Google SERP Features and Its Role in SEO
Are you exploring to know how Google SERP put its role in SEO? There are millions of pages on the web, but none are more valuable to digital marketers than search engine results pages or SERPs.
Search engine optimization experts and PPC advertisers alike vie for the same precious real estate in the most prominent parts of the SERPs. Still, competition is fierce and technological developments in search mean it’s more important than ever for digital marketers to understand how search works and what they can do to maximize their visibility.
Google SERP: What They Are and How They Work
Search engine results pages are web pages served to users when searching for something online using a search engine, such as Google. The user accesses their search query (often using specific terms and phrases known as keywords), upon which the search engine presents them with a SERP.
Every SERP is unique, even for search queries made on the same search engine using the exact keywords or search queries. This is because virtually all search engines customize the happening for their users by presenting results based on a wide range of factors beyond their search terms, such as the user’s physical place, browsing history, and social settings. As a result, two SERPs may appear identical and contain many of the same results but will often feature subtle differences.
The appearance of search engine results pages is continually in flux due to experiments conducted by Google, Bing, and other search engine providers to present their users with a more intuitive, responsive experience. This, combined with emerging and rapidly developing technologies in the search space, means that the SERPs of today differ significantly in appearance from their older predecessors.
SERPs typically hold two types of content – organic results and paid results. Organic results are listings of web pages that arise due to the search engine’s algorithm. Search engine optimization professionals, commonly recognize as SEOs, and specialize in optimizing web content and websites to rank more highly in organic search results.
The box on the right side of this SERP is acknowledged as the Knowledge Graph (also sometimes called the Knowledge Box). This is a feature that Google introduced in 2012 that draws data to generally asked questions from sources across the web to provide concise answers to questions in one central location on the SERP. In this case, you can view a wide range of information about Abraham Lincoln, such as the date and place of his birth, his height, the date on which he was assassinated, his political affiliation, and the names of his children – several of which facts have their links to the relevant pages.
Some SERPs will feature significantly more organic results than others, such as the case above. This is due to the differing intent of many searches. There are three primary types of Internet search:
Informational searches are when the user wishes to find information on a given topic, such as Abraham Lincoln. It wouldn’t make much sense to spot ads or other types of paid results on a SERP like this, as the search query Abraham Lincoln has very low commercial intent; the vast majority of searchers using this search query are not seeing to purchase something, and as such only informational results are displayed on the SERP.
Navigational queries are those in which the user wishes to locate a specific website through their search. This may be the case for individuals searching for a particular website, trying to find a website who’s URL they can no longer remember, or another type of navigational objective.
Lastly, transactional searches are those in which paid results are most hopeful to be displayed on the SERP. As a result, transactional searches have high commercial intent, and search queries starting to transactional SERPs may include keywords such as buy and other terms that suggest a strong desire to make a purchase.
Ranking Signals and Search Algorithms
Organic results are listings that have been indexed by the search engine based on several factors, also known as “ranking signals.”
For instance, the search algorithm used by Google features hundreds of ranking factors, and while nobody outside of Google knows precisely what they are, some are thought to be more critical than others. In the past, the link profile of a website – the number of external links that link to a specific website or web page from other websites – was an important ranking signal. It still is to some extent (which is why Wikipedia ranks so prominently in organic results for several queries). However, search advances at such a fast pace that ranking signals that were once crucial to the search algorithm may be less important today, a source of constant frustration to SEOs.
Search Engine Optimization
As its name implies, search engine optimization is the practice of optimizing websites and web pages for results in search engines and, thus, more visible placement on search engine results pages. This is accomplished through various means, from what is known as “on-page” SEO to “off-page” techniques.
On-page SEO refers to best practices that web content producers and site owners can follow to ensure their content is as easily discoverable as possible. This includes building detailed page metadata (data about data) for each page and elements such as images, the use of unique, static URLs, the inclusion of keywords in relevant headings and subheadings, and the application of clean HTML code, to name a few.
Unlike on-page SEO techniques, off-page SEO refers to strategies that affect the site as a whole. Common off-page SEO techniques include:
Link building and exchange.
Social bookmarking, content marketing.
- Submissions to directories and search engine indexes.
- The creation of online communities on social media.
Although the full scope of SEO is far too comprehensive to cover comprehensively here, all you need to know is that SEO focuses primarily on achieving higher rankings from an organic perspective. Businesses may hire an agency or SEO professional to perform their SEO work. Still, beyond this investment, no money changes hands, and all the emphasis is placed on ranking more highly in organic search.