SERPs Explained in 2016


No one could have predicted quite how significant the impact of online and digital would become when Google launched as a search engine back in 1998. Almost 20 years on, the search engine has become firmly cemented as not just a brand, but now as a verb in its own right!

‘Google It’ is a term many of us utter multiple times a day. Each time you carry this action out, the engine returns the answers to your query. In order to display this information, a Search Engine Results Pages (or SERPs for short) is used.

Over the course of the past 18 years, the big G’s aim has always been to provide the most relevant search results for the query entered. As years go by and technology continues to advance at lightning speed, Google are growing more and more intelligent at achieving this mammoth task to the highest possible precision. How often do you find the answer, or the product or service you were looking for after one click of a button? We would say it’s rare that you have to tweak your search…

SERPs for Business

For a business, the SERPs are essentially your shop window. Where and in what format your business appears here can have significant impact. For many business owners though, even in this digital age, SERPs are a bit of a mystery… So to clear things up, we thought it would only be fair to help explain the difference between Paid Adverts, Shopping Adverts and Organic Results and provide some insight into how you can help your business appear for search queries that are most relevant for your business.

Different Types of Results in SERPs

Take a very generic search for the product ‘kettles’ and identify the SERPs image, located at the bottom of the post. We have highlighted the three different types of results you can get for a search query such as that.

Paid Adverts

Paid adverts sit at the top of the screen – up to 4 paid adverts will usually be displayed in this section and can be identified by the word ‘Ad’ next to the website URL.  These are highlighted in the red box on the image at the end of the post. To appear here, advertisers must be utilising Adwords Pay per Click advertising.

In essence, you identify the keywords which are most relevant and valuable to your business and write adverts which are relevant to these terms to encourage people to click through to a relevant page on your website. You are charged each time someone clicks on your ad. PPC is a beneficial marketing tool – you can target a very broad selectin of key terms, yet always direct users to a specific page on your site – the more relevant the page they land on, the more likely they are to convert. PPC adverts are easy to edit allowing you to test different wording and you can bolt on extra information to your adverts to help you to stand out from your competitors based on your USPs.

Shopping Adverts

Shopping adverts appear on the right hand side of the SERPs – outlined in blue in our example at the bottom of the page. They are specifically used by ecommerce website to promote products for sale. The listings include a product image; description; price; and if available; a star rating. The image driven nature of these listings encourages high conversion rate as customers can see exactly what product you have for sale from a top level view without having to click through to your website to investigate further. Shopping adverts encourage customers who are further down the conversion path and more likely to purchase. This service is run in conjunction with Adwords PPC.

Organic Results

With PPC advertising taking the prime real estate spots at the top of the page, organic results are often found further down the page; especially on mobile and tablet devices where the available screen space is lessened. Organic listings usually include 10 results on each SERP; in the example, we have highlighted a portion of them in green.

You can’t pay Google to list your website in this section of the SERPs. The results which appear here are determined entirely by your website and what each page is optimised for; as well as a wealth of technical ‘behind the scenes’ elements. To appear here, your website needs to be seen as authoritative by Google and therefore SEO (search engine optimisation) is a longer term strategy that needs to be implemented on an ongoing basis.

So there you have it – SERPs explained in 2016; a simple explanation and introduction to the shop window for businesses online.

A combination of the above approaches is usually a sound bet for the majority of ecommerce businesses but to discuss what would work best for your business, contact Affinity today.


Written by Kerri Ware, Senior Account Manager

SERPs Explained in 2016

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