Search engine results page
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A search engine results page (SERP) is the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query. The results normally include a list of items with titles, a reference to the full version, and a short description showing where the keywords have matched content within the page. A SERP may refer to a single page of links returned, or to the set of all links returned for a search query.
SERPs of major search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, may include different types of listings: contextual, algorithmic or organic search listings, as well as sponsored listings, images, maps, definitions, videos or suggested search refinements.
The major search engines visually differentiate specific content types such as images, news, and blogs. Many content types have specialized SERP templates and visual enhancements on the main search result page.
There are basically three main components of SERP: the actual search query, organic SERP listings, and paid SERP listings.
Actual search query
Also known as 'user search string', this is the word or set of words that are typed by the user in the search bar of the search engine. The search box is located on all major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Users will look for the topic based on the keywords they enter into the search box in the search engine
Organic SERP listings are the natural listings generated by search engines based on a series of metrics that determines their relevance to the searched term. Webpages that score well on a search engine's algorithmic test show in this list. These algorithms are generally based upon factors such as the content of a webpage, the trustworthiness of the website, and external factors such as backlinks, social media, news, advertising, etc.
Each page of search engine results usually contains 10 organic listings (however some results pages may have fewer organic listings). The listings, which are on the first page are the most important ones, because those get 91% of the click through rates (CTR) from a particular search. According to a 2013 study, the CTR's for the first page goes as:
- TOP 1: 32.5%
- TOP 2: 17.6%
- TOP 3: 11.4%
- TOP 4: 8.1%
- TOP 5: 6.1%
- TOP 6: 4.4%
- TOP 7: 3.5%
- TOP 8: 3.1%
- TOP 9: 2.6%
- TOP 10: 2.4%
Paid SERP listings are advertisements, or sponsored links, included by search engines in their search results. Websites pay search engines to have their web pages listed here. However, this service is distinct from pay per click, which refers to advertisements placed on websites.
Search engine suppression
When a business or individual finds unfavourable information in a search engine results page it can affect their online reputation. Search result suppression is the act of burying and pushing down negative content by optimising websites and profiles that outrank the offending content. This is a branch of Search engine optimisation where multiple profiles are boosted in order to control the order of results on the SERP.
Major search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing primarily use content contained within the page and fallback to metadata tags of a web page to generate the content that makes up a search snippet. The HTML title tag will be used as the title of the snippet while the most relevant or useful contents of the web page (description tag or page copy) will be used for the description.
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- Anatomy of a search snippet