The Anatomy of a SERP

SERP is an acronymn floating around inbound marketing circles that may be confusing for some. For others, SERP's exist, but they would like to learn more about the topic and how to maximize their results. In this article we will walk through three key parts of the anatomy of a SERP.

1. What is a SERP?

Search Engine Results Page – SERP stands for Search Engine Results page. A SERP comes in many different forms and styles that we will discuss further in the components section. What you need to know right now is that SERP's may contain ads, maps, lists, links, purchase pages and click to call buttons just to name a few. As a company it is important to recognize each style of SERP and work to ensure that their business is setup to provide an adequate result should their page show up. The keywords entered by an individual into the search determines which type of SERP that an individual sees.  

Types of searches – There are three main types of searches that we would like to highlight: Informational (gathering information), Navigational (seeking a service or product), Transactional (wanting to purchase an item online).

At ClearPivot we consider each type of search as a step in the buyers journey. Informational searches are related to Top of the Funnel (ToFu) leads. People conducting informational searches are typically not ready to buy and may not even make it past the search results page. Navigational searchers will make it to a site beyond the search results. They fit into the Middle of the Funnel (MoFu) category because they know what they are looking for but are not ready to purchase. Finally those who conduct a transactional search can be characterized as Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu) leads. A transactional searcher uses SERPs to take them to a website so they can buy. 

It is important for businesses to understand the components of a SERP so it can provide the best search results in order to bring people to its website.

2. Components of a SERP

There are four components of an SERP: paid search ads, organic search results, local search results and related searches. 

Screen_Shot_2016-05-13_at_11.17.10_AM.pngPaid search ads – Paid search ads come in many forms and styles. At one point you could find paid search ads on the top and side of a search results page. However, at this time Google is phasing out the side of the page results. You will mainly find paid search ads at the top and bottom of each search today. Paid search ads can contain images or plain text blurbs. Ads are placed on the page based on relevancy to search, ad quality, and bid price. The competitive nature of the keyword will determine how much someone pays for a paid ad. Ads can be purchased based on a "pay-per click" or a "pay-per impression" format. If a keyword is highly competitive it is very possible that a majority of the search results on the first page will be paid ads. In one instance we encountered only 5 organic search results on the first page. 

Organic search results – Organic search results are considered “Trustworthy” results. These are created by how often the page linked in the results is visited coupled with how relevant the page is to the keywords in the search. An organic search result includes website title, URL, meta description, and sitelinks. As an inbound marketing company we place emphasis on encouraging companies to ensure that all four components of an organic search result is optimized for SERPs. We believe it is important for website titles, URL's, meta descriptions and sitelinks include appropriate keywords for the page and business. Doing this will help a company gain relevancy for its keywords and should benefit it appropriately in organic search results. 

Local search results – Local search results provide lists, maps and contact information for businesses within a search radius. The search radius can be determined by specific search terms or user’s current location. It is important for any local business to be setup with a Google business page and the appropriate business search account. This gives the business an opportunity to upload photos of its location, provide links to its website, hours of operation and contact information. A business which provides a local service would be amiss to not capitalize on this free marketing opportunity. Instead of being concerned on how the company ranks organically, being setup for local search allows for a business to be visible with very little effort. The key is to ensure the information stays fresh and up to date in order to keep the searches rolling in to the business. 

Screen_Shot_2016-05-13_at_11.16.39_AM.pngRelated searches – Related searches can be overlooked at times. Related searches are in a little box at the bottom of a search results page. Related searches are suggested search queries based on related keywords and other users’ searches. We do not have a direct line into searchers brains, so the opportunity for people to find a site via a related search cannot be constructed. What can be constructed is creating content related to information people may be seeking. We encountered this with one of our latest social media news articles "What does the Twitter heart mean?" by constructing an article related to searches people are making, we saw this article rise to rank 4th when people search the exact title and showing up on the first page of results for several related searches.

Why SERPs Matter

At the end of the day it is clear to see that SERPs matter. However, if the article hasn't convinced you already we have two other key stats that we would like to pass along to you. 

First, a majority of website traffic comes from search engines64% attributable to organic search results alone.

Second, over 3.5 billion searches performed daily – This translates to about 40,000 processed per second.

It is clear to see that SERPs play a large role in online business today. It is important for companies to take the time to capitalize on the web pages it is producing in order to see results from search engine result pages.