Google likes to try out new things now and then, especially when it comes to search results. Every new feature in search results aims at making things more interesting for users, but this very same update can frustrate people working in the field of SEO. Every new update gives SEOs a new code to crack, which can become daunting at times.
Instead of digging deep into the technicality of everything and understanding complex equations, sometimes it is more beneficial to look at the basics. The same is the case with SERPs. Understanding what a SERP is and what its different features are may help you move in the right direction.
What is a SERP?
SERP is the short form for Search Engine Results Page. It is essentially a page that displays results of whatever you search on Google’s search engine.
Every SERP is unique, even when two users enter the same query. It is mainly due to Google personalizing every search result to make sure that each user gets the most relevant answers.
You can divide SERPs into four main segments that include:
- Sponsored results: These are the results that appear because advertisers have paid money to put them in the sponsored results section. They are typically text ads.
- Organic listings: These are the listings that you would usually want to open when you search for anything. These sites rank in Google results depending on the relevance of the keyword and optimization efforts that SEOs put.
- Rich features: These are more colorful search results. They include featured snippets, carousels, and many more.
- Google knowledge panels: These panels appear on the right side of the result page. These panels contain snippets of information that enhance search results.
Sponsored search results
Anything that an advertiser pays for to display in SERPs is a part of sponsored search results. Google dedicates a special place for these results on a page. They are typically at the top or bottom of the result page.
Two main types of sponsored search results include:
- Pay-per-click ads
- Shopping results
Most of the search results appearing on a SERP are organic listings. These are the common websites that make an effort to win rank in search results. That’s why these results can be quite diversified based on content, design, and other website features.
Features of organic listings include:
- The plain blue link
- Courses (usually online courses described in a website)
- Fact checks
- Q&A Results
- Sitelinks Search Box
Google may choose to enhance your website’s listing by using several visual features. It improves the user search experience. How your website appears in these organic results depends entirely on how you have structured your data.
The types of rich results that Google displays are:
- News: Articles & Top Stories
- Featured Snippets
- Image & Video Results
- Local Business Data
- Google OneBox
- People Also Ask
- Searches Related To
Google knowledge panels
Google Knowledge Panels typically appear on the right side of the SERP. This feature uses Google Knowledge Graph, which is based on the collection of information about different entities such as people, places, things, behaviors, and many other parameters. This feature may also contain SERPs features mentioned above. This panel aims at providing information that Google thinks as the most essential.