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When you submit a search query, a SERP is what’s returned to you. SERP stands for the Search Engine Results Page. There are various components to a SERP, which can be broken down into three main categories: organic results, paid ads, and other SERP features that are suggested to guide you through the searching process.
If you’re not familiar with these components, it can be overwhelming to dissect a search engine results page. We’ve broken down the basic anatomy of a SERP to walk you through it.
This feature will appear when a user makes a specific informational query. For example, asking what the average cost of a visit to your local eye doctor is would give you a featured snippet as pictured. The snippet will appear before any of the organic results on the page and is meant to give you a quick and specific answer, providing you the link to the source if you choose to read further.
If you outsource your SEO and hire an expert, the organic search results are what they will primarily be working on. Being on the first page of Google organically is the goal. Consisting of a link and a URL, the organic results generated from a search query are appearing from the search engine algorithm, which is due to the optimization that your SEO experts have done. These are non-paid results.
Google will present you with a Local Pack or Google Business Profiles on a SERP for two reasons: you’re making a query that has a location name, you’re near businesses that fit your query or both. As pictured above, Google will pin the businesses that it thinks are relevant to your search query and list the contact information, ratings, and reviews for each of them.
If you’re making a navigational query, you could be presented with a knowledge panel that differs in location depending on if you’re searching on a desktop or a mobile device. This panel is exactly as it sounds, providing you with general information about your query, such as the location, hours of operation, contact information, website link, and as of recently, health/safety.
While knowledge panels are common to see when making queries, not every business has them. If you’re working with an SEO expert, this will be part of your off-site SEO and is what’s known as a Google Business Profile. This improves your business’s local SEO.
There are two main differences between these results and the organic ones mentioned above. First, these are paid results and Google’s form of paid advertising, known as PPC (pay-per-click). Essentially, business owners are able to bid on these ads for an increased chance of being seen when users are making queries. Like other paid ads, Google Ads can be optimized to reach a specific audience. You pay for each click that your ad receives, hence the name pay-per-click. Secondly, these paid results/Google Ads do not help your SEO, meaning they can’t improve your organic search rankings in the way that organic results can.
Simply put, this feature is a list of searches that are related to your original query that is generated by the algorithm.
There are endless features on a SERP that vary depending on the type of query you are making. Informational, navigational, and transactional queries will all give you slightly different features in order to present you with the most relevant information. As a small business owner, the basics are the best place to start if you are just beginning to understand the anatomy of a search engine results page and how it relates to SEO.
Read more about SEO and why you should be outsourcing it here.
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