What Is a SERP? A Guide to Search Engine Ranking Pages (2023)

If your website relies on organic traffic, it depends significantly on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Your content should ideally appear in the SERP for your target keywords (preferably in the top spots). If it doesn’t, you might be going about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) all wrong.

In this article, we’ll talk about SERPs and which elements you’ll find on these pages. We’ll also go over essential SERP SEO tips and answer any questions you might have. Let’s get to it!

Table Of Contents

  • 1What Is a SERP?
  • 2Search Engine Results Page Breakdown
    • 2.1SERP Advertisements
    • 2.2Featured Snippets
    • 2.3Rich Snippets
    • 2.4People Also Ask Sections
    • 2.5Knowledge Graphs
    • 2.6Knowledge or Business Cards
  • 3SERP SEO Tips
  • 4Frequently Asked Questions About SERPs
    • 4.1Are Mobile SERPs Different From Desktop Results?
    • 4.2Do Social Media Profiles Appear in SERPs?
    • 4.3Does Social Media Affect SERP Rankings?
    • 4.4How Do I Get Content to Rank Highly in the SERPs?
  • 5Conclusion

What Is a SERP?

You’re probably familiar with how search engines work. You enter a query, and the search engine returns a results page. That’s what we call a SERP:

What Is a SERP? A Guide to Search Engine Ranking Pages (1)

Search results don’t stop at one page, though. Depending on the query, you might be looking at hundreds or thousands of entries. However, the most important results are all on the first SERP.

To give you an idea of this importance: 39.6 percent of all clicks go to the top entry in the SERPs. Positions 2 and 3 get a combined 28.5 percent of clicks. Furthermore, most users never get past the first page of results.

The reality is that if your website doesn’t appear among the first-page results for a keyword that you’re targeting, it might as well not exist. That might sound harsh, but it’s the truth. Understanding how SERPs work and how to rank highly in them is crucial.

Search Engine Results Page Breakdown

When we talk about SERPs, overall page rankings get most of the attention. However, modern results pages also include many other elements. This section will focus on the SERP elements that you can find in Google, as it’s the most popular option worldwide. However, many alternative search engines such as Bing and Ecosia also feature many of these same elements.

SERP Advertisements

For most queries, the first entries that you’ll see in the result pages aren’t actual results but search advertisements. You can identify these entries because they have Ad next to the result.

(Video) What is SERP? (Search Engine Results Page) & How to Rank Organically

What Is a SERP? A Guide to Search Engine Ranking Pages (2)

Spotting ads is relatively easy. They appear above or below the rest of the results. Even so, that does not mean that search engines consider ads the top resources for a specific keyword.

Most users understand the distinction between organic results and paid results. Any SERP can have up to four ad spots before organic results. Combined, these entries get 6.3 percent of all clicks (with bottom-of-the-page ads getting less attention). It’s not a small number, but it’s significantly less than the number of clicks for the first organic results.

That means that even though these appear first, you should not fret about paid results as much as yo should about organic competitors. Your SEO efforts will definitely be worth it in the SERPs.

Depending on the keyword and the industry, paying for ads can be incredibly expensive. Unless you get a decent conversion rate from those clicks, you might be better off focusing on organic traffic.

Featured Snippets

You’ll likely see results where the metadata appears before the page title for some searches. Google calls these entries “featured snippets”, and it typically shows them alongside People also asksections above the rest of the results:

What Is a SERP? A Guide to Search Engine Ranking Pages (3)

Featured snippets complicate Click-Through Rates (CTRs). On average, featured snippets get a massive 35.1 percent of all clicks in a SERP.

That massive statistic is fantastic if your content appears as a featured snippet. However, featured snippets also siphon traffic from other entries in the results pages. Which makes sense.

Not all results will display featured snippets, though. Traditionally, Google will only show a snippet if it includes a well-structured and concise answer for a specific search.

Rich Snippets

Search results mainly include the same elements. Each entry displays a page title, a meta description, and a URL. However, some results show additional details depending on their metadata. Those are SERP entries from pages withschema markup.

