What is a SERP and Why Should You Care? 

Over the past few decades, the Internet has grown into the largest collection of knowledge that has ever existed. Nowadays, you can find practically anything on the Internet. This is an incredible feat for the consumer, but a difficult hurdle for many businesses and brands hoping to make a splash in the digital world. 

It has become increasingly difficult to differentiate your business or brand’s website from the rest. Consequently, companies spend a substantial amount of money on improving their search engine optimization (SEO) so that their website can be among the top results on search engine result pages (SERP). In fact, each year, companies spend more than $65 billion on SEO. SERPs have become the primary focus of this massive industry. In this article, we will tell you all the reasons why it should be a primary focus for your business as well. 

serp ranking

First, What is a SERP? 

SERP is a term that refers to a search engine results page. When you look something up on Google, Google provides you with a SERP. This is the list of all of the websites it recommends you click on to answer the question you searched.

Every SERP is unique, even for search queries performed on the same search engine using the same keywords or phrases. This is because all search engines customize their search experience as it pertains to an individual user. This may surprise you, as you might have noticed that when you and your friend both looked something up, it seemed as if the same search results came up for the two of you. Yet, the reality is that search engines such as Google tailor their SERPs for users based on a variety of factors. These include physical location, browsing history, and social settings. Even if two SERPs seem identical, there are always subtle differences. 

Over the years, SERPs have evolved significantly as a result of an influx of experiments done by large search engines such as Google and Bing in hopes of offering a more fluid, complete experience each time a question is asked. Today, they exist as one of the most important factors in the business world. 

The Two Types of SERP Results 

A typical SERP page contains two types of content, organic results and paid results. 

Organic Search Results 

Organic results are listings of web pages that appear directly as a result of the search engine’s algorithm. Search engine optimization (SEO) is geared towards improving upon this. SEO specializes in optimizing web content so that it may appear higher up amongst a search engine algorithm’s rankings. 

Organic search results in Google often include knowledge graphs, also known as knowledge boxes, which include information from sources across the web to provide answers to the most common questions about that particular topic. For example, when you search for a famous person, such as Lebron James, you’ll see a large box on the right side of the screen. It will include things like his age, height, salary, spouse, and recent in-game statistics. That is Lebron James’s knowledge box. 

Some SERPs include more organic results than others depending on the word or phrase that is searched. There are three different types of searches: informational searches, navigational searches, and transactional searches. 


Informational Searches

Informational searches are searches in which the user hopes to find more information about a particular topic. Let’s go back to our example of Lebron James. If someone were to look up Lebron James’ career statistics, it wouldn’t make much sense to display 5 or 6 different advertisements on the SERP. Searches such as these are deemed to have low commercial intent, meaning that someone looking up “Lebron James’ career statistics” is most likely not in the market to purchase something. Oftentimes, these searches are met with knowledge boxes. 

Navigational Searches

Navigational searches are searches in which a user hopes to arrive at a particular website as a result of their search. For example, if I wanted to arrive at a particular website but I couldn’t quite remember what the URL was, this kind of search would be considered navigational. 

Transactional Searches

Transactional searches are searches that most likely will result in a variety of advertisements, also known as paid results. Unlike informational searches, transactional searches are deemed to have high commercial intent. In other words, the search query may include a word or phrase that gives a search engine algorithm the impression that the user wants to make a purchase. Let’s go back to the Lebron James example one more time. If I were to look up “cheapest Lebron James shoes”, this would most likely be considered a transactional search. 

search results

Paid Search Results 

Unlike organic results, paid results are those that appear as a result of the purchase of an advertisement directly from the search engine. Over the years, paid results have become more and more prominent among search engines, appearing at both the top and side of many SERPs. They may come in text form or along with photos. 

Say you were to search up the word “laptops” on Google. A variety of paid results will undoubtedly come up. The top few results will most likely include a website link with a little yellow marker with the word “Ad” next to it. This highlights the fact that it is a paid result. Some of these paid results will also include extensions that allow customers to navigate directly to the page they are inquiring about. 

The first couple of results that include this yellow marker are considered “prime positioning” for advertisers and are typically pay-per-click advertisements. Paid results also include photo-based advertisements. These advertisements are known as “Shopping Ads”, which is a feature that Google offers on its AdWords platform. This option allows a retailer to display their product alongside information including availability, user reviews, and special offers. 

How are Organic Results Ranked in SERPs? 

How do search engine algorithms actually rank their results? Google’s algorithm looks at two things when deciding its organic result rankings: authority and relevancy. Google creates these rankings based on information gathered by its search engine “spiders”. These spiders have been specifically coded with a variety of different algorithms to determine how well a particular page can answer the search query. They take into account the quality of content, keywords, optimization, and backlinks of a given site and forge their ranking based on which one checks the most boxes as it relates to the question asked. 

Google engineers are constantly updating the spiders to improve their algorithms. This makes sure that the best websites show up right away for their users. Despite this truth, there is nothing in particular that you can do with 100% certainty to get the number one SERP ranking on Google. 

what is serp

How are Paid Search Results Positioned on SERPs?

Unlike organic search results, which can be improved through SEO, the process for improving paid search result positioning on SERPs is a little different. Many paid search results that appear on SERPs are pay-per-click advertisements. These focus solely on the investment of an advertising budget to achieve the best positioning possible. Yet simply throwing money at advertising campaigns isn’t all there is to it. 

Paid search results function as an auction. Advertisers will bid on different keywords that they think their target audience is most likely to search for. The positioning of the advertisement on a SERP will differ depending on how much the advertiser wants to spend.

Why are SERPs Important? 

Ultimately, the whole point of creating a website is to drive traffic to your business or brand. The best way to do that is to rank highly amongst SERPs. You could have the best website in the world, with excellent content and a great design, but if no one is seeing it, all that work will be for nothing. Thus, it is imperative that you utilize search engine optimization to improve your organic search results and clever advertising tactics to improve your paid search results so that your website will be among the top of SERPs. 

A High SERP Ranking Might Just Explode Your Business 

You’ve put in all the work to make your business the best it can possibly be. Your website looks beautiful, your products or services are fantastic, yet for some reason, the success of your business has not followed. A high SERP ranking might be just what you need to drive more traffic to your website and take your business to the next level. Take advantage of SEO Design Chicago’s many SEO services and you will be well on your way to ranking at the top of Google! 

FAQs about What is a SERP?:

  • What is a SERP in SEO? 
  • How do I check my SERP? 
  • Why is SERP important? 
  • How do I improve my SERP ranking? 
  • How do SERPs rank paid results?

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