SERP 101: Understanding Google’s Search Engine Results Page

SERP 101: Understanding Google’s Search Engine Results Page

If you don’t know what a SERP is, or you’d simply like to have a more thorough understanding of them, then this guide will greatly assist you.

Everyone knows that if you’re not on the first page of Google, you essentially don’t exist. While that makes it seem like most companies don’t stand a chance, the fact that people constantly search for different things makes it possible for everyone to get noticed.

Each page that a group of keywords brings up is known as a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). In order for a company to learn how to show up in more Google SERPs, they need to have a better understanding of what they are and how they work, which is what we’re here to cover with you today.

What Exactly Is a SERP?

Even though we’ve already defined SERPs, there’s more to it than that. If everyone who searched for the term “tennis shoes” received the same results across the board, there wouldn’t be much to SERPs, and only the top shoe companies would dominate the first page.

However, SERPs are more dynamic than that. When creating a results page, Google takes a user’s location, social setting, and prior browsing history into account. That means one person who types “tennis shoes” might get a local shoe store in their SERPs, while another gets a website that makes shoes specifically for tennis. You can use these variations to your advantage to better target your desired audience through their natural SERPs.

What Are the Two Types of SERPs?

If you didn’t already know, there are two main sections to almost every SERP. There are organic SERPs, and usually, there are paid SERPs sections. Both are based on the keywords typed into the search bar, but they work in different ways.

Organic SERPs

Organic SERPs are the ones that make up the majority of the search results that a person sees. They’re determined by Google’s search engine algorithm. Most of the details of this program are widely unknown, so it’s not exactly easy to game the system. Even if people figure out a cheap way to rise through the ranks, Google often changes the algorithm, so that won’t last long.

Within the category of organic SERPS, there are three subcategories: informational, transactional, and navigational. Informational SERPs arise when someone is looking for more details on a subject. If you have a blog, those pages will appear in these types of searches. Transactional SERPs are strictly about making a purchase. Your home, products, and services pages will most likely show up here.

The final type, navigational, might be the most important. Once people have discovered you and visit your website often, they’ll start searching for you directly. No one takes the time to memorize a company’s URL. They just search your name and click on your link in the SERPs. However, if your site doesn’t rank for your own name, people will have a difficult time finding you and likely give up quickly.

Paid SERPs

On the other side of things, we have paid SERPs. These primarily show up with transaction-based organic results, but they can occasionally show up in other ones. They will always be above the first organic result and typically use pictures and attention-grabbing phrases to draw people in.

However, because each one is labeled as an ad, viewers know that these aren’t the official results. Despite that, they are still quite effective and are a great way to receive some quick attention to your brand.

How Do You Work Your Way Up the SERPs?

The final part of understanding Google’s search engine results pages is learning how to work your way up them. You’ll want to work on your company’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for organic results. For paid results though, you’ll need to look into potential Pay-Per-Click (PPC) options.

SEO Practices

If you want those organic SERPs, you’ll need to work on SEO, but you must do it the right way. Bettering your website’s SEO isn’t about trying to cheat the system like we previously mentioned. Instead, you’ll need to produce quality content, include some links to other trusted sites, and keep visitors on your site for as long as possible. These things will make your site look better in Google’s eyes, slowly raising you through the SERPs.

Since this process takes some time, you’ll want to ensure you avoid some of the more common technical SEO issues that can hurt your rankings. Too many of these can quickly tank your website, forcing you to start from the beginning. While this might make SEO sound like a scary path, it’s worth the effort because once you’re on top, you’ll be there for a long time to come.

PPC Campaigns

Paid results are pretty much the opposite. PPC campaigns can get you to the top of the SERPs really quickly, but they’ll only last for as long as you keep putting money into them. That’s because you have to pay money every time someone clicks your link. Plus, if you’re trying to pay for highly contested SERPs, there’s no guarantee your site will even be in the results. In the end, it’s a gamble, but some companies find it worthwhile.