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Understanding the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

Know your AdWords from your organic results.
All about the SERPs

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

The search engine results pages key components are:

  1.     Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on Google AdWords (No.1 on illustration)
  2.     Organic results (No.2 on illustration)
  3.     Google Places (No.3 on illustration)

AdWords 

On Google search 

Advertisers bid for keywords. The highest bidder gets premium placement on the SERPs (these are the top three ads placed on the yellow background). Advertisers only pay for click-throughs on their ads. They are pre-paid and only visible if there is enough money. AdWords campaigns can be activated instantly, which is a huge advantage to say the least.

AdWords campaigns are great if you need to get a running special or campaign noticed immediately or if you’re ranked poorly on Google and want to be on the SERPs first page.

On partner networks 

If you are ranked well organically on the SERPs, you may want to run pay-per-click campaigns on partner networks and exclude the search pages. PPC campaigns can be structured to display ads on Google’s Gmail, AdSense and many other networks that have partnered with the search engines’ PPC offerings.

Organic Results 

Just like you, Google wants to give their customers the best service possible – meaning that they want to be able to suggest the best website relating to an enquiry.

Put yourself in Google’s shoes for a minute. How would you rank your website, considering that Google is a machine and doesn’t have the visual abilities that we have to contextualize content with the help of images, video or illustrations? It can only interpret the text information and monitor links to it to contextualize and rank it.

So, to outrank competitors on the SERPs, you need to make sure that your website is more contextual and that more people talk about you. As the websites ranked on the top of the first page of the SERPs get most of the attention, it is critical that we focus on remaining there.

An argument can also be made for the money saved appearing organically on the first page as opposed to running PPC campaigns to get the same result.

Google Places 

Formally known as Google Local Business Listings, Google Places are different to organic or pay-per-click listings. They typically only show up when the user types a service oriented business followed by the city for their search. These location-based search results on Google get premium placement on the SERPs and are accompanied by a map of the region in question. Appearing on these results is particularly important for those businesses that operated in very specific regions.