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Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

Term: Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

Definition: A Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is the page displayed by a search engine in response to a user’s search query.

Alternative Names: Search Results Page


Expanded explanation: A search engine results page, or SERP, consists of two main sections: organic results and paid results. Organic results are listings that closely match the user’s search query and are ranked by the search engine’s algorithm. Paid results, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) ads, are displayed because advertisers have devoted some marketing budget to have their listings appear when specific search terms are entered. SERPs can also feature rich snippets, image packs, knowledge graphs and other special content results depending on the nature of the search query.

Benefits or importance: Understanding the layout and dynamics of SERPs is crucial for digital marketers and SEO specialists. Achieving a high ranking on SERPs can drive significant traffic to a website, leading to increased visibility and potential conversions. Also, analysing the content of SERPs can provide insights into search engine algorithms and user behaviour.

Common misconceptions or pitfalls: One common misconception is that all SERPs are the same. In reality, search engines personalise SERPs based on numerous factors, including the user’s location, search history and device type. Another pitfall is ignoring the importance of being visible in the ‘above the fold’ area of SERPs, which is the part of the page visible without scrolling.

Use cases: SERPs are crucial in the realm of digital marketing and SEO. Marketers perform analysis of search engine results pages to understand the competition for specific keywords, to study the user intent behind various search queries and to optimise websites and content to improve their ranking on SERPs.

Real-world examples:

1. An online retailer of camping equipment wants to improve its search engine ranking for the keyword ‘camping tent’. The SEO team analyses the SERP for ‘camping tent”‘ studying the top-ranking pages, the type of content featured (product listings, guides, blog posts) and the presence of paid ads. This information guides their SEO strategy, informing decisions about on-page optimisation, content creation and PPC advertising.

2. A local restaurant in London wants to rank higher when people search for the ‘best Italian restaurant in London’. They optimise their website with relevant keywords and encourage happy customers to leave reviews on Google to improve their local search rankings. When a user searches for the ‘best Italian restaurant in London’, the SERP may feature a ‘local pack’ listing local businesses that match the search query, including the restaurant.

Best practices or tips:

  • Use relevant keywords: Incorporate keywords that are relevant to your content and that your target audience is likely to use.
  • Create high-quality content: This is key to achieving higher rankings on SERPs. Ensure your content is original, useful and engaging.
  • Optimise for mobile: With the majority of searches now performed on mobile devices, it’s essential to have a mobile-friendly website.
  • Improve page speed: A faster-loading site provides a better user experience and is favoured by search engines.
  • Secure your website: Having an HTTPS website is another factor that search engines take into account.

Limitations or considerations: Achieving a high ranking on SERPs can be a complex and time-consuming task due to the constant changes in search engine algorithms and competition. Also, high rankings do not guarantee higher click-through rates or conversions – these depend on factors like the relevance and quality of your content and the alignment of your content with user intent.


SERPs are unique to each search engine, so a SERP on Google may look different from a SERP on Bing or Yahoo. Each search engine uses its own algorithm to determine the ranking of results. Google, being the most popular search engine, often sets the standard for SEO best practices.

Historical context or development:

Since the advent of search engines in the early 1990s, search engine results pages have continually evolved. In the beginning, search results were simple lists of webpages that contained the search terms. However, as search engines became more sophisticated, so too did their results pages. Today, SERPs can include a wide range of results, such as featured snippets, local listings, image packs, shopping results and more.

Resources for further learning:

Related services:

Related terms: SEO, Keyword Research, On-Page Optimisation, Off-Page Optimisation, Local SEO, Mobile SEO, Organic Search, Paid Search