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A Detailed Guide on Google’s SERP
It’s an old joke within the world of digital marketing that the best place to hide something is on the second page of Google search results, because nobody ever goes there. Google has done a fantastic job of giving an abundance of information related to any given search query on the first page of their results, and people only tend to dig into the deeper pages when looking for a very specific result. For that reason, it is important to understand how Google displays results on its search engine results page (or SERP), especially if you want to know how to leverage your website to get the best opportunities for traffic through SEO and SEM.
Google’s SERP has come a long way since it started with a collection of blue links. Its suite of features and offerings for businesses can be daunting and make the SERP seem complex; however, once you have an understanding of how Google’s SERP breaks down, it becomes much easier to prioritize SEO and SEM efforts.
A Guide to Google’s SERP
It is important to note that, while different search engines will have similar characteristics across their SERPs, no two will be exactly alike. Since Google is the ruling monarch of all search engines by a long shot, it is typically best to focus most heavily on Google’s SERP as the top priority for any digital marketing efforts.
There are many areas of Google’s SERP, and they have been listed below in the order that they usually appear for the majority of search queries. What is included on Google’s SERP and the order in which results show will vary based on the search query. Google’s SERP can include any of the following:
Rich Answers/Direct Answers
If a direct question is asked in Google search and a straightforward answer is available as part of public domain, it can provide an immediate answer in a box at the top of the page. An example of such a question would be “How many days are in a year?” or “When is Christmas?” These answers are not typically cited and do not include links.
If a search query has specific statistics, graphs, or other hard facts that are part of the public domain, knowledge cards, graphs, or panels of information will often appear at the top of Google’s SERP. These will often appear when a search is submitted for a famous person, brand, or location, and the information often comes from government websites, Wikipedia, or a Google listing.
Rich Results/Rich Cards
Similar to rich answers, rich results offer an abundance of information as a direct answer to a search query. Also known as featured results or rich snippets, these look like a regular search result and include a linked title, URL, and description along with other details that fluctuate, such as a company rating, price, or other featured links. Rich cards are the mobile version of this search result and are easy to read and access.
Google will often pull text from a website that answers a common question, appearing as a featured snippet. These appear as informational paragraphs with a link to the website from which the result was pulled underneath the answer. They can take the form of a paragraph of content, a numbered or bulleted list, an image, or a graph or table.
Maps Results/Local 3-Pack
When searching for a type of business or offering “near me” or within a certain geographic region, Google will often reveal map results, along with a featured 3-pack of businesses with top ratings. It is important to have an optimized business listing with Google to ensure that it is possible to be featured by Google.
Online stores will often list their products in Google’s paid shopping system. When searching for a query that corresponds with particular products, these results will show near the top and along the side of the SERP with pictures, product titles, prices, and ratings.
Image and Video Packs
Many search engine results will yield images or videos that correspond with the query. These often come from websites that have relevant content or have strategically used metatags and titles for their media. In the case of video packs, Google will also display the website title that houses the video (which is usually YouTube).
If a query relates directly to a specific brand, organization, or website title, the top result will often reflect a collection of links from the corresponding website. The links will usually be from high-level pages within that website and allow for easy and quick navigation to major pages.
Many major search topics will relate to modern news, so Google’s SERP often shows stories from popular news sources or blogs.
People Also Ask
Google has a featured FAQ section for the majority of search results, wherein it covers a wide variety of questions related to the original search query. This section expands as a user opens results, adding more similar questions to the list to offer increasingly deep results.
Paid Search Results
Google Ads, which used to be known as Google AdWords, will often appear near the top of search results with a little green tag that says “Ad” next to them. Aside from this tag, they look identical to normal search results. Companies pay for these listings as an alternative or addition to organic search listings in order to appear closer to the front of results.
Regular/Organic Search Results
Of course, the list of regular search results will also show up on any given Google SERP. These organic search results will be determined by SEO, and they are typically what people look for when they search on Google.
Google My Business Profile
If a search connects directly with a particular company or location for a corporation, the corresponding Google My Business profile listing can be displayed. Within the listing, users can review the company and see the reviews of others, get Google Maps access for the company’s physical location, access the company website, view images, and more.
The last thing to appear on Google’s SERP before the options to continue to deeper pages will usually be the Related Searches section. This will provide variations on the search keyword used in order to provide suggestions for similar search queries and better results.
To find out more information about how to make the most of Google’s SERP for your website, be sure to reach out to the team at FirstPage Marketing. We specialize in getting results for companies through search engines, and we would love to talk with you about how we could make this happen for your website.