Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Complete Guide

Search Engine Results Page
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Due to the paradigm shift in technology, over a million pages on the web today are clamoring to have a footing in digital marketing. However, it is obvious that search engine results pages have taken the order of the day. 

Search engine results pages (SERPs) have gained prominence in digital marketing. Both SEO technocrats and PPC advertisers seek asylum in it in order to maximize their visibility.

SEO can best be described as the page that a search engine returns after a user submit a search query and it is termed an organic search result.

This is to say search engine results pages (SERPs) usually include paid search and pay-per-click (PPC) ads. With this, the SEO ranking position on a SERP can be competitive as a result of users’ chances to click on results that are at the top of the page. 

Don’t forget, SERPs are becoming much more complex by the day in trying to offer solutions to the problems users have at hand.

More importantly, too, over 90% of consumer traffic is assigned to websites that are ranked on the first page of Google search results. The failure of your website not to be counted among the first becomes a problem. However, there are strategies that will help boost your ranking if properly applied.

In this article, we will be taking you through the strategies you can use to help boost your ranking, but you must have an understanding of search engine results pages and how they rank results.

#1. What is a search engine results page? 

SERPs is an acronym that stands for search engine results pages, which can best be described as web pages where a user searches for something online by way of a search engine like Google, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, Naver, and a host of others.

However, there are different search engine (SERPs) designs, but Google has become the most prominent one due to over 80% of the market share it holds. Therefore, our focus here will be primarily on the features and algorithms of Google.

As unique as SERP is, you can find it when the search queries are performed on the same search engine using the same keyword or search queries. All search engines are customized to the responsive experience for their users, and the result is presented based on a wide range of factors beyond their search terms, like the user location, browsing history, and social settings.

Though two SERPs may appear to be identical with most of the same results, there must be a subtle difference in features in the end.

#2. What are the different types of search queries? 

The SERP features that display after a search depends on the type of search query entered. Search queries characteristically are into three (3) categories: navigational, informational, or transactional.

Navigational queries

Navigational queries are described when a user is in search of an actual website via search. This explains when you don’t type the site’s full URL simply because you have forgotten. Due to this, it can be very difficult to reach the first page of these results if the searcher is specifically looking for you. 

Today, consider using navigational queries for your site. With this, you can buy ads for the keywords you want to rank on.

Informational queries

An informational query is a situation where users want to learn/find certain things like facts on a topic or to perform a particular task. Here, the intention of the search is not to make a purchase but basically to obtain information.

This is to say, there is no need for placing ads or other related paid results on a SERP of this kind but purely concentrate wholly only on informational results to be displayed on the SERP here, in order to solve the problem of the users.

More interestingly, try as much as possible to add multimedia content to your site. It is an effective way to generate traffic from informational queries.

Transactional queries

Yeah, it is obvious that transactional queries are made when users are thinking of making purchases. Therefore, this is where paid results are likely to appear on the SERP. Transactional searchers have the most revenue potential, the search queries here should basically include keywords that will have a lot of bids for pay-per-click spots.

Additionally, according to research by online advertising group WordStream, paid ads are popular among businesses that are effective on transactional SERPs because they received almost 65% of clicks. 

#3. Paid ads versus organic listings 

Paid ads and organic listings seem to be similar on a Google SERP and both can help you to drive traffic to your site only if you properly apply a strategy that will accommodate them both. However, to offer you a better understanding, we will treat the two concepts differently.

What are paid ads?

Paid ads are considered those ads that have been paid in order to be displayed by an advertiser. Before now, paid ads were limited to small text-based ads that can be displayed above and to the right of the organic results.

Simply put in another perspective, a paid ad is basically that type of online promotion where an ad is displayed depending on the content of the page or request entered in the search engine. 

This then means users see these ads and if the said product or service meets their interests, it is being promoted. That is to say, paid ads are the placement of advertising messages in relevant content.

As a matter of fact, perhaps, you can see such ads differently in a day. These are the first results in search results, next to which there is an “Ad” mark, a banner on separate pages, pop-up videos in the middle of a master class, or a mobile game. Paid advertising appears on social media feeds and it also “pretends” to be linked to other articles on news sites. 

Benefits of paid ads

Paid ads are usually displayed at the top of the search results page by Google. Note that there are typically several businesses vying for the same search keyword, however, so Google must also determine which ads land on the front page of results. 

