It sounds like it might be a type of giant sea creature, but a SERP is a lot less scary and strange than that. 

In this case SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page.

This is the list of results that Google (or Bing, Yahoo and a few others) returns when you search for any given specific phrase or question also known as a search query.

The position of each listed site is determined by different algorithmic criteria. Google doesn’t disclose how they actually determine search engine ranking. They also change their criteria very frequently. Google is the largest search engine by far.

Search Query

A search query is simply the word that a person types into the search engine to find particular information. Webmasters analyse the search queries of their visitors and then use those queries as keywords in their content to attract specific targeted markets. 

This is also known as a “User Search String” which is a little known term but means the same thing as search query.

Each search query is returned with a list of items (webpages) that have those individual words in them. It shows a title and an excerpt from each page, including a link to the full version. The excerpt contains all the found references to the individual words of a particular search query. 

What is a Search Query?

If you put your search query into the search bar enclosed within “quotation marks” then you will receive a different list of SERP’s in a different order. Doing it this way shows only the results using the words of the phrase exactly as they are, in the order that they are.

The best part is that a single website can be listed hundreds of times in different places depending on their content and what search query is entered into the search bar.

Google will, on it’s own determine what the subject each of your pages is and list them that way. This occurs in addition to the keywords you are targeting and writing specifically for.

This is how your website will gain a significant amount of traffic. This is going to be traffic that isn’t a direct result of your efforts.

Organic vs. Paid SERP’s

Organic listings are the ones that come up when you simply type your query into the search box.  These results are created from analyzing several factors including the content on your site, advertising, social media activity and many more factors.

Paid listings or PPC ads are the ones that show up at the top of the SERP page. The organic listings start below the people and companies who have paid for the premium top spots.

These site owners have paid for the exposure of being listed at the top of the page. This can be very effective but expensive as well. See in the image below the top three results are paid ads and also the narrow column of ads spaces to the right of the SERP.

Pay Per Click SERP


Pay Per Click

PPC is also known as CPC (cost per click) and is not recommended for the beginner, it can be a very costly lesson if you don’t know what you are doing.

PPC should be looked at like this: “What is the maximum amount you are willing to pay to get someone to click on an ad of yours”.

Remember that a PPC click doesn’t guarantee a sale. This is why it can become expensive. If you get a lot of people clicking but not buying and you still have to pay for those clicks.

Thankfully you can set a budget and choose a maximum amount of dollars you are willing to spend per click or in total. This way you won’t end up in the poorhouse with no sales.

As a beginner it’s recommended to stick with the various ways of building Organic Traffic until you begin to understand how those methods work, then branch off into additional advanced methods of traffic generation later on once you are more comfortable with online marketing in general.

Do you use PPC? What has your experience been? Leave a comment below.

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