Have you ever typed a search into Google or other search engines? Then you already know what SERPs are. They are the pages that search engines use to show you the results of your search. Let’s take a bit of a deeper dive into what SERPs are and how it can affect your search engine optimization efforts. Better yet, how you can use the knowledge below to get better SEO results.
SERPs are made out of different parts or sections that include organic search results, paid search and pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
As you can see from the chart above, users are much more likely to click on results at the top of the page. In fact, more than 90% of traffic goes to websites that rank on the first page of Google search results.
Ranking on the first page of Google is highly competitive, and search engines are getting more and more complex all the time to try to understand the user’s intent and anticipate their needs.
Backlinking and increasing your domain authority are a couple of tactics to help you boost your ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs), but let’s understand how they rank results and what they are in order to try and improve your rankings.
What Are SERPs
Yahoo, Bing, Google, and all other search engines have a different SERP design. Being that Google dominates the search engine market with over 92%, we are going to focus on Google’s search engine results pages.
Seconds after you enter a query into Google, you will land on a SERP. Each SERP might vary depending on your query, so let’s go over the types of queries.
Types of Search Queries
There are three main categories of searches that your query can qualify for depending on the types of words you use: navigational, informational, or transactional.
When you don’t know the URL of the site you’re looking for and you start looking for its brand name or most relevant service in order to find it. Buying ads for your most important navigational keywords might be a good idea to consider, like the name of your business, for instance.
If you search for something you want to learn or figure out how to do, that’s an informational query. This type of search user is usually not looking to buy something, but just for information as the name suggests. However, the right content might nurture them towards your brand.
Information queries commonly include multimedia search results like:
- How-to videos
- Instructional blog posts with tips and advice
- Infographics or templates
- Guides, white papers, ebooks
You might want to consider these types of multimedia assets as part of your content if you’re looking to rank for that kind of keyword.
If you’re looking to buy something, that’s a transactional query. These have the most revenue potential, making keywords very costly and competitive. Search results pages in this category of queries will usually include numerous paid ads results.
However, paid ads are still highly effective regarding transactional queries with almost 65% of clicks on transactional SERPs happen on paid ads.
Paid Ads in SERPs
You should definitely consider paid ads in your strategy. They can help you boost traffic to your site quickly, as well as sales and other conversion metrics.
Äid ads are usually in the top 3 or 4 spots of Google’s search engine results pages. Google determines which ad is in the top spot based on several factors, including the bid amount, the quality of the page, the quality of the ad, and the relevance to the search.
Organic Listing in SERPs
Search engine optimization techniques and strategies are what make your page rank organically. This means that your site needs to be high quality in order to rank on the first page of the SERPs for your target keywords.
The rules of organic ranking are determined by the Google algorithm and can sometimes be not as explicit as with paid ads. That is because Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm in order to provide better and better results. In a sentence, SEO is about giving more value and better content to your target audience that is easy to find and navigate for them and for search engines
Features of a SERP
SERPs have evolved into more interactive and visual pages that present a variety of types of content depending on your search. Search results show the usual results with the site’s name, meta description, etc., but can also include images, shopping suggestions, Tweets, or information cards.
The following categories may appear on SERPs depending on the particular query:
- Knowledge graph box: Right-hand side of search results.
- Rich snippets that add visuals to search results like images.
- Paid results: These are the ads you can buy for your target keywords.
- Universal results are special results that appear alongside organic ones.
The following are the features you might see on a SERP. Use this list to help you decide the format your content will take depending on how you want it to rank.
As you can see from the image, Google ads usually appear at the bottom of the SERP. You can also display ads on the bottom of a SERP, but they get very few clicks in comparison.
Competitive keywords will require a high-quality site, ad, and bid in order to reach the top of the SERP. However, to do so means to be the first results users see when performing a specific search. Measure the scope of your campaign and decide to use ads accordingly.
This feature is a separate box that catches your attention and displays content from a site that uses the right keywords to give the right information. To get a featured snippet, you need to already be on the first page of search results. So, in order to do that, make sure the content on your page is highly valuable, informative, and well-optimized for the right keywords.
Visual information is better displayed visually. That’s why the algorithm for images decides if the ones on your page are relevant to the search and display them accordingly. To help Google understand and index your images, make sure to use:
- Accurate and descriptive file names
- Image captions and alt text
- Relevant surrounding text
- An accurate and engaging page title
- A readable page URL
- Rectangular photos of moderate size and dimensions (16×9, 4×3, and squares)
Try producing high-quality images when possible so that other sites embed them thus giving you an even better chance of appearing in the SERP image pack.
In-depth articles no longer have a dedicated section in search engine results pages, but they are still prioritized by search engines in relevant queries. These articles are usually longer and have evergreen content that continues to be relevant despite the passage of time.
This box is located to the right of the SERP and contains selected facts and information about the searched topic. Google gets this information from a huge library of more than 3.5 billion data points.
Knowledge panels are similar to knowledge cards but they are much more specific and targeted. The information on a knowledge panel is much deeper and specific to a search result.
When your search intent is to find a local business of location, Google’s algorithm detects this and shows you results located nearby.
When your search is related to recent events or news stories, you get a news box section in your search results pages. You can submit your site to Google’s News Publisher Center and the algorithm will crawl your page if it was accepted.
These are questions that are similar and commonly related to the question asked in the query. Clicks on the “people also asl” sections are increasing. Your page needs to be on the first page of the SERPs in order to be in the “related questions” section.
Four or five-star reviews are the most commonly seen review results in SERPs. You can add a plugin to your website to provide reviews for your business that Google can find, but you still gotta get good reviews.
Shopping results in SERPs are most common for transactional queries. They appear at the top of the page and usually come from pages with high-quality images, impressive sales results for the item, and competitive pricing.
Sitelinks results display the internal links of a particular page in order to give users faster access to the links they’re looking for. It’s important to have a well-structured site in order for Google to be able to crawl and extract your links from your site.
Although Tweets are not always present, Google has included them in search engine results pages since 2015.
Video results show up at the top of related search engine results pages. In order for your videos to rank here, you need to make sure your content is relevant and that the description, surrounding text, and title of your video are accurate and descriptive.
The More You Know
Search Engine Results Pages are going to continue to evolve and change in order to serve users the best and most relevant results possible. As an SEO or marketer, or even as a business owner or CEO, staying updated on these changes will help you stay ahead of the curve and produce content that is tailored to answer your users’ questions and needs, and rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs).