SERP 101: Understanding Search Engine Rank Pages

If you are delving into the digital world you have probably heard a lot about search engine optimization (SEO) and its importance to your overall success.  Yet, the more you read the more often you may be coming across another term: SERP.  SERP is also known as search engine rank page and this is a hot topic among those utilizing the digital space for business because the better your ranking on the SERP the more exposure your brand has.

Why does SERP matter?  Because search engines are responsible for 93% of your web traffic! Your goal is to appear as close to the top of the first page of the SERP because the first five organic results get 67.60% of all of the clicks for any given search.

What is a Search Engine Rank Page or SERP?

Wondering exactly what a SERP is?  If so, you have unknowingly utilized a SERP countless times.  Search engine results pages are the web pages that a user sees when they search for something online using a search engine, such as Google.  The user enters a search term, also known in the SEO world as a keyword, and the search engine returns a search engine results page or SERP.

It’s important to understand that every SERP is unique.  This is because all search engines today customize the user experience based on a variety of factors such as the location of the user, browsing history, and even social settings.  While two SERPs can look the same, there are usually subtle differences.  The overall appearance of search engine results pages is always changing as the major players such as Google and Bing are working to offer their users the most personalized, intuitive results.

Organic SERP

Search engine results pages usually feature two types of content: organic and paid results.  Organic results are those that appear as a result of the specific search engine’s algorithm.  Search engine optimization is an important component to optimizing the content on any website to help it rank more highly in organic search results.

Below is a SERP that shows organic results:

Organic SERP

You’ll notice that to the right of the search results, there is a box of information.  This is known as the Knowledge Graph or Knowledge Box.  Google introduced the Knowledge Graph in 2012 and has some of the key information that users are looking for concerning the keywords searched.  In this case, it is information about George Washington.  Some SERPs will not feature a Knowledge Graph whatsoever.

When you start analyzing SERPs more closely, you’ll notice that some will have more organic results than others.  The type of search that you do will often have an impact on how many paid and organic results you receive.

There are three basic types of internet search:

  • Informational
  • Navigational
  • Transactional

Informational searches are searches in which the user is seeking information on a specific topic, such as George Washington in the example above.  In these instances, ads are not placed in the search query as the user isn’t looking to buy anything and just wants information.

Navigational searches are those in which the user is attempting to find a specific website through their search.  For instance, a user may be searching for a website that they cannot remember the URL for.

Transactional searches are those when paid results are more likely to be included on the SERP.  This is because transactional searches are more likely to have commercial intent.  Users might use words such as “shop”, “buy”, “find”, or “near me”.

Paid SERP

Paid results are different from organic results in an important way: the results that are displayed have been purchased by an advertiser. Paid advertisements have come a long way in the past few years.  In the past, advertisers had to hope that the user would read their text ads that would be displayed to the right of organic results.  Yet, today paid results take many forms, catering to the needs of the advertiser and often using pictures to capture the attention of the user.

PAID SERP

In this SERP example for tennis shoes, you’ll see that all of the results are paid.  Right under the search bar are what are known as shopping ads.  These ads allow retailers to provide product information to be displayed along with pictures, ratings, and prices.

Just below that are typical PPC, or pay-per-click, ads.  These ads allow prospective customers to navigate directly to a retailer’s website.   The map is the only thing on this search result that is not explicitly paid for by an advertiser.  The map shown is based on the user’s location and will feature listings for local businesses that have optimized their Google My Business listing.

SERP Rankings and Search Algorithms

Now that you know what a SERP is and how search results are displayed, you are probably curious as to how you get your website to be on relevant SERPs organically.  It’s important to note that organic results and listings are indexed by the search engine, such as Google, on several factors, known as ranking signals.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Much to the annoyance of Search Engine Optimization Specialists around the world, the search algorithm used by Google utilizes hundreds of ranking factors, most of which are not explicitly known outside of Google.  The algorithm is always changing.  For instance, in the past, a website needed to have many backlinks.  Today, backlinks are still important, but the focus has shifted from the total number of backlinks to the quality of backlinks.

Search engine optimization is an important part of having your website displayed on the first pages of the SERP.  Optimizing websites aids in more visibility and this is done both through on-page and off-page SEO techniques.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is a term that is used to refer to best practices in website content and structuring.  This includes considering keyword utilization and optimization, creation of metadata, proper usage of tags, and the use of clean HTML code and more.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is also important to appear in relevant SERPs. Off-page SEO may include link building and exchange, content marketing, optimized directory listings, and the creation of online communities on social media platforms.

SEO is a beast and far too much to go into when discussing SERP, but it is an important part of where you appear on these all-important results pages.  The whole goal of SEO is to achieve higher rankings from an organic perspective.  This can be done alone or in conjunction with paid advertisements.

PPC and SERP

While organic SERP utilizes SEO, PPC focuses on utilizing an advertising budget to achieve positioning on the search engine results pages. Yet, it is not as simple as paying money and having your name and company information show up in search results.  Instead, paid search ads are essentially an auction.  Advertisers bid on keywords that are relevant to their business and will trigger a display of their ads when their target audience uses those terms.

There are a lot of options for the display of advertising and where you appear in the ads section will depend on your budget and bidding strategies.  Paid searches are as complex as SEO, but they will allow you to be prominent on the SERP sooner than organic efforts alone might.

Need Help Improving Your Position on the SERP?  Convergent1 Can Help!

We understand that search engine results pages, SEO, and paid advertising can be overwhelming.  Many business owners have a website built not understanding that their website doesn’t work for them unless they gain exposure.  Convergent1 has more than 20 years helping business owners just like you.  We have a time-tested method that helps businesses see their position on the SERP rise rapidly, bringing them more relevant traffic.  Contact us today or schedule a free, no-obligation consultation if you would like to discuss our approach to boosting business through the improvement of the SERP position.  We look forward to working with you!

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