We use internet search almost every day in our lives. And instead of search, we refer to this process as Googling. Whenever we do a search using a certain set of keywords, we get results in the form of web pages, images, PDF documents, etc.
The specific pages that we get for our searches are called “Search Engine Result Pages” or SERPs. But what determines we get these exact pages? There are millions of websites and trillions of web pages out there.
For this, you need to understand how search works and the factors that determine the SERP positions. Learn everything you need to know about Google SERP in this article.
Types of Search Engine Result Pages
For most searches, there are two types of results Google will serve. No, we aren’t talking about web pages and images and PDF documents. We are talking about two types of web pages.
Every search you make is unique, and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll see the same results for the same keywords — even when they’re synonyms.
Depending on the search terms, you’ll see two different types of SERPs. Those are Organic pages and Paid results.
The majority of the pages on the results page are organic pages. These are called organic because they appear as a result of the search engine’s algorithm. Thus, they follow a process that is natural in the search process.
Search engines follow a set of rules when deciding which pages to rank and in what order. The websites that comply with these rules secure higher rankings.
SEO professionals are tasked with optimizing the web pages to show up on the results page.
Every organic result consists of a heading and a description. Depending on if the website is using Schema, you’ll have more rich data. The heading is clickable, and you’ll be able to visit the web pages by clicking on it.
The second type of results you’ll receive is paid results. As opposed to organic, which follows the search engine algorithm to secure rankings, the paid results are paid. This means the website spends money to secure the position.
You’ll find these results above the organic results, tagged with “Ad.” Depending on the search term, you may see shopping ads, text ads, or simply a phone number that you can click on and call.
Organic results and paid results are almost identical. So much so that almost half of the adult population couldn’t differentiate between the two.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
To show up as SERPs for specific keywords, the web pages have to be optimized for those terms. And the process is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
So what does optimization actually mean? For this, you need to understand ranking signals.
Google looks at more than hundreds of ranking factors. As you’ll see later, these can be categorized into on-page ranking factors and off-page ranking factors.
The pages which have the strongest factors are ranked higher than those that have weaker ranking factors.
To have your website show up on SERP, you need to improve your ranking factors.
On-page SEO Factors
On-page ranking factors are those signals that are present on your website. By making modifications to your website structure, keyword placements, and internal links, you can secure higher rankings.
Since these signals are present within your website, they are easy to manipulate. Likewise, you’ll also see improvement in rankings within a short period of time.
Off-page SEO Factors
Off-page ranking factors are those signals that come from outside of your website. This includes the number of links pointing to your website, number of mentions, submission in directories, etc.
Since they’re not present on your website, they’re harder to manipulate and work on. But they also tend to have the highest impact. If you can secure a sufficient number of backlinks from reputed sources, then you can propel your website to the top of the search page.
Google summates both the factors and assigns a score to each web page. It then ranks based on the score.
SERPs Don’t Stay Constant
When discussing search engine results, it’s worth noting that the results don’t stay constant. They keep on changing from time to time.
And the changes are beyond ranking metrics and at times, random. That’s because of the Google RankBrain algorithm.
The algorithm is machine learning-based and makes those changes to see which results are more relevant to the users.
The changes also depend on the location of the searcher and device. The SERPs on a mobile device can be different from the results on a desktop. There might also be a difference between results in an Android device and an iOS device.
All of these changes are purposely done to personalize the content for the searchers.
To Sum up
Understanding SERP is the key to securing higher rankings on Google and any other search engine.
Throughout your optimization process, you’d be tracking your exact position to check the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Manual checking can be tedious and inaccurate. To get the most updated positions for specific terms, you must use a tool like SERP API for accurate search scraping. This will automate your SEO tracking process and save you a good amount of time.