You’ll run across results that include “rich” snippets for some searches. Take recipes, for example — adding the correct markup to a recipe post can display an image, rating, and even cooking time in the SERPs:

(Video) What is A SERP | What Is A SERP Plan | Search Engine Result Pages

What Is a SERP? A Guide to Search Engine Ranking Pages (4)You can use schema markup to add a visual layer to SERPs. Other rich snippet examples can include products, places, and events:

What Is a SERP? A Guide to Search Engine Ranking Pages (5)

Rich snippets aren’t all about visuals, though. You can also include additional information in your schema markup. The results in the image above show details about specific events and their dates.

Studies show that rich snippets have an average CTR of 58 percent. For searches without rich snippets, that rate goes down to 41 percent.

The main takeaway is that you should consider using schema markup if you publish content. You can even utilize schema plugins to simplify the task.

People Also Ask Sections

People also asksections often appear for searches that have featured snippets. These elements include a box with multiple related queries and answers that you can see by opening individual tabs.

Here’s a quick example of aPeople also asksection that appears when you search for “What is WordPress?”:

What Is a SERP? A Guide to Search Engine Ranking Pages (6)

People also ask sections also include results from other keywords. Google analyzes search intent to determine additional information you might be interested in, enabling you to see related questions.

Curiously, the People also ask position can vary from search to search. Typically, it appears near the top of the results or right below featured snippets, but that isn’t always the case.

Research shows that only 3 percent of users interact withPeople also askboxes. However, if you can get your content to appear among these results, they can provide you with a traffic boost. 3% of all the searches can still be a great deal of traffic.

Like featured snippets, People also asksections focus on providing concise answers to specific questions. Using short and informative paragraphs and keywords can net you a spot in these boxes.

(Video) What is SERP | SEO | Search Engine Results Pages - Google Search | 2020 new changes

Knowledge Graphs

If you run an easily quantifiable search, Google will often return results that include knowledge graphs. Here’s a quick example of a chart that comes up in the SERPs if you look up “population US”:

What Is a SERP? A Guide to Search Engine Ranking Pages (7)

Knowledge graphs provide quick answers for searches that Google can translate into numbers. This visual element might appear if there are statistics available for a search.

Keep in mind that knowledge graphs don’t affect SERP rankings. However, they can impact SERP CTR as some users might get all the information they need directly from the chart and then have no need to enter your site.

Knowledge or Business Cards

A lot of Google searches will return knowledge “cards.” These sections to the right of the results include general information about the topic you’re searching for.

For example, look up a country’s name. You’ll likely see a knowledge card that includes its basic data and some statistics:

What Is a SERP? A Guide to Search Engine Ranking Pages (8)

When you look up a specific business, you’ll see similar widgets. However, these cards include information related to the company, such as its address, opening hours, and reviews:

What Is a SERP? A Guide to Search Engine Ranking Pages (9)

Business cards in the SERPs work differently than other types of results. You’ll need to “claim” your business via the Google My Business platform. Then, you can add information about your company and start collecting reviews via the search engine. You can really leverage your appearance here by getting some good local SEO practices going.


The ultimate goal of SEO is getting your website to appear in the first positions in the SERPs. If you can grab one of the top spots for a few competitive keywords (or plenty of low-competition ones), that will translate to significant traffic for your website.

SEO encompasses a broad array of practices. If you’re unsure where to start, we recommend reading our SEO basics guide.

(Video) What is a Search Engine Rank Position (SERP) Report?

Once you have a firm understanding of the basics, it’s time to learn about white, grey, and black hat SEO techniques:

  1. White hat SEO
  2. Grey hat SEO
  3. Black hat SEO

It’s also worth remembering that Google isn’t the only search engine (although it is the most popular one). You should also consider optimizing your content for Bing, Yahoo!, Ecosia, and DuckDuckGo.

Frequently Asked Questions About SERPs

There is always more to learn when it comes to SEO. Always. If you have any questions about how SERPs work, this section will answer them.

Are Mobile SERPs Different From Desktop Results?

