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Written by: Devin Schumacher  | March 30, 2020

The top 5 organic SERP results make up more than 67% of searcher clicks.

Google alone generates more than 2 trillion SERPs every year.

Acquiring more SERP real estate by combining SEO with PPC results in 25% more clicks and 27% higher profits.

If you can master the SERPs your business will grow. Period.

In this article we cover:

  • What SERP means – its definition and importance.
  • What a SERP is – and how it has a huge impact on your digital marketing efforts.
  • SERP Features – what SERP features are, and the different types.
  • SERP Tools – the most useful tools for mastering the SERPs.

What is a SERP?

"What does SERP stand for?" – A question we get asked a lot, as you can probably imagine.

SERP Definition: "SERP" is an acronym for "Search Engine Results Page", or "Search Engine Result Pages".

Colloquially the meaning of SERP is really used to describe any set of results that you get as a consumer after "searching" something using a search engine.

Your search intent, and the device you ask your question on, will determine what type of SERP you get back.

The Importance of SERPs

SERPs are probably the most widely utilized things that people don't have a name for. Let's be honest, outside of the SEO community most people don't know what SERP stands for, or that it's even an acronym at all.

But the amount of people who have seen and interacted with a SERP is staggering.

That's pretty much everyone who has ever used the internet.

People Numbers:

  • World Population (as of 03/30/2020) – 7.8 billion

Internet Numbers:

  • Active internet users – 4.54 billion.

SERP Numbers:

  • Roughly 93% of all internet traffic comes through search engines.
  • Google alone processes over 63,000 searches per second on any given day.

I don't really think that anymore needs to be said about the importance of SERPs.

If you can learn seo, improve your serp visibility and take your share of the traffic coming through search engines your business growth will be, figuratively, unlimited.

Remember, it's not enough just to know what a SERP is – you need to get to the first page of the SERPs – as 91.5% or more of people who search something never go past the first page of results.

How Do SERPs Work?

SERPs are continually getting more complex and comprehensive.

As Google, and other search engines, begin to understand data better they are able to organize and display this information in more ways that are helpful to us humans.

Google has hundreds of ranking factors that determine what shows up on a SERP, but how they are displayed will be dependent on the types of search queries being asked – and which search engine was used.

When you input a search query into a search engine its algorithm will look into it's enormous database of information and try to bring you back some results that it determines will help satisfy your question – this is the SERP. The Page of Search Results that the Engine brings back – the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

See how that works?

Your friends at SERP Co help businesses grow by improving their SERP visibility & positioning, in both the paid & organic areas. Hopefully the name makes sense now!

Let's break down your traditional SERP and explain what's really going on here.

When an individual performs a search query, and the algorithm returns the results onto a page of results they are produced and displayed as 2 primary categories of SERP results: organic results (retrieved by the algorithm) & sponsored results (paid advertisements).

Google SERP

There is quite a lot going on here but what we are looking at is the Google SERP result for the query "treadmills".

The query "treadmills" is a pretty broad and non-specific term to be searching, so Google does not know if I want to buy one or rent one or read about one or shop online or shop locally – so it is showing me a ton of different results.

The types of results here include:

  • informational articles and videos.
  • transactional based links, advertisements, etc.
  • local maps with stores where I can shop.
  • online stores (aka ecommerce) where I can shop.
  • reviews & articles where I can compare models to make a more informed buying decision.

But even between all of these types of results, there are really only 2 categories of them: organic & paid.

I have highlighted the ORGANIC results in GREEN, and the PAID results in RED.

As you can see, Google does a good job of differentiating the visual display of the different types of results into "SERP features".

SERP Features

SERP feature is usually considered to be any result on a SERP that is not the traditional organic result.

Let's discuss some of the more common SERP features below, and save the full list of SERP features for a separate article.

Organic Results

A traditional organic result refers to what people are normally used to seeing – just a simple informational, organic result showing a page title with a meta description and a URL hyperlink.

In real life it will typically look something like this:

SERP Features take many forms, with more coming out everyday, so we created an article dedicated to all the different types of serp features – please comment on it if you have discovered a SERP feature that we haven't yet included.

