As we have learnt in the last tutorial, search engines produce search engine results pages (SERPs) based on the queries users enter. In this tutorial, we will look at these SERPs in detail. SERPs display a paginated list of results of websites and/or web pages based on the queries that the users enter in the search bar on the homepage of the search engine.
Every SERP has different sets of paginated results. However, its basic structure always comprises the following elements: Paid Results, Organic results and SERP Features. So how are these elements generated?
Google and other search engines charge an upfront fee to display these results. They can be visible on the top, left or bottom of the organic results. Business pay for impressions (cost-per-mile) or clicks (pay per click).
As search engines get an upfront fee to display paid results, they appear on the top of the search results. Unlike previously, paid results take a broad range of forms that include both texts and graphics. Text-based ads usually have a yellow symbol just below the Title. Ads with images can be located on the right of the text-based ads.
Results generated from the Google’s index (database) are organic results. Search engines generate organic results based on their own unique algorithms, which delve into a over 200 ranking factors to decide which web site will rank at what position. Organic results usually follow paid ads and don’t have that yellow symbol.
SERP features are elements designed to enhance user experience. They can be paid or organic. Main objective of such features is to provide readily available information to the users, for which they don’t have to even click once.
There are quite a few unique SERP features as you can see below:
Knowledge Graph picks up answers to most commonly asked questions related to the topic and displays it in easy to comprehend grid on one side of the SERP. The user gets a lot of relevant information about the topic by going through the Knowledge Graph.
Featured content of top-ranking web pages of a SERP appear on featured snippet in the form of text or text with videos and/or images. They usually appear on top of the search results, however at times they may appear below a few other results as well.
Knowledge Card offers a precise answer to a Know Simple query, such as number of states in the U.S., age of Robert De Niro and so on. It usually appears on the top of the SERP.
Image Packs are groups of images on a topic related to the query. When we click on any of them, Google Images page based on that query. Images Pack can appear on top or anywhere below other results in the SERP.
Top Stories display recently published news or articles on the topic. They usually appear on top of the SERP or just below images.
Common questions are set of questions users ask to Google related to the query. This feature appears anywhere in the middle or bottom of the SERP.
Shopping results show advertisements related to products associated with that query. For example if the user wants to buy comic books, he will get shopping results of e-commerce stores or sites selling comic books.
A box showing recent tweets from the entity in the query is a tweet box.
Links to other parts of a web page or other pages of the site are listed here. They usually appear on top of the organic results along with the link of the official website of that brand or entity.
This section features videos related to the topic in the query. They usually appear at the bottom of organic results.
Data collated from numerous researches has confirmed that results on the first page of any SERP get the highest traction of users who issue the query. More traction means more leads and more business. Secondly, very few users search beyond the second page. Instead, they prefer to change the query itself.
As paid results are placed above organic results, SEO experts strive to ensure that organic results related to search queries relevant to their business continue to appear on top of organic results. Keeping this objective in perspective, experts design, implement and regularly improve upon optimization strategies while keeping the requirements and preferences of the brand or business they are working for in perspective.
Experts also work on a majority of these SERP features and get their brands listed. These include Featured Snippets, Knowledge Panels, People Also Ask boxes, Top Stories, Tweet Boxes, Shopping Results, Site Links and to some extent Image Packs. Ideally, as researches have confirmed, having a unique strategy to work upon for all these features is most likely beneficial as it enhances chances of beating innumerable others in the fray.
Text-based results typically depend upon crisp titles and up-to-the-point meta-descriptions to catch the eye of readers. In addition, URLs are drafted in such a way that they convey what exactly the page is about. Finally, having a Google My Business listing for far-reaching engagement with existing and prospective clients is essential.
In nutshell, the moment the user enters a query and presses the enter button, he interacts with a SERP. So, it’s essential for SEO experts to work on all its elements and get the required traction for the brand or business they work for.