Serving Up Results with SERPs
When talking about web traffic and SEO, there are a lot of S-words and acronyms to remember. I’ve recently talked about schema markups, or code snippets that tell Google how to display information in their results page. Today, I want to break down the mystery behind SEO a little further by diving into SERPS.
What is a SERP?
A SERP, or Search Engine Results Page is the response that comes up when using Google or another search engine of your choice. Nearly everyone who has used the internet has landed on a SERP at one time or another. Chances are, you found this article by running a search on SERPs and selecting the link to this post from a SERP. This link is what we call a “SERP feature.”
SERP Evolution? Only a Matter of Time.
Do you ever use AI virtual assistants such as Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant to find out the weather or sports updates? Those answers are also being pulled from SERPs. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule, like asking Siri the meaning of life. Silly responses like that are typically just pre-programmed Easter eggs that the programmers added for fun (or marketing purposes).
Types of SERP Features
Organic, Paid, Rich Snippets, Universal Results (images, etc), Knowledge Graph are most popular. The full list is pretty lengthy.
The two types of SERP features you probably hear about the most are paid and organic results. That is because they are the most common.
When most people visualize search results, they likely immediately think of the organic results. These natural listings appear based on your search engine’s algorithm. It takes words, images, and links from pages into account before serving up results.
Aside from the little ad icon next to the page title, paid results are nearly identical to organic results. Most paid results display at the top of SERPs, but more are occasionally tucked at bottom of pages. The number of paid results that display on a SERP really depends on how “hot” or high ranking the keywords in your search are.
However, making it to “page 1” doesn’t guarantee clicks. These days, there are plenty of ways people can dress up their SERP features without paying Google a single cent.
Typical results only display the page title, a meta description, and the page URL. Rich snippets are SERP results with a piece of “flair” attached. Examples of rich snippets include navigation breadcrumbs, star ratings, pricing, and other bits of information.
Want to dive deeper into rich snippets? I go into a lot more detail on how structured data translates into rich results in this previous blog post.
Other Types of Rich Results
Featured snippets are the larger results you sometimes see at the top of the SERP. They’re larger and display a short section of text from the page. Though often in paragraph form, many popular featured snippets feature lists or tables instead.
Despite these showing up first in the results, featured snippets don’t always guarantee clicks. Answer a user’s question too well and they will lose their incentive to read the rest of your page. This is what experts refer to as “no-click searches.”
Rich cards are the next level up from rich snippets. They make more of an impact on-page, but still don’t loom quite as large as knowledge graphs. Rich cards display key information front and center, usually at or towards the top of the SERP. They include the same information as rich snippets, but takes it a step further by also displaying photos, audio/video players, and more. Popular examples of rich cards include recipes, articles, and products.
Knowledge Graphs are currently what I like to call the “final evolution” of rich results. They typically take over the side of the SERP and include everything you could find in a rich card, and then a lot, lot more. You are most likely to see a knowledge graph when searching for a person, place (including small businesses!), or well-known products.
The videos, images, maps, shopping, and news articles that appear in search results are considered Universal Results. These boxed elements are pulled in from other search “tabs” to supplement the organic results so users find what they need faster than ever. This is why we’ve seen a greater emphasis on properly naming and tagging images in modern SEO strategies.
How Do I Increase My Ranking?
The answer to this question is not as cut and dry as we may like. Google uses a very complex algorithm to select what pops up first. To add to the fun, they are continually making changes to modify how the algorithm works on a seemingly random schedule.
Because of this, there are a lot of “experts” out there. Finding the right information can be challenging at times, which is what inspired this journey down the SERP rabbit hole today.
If you’re like me and always hungry for knowledge, you may be tempted to run a few more searches on the interworkings of SEO, SERPs. There are TONS of great resources out there, but many can be overwhelming for those less tech savvy.
That’s why we put together a learn-at-your-own-pace program that guides you to a better SEO program in 30 days. You can check out the SEO Blueprint: 30 Days to Better SEO course here.
start building your SEO tool kit
There are many things to keep in mind as you try to improve your SEO. Where do you begin? With this simple SEO Tool Kit from Roundpeg.
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