Typically, mobile and desktop SERPs will display the same results for the same query. However, other elements in the SERPs may vary or change positions.

For instance, some ads might target mobile users. Additionally, Google will often move People also asksections around.

Do Social Media Profiles Appear in SERPs?

Social media profiles tend to be among the first entries in the SERPs if you look up businesses or individuals. Knowledge graphs or business cards can also include links to social media profiles if they’re available.

Does Social Media Affect SERP Rankings?

Your social media presence can impact your website’s search rankings. Pages and websites with many shares may appear higher in the SERPs. Your social media profiles can also appear among the first results for branded searches. Finally, social media also provides a fantastic opportunity for gaining backlinks. Additionally, Bing uses social media presence as a ranking signal, so it’s worth paying attention to, for sure.

How Do I Get Content to Rank Highly in the SERPs?

Getting high rankings in the SERPs comes down to following SEO fundamentals. If you learn more about SEO and which signals can impact rankings, you’re much more likely to get positive results from your efforts. And you should remember that the SERPs for different queries can change weekly, monthly, or even daily. Keeping your site optimized and continually tweaking your strategy is the best way to top the SERPs.


Overall, most SEO strategies focus on ranking your content higher in the SERPs. If you succeed in this endeavor, you can almost certainly guarantee traffic for your website.

The amount of traffic you get from SERPs will depend on many factors. Some keywords are more popular and competitive than others, so getting those top positions can be more challenging. Therefore, we recommend sticking with SEO fundamentals and staying on top of any algorithm updates.

With this breakdown of how the search engine results pages actually work and the vast amount of information they provide, hopefully, you will be able to rise above the competition and climb to the top of the pages. Good luck!

Do you have any questions about SERPs? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!

(Video) Understanding Search Engine Results Pages SERPs

Featured image via BestForBest / shutterstock.com


What is a SERP ranking? ›

Search Engine Results Pages (also known as “SERPs” or “SERP”) are Google's response to a user's search query. SERPs tend to include organic search results, paid Google Ads results, Featured Snippets, Knowledge Graphs and video results. In other words: You type (or say) something to Google.

What is an example of SERP? ›

Common examples of SERP features include Featured Snippets, Knowledge Panels, video carousels and image packs.

How does SERP work? ›

A Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan (SERP) is a deferred compensation agreement between the company and the key executive whereby the company agrees to provide supplemental retirement income to the executive and his family if certain pre-agreed eligibility and vesting conditions are met by the executive.

What are the two types of results you can find on SERP? ›

SERPs typically contain two types of content – “organic” results and paid results.

How do I get a SERP? ›

How to Win SERP Features
  1. Do keyword research to find SERP features opportunities.
  2. Make your content clear and answer the searcher's query.
  3. Implement structured data to help Google understand your content.
  4. Submit your sitemap to Google.
  5. Use a tool to optimize your content and track.
May 24, 2022

How does a SERP pay out? ›

A company will fund a SERP either through cash flow or by taking out a life insurance policy in an employee's name. If the employee is eligible to withdraw funds once they retire, they can do so either in a lump sum or through monthly disbursements.

What are the key features of SERP? ›

8 Most Important SERP Features
  • Advertising Banks. Every digital marketer and SEO professional knows there are two types of Google search results — organic results and paid results. ...
  • Featured Snippets. ...
  • Rich Snippets. ...
  • Image Packs. ...
  • Video Carousels. ...
  • Knowledge Panels. ...
  • “People Also Ask” Boxes. ...
  • Local Map Packs.
Feb 2, 2022

What are the different types of SERP? ›

Basically, the SERP consists of three types of search results: organic results, paid results, and rich results enhanced with different features, such as images, videos, rating stars, etc.

Why is SERP important? ›

SERPs are important because results are indexed based on ranking signals which determine where a website appears on the results page. Ranking poorly on SERPs means less exposure, less clicks, less traffic and less revenue. This is why websites put so much effort is put into SEO.

Is SEO and SERP the same? ›

What Is the Difference Between SEO and SERP? SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimisation, whereas SERP is an acronym for Search Engine Results Page. They are two different things, but very closely related.

