SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page, which is the page of results you get when you type a query into a search engine such as Google. It is essentially the ‘answers page’ from a search engine, and is the main way people find the websites, products and services they are looking for.
If you want to be successful in growing your online presence and turning users into customers, understanding how SERPs work is an essential skill to have.
How do SERPs work?
SERPs are created when somebody types a query or question into a search engine, such as Google.
Google will then take the search query and analyse it, looking at the content of each website, product or service that is related to the query, before delivering the final results. This process is known as ‘crawling’.
The search engine will use this analysis to identify the most applicable and relevant results from the hundreds of millions of websites, products and services that exist on the web. It wants to make sure it delivers the most useful results, and will rank websites, products and services according to how ‘good’ the content is, and how likely it is the user will find it helpful.
When the search engine has gathered the best results, it will then put them into a list in order of relevance, beginning with the most relevant results and going down in relevance until the least relevant results. This list is what you see when you type a query into a search engine and hit enter; your Search Engine Results Page.
These individual listings are known as ‘search engine results’, and they contain, in brief, all the information you need to make a decision on whether to click on the listing.
This includes a brief summary of the website or product, links to other pages within the website you have searched for, the domain (website address) and when the website was last updated.
Optimising Your Website for SERPs
When it comes to appearing higher up in the search engine ranks, you need to optimise your website for the search engine. Optimising for search engines involves making sure you use the right keywords, that you’re focusing on content that drives user engagement and is of a high quality, and ensuring you’ve made it easy for the search engine to navigate your website and index it.
Start by researching keywords that people search for related to your website; these will be the ones you should use in your content. Relevance is key here, so make sure you’re using keywords that are accurately describing the content you have.
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Once you have a good list of keywords, make sure they’re incorporated into your content in an organic way. You don’t want to stuff your content full of keywords, as this won’t read naturally and could lead to your website being penalised for spam.
Once you’ve added high-quality content to your website that incorporates the relevant keywords, now is the time to make sure your website is easy to navigate. Create a simple, easy-to-follow page structure so that visitors know where to go and what to read. You should also link to other pages within your website, as this will show search engines that you have a bigger ‘web’ of information they can find pertinent to their search.
Finally, make sure you submit your website to search engines. If you haven’t already, head over to Google Search Console and register your website; this will tell the search engine where to find your content and when.
General Guidelines and Best Practices
Once you’ve done the groundwork, there are a few best practices you should keep in mind when it comes to optimising your website for SERPs.
First and foremost, use high-quality content that’s keyword-focused, engaging and of value to the user. This could include blog posts, whitepapers, research studies, ratings and customer reviews.
You should also keep an eye on your website’s loading speed. It should load quickly and without any errors as this could have an effect on your ranking.
Make sure to use keywords, related search terms and variations of your optimised keywords, in Alt-Text for images, descriptions for videos and profile descriptions for social media accounts. This will show search engines that you’re actively engaged and actively trying to optimise your website for SERPs, which in turn will improve the chances of your website ranking higher.
Finally, stay active on social media. Links to your website from your social media accounts are seen as a positive signal to search engines and will improve your chances of gaining ranking.
Optimising your website for SERPs is an essential skill to have if you want to see success in your online presence. By understanding how they work, researching the most relevant keywords and optimising your website accordingly, you’ll be well on your way to gaining ranking and eventually achieving success.