What Is a SERP? A Guide to Search Engine Results Pages
February 15, 2023
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Marketing professionals are familiar with the acronym SERP, which stands for search engine results page. This page is served to a person who searches for a keyword through Google or similar software systems. Today's SERPs look much different from the ones Google had years ago—besides links, they now contain lists, thumbnails, click-to-call buttons, and much more.
Companies with an online presence must recognize the components of a SERP and how they can use each in their business. The keywords that people use will determine the SERP they get; to build an online presence organically, your website pages must come up for as many searches as possible.
There are different types of searches, but they fall within one of three categories—informational, navigational, and transactional searches. An informational search occurs at the start of the customer journey. At this point, prospective buyers are likely unaware they have a problem or are unsure how to solve it. They're likely asking questions related to their daily lives.
Navigational queries use product- or service-specific keywords. At this point, buyers are aware of what they have to do and know that your product (or one similar to it) can solve their problem. Finally, transactional queries contain keywords that indicate intent to purchase. At this point, a buyer is only looking for further confirmation that they're making the right decision. Your SEO strategy should include keywords that appear for all three stages. It should also account for other components of search results pages.
Why Do SERPs Matter?
Most website traffic comes from search engines. Though Google does not release its search volume data, estimates say that the search giant processes 63,000 queries per second. That translates to more than three billion searches per day.
Even a tiny fraction of that traffic would be beneficial to a company's bottom line. However, it can be challenging to try and rank for the first page of Google. Anyone who wants to try should know how to use each part of a SERP to their advantage.
What Are the Parts of a SERP?
There are four components of a search engine results page: paid ads, organic search results, local search results, and related searches. Let us look at each of these below.
Typically, a paid search ad appears at the top of a SERP. They often contain plain text and a link, but some ads have images as well. Ads appear on a page depending on their bid price, relevance to the search, and quality. Keyword competitiveness determines how much it costs to place an ad before other results on a page.
These days, it is common for SERPs of highly competitive keywords to contain more than two paid ads. For instance, the results page for the keyword "pay per click advertising" contains 12 links, five of which are paid. Also, note that paid ads blend into organic results in today's SERPs. The only way to distinguish a paid from an organic ad is by the dark gray label beside a paid ad's title header.
An organic or unpaid search result contains the title of the page and the name of the website. It also indicates the URL, sitelinks, and a meta description of the linked pages.
Many people still regard organic search links as the more "trustworthy" results on a SERP. Google and other search engines are famously secretive about the algorithms they use to generate results pages. However, they provide guidelines on how to increase a page's chances of appearing on these pages. Highly relevant pages with plenty of backlinks are often the ones to rise to the top of SERPs.
A local search result for a keyword will usually contain maps, lists, and contact information for businesses in an area. The radius for these types of results depends on a combination of factors like the user's current location and the search terms they use.
Local businesses, especially ones just building a customer base, must set up their Google business page and search account. Having these properties online lets them upload photos of their store and products, list their hours and contact information, and provide links to their social pages and website.
If you're just starting, it's good to focus on creating a strategy based on local SEO. Coupled with an always-updated Google business page, these community-based shops help a company compete with more prominent brands.
Related Searches refer to the little box at the bottom of a SERP. These are queries that other people ask before or after searching the keyword currently displayed. There's no way to engineer an intentional appearance in this part of the page. However, you can still use the information here to generate strategies.
One thing you could do is create content relevant to people's searches. Let's say you search "pay per click advertising." This is what could appear at the bottom of this page:
A digital marketing agency could look at this related searches result and brainstorm blog posts, videos, and infographics based on it. They could even create internal links among these keywords. For example, a marketer could publish a blog post discussing what pay-per-click is and then link it to another one that talks about strategies in pay-per-click advertising. They could also use the phrase "how does pay-per-click work" as a header for infographics.
Search engine results pages play a significant role in business. Companies need to capitalize on their web pages to see the results they want from these. Knowing the parts of a SERP is just the beginning; you need to translate your knowledge and insights into action.
Trust Ranked to come up with an organic strategy for your brand. Our SEO platform and service helps enterprises and agencies through data-driven weekly content, quality backlinks, and on-page optimization. Book a call with the team to learn more, or start your free trial now!