If you’re vaguely familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services or SEO marketing, then you’ve no doubt stumbled across the word “SERP” from time to time.
In fact, for business owners or marketing managers (even those who are just getting started with internet marketing), you’ve probably realized by now that it’s crucial you understand what a SERP is and how it can potentially affect your campaigns.
That being said, we’ve rounded up five of the common FAQs we’ve seen regarding SERPs. Check them out!
What Does SERP Stand For?
SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. It is the web page—or pages—that is returned by a search engine (like Google) following a user’s search query.
Simply put, it’s where all the possible answers and results for that particular search query are displayed.
What are the Main Elements of a SERP?
A SERP has roughly four (4) basic features:
- Direct Search Results—which are basically all the sites or pages that could have the answer to the search question. They’re usually listed according to relevance and quality, with the “best site” or “best result” listed first.
- Pictures/Images—typically shown when a search query about the physical appearance of a person, place, or object is made (i.e., “Captain America actor,” or “Kylie Jenner MET 2019,”) or when a general search query warrants a physical representation (i.e. “Mark Hamill now,” or “periwinkle blue color,”).
- Advertising Blocks—some internet marketing services include paying search engines so that your ad or website appears as the very first SERP result for a relevant query. You can tell them apart from organic, non-paid results because they’ll have some indication that they’re an ad, like the word itself next to the hyperlink.
- Related Search Queries—sometimes Google and other search engines will note that your search query is similar to other search queries or that your search query may be misspelled/misworded. In cases like these, they may offer suggestions i.e. Google’s famous “Did You Mean…?” blue text.
Is the First Result on the SERP Always the Best Result?
SERP results can be categorized into two types: organic and paid. Organic results are websites that appeared on the SERP due to the search engine’s algorithm recognizing them as possibly the best and most relevant solution to the search query. SEO services are all about optimizing a website’s content and construction to help them achieve higher SERP ranks in this way.
Paid results are exactly as the name suggests: they are websites that have paid the search engine to be displayed as the first or second result when certain keywords (or phrases) pop up in a query. There’s usually an indication that they’re paid, like the word “Ad” next to the hyperlink or different formatting (font size, link color, etc.) altogether.
Are SERP Results Personalized?
Yes and no. Popular search engine Google introduced the concept of Personalized Search in 2005 for people with active Google Accounts. In 2009, they opened this feature for everybody using their engine. What it supposedly did was give Google the ability to customize a user’s search results based on the past 180 days of their search history.
Despite this being a huge hit, Google eventually lightened up on the personalization. Before, your SERP could be arranged based off of what you searched for (or about) in the past three months. Now, Google’s personalization depends primarily on two simple factors—your location and language.
And for the record: this was a huge relief for many an SEO company who couldn’t quite get a handle of Google’s search algorithm on top of the unpredictable personalization factor.
Can I Still Personalize my SERP Results?
Of course. By allowing Google to access your location and staying logged into your Google account, Google will no doubt gather enough information about you to cater search results to your specific lifestyle.
It’s also worth noting that paid results aka ads are more personalized than organic results. Organic results are dependent on your location, your dialect, and a website’s investment in SEO services. Paid results, on the other hand, are more attuned to a person’s personal online lifestyle.
This means that two people in the same city speaking the same language can get the same organic results for a similar search query, but the first two ads on their SERP may be drastically different.