How can Google do that? 

This is where Google considers several factors, like the bid amount, the quality of the site pages and the clicks on your ad, the quality of the ad itself, and the relevance to the search are the indices Google will use. 

When these factors are dully checked and, in conclusion, Google sees that your site is better and more relevant than the others competing, then you’ll finally appear on the front page.

The importance of organic listings

Organic listings, on the other hand, are one of the techniques that can allow your site the chances of being ranked higher on SERP, and organic listings become part of search engine optimization.

In another development, a search engine organic listing is the normal or unpaid indexing of a website on a search engine results page (SERP). That is to say, these are natural listings of the web pages that Google has crawled, indexed, and then ranked because they deem them valuable for the search. The more informative and helpful the page is around the search term, the higher it’s rated.

Google search term example
Image credit: Google

Using the image above, you can see the search term: “digital marketing”.

Here, the first result is an advert at the top of the result page and it is marked Ad in bold, on the left-hand side of the SERP, while the organic listings come after the ad.

Therefore, website owners can use organic search engine optimization tactics to gain a good search engine listing. 

#4. Ranking Signals and Search Algorithms

These are organic results that are judged (index) using different indices which are best described as “ranking signals”.

There are factors Google does use to evaluate sites and these factors are based on the different ranking factors that numbered hundreds. Knowing where to aim your SEO strategy for the biggest bang might seem impossible.

Going by this, Google will continue adjusting ranking signals to best meet the needs of searchers and possibly accommodate the new SEO trends. 

Being creative will give you an upper hand in ranking. While ranking signals are far from limited, you can explore more to take advantage of them so as to be ranked high.

#5. Search Engine Optimization

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It means the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business on Google, Bing, and other search engines.

The visibility of your pages in search results makes your chances high of attracting prospective and existing customers to your business. This is achievable using certain techniques like on-page, SEO to ‘off-page, etc.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. This means, both the content and HTML source code of a page can be optimized.

Though there are so many changes over the years, therefore, it is important you keep up with the latest practices regarding on-page ranking factors. 

Off-Page SEO

On the part of off-page SEO, it is an effort made outside of your website to improve your search engine rankings. Remember, the Google algorithm doesn’t just use your website to rank pages; basically, your entire web presence is judged. 

According to First Page Sage, backlinks constitute over 16% of ranking factors. This implies that the websites that peruse your content and in what context they refer to your brand say a lot about your content. 

The common sense here is that off-page SEO is a clear show of who’s speaking about your brand.

In essence, websites with high authority when they reference your blog posts, will drastically improve a post’s authority and build trust. The fairness judge using these links ultimately helps your website rank higher in search engine results and gain more organic traffic.

Link-building efforts are a part of every content marketer’s successful off-page SEO strategy. The truth is, there are other ways to boost your website off-page and they are necessary for ranking in search results, generating website traffic, and growing your business.

The main thing that successful off-page SEO techniques have in common is authority and trust. Links, mentions, and social signals combine to provide a complete picture of how authoritative your brand is.

Active link-building and social media strategies will go a long way to improving your off-page SEO.

#6. PPC and Search Engine Results Pages

Pay-per-click marketing is mainly centered on the amount of money put on advertising in order to gain a position on search engine results pages. It may sound simple, as if when you put more money on a campaign-advertisers, then more money comes your way. You must be able to think and act tactically to achieve this goal.

Additionally, paid search is more of when you are auctioning. In this regard, advertisers bid on relevant keywords to be mentioned in their business that will, in the end, call users to act when they search those terms. Though several factors determine where an ad will be displayed on the SERP. 

It is true that some ads might be displayed above the organic search results, whereas others may be shown to the right of the organic results. Some advertisers choose to limit the display of their ads to mobile searches.

#7. What are the features of a SERP? 

SERP features today are considered to be an additional element on a search engine results page that adds a distinctive format to a search result. Additionally, it helps to display the site name and metadata, and searches can easily return images, tweets, or information cards.

According to Google, these kinds of search results features or search features are often tested so as to improve the features and to provide a user-friendly search engine experience.

Here are some of the most common SERP features you may see on Google: 

  • Knowledge graph features: These are commonly found in a panel or box on the SERP, often on the right-hand side.
  • Rich snippets: This feature helps to add more visuals to a result, such as photos in news results.
  • Paid results: This is where you will bid on relevant keywords. Paid results will include a label at the top to specify that the result is an ad.
  • Universal results: These are special results that appear alongside organic ones.