How do I improve my SERP ranking? ›

Follow these suggestions to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) and watch your website rise the ranks to the top of search-engine results.
  1. Publish Relevant, Authoritative Content. ...
  2. Update Your Content Regularly. ...
  3. Metadata. ...
  4. Have a link-worthy site. ...
  5. Use alt tags.

How do you interpret SERP analysis? ›

How to Analyze a SERP
  1. Understand the level of competition on a keyword's results page.
  2. Look for unique opportunities, SERP features, and other rich results that you could target with SEO.
  3. Decide whether or not a keyword is a reasonable opportunity for your SEO or PPC strategy.
Jun 20, 2022

Is SERP free? ›

SERP Counter is a free checker tool that allow you to fastly check google rank.

Who funds a SERP? ›

Although SERPs could be paid out of cash flows or investment funds, most are funded through a cash value life insurance plan. The employer buys the insurance policy, pays the premiums, and has access to its cash value.

What is the disadvantage of SERP? ›

The bottom line: Payments aren't guaranteed. If the company goes belly up before SERP withdrawals are made, the funds could go to creditors with superseding claims. In addition, the SERP may impose certain conditions for the employee to meet to receive a future payout.

Is SERP taxable income? ›

Income Taxation: The benefits received under a SERP plan will generally be taxed to the employee as ordinary income when received. At that time, your business will receive an income tax deduction for the benefit paid to the employee.

When can you withdraw from a SERP? ›

The funds can be withdrawn, without penalty, before you turn 59½, nor do you need to begin required minimum distributions at age 72. Although most employers require distributions to begin at retirement or when you are no longer employed. SERPs can be designed with many different options or configurations.

How many SERP features are there? ›

They help users see the information they need–which is hopefully your site content–directly on the SERP based on relevance to the query. The nine most common SERP features–in no particular order–are: Rich snippets. Featured snippets.

What does SERP mean? ›

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) The page that a search engine returns after a user submits a search query. In addition to organic search results, search engine results pages (SERPs) usually include paid search and pay-per-click (PPC) ads.

How do you stay on the top of SERP? ›

Most SEO experts use things like link building, social media platforms, and content marketing to achieve higher positions on SERPs.
Using SEO Strategies to Improve Where You Appear on SERPs
  1. Research your keywords. ...
  2. Target the right keywords. ...
  3. Understand the rankings. ...
  4. Track your rankings. ...
  5. Keep going.

How do you use keywords in SERP? ›

To get started with the SERP Analysis section of Keyword Explorer, follow the below steps.
  1. Enter your keyword search in Keyword Explorer.
  2. Select your location.
  3. Click Analyze.
  4. Select SERP Analysis from the left panel.
  5. Or click SERP Analysis from the box on the bottom right.

What does a SERP mean? ›

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) The page that a search engine returns after a user submits a search query. In addition to organic search results, search engine results pages (SERPs) usually include paid search and pay-per-click (PPC) ads.

Why is SERP ranking important? ›

SERPs are important because results are indexed based on ranking signals which determine where a website appears on the results page. Ranking poorly on SERPs means less exposure, less clicks, less traffic and less revenue. This is why websites put so much effort is put into SEO.

What does SERP mean in pension? ›

A supplemental executive retirement plan (SERP) can be a highly effective way to provide additional compensation for a handful of key employees and persuade them to remain with the company longer.

Is a SERP a good investment? ›

The SERP can accumulate significant income, making it a valuable tool for building your nest egg. Not to be confused with a Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plan (NQDC), when the employee defers their own compensation, the employer designates contributions to the executive in a SERP plan.

What are the basic elements of SERP? ›

There are four components of an SERP: paid search ads, organic search results, local search results and related searches.

What are the benefits of SERP SEO? ›

Increases Traffic

The most important reason SERPs Are Important to SEO is that they're a sure way to increase site traffic. While it can be challenging to appear on the first page of search engine results, getting to that level with a robust SEO strategy can yield dividends in terms of site visibility.


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