variety of tools you can use, including:
These software options show you for your website how keywords are moving around, which ones are trending up and which ones are losing steam. However, remember that not every person can exactly manually duplicate what these metrics are showing. For example, let’s say the site ranks No. 1 for a specific term. A person on the team can search for the exact keyword and not see the No. 1 ranking. That’s because Google results are personalized.
I use Ahrefs to keep a tab on my search performance, especially the occasional overview.
In this example, I can see that my site ranks for 135 terms in the Top 3 positions, 929 keywords in the fourth through 10th spot, and over 9,000 in places No. 11 to 50.
In other words, the majority of keywords that the site ranks for are lower on the SERPs.
From there, I also like to review specifically which:
- keywords are trending up or down, and if those are important keywords to me.
- areas I look at the potential for updates to optimize keywords further.
- articles are trending one way or another, specifically.
- other sites (as applicable) are now linking to my site.
The importance of lower rankings
Some experts will tell you that only ranking in the top three spots matters. That’s a lofty goal and can be debilitating to teams if that’s the only goal. Certainly, we want to get there, but also track and celebrate the rankings along the way.
Indeed, it’s not hard to see that it’s “easier” to rank lower than to rank higher. And people do click on lower results – especially when they don’t get the result for what they are looking for higher on the page.
Here is an example of a lower-ranking page and the clicks it sees. My article on Facebook birthday wishes ranks, on average, No. 21 but sees almost 6,000 clicks in three months.
So people can end up there, and indeed, our content has to start somewhere. I’m not going to proclaim that you must rank lower first to rank higher, but ranking lower is undoubtedly better than not ranking at all.
Consider what to rank for
Also, weigh what terms you are trying to rank for or are ranking for. A keyword with higher competition is likely harder to rank for on the SERPs. On the other hand, for a lower-competition keyword, you might be able to break into the Top 3 quickly. Just make sure people are searching for that term.
SEO can bring some quick wins, but it’s typically a long-term strategy. Look at how your site is rising over the months and years and how relevant the content is to your target audience.
Also, make sure all the technical SEO setups are correct, making ranking with content much more accessible.