It’s a never-ending process: Google is constantly working on what the results pages of a search – SERP for short – look like. They now consist of numerous different elements such as text snippets, infoboxes, and picture galleries. In this article, you will learn how the search results are currently structured and what opportunities arise for your SEO.
What does SERP mean?
SERP is the abbreviation for Search Engine Result Page. What is meant is the page that users see after submitting a search query on Google, Bing, or another search engine. The search results are presented and teased in the SERPs.
How is the Google SERP changing?
Google has both commercialized and diversified its SERP over the past few years.
Many commercial search terms have Google Ads at the top of the results. They can hardly be distinguished from organic results – only the small note “Display” next to the URL indicates that these are paid hits.
With diversification means that Google in many situations itself provides the answer – rather than the seeker to have only the way to other sites. In addition to the usual text snippets, there are also the so-called featured snippets, which represent a text excerpt at the top of the SERPs, question-answer boxes, and the Google Knowledge Graph, which summarizes the essential information on a topic.
This development is both an opportunity and a risk. Google rewards the source of its answer with a direct link. On the other hand, nothing good can be expected for the click-through rate if Google answers search queries directly “on their own”.
This is how the SERP snippets are structured
The classic SERP snippets consist of three parts:
- The URL or a breadcrumb menu of the displayed website.
- The meta title of the page.
- A short meta description of the page.
You can and should optimize the snippets because they decide whether users click on a search result or scroll on. Your goal is to use the title and description to show what readers can expect from your site and to make them curious about more.
However, Google limits the space available. A length of 580 pixels is recommended for the meta title on the desktop and 920 pixels on mobile devices. The meta description has a maximum length of 990 pixels on the desktop and 1,300 pixels on the go. If the text is longer, it will be cut off in the SERPs.
Snippet generator: Help with writing the SERP snippets
Free snippet generators such as those from SISTRIX can help optimize the snippets for your website. Not only do they calculate how many pixels your design will take up, but they also show you what the finished snippet will look like later in the SERP.
Many generators also offer an overview of the most popular special characters that you can add to your text with one click. Arrows, ticks, and symbols draw attention to each other and can help set your snippet apart from the competition. But don’t overdo it.
If you work with a content management system, you usually also have the option of displaying and optimizing the representation of the SERP snippets directly there. With WordPress, you can, for example, install the plugins Yoast SEO or Rank Math.
How Google determines the position of a result in the SERP
The search results are displayed as a list on Google. This begins with the entry that the search engine deems most relevant to the user. The further down someone scrolls, the less relevant the results become.
Google displays a maximum of ten organic entries per search results page. The visibility for websites and blogs is, therefore, highest on the first page.
Google evaluates the relevance of a page using so-called ranking factors. The search engine giant keeps what exactly these are largely secret and the weighting of the individual factors is also unclear in detail.
However, it is known which key points are important to Google. First of all, the content and quality of the content play a decisive role: It should match the search intent of the users.
The behavior of website visitors is also closely monitored by Google. Pages that people spend a long time on, interact with the content and obviously feel good about having better Google ranking chances than those that leave users disappointed and are therefore quickly abandoned.
For you, this means: Not only is your content important, but also the design, structure, and user-friendliness of your website.
The authority or trustworthiness of a site also has a great influence. This in turn is determined by various factors. Backlinks from thematically related, high-quality third-party websites are particularly important at this point.
The Google algorithm records all relevant points evaluate them and, on this basis, decides on the position of the individual results in the SERP.
SERP check: How to find out your rankings
The SERPs are not only determined by the quality of a website, but also by the users themselves. For example, Google records the location from which searchers send their requests and can assign which topics they have already been interested in in the past. The algorithm adjusts the search results accordingly.
An example: If you google the word “hairdresser” from Hamburg, you will see hairdressing salons in Hamburg. But if you search for the same word from Berlin, you will also get results from Berlin.
What is practical for users and can save time makes it difficult for marketers to analyze their rankings. If you were to simply type in the keyword of your interest on Google, you would receive a result that is precisely tailored to your preferences and conditions and that does not have to have anything to do with the results of other users.
The workaround is to use an incognito window in your browser for analysis. In addition, there are numerous online tools that give you your neutral ranking. These include, for example, keyword tools such as KWFinder and Ubersuggest.
Bottom line: do your SEO homework
If your website is well up in the SERP and you want to achieve a good click-through rate, you should deal with these core topics:
- Optimize meta titles and meta descriptions : Rely on crisp titles and descriptions that arouse curiosity.
- Optimize for mobile use : Google is paying more and more attention to mobile search – so you should also think about the topic.
- Working with structured data: Rewards are those who can be brief and present the most important information concisely.
If you master these tasks better than the competition and also deliver high-quality content on your website, Google will reward your efforts.