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Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) are the pages displayed by search engines in response to a query by a user. The main component of the SERP is the listing of results that are returned by the
search engine A search engine is a software system A software system is a system of intercommunicating software component, components based on forming part of a computer system (a combination of Computer hardware, hardware and software). It "consists of a n ...
in response to a keyword query. The results are of two general types : *
organic search In Web search engines, organic search results are the query results which are calculated strictly algorithmically, and not affected by advertiser payments. They are distinguished from various kinds of sponsored results, whether they are explicit pa ...
: retrieved by the search engine's algorithm * sponsored search: advertisements. The results are normally ranked by
relevance Relevance is the concept of one topic being connected to another topic in a way that makes it useful to consider the second topic when considering the first. The concept of relevance is studied in many different fields, including cognitive scie ...
to the query. Each result displayed on the SERP normally includes a title, a link that points to the actual page on the
Web Web most often refers to: * Spider web A spider web, spiderweb, spider's web, or cobweb (from the archaic word '' coppe'', meaning "spider") is a structure created by a spider Spiders ( order Araneae) are air-breathing arthropod An ar ...
, and a short
description Description is the pattern of narrative development that aims to make vivid a place, object, character, or group. Description is one of four rhetorical modes Rhetorical modes (also known as modes of discourse) describe the variety, conventions, ...
showing where the keywords have matched content within the page for organic results. For sponsored results, the advertiser chooses what to display. Due to the huge number of items that are available or related to the query, there are usually several pages in response to a single search query as the search engine or the user's preferences restrict viewing to a subset of results per page. Each succeeding page will tend to have lower ranking or lower relevancy results. Just like the world of traditional print media and its
advertising Advertising is a marketing Marketing is the process of intentionally stimulating demand for and purchases of goods and services; potentially including selection of a target audience; selection of certain attributes or themes to emphasi ...

advertising
, this enables competitive pricing for page real estate, but is complicated by the dynamics of consumer expectations and intent— unlike static print media where the content and the advertising on every page is the same all of the time for all viewers, despite such hard copy being localized to some degree, usually geographic, like state, metro-area, city, or
neighbourhood A neighbourhood (British English, Hiberno-English, Hibernian English, Australian English and Canadian English) or neighborhood (American English; American and British English spelling differences, see spelling differences) is a geographicall ...
, search engine results can vary based on individual factors such as browsing habits.


Components

The organic search results, query, and advertisements are the three main components of the SERP, However, the SERP of major search engines, like
Google Google LLC is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational stat ...

Google
,
Yahoo! Yahoo (, styled as yahoo''!'') is an American web services The term Web service (WS) is either: * a service offered by an electronic device to another electronic device, communicating with each other via the World Wide Web, or * a server run ...
,
Bing Bing most often refers to: * Bing Crosby Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby Jr. (May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977) was an American singer, comedian and actor. The first multimedia star, Crosby was one of the most popular and influential musical a ...
,
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,
Sogou Sogou, Inc. () is a Chinese technology company that offers a search engine A search engine is a software system A software system is a system of intercommunicating software component, components based on forming part of a computer system ...
may include many different types of enhanced results (
organic search In Web search engines, organic search results are the query results which are calculated strictly algorithmically, and not affected by advertiser payments. They are distinguished from various kinds of sponsored results, whether they are explicit pa ...
, and sponsored) such as rich snippets, images, maps, definitions, answer boxes, videos or suggested search refinements. A recent study revealed that 97% of queries in Google returned at least one rich feature. The major search engines visually differentiate specific content types such as
image An image (from la, imago) is an artifact that depicts visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment (biophysical), environment through photopic vision (daytime vision), color vision, sco ...

image
s,
news News is information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whethe ...

news
, and
blog A blog (a truncation In mathematics and computer science, truncation is limiting the number of numerical digit, digits right of the decimal point. Truncation and floor function Truncation of positive real numbers can be done using the f ...
s. Many content types have specialized SERP
templates Template may refer to: Tools * Die (manufacturing), used to cut or shape material * Mold, in a molding (process), molding process * Stencil, a pattern or overlay used in graphic arts (drawing, painting, etc.) and sewing to replicate letters, shap ...
and visual enhancements on the first search results page.


