Understanding Google Search Engine Results Pages
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are where your website will either be discovered or lost in the sea of millions of results. In conjunction with that, there is a vast array of SERP features that are key to being found in today’s competitive market. Google is always evolving and bringing new variables into the equation, and with billions of searches conducted every day, keeping up can be frustrating. Because of this reality, below is a clarity breakdown that will remove the confusion, help you better understand the features, and learn how to leverage them.
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
A SERP is a page that renders search results after a search is conducted on Google. There are countless variables that are taken into consideration after a user clicks “search” and when the results page appears. So many elements that the same search will not necessarily render the same results. Overall, there are four aspects of SERPs to consider:
- Organic Listings – Results that appear on the SERPs naturally as a result of best SEO practices and Google’s algorithms.
- Sponsored Results – Results specially placed on the SERPs that provide an advantage over non-paid results.
- Rich Features – Provides a visual aspect to SERPs such as snippets and carousels.
- Google Knowledge – Results that are displayed on the right side of the SERPs that include snippets of information for each link.
Each feature has been carefully designed by Google to attract your eyes and entice you to click on a link. While Google controls how search engine results appear naturally, we do have some control over where your pages appear.
The well-known blue link in Google search results followed by a snippet of information below is an example of a standard organic result. Google cares about dates and whether or not the page is recent. A search for a current technical issue will not likely land your 2009 web page anywhere near the top of the results. Reviews are another considerable factor in results when it comes to businesses. Your rating as a business can make or break the chances of someone clicking on your article. Google also cares a great deal about visual content such as images or video, so if you’re posting something like a TED Talk, the thumbnail should be inviting enough to foster clicks.
There are two types of sponsored results; Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads and Shopping Results. Every time someone clicks on one of these ads, the advertisers pay. You can identify one of these sponsored results when you see “Ad” posted next to the link.
Shopping Results, the second kind of Sponsored Result, is specific to an eCommerce related search. Similar to text ads, businesses can pay for privileged spots in SERPs. What is unique about this type of result is the thumbnail, price, and rating of the item in a carousel right at the top of the results, making it easy for the user to be brought straight to the product.
To enhance the search experience, Google provides a parade of visual features. Searching for news will land you a carousel at the top of the SERP with top stories, or if you are searching for restaurants, movies, and so forth. It is crucial to keep such factors in mind when building your sites content to stand out amongst the crowd.
Google Knowledge Panels
Powered by Google Knowledge Graph, these panels will frequently appear on the right side of Google searches. Searching for a person, place, or thing will render rich information and also provide relationships to related persons and places. You can even find stock information or affiliated brands via these searches, which can be useful if you have close ties with someone who is frequently searched for.
Striving to rank higher in search results should always be something you are actively trying to do in today’s ever-evolving digital age. After all, optimizing your site to satisfy Google’s features will keep you in the race for a click, and that, in turn, will help you rise above the competition. In summary, with a strong understanding of the SERP and a little time spent learning your corner of the marketplace, making it to the top of the listings just became far more realistic than you might have thought.