What is a SERP?

What is SERP
What is SERP
Kendall Brennan
By Kendall Brennan

If you are involved in SEO practices or any other digital marketing realm for that matter, you have probably heard the term SERP thrown around from time to time. In case you were wondering, SERP is an acronym that stands for “Search Engine Results Page”. For anyone working in search engine optimization or PPC, this page on the web is viewed as pristine property – the higher your company ranks, the more exposure and credibility your company will have in regards to search engines.

SERPs work like this: when someone types a phrase into a search engine, the web will pull the most relevant web page listings based on keyword rankings. These listings can either be organic or through google ads. If a page is ranking organically, that means the content has a strong keyword strategy, aka your SEO plan is working. Keep in mind that both google ads and organic search are needed for a highly effective marketing plan.

In today’s day in age where almost every aspect of business is being digitized, it’s absolutely critical that digital marketers are implementing strategies to improve their SERP rankings. If you haven’t considered this aspect to your digital marketing plan, you may be falling behind your competitors and doing your business a disservice.

Related: 5 Signs Your SEO Strategy is Falling Flat

How it Works

SERPs are the results a user sees when using a search engine. These web pages are ranked based on their keywords and link profiles or they can be listed at the top of the page if they are ads. The user will type in a search query, or specific keywords, and the search engine will pull the top pages that apply most to the topic.

Keep in mind that each SERP is uniquely its own. That’s because search engines want their users to have a one of a kind experience and will tailor the SERP to each individual depending on their location, search history, and other factors. That means two people can use the same search engine, type in the same exact keyword, and still get different results.

SERP pages have also evolved in appearance throughout the years to stay up to date with the newest technology. Search engines have adapted their SERPs to give the user an easy and informative interface to browse and search. The visual aspect of the SERP may change periodically to stay technologically relevant depending on the search engine used.

Components of a SERP

As you can probably recall, SERPs are easily organized to highlight several key components that provide the user with valuable information. The basic factors of a SERP include the query box, organic page listings, and paid advertisements. In some search engines such as google, these pages can also include a meta description, title of the page, and sometimes even product rankings. Depending on the topic that is being searched, videos, maps, and definitions may also appear. This may vary on the industry, the type of web content, or the topic of the search query.

Types of Content

As said previously, there are two different types of content on SERP pages. There is either the organically-ranked web pages or the paid advertisements. Organic search is the result of natural rankings determined by algorithms of the search engine. Think of the top results as the web sites that provide the most beneficial information that applies to the string of keywords the user is searching. In order to optimize a piece of content, marketers use search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to increase their keyword rankings. As you could imagine, the goal is to be as highly ranked as possible, ideally on the first page. The higher your page is ranked, the more visible your website will be to potential customers.

When we talk about paid search, these are the advertisements that you will see on the top of the page. By using PPC, or pay-per-click, a business pays a fee to have their page ranked at the top, normally above and to the right of the organically-ranking pages. The ads will be ranked and positioned depending on a bidding process and their overall quality score. Unlike an organic search strategy that can take months to implement, an ad will be visible almost instantly once it has been paid for.

Related: SEO vs PPC – How to Use SEO and PPC Together

Benefits of Organic vs. PPC

There are a wide range of benefits that come along with being organically ranked on the first page. For starters, if a page is within the top three search results, users will view this website as a credible figure. This sets a page apart from its competitors as being an authoritative figure within that specific industry. Aside from this, once you are able to achieve a high ranking, it’s easy to keep that positioning. Search engines will also view that website as a reliable source of information, helping to keep that ranking for an extended period of time.

When it comes to PPC, marketers can target specific audiences to get their advertisements. This is especially useful when trying to target specific locations, ages, or income levels. As said before, a major benefit to PPC is timing. If you don’t have the time to wait months for your organic search to come through, PPC is an excellent solution. As soon as the bid is made and the placement is paid for, the advertisement will be at the top of the page, improving exposure almost instantly. PPC also increases the click-through-rates of your users which can lead to sales when they are ready to buy.

Wrapping Up

So what have we learned through all of this? As a digital marketer, it’s imperative that you pay attention to page rankings, for this is direct exposure for your brand or company. By using both organic search techniques and paid advertising you can significantly improve your online awareness. While organic search establishes credibility for your brand, PPC delivers fast results and increases your click-through-rates. Both organic and PPC have their own unique benefits, which is why you should be combining the two for a strong marketing strategy that drives leads and sales to your company.

Kendall is a Senior SEO Strategist at Power Digital. She specializes in SEO, but also has a passion for the holistic view of digital marketing and seeing how all channels work together to create a strong digital presence.