In an effort to provide their users with the information they seek, search engines like Google present their users with a listing of information and various types of media files to users when they conduct searches. The presentation of this information is a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Having your product or service featured in a SERP can result in sales, so it is important to learn about the elements of a SERP and how to gain a presence there.

SERP Element - Advertising

Since search engines are trying to make a profit, they show advertisements as part of a search results page. Search engines constantly experiment with different ad formats to display to users.

Text Ads - these ads consist primarily text copy and a call to action (in the form of a website link or phone number).

Product Ads - these ads consist of a product picture, price and sometimes third-party merchant reviews.

These ads typically are shown at the top and right hand side of a search result page. Advertisers pay for these placements by paying the search engines a fee for every time a user clicks on the ad. To learn more about these types of placements read What is Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising?

SERP Element - Organic Search Results

Search engines explore the Internet looking for all sorts of information to present to their users, and store the information in an index. When a user conducts a search, the search engine will reference their index to determine the best information to display for a particular user request. There is no fee to appear in the organic search results, so a business can receive free advertising by having their product or service appear in them. If you want text copy, images or videos from your website to appear in the organic search results, you need to optimize your website for search. To learn more read What is SEO?

SERP Element - Local Business Listings

If a search engine feels that local businesses can assist a user with a particular query, it will display the address and contact information of businesses near the user. This contact information consists of the business phone number, and a link to the business' website (if it has one). Search engines encourage local business owners to register their businesses for free, and provide some basic information that will help the search engine display each business to targeted prospects.

SERP Element - Newsworthy Items

When a user conducts a search that is related to current news event, search engines may also display this news information that the user may also find useful. If you have newsworthy information to present in search engines, you need to register your website with search engines and let them know your information exists. To learn how to submit your information to search engines read How do Sitemaps Help SEO?