What Are SERPs? Why Do They Matter to Small Businesses
As a small business owner, one of the biggest challenges you face is visibility, aka how do you get your business noticed amid the vast expanse of the internet?
The answer lies in understanding and using the power of Search Engine Results Pages, commonly known as SERPs. So, let's take a closer look at SERPs – what they are and why they matter so that you can be better prepared to harness their power for your business.
SERP: The Internet's Table of Contents
SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. It's the page that a search engine, such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo, displays after a user enters a search query. Acting as the liaison between the user and all the information available online, the SERP provides a curated list of responses it deems most relevant to the user's search.
This list includes a wide range of content, including websites, local listings, images, videos, and even quick-answer boxes (more on this in a minute). But everything on the SERP is determined by complex algorithms within the search engine.
Each search engine has its unique method of ranking and displaying results. However, the primary goal is always to provide the most accurate and relevant information in response to a search.
So, basically, every time you or your potential customer searches something in a search engine, a unique SERP is generated. This page is filled with links, images, local listings, and more, all specifically selected by the search engine's algorithms as the most relevant responses to that search.
For small businesses, these SERPs are where you can get visibility, and that visibility can lead to clicks, and clicks can lead to valuable conversions. When you think about it that way, it becomes clear pretty quickly why SERPs matter.
SERPs and SEO: Two Sides of the Same Coin
You might be thinking, "This sounds a lot like SEO." If so, you're right. SEO and SERPs are intrinsically linked. You can think of SEO as the strategy used to climb the SERP mountain. SEO aims to improve a website's organic ranking on the SERP.
SEO involves techniques like:
- Using Relevant Keywords
- Improving Site Speed
- Enhancing User Experience
- Producing High-Quality, Valuable Content
- And More
These efforts are all geared towards appealing to the search engine's algorithm, which is designed to provide the most relevant and quality results to the searcher. In other words, SEO is how you show up on the SERPs. (For a more in-depth guide on SEO, check out our fundamental guide to SEO here).
Diving Deeper: Understanding the Anatomy of SERPs
There are several popular sections on SERPs. Let's look at some of the most common SERP features so you can begin to identify them when you see them.
Organic results are the backbone of any SERP. They're the naturally occurring search results most relevant to your query. These are not paid advertisements. Instead, their placement on the SERP is based purely on their relevance and quality in relation to your search terms.
At the top and bottom of the SERP, you'll often see results labeled "Ad." These are paid search results. Companies can pay search engines to display their websites when certain keywords are searched. Paid results are typically highly relevant to your search. However, unlike organic results, they're not there due to natural ranking. They're there because a company paid for that prime digital real estate.
When you search for businesses or services "near me," you'll typically see a Local Pack on the SERP. This feature displays a map with pins indicating local companies that match your search and their names, addresses, and reviews.
Featured snippets are a specific type of search result that appears at the top of the SERP. These are quick, concise answers to search queries extracted from a webpage that the search engine deems to contain the best answer to your question. Around 12.29% of searches have a featured snippet.
Knowledge Graph Panel
Located typically on the right side of a SERP, the knowledge graph panel provides a quick overview of important information related to your search. This can include anything from a brief biography of a famous person to details about a business or quick facts about a specific topic or location.
People Also Ask
This section features a collection of related questions from other users about your search topic. Clicking on a question expands it to reveal a brief answer, often sourced from a top-ranking page on the subject.
An image pack is a collection of related images that appear on a SERP. This typically occurs when a search query is best answered with visual content.
Video Carousels are horizontal rows of video suggestions related to your search. They allow users to see relevant video content without leaving the SERP.
Similar to video carousels, these are individual video results that appear on a SERP. They're typically highly relevant to your search query and often come from popular video hosting platforms like YouTube.
Top Stories feature recent news articles relevant to your search. This section highlights the most recent and relevant news from various publishers and is often found near the top of the SERP.
Sometimes, tweets from Twitter that are relevant to your query may appear on a SERP. This is particularly common when you're searching for the latest news or trending topics.
Rich snippets are search results that provide more information than typical results. This can include review stars for products, recipes, event details, or other forms of structured information that offer a deeper insight at a glance.
Sitelinks are additional links listed below the main result on a SERP, leading to subpages of the linked website. These offer users a shortcut to navigate directly to the most relevant sections of a website. For businesses, sitelinks provide an opportunity to guide users to specific services or products.
When you search for a product, you'll often see a block of shopping results on the SERP. These showcase products related to your search query, complete with images, prices, and the names of the stores where you can purchase them.
For certain search queries, the SERP may feature review results. These show user ratings for products, services, or businesses, providing a quick glimpse into customer experiences and opinions.
The Power of SERPs
So, why should you care about SERPs? Simply put, SERPs are the gatekeepers of web traffic. Higher placement on a SERP generally leads to more visibility, more clicks, and more business.
If your website's on the first page of SERPs (especially within the first few results), it has a much higher chance of being visited. This is why companies invest so much effort, time, and resources into SEO.
- In fact. Around 95.1% of searchers stay on the first page of Google's SERPs
- Around 77.22% of all mobile searches have zero clicks, meaning that more than three-quarters of people searching online vis their phones rely on SERPs to answer their queries.
Understanding SERPs is essential for any business hoping to increase its online visibility. If your content can't be found easily on SERPs, your target audience may never know you exist, no matter how great your product, service, or content is.
Start Mastering SERPs Today
In the grand scheme of the digital universe, SERPs serve as the compass guiding us through the sea of information. They are the bridges connecting searchers with the content they seek and the platforms enabling businesses to reach their audience.
By understanding what SERPs are and their significant impact on online visibility and success, we can leverage them to our advantage. After all, visibility is currency. So, here's to better understanding and mastering the power of SERPs.
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