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What is SERP?

We have compiled this list of articles on today’s topic of SERP. It is key to understand the importance and usage of SERP to your Search Engine Optimization. All of the references for each article are listed at the bottom of this post.

What is SERP?

[1]What did you Google last? Do you remember scrolling through results? The pages holding all the clickable options for new information are search engine results pages or SERPs.

Here’s a quick definition of SERP.

SERP stands for search engine results page, and it’s the kind of page that lists results after you plug a query into the search bar of Google or other search engines. Search engines deliver a ranked list of URLs that relate to the distinct keywords entered.

[2]What is a SERP feature?

A SERP feature results from a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that is not a traditional organic result. The most common SERP Features are:

  1. Rich Snippets which add a visual layer to an existing result (e.g., review stars for product ratings)
  2. Paid Results that are bought by bidding on keywords (e.g., AdWords or Google Shopping)
  3. Universal Results that appear in addition to organic results (e.g., image results, new results, featured snippets)
  4. Knowledge Graph data which appears as panels or boxes (e.g., weather, Celebrity Knowledge Panel)

[3]All SERPs are unique, even when two users search the same query.

That’s because Google personalizes search results for its users to display results that are relevant to each specific individual.

In general, you can break SERPs down in the following four ways:

  • Sponsored results. Results that appear because advertisers paid money to put them there are called sponsored results. These are typically text ads or shopping results, and you’ll see Google Ads clearly tagged as such. They may occur at the top or bottom of the page and in the Google Knowledge Graph.
  • Organic listings. These are the listing of sites that you peruse when you search a query. In the above example, our SEO for Beginners guide represents the first organic result, followed by Moz’s guide of the same name. (Learn more about rankings in How Search Engines Rank Pages.)
  • Rich features. These add a visual layer (sometimes multiple layers) to the SERP. They include things like featured snippets, carousels, and much more.
  • Google knowledge panels. These display on the right side of the page, offering snippets of information to enhance search results. In the above example, it’s the box about search engine optimization.

Types of results in SERPs

SERPs have two main categories of results, organic and paid, although organic search results make up the bulk of the listings.

Let’s go over the differences so you can choose an effective approach.

Organic results in SERPs

Organic results are the page listings that naturally match the search engine’s algorithms’ quality, relevance, and authority factors. The ranking algorithms assess online content with a range of standards — for example, Google has over 200 ranking factors.

While the format frequently shifts on Google, organic text-based results typically hold around ten slots on page one. SEO aims to obtain a prominent spot on the first SERP and avoid getting hidden on the second or third pages where few users reach.

Since the organic results correspond to the complex system of Google, they require thorough efforts to satisfy users. Carefully appealing to the search intent behind queries generates better rankings. The search intent — the reason someone searched for particular keywords — generally falls into three groups:

  • Transaction-based: The user is thinking of or ready to purchase (i.e., “zebra-print wallet for sale”).
  • Information geared: The user is seeking to learn about a topic (i.e., “zebra species”).
  • Navigation centered: The user wants to reach a predetermined destination or piece of information (i.e., “zebra sanctuary phone number”).

Google emphasizes user experience and creating quality content, so accurate intent-geared pages tend to perform well in the organic portion of SERPs.

Paid results in SERPs

Paid search results on SERPs usually surround organic results at the top, side, and bottom. They can follow the same setup as organic text-based ads with a few distinctions, like the subtle green “Ad” box on Google.

[4]How is SERP generated?

Once you submit the search query, the search engine starts digging in the websites’ index to find the most relevant results. It’s a matter of milliseconds.

To easier understand how SERP is generated, we need to know how search engines work:

  1. Crawling – getting information about websites on the internet
  2. Indexing – the index is basically a catalog of all crawled websites
  3. Pulling results – checking the search query against the indexed websites

This is a simplified version, so if you would like to know a bit more about how search engines work, visit the Search engines part of SEOpedia.


Using SERP is critical in the understanding and development of a cohesive SEO strategy. You can also see which search terms you are gaining popularity with and where you need to spend additional time. If you need assistance in managing your SERP tools, do not hesitate to contact

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