Below is a list of the features you might see on a SERP. If you want your page to display as a specific feature, think about how you can revise and reorganize your site to achieve it.

Google Ads

Google Ads are commonly found at the top or bottom of the SERP. When your ads appear more at the top of SERP, you will welcome more views than at the bottom.

For you to be at the top of the SERP requires so much effort to be invested in terms of time and resources. Your site must be high quality, with a high pay-per-click bid depending on how competitive the keywords are. 

This is the only way readers will see your ad before any organic search results.

Featured snippet

A featured snippet provides users with a quick answer to their search query. This appears when users enter informational search queries. Google displays them above the organic search results, indicating the relevant selection of a website as a list, a table, or text, and with an accompanying image or video. 

The featured snippet box is more prominent because it is placed in a way to call the attention of users rather than the organic search results, websites with this can expect a higher click-through rate (CTR) and more traffic. 

Google also displays the title and the URL of the website in the snippet, giving users more information about the source domain. What is not shown is the meta description. With the snippet being placed above the organic search results, in Position 0, the corresponding URL of that website can expect an increase in organic traffic.

Additionally, Google will display highlighted snippets for a multitude of search queries on the first search results page. The ranking of these snippets is often referred to as ‘Position 0’. Snippets contain relevant content from a website that matches the user’s search query. A featured snippet is made up of a number of content elements from the landing page, ranked as follows within the snippet:

  • Text snippet
  • List snippet
  • Table snippet
  • Video snippet
An advise shared by Himani on how to optimize for featured snippets

If your content provides more value to the intent behind the search query, search engines will serve your content in the featured snippet.

Himani Kankaria shares her advice and tactics on how to optimize for featured snippets.

Image pack

SERP includes a row of images and a click-through to a Google Images search. This becomes necessary when Google’s algorithm determines that visual information is relevant to a search. 

The different algorithm used for images other than for written content by Google is key for helping search engines to find and rank your image content. This is strictly done with best practices to guarantee the result.

 Be sure to use:

  • Accurate and descriptive file names
  • An accurate and engaging page title
  • Image captions and alt text 
  • Relevant surrounding text
  • A readable page URL
  • Rectangular photos where the sizes and dimensions are moderate (16x9sq, 4x3sq)

Count yourself lucky when you get your image embedded on other sites, you stand a better chance of appearing in the SERP image pack.

Local teaser pack

The local teaser pack offers information about each business. When you click on the photo next to a business’s name, you can see details about what it sells.

News box

News boxes pop up if a search yields time-specific results and/or recent news stories. Whether you run a full-blown news website or just have a section for news, you can submit your site to Google’s News Publisher Center. Google’s news algorithm automatically crawls accepted pages, so the news box is a great way to get views if you have the right kind of content.

Related questions

There are so many similar searches that use different words. Often, Google displays these on a SERP under the heading, “People also ask” or “Questions related to [search term].”

Nowadays, there is a rise in the number of clicks on “related questions” results has been There’s only one link per related question, and for your site to get that spot, it has to be on the first page of results for that related question. Once you’re there, you can make some SEO changes to help Google pick your site for a “related questions” answer.


Many time, there is review data that display star rankings. This will appear on a SERP following a transactional query. Results seen here are mostly clicks on 4 or 5 stars. 

How do you get into reviewing features? Simply, you must have reviews with star ratings clearly posted on your website. It is better you add a plugin to your website that allows customers to share testimonials and provide a star rating for your business.


Users find Sitelinks interesting because it helps find specific pages within a site. In a situation where you search for “change my eBay password,” the site links feature will display a link to eBay’s account page nested under the main eBay URL.

This is to say, Google’s web creeps will pick out site links from your website. Ensure you structure your site with clear and relevant headings, like “Products” or “Blog.” This explains that the more site links you get, it becomes easier for visitors to navigate to where they want to go.


The basis for achieving so much on your site using SERPs depends largely on when you strategize your content and site design. Sustaining your momentum with Google’s policies is essential and this is a sure way to guarantee your site to rank highly.

Simon Orshi

Simon Orshi

Simon is a creative copywriter focused mainly on digital marketing and related topics. He loves sharing his expertise with our audience to help improve their blogging and traffic growth skills. He also loves reading, football and blogging.

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