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SERP | What Does SERP Stand For In SEO?

SERP | What Does SERP Stand For In SEO?

We can safely state that literally almost everyone has seen the Google results page. We all know that you can enter your search query at the top and that search results are displayed below.

But there's more to it than meets eye. Do you know what elements search results consist of exactly And did you know you actively need to provide Google with extra information to create some of them?

In this post, we're going to take you through the Google results page to make sure you're up to speed on snippets, featured results, knowledge graphs, etcetera. In a later module, called "rich results", we'll tell you more about rich results and how to get them.

Search Engine Results Page

For now, let's explore the basics. Below the search bar in which you enter your queries is a menu which gives you the option of filtering search results. You can filter images, videos, news, maps, shopping, books, flights and finance.For some companies, it's interesting to optimize specifically for one of these options. However, the "all" option is far and away the most important one, so we'll focus on that.

The first couple of results are often taken by advertisements. Companies pay Google to show up in these places. Sometimes there are three ads, sometimes there are none at all; it all depends on whether companies are willing to pony up the sum Google has determined for that keyword.

The cost of advertising is related to the popularity of the search term. Ads are recognizable by the little green box containing the word 'ad'. Sometimes, the results are set apart and you can see the word "sponsored" above it. This can happen when you're shopping for clothing, for example. If you want to advertise on Google, you should check out Google AdWords.

For now, we'll leave it at that. Because Search Engine Advertising is a separate field from SEO, which we at Yoast do not focus on. The organic results are our bread and butter. SEO is all about trying to claim that number one spot in this part of the Google search results page.

Research shows that as much as a third of the total traffic comes from the number one result, and 17% from the second result. That means that about half of the searchers click one of the first two results. Moreover, 90% of the searchers doesn't get beyond the first page of the search results. The numbers steadily decline for each result. So being at the top of the search results is hugely important.

Now let's explore what these search results consist of. We call every separate search result a snippet. A standard snippet consists of three elements: the title (in blue), a URL or slug (in green) and a meta description (in black). In the meta description, you should give a clear description of what your page is about. Your meta description should entice users to click the result, so it's hugely important. With our plugin, you can determine the title and slug, and give Google a suggestion for the meta description. 

Sometimes, there's more to these snippets than just these three elements. In that case, we call the snippet a rich snippet. You'll learn more about rich snippets and other rich results later in this course. Sometimes, a snippet is set apart from the regular search results all the way at the top of the page. This is called a featured snippet.

A featured snippet is a highlighted search box that answers the question you type into the Google search bar. Featured snippets often appear as a paragraph or a bulleted list, accompanied by an image. And if you perform voice search, Google may read out the information in the search results. As voice search is becoming increasingly popular, it's becoming more and more important to aim for featured results. The Knowledge Graph box appears on the right side of the search results. 

Let's look at the Yoast Knowledge Graph, for example. According to Google, this information is retrieved from many different sources, including the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia. Like featured results, information from the Knowledge Graph can be used to answer spoken questions in Google Assistant and Google Home voice queries. 
We'll go into Knowledge Graphs in more detail in the module on rich results. An answer box appears somewhere between the organic search results. It'll give suggestions for questions that relate to the search query you typed in. 
If you're searching for Yoast SEO you'll encounter this answer box between the organic search results. Clicking on one of the suggestions will give a direct answer to the specific question you asked.

So there you have it! The Google search results page is more complicated than it seems at first sight. Now that you have an idea of how Google works, let's explore the field of SEO and how you can make sure that you reach that top position!
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