SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page, and it is the page that you get to after you submit your query in a search engine like Google. Of course, there is more to a SERP than just the results that you get when you type in a string of keywords and hope for the best, though most of us simply gloss over them.
The part of a SERP that most people pay attention to are the organic results that they get back from their search. Searchers have been trained to pay attention to these because they are the most likely results to fulfill their needs without the inherent distrust that is associated with results that are paid ads.
A lot of the time, SERPs also have paid ads on them in the form of PPC (pay per click) ads, where the advertiser pays every time someone clicks on it, as the name suggests. While these ads may be an accurate result and may even mirror the top result on the SERP, most people are hesitant to use them.
SERPs are intertwined with the concept of SEO because the vast majority (over 90%) of people searching will never go past the first SERP that shows up after they conduct their search. The higher you’re ranked on a search page, the more likely that you’ll get organic traffic to your website.
While SERPs started off as relatively basic pages that provided you with links to sites that were relevant to your search queries, Google’s SERP has incorporated more advanced features over the course of the past decade or two. For example, along with generic search results, you’ll now see things like images, Tweets, and even Google My Business listings.
Featured snippets are the boxes of text that appear at the top of your search, and they also contain a link to one of the search results. These snippets are extremely useful for businesses that are trying to draw attention to their sites because of how they grab the searcher’s eye.
An example of a featured snippet would be when you search a question on Google. If I were to search “Do turtles lay eggs?” I would get a snippet that answers the question in about a paragraph, and this would lead me to the site that provided me with that info.
While I may not necessarily need to visit that site after getting the answer to my question, I would now consider that site to be a reputable source. If I had any further questions about turtles, it’s likely that I would turn to that site for an answer because they had earned my trust through the featured snippet.
If you’ve ever searched for something like an animal species or perhaps an aircraft on Google, then you’ve likely seen a knowledge card for it. These knowledge cards appear on the right hand side of the SERP and they contain a Wikipedia-like breakdown of the crucial info that you have to know about the search topic.
For example, if the knowledge card were for an animal species, it would likely contain the genus of the animal as well as a few basic facts about it, including how fast it can go and its ideal habitat. All of this info is sourced from reputable pages that the employees at Google painstakingly go over.
Google My Business cards are quite a bit like knowledge cards, and they even occupy the same space on a SERP, but they feature different info which will be more relevant to a business. If a business is aware of its Google My Business, then it can apply to gain control over it and the info that it displays.
Until a business claims its Google My Business card, the info is gathered from sources like the business’s site and pictures can be submitted by members of the community. This panel also features a review section where members of the public can voice their opinions about a business.
You’ve also undoubtedly seen shopping results on your Google SERPs before, and since shopping results are limited to about eight products, these result spaces are highly competitive. Shopping results are typically handed out like ads, where a business has to bid high enough to be displayed on the results page for a particular keyword.
However, bidding isn’t the only thing that matters if you want your shopping results to show up on a Google SERP. Other things that are necessary to score high according to Google’s SEO values include high-quality photos of the product that you’re selling as well as a steady sales history for the product.
Another common feature of a Google SERP is the image pack which appears whenever Google can crawl relevant images for your search. The relevance of these images is determined through Google’s algorithm, but we know that there are certain factors that increase the likelihood of an image showing up.
For example, the file name used when posting an image is compared to the keyword in your search query. Even the text surrounding the image has to be relevant to the search, which is why you often get some images that aren’t directly related to your search query.
Sitelinks are the subsections in a search result that lead searchers to a particular part of your website, and they are also influenced by the search query. For example, if you search for the Youtube login page, Youtube will pop up as a top result and the account page will be one of the sitelinks beneath it.