Have you ever gone on a search engine like Google and searched for anything? Of course, you did. In the past, people had less means of knowledge, but since humans have developed so much in technology, we have multiple search engines where we just type a word or phrase and all the results are there. When you typed a word or phrase and got the results in the form of the title of the article or blog on a page, are you aware of what that page is? Do you know its name? Has it ever occurred to you how it works? Why is one website on top and the other below? Why is there a small ‘ad’ written with one and the other doesn’t?
If it did occur to you and you are curious to know about it, let me explain. A search engine result page (SERP) is a page that a user receives when he or she searches something on the internet or search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. There can be two types of results displayed on SERP: an organic result, which is shown by the search engine itself on the basis of its algorithm and relevance to the query, or a sponsored result, in which businesses pay search engines to appear on top of SERP results.
What types of queries are asked on the internet?
Before you get to know about the search engine result page, let’s understand what queries are there on the basis of which the search engine result page shows the results. There are endless topics and queries in the world to cover, and even more queries. In the era when anything and everything is checked and searched on the internet first, the queries are divided into mainly three types:
- Informational Queries: Informational queries are queries in which the user seeks some kind of information like background, history, and facts about a specific topic or person. Like ‘SEO Services for Restaurants.
- Navigational Queries: Navigational queries are those queries that appear when a user tries to find results with the help of a website or URL, sometimes incomplete, and wishes the search engines to complete the URL and provide the desired results.
- Transactional Queries: Transactional queries are those queries that are tend to be searched for mostly when making a purchase of products and services.
Components of SERP Affecting the Ranking Algorithm:
There can be different and unique features of search engines, and they work according to that, but there are some features and components of search engines that are common to all. The detailed explanation is given below:
- Organic Results: Organic results are the non-paid results that display on the search engine result page on the basis of the search engine's algorithmic assessment due to relevance to the query. Organic results are a result of the most relevant title, quality, and quantity of the web page. Search engines try to pick the most suitable and perfect results for the query, and that’s why rankings are not fixed. The rankings are likely to fluctuate with constantly changing updates and algorithms.
- Paid Results/Sponsored Results: Paid search results, also known as subscribed results, are those results that are shown by the search engines after being paid by advertisers for showing their webpage at the top. Paid results appear on the top of the page with a small tag ‘ad’ on the left of the sitelink. For making the decision about paid search engine results, search engines like Google consider some factors like the accuracy of the content, the quality of the page and ad itself, the bidding amount, the budget, and ad extensions.
- Featured Snippet: A featured snippet, also known as an answer box, is a short section of the whole content that appears at the top of some SERP, providing the user with a short, subtle, and quick answer to their query without the need to click on any website.
- Rich Snippet: A rich snippet is an expanded form of the standard snippet, offering more knowledge and an overview of the content. A rich snippet is designed to make the result more informative and visually appealing.
- Knowledge Graph: A knowledge graph, also known as a knowledge panel, is an informational box appearing on the right side of the SERP that aims to enhance the search experience by providing additional information like facts, details, and connections between the entities.
- Local Pack: Local packs are the results of the local queries, which means giving a result list for the query in a specific area. Suppose if you search 'restaurants near me’ you’ll get a list of restaurants and information like name, address, timings, and menu in a box (local pack) of the area.
- Image Pack: The image pack or image results are that section of SERP that provides the results of the query in visual form. Users can also drag an image and get their results. Suppose you search for ‘colourful doodles’ and get multiple drawings of doodles.
- Video Results: Video results are one of the long-established features of the SERP, in which users receive results in the form of relevant videos. Suppose you search ‘how to bake a cake’ and receive multiple answers to the query.
- News Box: The news box is that section of the SERP that is dedicated to the news of each kind of industry and topic. The news box is filled with the latest knowledge and news about the relevant topics of query. Suppose you want to know about ‘late news of cricket’ and SERP will be filled with multiple different and trending news stories.
- People Also Ask (PAA): PAA is defined as that feature of SERP that provides additional relevant and important answers to related questions in the query. Suppose if you search for ‘Holi 2024', you’ll also find related questions and answers to Holi on the very same page.
- Top Stories: It’s a feature of SERP that is designed to highlight and provide quick access to the search query. It is mainly designed for queries like events, festivals, breaking news, or trending topics.
- Shopping Results: Shopping results are a specialised section that displays information about the results of the query. It shows different businesses, prices, and product descriptions for the product query of the user making a purchase.
- Sitelinks: Sitelinks are those additional and relevant links that appear below the main URL of the SERP. It’s a quick way for users to find related web results for the related queries.
- Twitter Results: Twitter results are the results on the SERP of the display and content of tweets for the related query.
How does SERP work?
The result page a user gets on a search engine, once a query is searched on the search engine, is the search engine result page. It has many results rankings that are differently affected by multiple key factors listed below:
- Content Quality: The quality and relevance of the content are two of the most important factors when it comes to SERP ranking.
- Coverage Of the Topic: Making sure that your content covers the query of the user is essential for a high ranking in SERP.
- Page Authority: Page authority is one of the most important factors for search engine ranking. Page authority includes factors like loading speed, content quality, and the user’s behaviour.
- Backlinks: Backlinks, being one of the most important factors when it comes to digital marketing and SEO, play an important role in SERP, as quality and authoritative backlinks are likely to add value to rankings in SERP.
- Keyword Usage: High-quality keywords are the backbone of any content. The use of relevant keywords in titles, headers, and throughout the content is important for SERP ranking.
- Page Speed: Webpages with low speed are considered poor quality and tend to lower the SERP rankings; make sure your page’s speed is good.
- User Engagement Metrics: metrics like CTR (click-through rate) and bounce rates are important when considering SERP rankings as they show relevance and value.
- Security: Websites like HTTP are highly secured and highly preferred by search engines, leading to the security and privacy of the users, which results in a positive ranking of SERP.
- Freshness Of Content: Search engines are likely to rank on the basis of fresh, unique, and latest content that can be trending soon.
The procedure for SERP generation:
There is a whole procedure for SERP generation divided into various steps, given below:
- User Query: The very first step of the process is when a user searches for a query on a search engine.
- Processing Of Queries: Once a query is searched, search engines identify the type of the query, keywords, etc.
- Indexing: Search engines maintain a vast index of web pages that they have crawled and analysed. The index contains information about the content, keywords, and metadata of each page.
- Ranking Pages: Once the search engine has found its results, it starts ranking on the basis of the various factors. The search engine employs a ranking algorithm to evaluate the relevance and quality of indexed pages in relation to the user's query.
- Displaying Results: Once ranking is done, the search engine displays various results on the basis of ranking (some at the top, followed by some others).
- SERP Feature Integration: Once the result is displayed, the search engine is likely to personalise the features with presentations such as snippets and knowledge graphs.
- User Interaction: The last step is to measure the user’s interaction with the results (time spent on a webpage, click rate of webpages, and other components like backlinks).
If you want your business or product to rank highly on SERP, there are some things that you should keep in mind. Always keep your content relevant, fresh, and relevant; use on-page and off-page optimisation; local SEO; and, most importantly, keep updated on the latest algorithms of search engines.