Making sense of search results
I’m guessing you’ve probably “Googled” something this week and in doing so you probably stayed on the first page results. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is how the marketing world get search engines such as Google or Bing to show your website higher up on their page results. This is more specifically known as search engine results page or SERP for short.
There are a number of elements to SERP that can make it a little tricky to grasp but don’t worry, we’ll help you understand a SERP so you have a better handle on SEO. Are you ready?
Let’s start when someone, we’ll call them a user, enters a topic or question (a query) to search in a search engine. Once the user hits enter, the search engine will produce a list of results – which the user expects to be as relevant as possible. This is known as the results page.
This seems fairly straightforward and many users expect (at least to some degree) the results to be based on relevancy but in actuality a SERP is a little more complex than that.
Next, we will take a look at the structure of a SERP.
These are the first results you see – at the top of the page above the fold. In an attempt to be more transparent Google has put added a notation of Ad next to the images or written result. These are typically pay-per-click (PPC) ads which businesses pay to the search engine every time a user clicks an ad.
If your search was for something related to a local business, Google shows the locations of the top-ranked results on an interactive map. When this map is clicked, a larger map will appear with a list of the businesses on the right. By clicking on one of the businesses listed, a detailed listing will appear with links to the website, contact information, directions and reviews.
Generally there will be the top 10 organic results displayed on the first page. These are the websites and pages the search engine has deemed as most relevant.
The placement of organic results and local results switch depending on what you have entered into the query. A hunt for snowboards in Edmonton will produce local results above organic results on a SERP but if you are looking for information pertaining to governance, Organic Results will be displayed above
What can you do?
SEO titles and descriptions matter. Each webpage included on the SERP has a SEO page title and a brief description of what is included for SEO titles (title tags) and descriptions (meta descriptions) summarizing what is one that particular page and therefore what information is included on each page on your website must be carefully considered - accuracy matters here.
On the results page, the blue line is the meta title or title, and black text below it is the meta description.
Note having a Google My Business profile with updated reviews will increase the likelihood of showing up in results. If you don’t already have a profile, here’s the link you need.
Keep in mind search engines like Google are getting smarter all the time and adjusting SERP’s based on the query entered.