Search Engine Results Page
SERPs are the hottest real estate market on the web.
WHAT IS A SEARCH ENGINE RESULTS PAGE?
A search engine results page, or SERP, is what you get when you type something into Google, DuckDuckGo, or any other search engine. SERPs are the most used resource on the internet and drive traffic for nearly every entity on the web.
Why SERP Rankings Are Critical
There are somewhere around 4.5 billion pages on the web. You need your audience to visit your site, but expecting your target customer to find you in the midst of all that clutter is like expecting someone from Iowa to randomly stumble into your third-floor studio apartment in Brooklyn. It's technically possible, but not the odds you want to build a business on.
Enter search engines.
Search engines sift through the billions of web pages to help users find the sites that are relevant and useful to them. They take a query (like "rad sneakers") and give the searcher a list of sites that match that keyword. In basic terms, a search engine looks for sites that seem to be about rad sneakers and that other people searching for "rad sneakers" have visited.
These days, however, it's not enough for a search engine simply to know your site has rad sneakers. It needs to know your site has the raddest (or at least 2nd or 3rd raddest) sneakers for a particular searcher. Otherwise, your site will show up farther down the SERP, or won't rank on page one at all.
Most searchers barely scan the list and use one of the top few results, so the competition for good rankings is fierce. If your site shows up on page 3, you might as well be operating out of a storefront in Siberia for all the traffic you're going to get.
The Factors of SERP Rankings
Search engine algorithms rank pages based on several, ever-changing criteria.
Topic relevancy: To begin with, your webpage needs to have the keywords for which a user is searching. Fortunately for all of us, however, search engines have learned that exact keywords are only one piece of the puzzle and that searchers want more comprehensive results. As a result, a page that gives a "best spaghetti sauce recipe" but also talks about different ingredients, methods of preparation, pasta alternatives, etc. will rank better than a webpage that repeats "best spaghetti sauce recipe" five hundred times.
User intent: Some keywords indicate that a searcher is looking to buy something, while others indicate they just want information. If someone searches for "best spaghetti sauce," there's a good chance they want to buy a bottle. As a result, webpages that actually sell spaghetti sauce will likely rank higher on the SERP.
If someone searches for "best spaghetti sauce recipe," on the other hand, their intent is more likely not to buy, and informational pages will rank higher.
Design and usability: It doesn't matter how great a spaghetti sauce recipe is if the page takes an hour to load or breaks on mobile. Things like page speed, mobile-friendliness, the ease of navigating your site, and accessibility all affect how useful your page is to searchers and thus impact your SERP ranking.
Links: If a bunch of award-winning chefs all swear by your spaghetti sauce recipe and link to it from their pages, search engines will assume it's pretty good. They will likely rank it higher on a SERP than a recipe that nobody links to, or one that only your mom's 2006 "PTA & Pasta" blog links to.
Personalization: Here's where SERPs get especially tricky. Most search engines, including Google, take a searcher's other online activity into account, meaning that two people searching for the same keyword will get different results. For example, if Google knows you're a herpetologist and you search for "python," the SERP will likely be full of results about actual snakes. If you're a software developer, expect info and tutorials on the programming language.
Pro tip: Want to search for keywords relevant to your business, *without* getting results that are biased by your previous activity? Use incognito mode—or, better yet, a different browser and search engine than you typically use—to get a SERP more like the one your audience will see.
Hi, we’re Verblio.
We create content for SEO and content marketing for every niche.