SERP stands for ‘search engine results page’. The SERPs are the pages of search results that search engines display when someone does an internet search. For example, if you google ‘funny cat videos’, you’ll see a page of cat videos with a few standard web pages thrown in for good measure. That’s the first SERP for your search.
The items displayed on the SERPs vary and may include organic search results and paid search results (paid ads). For many searches, most of the items that appear in the SERPs are webpages or blog posts, however, other content is being shown more often, and as illustrated by the above example, certain searches will yield more of the other types of content.
In addition to standard web pages, SERPs can show videos, podcasts, images, social media posts, news articles, scholarly articles, products, featured snippets, and more.
Important things to know about the SERPs
Most of the time, searchers find the answer to their question, or the content they’re looking for, on the first SERP. They might click on one or more listings displayed on the first SERP, so they can view the full piece of content. Or they might find what they’re searching for in the listing itself. In fact, more than half of all Google searches now result in zero clicks, meaning that the searcher found what they wanted in the search results themselves. This is particularly common when the first organic search result is a rich, featured snippet, like a list or map of nearby businesses.
Occasionally a zero-click search happens when the searcher didn’t get the kind of results they expected and they might change to a different query. But this is becoming less common as search engine algorithms improve and computer literacy increases.
So, zero-click searches are most common when a featured snippet is displayed. And as Google rolls out new features, they’re becoming increasingly common for other types of search results as well. For instance, in May 2019, Google started rolling out a new podcast-related search feature that they announced at I/O 2019. If there’s a podcast episode that’s relevant to your search query, you can now play the episode directly from the search result. The same goes for videos, which you can play from the SERPs without going to YouTube or another video hosting provider.
This all means that very few searchers scroll through to the second or subsequent SERPs, let alone click through to any of the pieces of content displayed in the second or subsequent SERPs.
As such, optimising content so it’s more likely to appear at the top of the first page of the SERPs for important keywords, is an important part of creating successful content. The practice and process of optimising content for this purpose are both called search engine optimisation or SEO.
All business owners today absolutely must have a basic understanding of SEO if they don’t want significant proportions of their possible business going to their competitors.