Search engine result pages (SERPs) are generated by search engines like Google whenever a person searches for information using a keyword phrase or term. Where your business shows up in the SERPs has a direct impact on website traffic, brand awareness and market share.
Search engines have been around since the advent of the Internet. The concept is still the same today – a user inputs a query and the search engine delivers a SERP with results ranked by their perceived relevance and trust factors. But SERPs look very different than they did a few decades ago.
- The first search engine, Archie, actually created an index of downloadable files.
- Subsequent search engines Veronica and Jughead only searched indexed file names and titles to deliver results.
- Then in 1994, Yahoo! Search provided a searchable directory of websites that included descriptions of each URL.
- In 1995, the search engine Altavista added advanced search features.
- Google began being built in 1996. It produced search results largely based on backlinks.
- Overture became the first search engine to incorporate pay-per-click (PPC) results on their SERPs in 1998.
Back when Google released it’s first named update in 2003 it was a game-changer for search engines. Since then a number of algorithm updates along with new features have affected how SERPs look and where sites show up in the results of the world’s most prominent search engine.
Although each search engine has it’s own SERP layout, which can display differently depending on the search, there are common elements. Each result consists of:
- Clickable title
- The URL of the web page
- Short description of what’s on the page
Today’s search engines are more sophisticated and intelligent than ever before. Advanced algorithms and machine learning allow search engines to deliver up SERPs that are highly relevant to the subject searched and intent behind the search. Search engines are able to index more of a website and can do so at a much faster pace, which is essential given that millions of new web pages are created every day.
The Connection Between SERP Placement and Click-Through Rate
Depending on the keyword query, a search engine can produce dozens, hundreds or thousands of SERPs. Each SERP has 10 organic results that are placed in order based on what the search engine deems the most relevant. While the exact algorithms aren’t known, Google has revealed that over 200 “ranking signals” determine how their SERPs are ranked.
No matter what search engine is used, the higher a website is on the SERPs the better the click-through rate will be.
Backlinko recently analyzed the click-through rates of over 5 million Google search queries using data from ClickFlow. They discovered:
- The #1 organic search result had a click-through rate (CTR) of 31.7% on average. That means nearly 1 in 3 people select the first result on a SERP.
- There is a significant CTR dropoff between the first and second SERP for a search query. The #2 spot has a 24.71% CTR and the #3 spot has an 18.66% CTR.
- The top result is 10 times more likely to get clicked than the 10th result at the bottom of the first SERP.
- Moving up one spot in the SERP can increase CTR by as much as 30.8%.
- The CTR of the #6-10 results are relatively the same. Analysis suggests most users don’t scroll down the SERP past the fifth result.
- More than 99% of clicks happen on the first SERP page (#1-10 of organic results).
Graph provided by https://backlinko.com/google-ctr-stats
Search engine optimization (SEO) strategies can be used to help improve ranking on SERPs. But websites have to be careful not to use black hat SEO tactics in an attempt to manipulate the rankings. Doing so could hurt search rankings by getting a website penalized or even removed from search engine indexing altogether.
Top Search Engines That Are Serving Up SERPs
Google is the most-used search engine in the world with 81.5% of the market share. It’s estimated that Google processes 7-10 billion search queries a day.
It should come as no surprise that Google’s video site YouTube is one of the top search engines even though it is not a traditional search engine.
Baidu is the #1 search engine in China with 9.37% of all searches worldwide.
Bing is a search engine from Microsoft that was launched in 2009. It’s the third most popular search engine with 5.29% of all searches.
Although Yahoo! Search was around before Google, it now handles just 2.04% of all searches worldwide. Despite this low percentage, Yahoo! Search is still the 4th most popular search engine.
Yandex is the fifth most popular search engine in the world with 0.83% of the market share, but it handles over 50% of searches in Russia.
Examples of SERPs
What do different SERPs look like? Traditional organic results aren’t the only thing that will show up for a search query. Google has nine types of SERPs and 16 common SERP features that can display along with the organic results. Below is a look at how those features appear on the SERPs.
SERP With AdWord Ads at Top
SERP With Featured Snippet
SERP With Map
SERP With Knowledge Card
SERP With Knowledge Panel
SERP With Image Pack
SERP With Related Questions
SERP With Local Businesses (Local Pack)
SERP With Spelling Correction
SERP With News Box
SERP With Tweets
SERP With Video Result
SERP With Shopping Results Box
SERP With Rating in Results
SERP With Site Links in Results