Your Guide to Google Search Engine Results Page
If talking to marketers leaves your head swimming with acronyms, you aren’t alone. Digital marketers love to toss around acronyms like “SERP." Wondering what SERP is or why it matters? Then you’ve come to the right place. A search engine results page, or SERP, is a page generated by search engines in response to user search queries. SERPs display to the user the results or sites relevant to a search.
SERP features make user searches easier and more direct. SERP gives users on-page content that provides answers to their queries without requiring them to click on organic results. On-page SERP features are optimal for the user, but they make it more difficult for marketers to get noticed in important organic search results, regardless of their ranking.
What Does SERP Stand For?
As mentioned above, a SERP is the web page you see when using a search engine. No SERP is alike, even when the same keywords are used as search engines are customized for each user. SERPs usually include organic and paid results. They can also contain images, videos, featured snippets and location-specific results.
A long-standing marketing joke runs something like this: “Where’s the best place to hide a dead body? Page two of Google.” Moving away from the morbid analogy, the point of the joke is nobody wants to be found on page two. You want your efforts to pay off and see you rank above the following:
- Paid Results
- Universal Results
- Rich Snippets
- Knowledge Graph data
- Local SERP
- Vertical Search
- Google SERP Tools
Paid results include sponsored posts and ads. These appear at the top of the SERP. It's imperative to know Google differentiates organic from paid with the provision of sponsored labels by using visual cues, including boxing it off in a separate area of the page.
Google uses Universal Search, its method of incorporating results from its other vertical columns, like Google News and Google Images, into search results. Common universal results examples include Google's use of featured snippets. These deliver an answer in a box located at the top of the page. This allows users to find information without clicking on organic results.
A rich snippet is considered rich as it contains more information than a normal snippet. Rich snippets are recognized as any organic search results providing more information than the page title, the URL and the meta description. Site operators can combine structured data markup with their HTML. This helps search engines understand websites while optimizing for rich snippets.
Knowledge Graph Data:
If a search has only one likely answer — "Who wrote the Divine Comedy?" for example, or "What is the weather?" — Google surfaces a Knowledge Graph. This is a box that pulls the answer to a query directly from organic results and puts it in a box at the top of the page.
Local SERPs appear whenever search intent implicitly relates to location. If a user types in "movie theatre", "mall", or the name of a specific product sold in stores, Google surfaces locations near the user that match their query. The results will be shown on a map.
If your search requires Google to pull from different categories, including news, videos or images, your search appears in the box at the top of the page. This is a vertical search. Topical searches are the most common type of vertical search. When you search for "Halifax, Nova Scotia,” Google delivers a "Things to do in Halifax" box, along with a "Halifax in the News" box.
Google SERP Tools:
Once you understand the various SERP features, you can look at how to improve your ranking. You want to capture a feature like universal results or local SERP. Fortunately, a variety of tools exist to help you evaluate your current standing in SERP, compare keyword ranking to competitors and ultimately figure out how to rank higher:
WhatsMySerp offers advanced SEO tools that scan and analyze your rankings for different keywords. You can find out your overall website ranking on SERP. You can search up to 25 keywords at once, making WhatsMySerp ideal for a quick-and-dirty overview of how your site ranks in search engines.
RankWatch analyzes URLs, keywords, backlinks and other SEO elements. You can compare competitor websites and the keywords they rank for. This allows you to strategize how you can outrank other businesses in search results.
Price: (US) $29/month
Not for those new to SEO, SERPBook is a useful organizational tool for digital marketers. It allows for assigning groups of keywords to individual clients, scheduling which reports you want to be sent to which clients and enabling clients to log into your account and check their ratings.
Price: (US) $30/month
A favourite for digital marketers everywhere, MozPro offers strategic advice on ranking higher, a major benefit of the tool. MozPro crawls your site code to find technical issues to help search engines understand your site and rank higher.
Price: (US) $99/month
5. Moz Local
61% of local searches result in purchases. This means it’s crucial you ensure your site is optimized for local SEO. Moz Local scours fifteen sources, including Google and Facebook, to check out how your business ranks locally.
Another popular site, SemRush helps you compete for SERP features including local SEO, featured snippets, Knowledge Graph data and Google News. It determines which keywords your competitors are ranking for within these SERP features.
Price: (US) $99.95/month
If you are overwhelmed by SERP, take a breath. SerpWatcher is an easy-to-use dashboard that delivers an overview of your SERP performance. You can create lists of custom keywords and track data on those alone. You won't have to worry about the whole dead body problem with SerpWatcher as you will be automatically emailed when your keywords fall to the second page of search results.
Price: (US) $29.90/month
Take the Next Steps in Your SEO Efforts
We hope our look at SERP has answered some questions and given you some solid ideas. Check out our previous articles on on-page, off-page, and technical SEO to understand why you need to include SEO in your marketing efforts. If you are wondering how to take your website and SEO efforts to the next level, contact the experts at Alley Kat Web Consulting today for your free needs assessment and don’t let the competition get ahead!