Free Google SERP Checker
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SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. When people ask about your website’s SERPs, they’re asking on what page of Google does your website show up when someone enters a particular search term?
The answer is always going to be, “It depends”.
First of all, it depends on which keywords you’re trying to rank for because you should always be using more than one keyword throughout your website. For example, because I offer both content marketing and SEO strategy services, I try to rank for both those keywords, as well as blog writing and writing services, just to name a few. But I’m not looking for every page or every blog post to rank for all of those keywords. Some pieces of content should show up in searches for some keywords and phrases while other pieces of content show up in other searches.
So when it comes to your website’s SERP, it’s not enough to simply ask on which page of Google your website shows up, because the answer will vary depending on the keywords that get entered into the search bar.
It’s also important to remember that, while Google is still the biggest search engine around, at least for now, it’s not the only search engine. Bing and DuckDuckGo each have a significant user base that should not be ignored, especially if you know your target audience tends to prefer one of them over Google.
First, let’s talk about the different types of searches your target audience can use to find you.
When people talk about optimizing their website content for search engines, what they mean is they want to show up in organic searches (below those ads), and there are a few advantages to that over paying for space on the first page of Google.
The first advantage is that most people don’t trust ads, so they skip over them until they get to the content that organically shows up on the first page of Google. On the other hand, not everyone does this, and Google is making it increasingly difficult to show up on the first page organically because they’re putting more and more ads at the top of many search results. Whereas we used to see one or two ads per search, now some keywords show pages that are half covered in ads.
The second advantage to earning your SERP is that you’re more likely to convert visitors to your site to customers. If you pay to have your website placed in front of users who search a particular keyword, but your content doesn’t actually answer their question, they either won’t click on your link, or they will and then they’ll click away as soon as they see they can’t get what they want there. Because Google ads operate on a PPC (pay per click) basis, you pay for each click to your website from an ad, regardless of whether that click results in a sale.
By contrast, organic search results don’t have to put up any money to get in front of their target audience for certain keywords, and the results usually last longer. If you pay to show up in certain searches, your website will stop showing up as soon as you stop paying Google to do so. But if your content naturally answers your audience’s questions, it can continue to show up in relevant searches for months, if not years to come, making the return on the investment of time and resources you put into creating and optimizing that content more than worthwhile.
Any time you search anything in Google, you’ll notice the first several links that come up each have a little green “ad” tag below the title, meaning someone has paid for that content to show up on the first page of Google for that keyword. Because someone paid for that top position in Google, rather than putting in the time and effort to get it to show up organically, it can be somewhat hit or miss as to whether the content is what the user is truly trying to find. It might have the right keywords, but does it answer the question they’re asking, or is it only addressing a related topic?
How many ads you’ll see on the first page of Google generally depends on the type of search term being used. For example, “how to set up an IRA” is a search term people might use when looking for someone who can help them set up and maintain an IRA, but most likely they’re just looking for information they can use to set up and maintain an IRA on their own, so Google only puts a couple ads at the top of their first SERP for that keyphrase.
By contrast, the phrase “Chicago dentist”, although a short-tail keyword, is most likely to be used by someone who is actively looking for a dentist. As a result, Google places a couple ads at the top of their first SERP, then some website pages that rank organically, followed by a bunch of ads at the bottom. Like any other business, Google loves selling ad space, but they also know it’s important to give their customers what they want, which means they aren’t going to flood their first SERP with nothing but ads.
Additionally, keep in mind that the cost of paying to show up in searches depends on the keyword for which you want to rank. In most cases, the keyword tool you use to research your keywords should tell you the CPC (cost per click) of each keyword, and it’s all a bidding war. If there are companies out there paying obscene amounts of money to show up in searches for particular keywords, you’ll have to outbid them if you want your website to appear above theirs for those same search terms.
Which SERP your website ends up on for target keywords matters because people aren’t joking when they say that, if you aren’t on page 1 of Google, you might as well not exist. Google has thousands of pages, and while that might sound like there’s a lot of opportunity out there for a plucky content marketer trying to get in front of their ideal customer, the truth is that the sheer number of options simply overwhelms the user, so most people don’t bother clicking past the first page. If they don’t find what they’re looking for on the first page of Google, they’ll either give up or put in a different search term. Most of the time, they’ll click on a link that appears on the first page and settle for whatever they find there.
This means that content marketers and SEO strategists work long and hard to get to the first page of Google. It’s not something that can be accomplished overnight, but with the right strategy and a little elbow grease, you can get your website to show up on the right SERP.