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The Guide to Google SERPs

A Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is what Google returns after a user inputs a search query, and includes organic and paid results.

Every single SERP is different than the next, as search engines are customized for each user. SERP features are pieces of on-page content that give users answers to their queries without needing to click into an organic result – which can make it more difficult for marketers to get noticed in the organic search results. When you search for a term like “sushi,” for example, you get a map of nearby sushi restaurants and a Wikipedia card prominently displayed before you even begin to see organic results.

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It is because of this situation highlighted in the example above that marketers need to fully understand all SERP features, in order to take advantage of them and ultimately rank higher. Luckily, we’ve compiled a cheat sheet below - take a look and don’t become the “dead body” hidden on page two of Google!

1. Rich Snippets

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Rich snippets include more information than normal snippets (a result that only provides the page title, URL and meta description), such as pictures, reviews and ratings. By incorporating structured data into your site’s HTML, you can help a search engine optimize for a rich snippet, thus making your result stand out.

2. Paid Results

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The ads and sponsored posts that appear at the top of an SERP are paid results. Since Google is all about the user, they are very transparent about which ads are paid by differentiating them using a label or through using other visual cues.

3. Universal Results

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Sometimes Google incorporates Google Images, News or other vertical columns’ results into Google Search. These are called universal results. The example below delivers an answer in a box at the top of the page, meaning a user doesn’t even have to click into an organic result.

4. Local SERP

local-serp.JPGWhen a search query implicitly relates to a location, a local SERP will appear. For example, a search for “burrito” results in a local SERP listing all of the places near me where I can buy (and subsequently eat) a burrito.

5. Vertical Search

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When your search requires Google to pull from images, news or video, the box that appears at the top of the page is vertical search. Typically, the vertical search box relates to topical searches, such as “San Diego,” which returns a vertical search including “Things to do in San Diego.”

6. Knowledge Graph Data

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A search that has only one likely answer, like “what time does the sun set today,” will return a Knowledge Graph box that pulls the answer directly from an organic search into a box at the top of the page.


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