Expanded Results (Site Links)

Results with site links are typically a sign of trust, or that you searched directly for a brand name. For example when searching for the brand "serp co" we see:

Featured Snippet

A featured snippet is typically what people refer to when they say they rank "position zero". It is a summary at the top of the SERP that pulls a snippet from an article that is typically ranking somewhere on Page 1 for the searched term.

Direct Answers

Direct answers are questions that Google can answer without needing to link someone to a more thorough resource.

direct answer SERP features

People Also Ask

Google is smart enough to know that if someone asks a question, they typically will want to know more after they get their answer. For this reason, they have a SERP feature for questions that people also ask.

Top Stories

Top stories apply to news. They are typically small cards that highlight very recent news articles around the topic you're searching. To get here, you pretty much need to make sure your news articles are optimized for AMP.

Knowledge Panel

The knowledge panel is one of the OG SERP Features.

It is the aggregated information on the side of the SERP that takes place when you search something Google as understood as an "entity", so it can provide additional information from various places in it's index to paint a more complete picture of that person, place, thing, idea.

The knowledge panel will typically provide other associated information that someone would want to understand the full picture of your search – like organizations they were associated with, etc. In the case of our example it is movies and personal information:

Those are the most common SERP Features, but there are many, many, many more.

Recommended Reading: SERP Features

Search Queries

Just like there are different types of SERP features, there are different categories of search queries.

For the most part, search queries fall into 3 categories: transactional, informational, navigational (TIN) in case you needed another acronym in your life.

  • Transactional – Transactional search queries have an intent to make an exchange of value, like trading an email address for a PDF download, or trading money for a product.
  • Informational – Informational search queries have an intent by the searcher to get more information, as the name suggests.
  • Navigational – Navigational search queries have an intent to find a specific resource, for example if someone is searching for a particular resource. Pretty much the same thing as a branded search.

These 3 primary categories of search queries can be broken down into sub-types, and to really understand and create a solid digital marketing strategy for your business, you need to understand them.

Read this article on search queries to understand all the different types and why they are important.

The important thing to know about search queries, is the searcher intent. Try to understand what the the person is looking for and how can you provide a good resource to satisfy this need, get ranked on Google, and get that traffic to your website instead of your competitors.

Recommended Reading: Search Queries

Search Engine Result Pages

Search engine result pages, plural?

Yes you read that right.

This is not the Lord of the Rings internet edition with one SERP to rule them all.

There are multiple SERPs, so let's get into it the different types of SERPs.

  • Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
  • Maps Engine Results Pages (MERPs?)
  • Image Engine Results Pages (IERPs?)
  • Voice Engine Results Pages (VERPs?)

Lot's of fun sounding acronyms there, but not very commonly used. If ever.

There are actually a ton of other search engines, like knowledge engines, etc.

However, without getting too crazy technical, the main takeaway here is that traditional search engines are keyword based – they create an index of data query their database when someone produces a search and return results.

But when the information searchers need is not able to be searched purely by keywords (like when someone is looking for images, for example) the engines need to be able do different things to return data.

The primary takeaway here is that when you are searching on Google, Google Images, Google Maps, or YouTube the algorithms and search engines are different. They have different rules, provide different result page visualizations, and should not be assumed to be the same thing.

Check out this article on search engines for more in-depth information about the different types and how they work.

SERP Tools

There are a ton of different SERP Tools, many of which are actually multi-purpose SEO Tools.

We go in-depth to the best SEO tools in our article dedicated to that, which we recommend you check out to learn more.

The SERP tools we use the most and recommend are:

  1. SERP App
  2. Ahrefs

Final Thoughts

SERPs are the things you see everyday, multiple times a day, that you may not have had a name for until now. If you are reading this article it's pretty much a guarantee that you've seen & interacted with a SERP at some point in your life.

SERPs will continue to evolve, change and come in different forms but the concept will always be relevant – person needs information, person searches, person gets a response/reply/results.

Learn how to position your business, products & services into the various different kinds of SERPs and all those people needing solutions will come to you instead of your competitors.

Join a community of world-class marketers, successful business owners & entrepreneurs, and learn to grow your brand for free at SERP University.

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