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, Bing,
Petal Petals are modified leaves A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant plant stem, stem, usually borne above ground and specialized for photosynthesis. The leaves, stem, flower and fruit together fo ...
,
Sogou Sogou, Inc. () is a Chinese technology company that offers a search engine A search engine is a software system A software system is a system of intercommunicating software component, components based on forming part of a computer system ...
. Users indicate the topic desired based on the keywords they enter into the search box in the search engine. In the competition between search engines to draw the attention of more users and advertisers, consumer satisfaction has been a driving force in the evolution of the
search algorithm In computer science, a search algorithm is an algorithm (typically involving a multitude of other, more specific algorithms ) which solves a search problem. Search algorithms work to retrieve information stored within some data structure, or calc ...
applied to better filter the results by relevancy. Search queries are no longer successful based upon merely finding words that match purely by spelling. Intent and expectations have to be derived to determine whether the appropriate result is a match based upon the broader meanings drawn from context. And that sense of context has grown from simple matching of words, and then of phrases, to the matching of ideas. And the meanings of those ideas change over time and context. Successful matching can be crowdsourced, what are others currently searching for and clicking on, when one enters keywords related to those other searches. And crowdsourcing may be focused based upon one's own social networking. With the advent of portable devices, smartphones, and wearable devices, watches, and various sensors, these provide ever more contextual dimensions for consumers and advertisers to refine and maximize relevancy using such additional factors that may be gleaned like: a person's relative health, wealth, and various other statuses, time of day, personal habits, mobility, location, weather, and nearby services and opportunities, whether urban or suburban, like events, food, recreation, and business. Social context and crowdsourcing influences can also be pertinent factors. The move away from keyboard input and the search box to voice access, aside from convenience, also makes other factors available to varying degrees of accuracy and pertinence, like a person's character, intonation, mood, accent, ethnicity, and even elements overheard from nearby people and the background environment. Searching is changing from explicit keywords: on TV show w, did x marry y or z, or election results for candidate x in county y for this date z, or final scores for team x in game y for this date z to vocalizing from a particular time and location: hey, so who won. And getting the results that one expects.


Organic results

Organic SERP listings are the natural listings generated by
search engines A search engine is a software system that is designed to carry out web searches (Internet searches), which means to search the World Wide Web upright=1.35, A global map of the web index for countries in 2014 The World Wide Web (WWW), ...
based on a series of metrics that determine their relevance to the searched term. Webpages that score well on a search engine's algorithmic test shown in this list. These algorithms are generally based upon factors such as quality and relevance of the content, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of the website and author on a given topic, good user experience and
backlink A backlink for a given web resource is a link Link or Links may refer to: Places * Link, West Virginia, an unincorporated community in the US * Link River, Klamath Falls, Oregon, US People with the name * Link (singer) (Lincoln Browder, b ...

backlink
s. People tend to view the first results on the first page. Each page of search engine results usually contains 10 organic listings (however some results pages may have fewer organic listings). According to a 2019 study, the click-through rates (CTRs) for the first page goes as follows: * Position 1: 31.7% * Position 2: 24.7% * Position 3: 18.7% * Position 4: 13.6% * Position 5: 9.5% * Position 6: 6.2% * Position 7: 4.2% * Position 8: 3.1% * Position 9: 3% * Position 10: 3.1%


Sponsored results

Several major search engines offer "sponsored results" to companies, who may pay the search engine to have their products or services appear above other search hits. This is often done in the form of bidding between companies, where the highest bidder gets the top result. A 2018 report from the European Commission showed that consumers generally avoid these top results, as there is an expectation that the topmost results on a search engine page will be sponsored, and thus less relevant.


Rich snippets

Rich snippets are displayed by
Google Google LLC is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational stat ...

Google
in the search results pages when a website contains content in structured data markup. Structured data markup helps the Google algorithm to index and understand the content better. Google supports rich snippets for the following data types: * Product – Information about a product, including price, availability, and review ratings. * Recipe – Recipes that can be displayed in web searches and Recipe View. * Review – A review of an item such as a restaurant, movie, or store. * Event – An organized event, such as musical concerts or art festivals, that people may attend at a particular time and place. * Software Application – Information about a software app, including its URL, review ratings, and price. * Video – An online video, including a description and thumbnail, and shows the three resources of answers image, content, and URL in one box. * News article – A news article, including the headline, images, and publisher info. * Science datasets * Job-related content * Mark up "how-to" pages * Sitelinks Search Box * Frequently asked questions (FAQ) * Movie * Job training & job posting * Breadcrumb


Featured snippets

Featured Snippet is a summary of an answer to a user's query. This snippet appears at the top of the list of search hits. Google supports the following types of featured snippets:


Knowledge graph

Search engines like Google, Bing,
Sogou Sogou, Inc. () is a Chinese technology company that offers a search engine A search engine is a software system A software system is a system of intercommunicating software component, components based on forming part of a computer system ...
have started to expand their data into
Encyclopedia An encyclopedia (American English), encyclopædia (archaic spelling), or encyclopaedia (British English) is a reference work or compendium providing summaries of knowledge either from all branches or from a particular field or discipline. ...
and other rich sources of information. Google for example calls this sort of information "
Google Knowledge Graph Knowledge panel data about Thomas Jefferson displayed on Google Search, as of January 2015">Google_Search.html" ;"title="Thomas Jefferson displayed on Google Search">Thomas Jefferson displayed on Google Search, as of January 2015 The Google Kn ...
", if a search query matches it will display an additional sub-window on right hand side with information from its sources.


Google Discover

Google discover formerly known as Google feed is a way of getting topics and news information to users on the homepage below the search box.


Things to Know

Google had organized an event on 29 September 2021, Google has announced various vital updates in that event; some of the major updates are related to Multitask Unified Model (MUM), Answers to Exploration, Shopping, Quality information, and Security. Many of the things we come to search for don’t have a single answer. In fact, behind every query, there are so many questions. Therefore, Google has rolled out the “Things to know” update on the search page to overcome this matter.This will be an overview of exploring different ways of a topic and this will assist in finding the best results easily and quickly for the user. "Things to know" update addressed by '
Elizabeth Reid
'' (Head of Google Search Experiences)


Generation

Major search engines like
Google Google LLC is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational stat ...

Google
,
Yahoo! Yahoo (, styled as yahoo''!'') is an American web services The term Web service (WS) is either: * a service offered by an electronic device to another electronic device, communicating with each other via the World Wide Web, or * a server run ...
,
Bing Bing most often refers to: * Bing Crosby Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby Jr. (May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977) was an American singer, comedian and actor. The first multimedia star, Crosby was one of the most popular and influential musical a ...
,
Petal Petals are modified leaves A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant plant stem, stem, usually borne above ground and specialized for photosynthesis. The leaves, stem, flower and fruit together fo ...
,
Sogou Sogou, Inc. () is a Chinese technology company that offers a search engine A search engine is a software system A software system is a system of intercommunicating software component, components based on forming part of a computer system ...
primarily use content contained within the page and fallback to
metadata Metadata is "data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of values of qualitative property, qualitative or quantity, quantitative variable (research), v ...

metadata
tags of a
web page A web page (or webpage) is a hypertext Hypertext is text displayed on a or other with references () to other text that the reader can immediately access. Hypertext documents are interconnected by hyperlinks, which are typically acti ...

web page
to generate the content that makes up a search snippet. Generally, the
HTML The HyperText Markup Language, or HTML is the standard markup language #REDIRECT Markup language In computer text processing, a markup language is a system for annotation, annotating a document in a way that is Syntax (logic), syntacticall ...

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.


Scraping and automated access

Search engine result pages are protected from automated access by a range of defensive mechanisms and terms of service. These result pages are the primary data source for
Search engine optimization Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web page A web page (or webpage) is a hypertext File:D ...
, the website placement for competitive keywords that has become an important field of business and interest. Google has even used
Twitter Twitter is an American microblogging Microblogging is an online Broadcasting, broadcast medium that exists as a specific form of blogging. A micro-blog differs from a traditional blog in that its content is typically smaller in both actu ...

Twitter
to warn users against this practice The sponsored (creative) results on Google can cost a large amount of money for advertisers. The most expensive keywords are for legal services, especially personal injury lawyers in highly competitive markets. These keywords range in the hundreds of USD, while the most expensive is nearly 1000 USD for each sponsored click. The process of harvesting search engine result pages data is usually called " search engine scraping" or in a general form "
web crawling A Web crawler, sometimes called a spider or spiderbot and often shortened to crawler, is an Internet bot that systematically browses the World Wide Web, typically operated by search engines for the purpose of Web indexing (''web spidering''). W ...
" and generates the data SEO-related companies need to evaluate website competitive organic and sponsored rankings. This data can be used to track the position of websites and show the effectiveness of SEO as well as keywords that may need more SEO investment to rank higher.


See also

*
User intent User intent, otherwise known as query intent or search intent, is the identification and categorization of what a user online intended or wanted to find when they typed their search terms into an online web search engine A search engine is a ...


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Search Engine Results Page Search engine optimization Internet search engines
Internet terminology Internet, Terminology Computing terminology World Wide Web, Terminology Internet culture, Terminology {{CatAutoTOC ...