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The World Wide Web just turned 20! On August 6, 1991, the first website went live to the public. Today it is hard to imagine life without the Internet. Google and “Searching” has become, for most Canadians, part of our daily lives. However, still not completely understood is the Search Engine Results Page (also known as SERP). This is partially due to the fact that a Google SERP is always evolving.

What is a SERP?
A SERP, which is an acronym for Search Engine Results Page, refers to the web pages displayed by the Search Engines as a result of a search query. Each major Search Engine shows the results in a slightly different format.

Here is an example of a Google Canada (Google.ca) SERP.

Vertical Navigation
There are now two vertical navigation menus that gives the Google user the option to search different verticals, such as images, videos, news, places, maps etc… A Vertical Search will result in a more limited index. The default is “Everything”.

Search Query Box
The search query box is designed for the web searcher to enter keywords or keyword phrases based on their Search. It is displayed on the SERP for reference. Next to the search query box is the option to perform an Advanced Search or a Search via Google.com (rather than Google.ca).

Results Information
This section displays the estimated total number of search results for the search query along with the time it took Google to return these results. This number should be used as a rough estimate only as it is not highly accurate.

Organic Search Results
Organic algorithmic results or natural listings (also known as unpaid) appear in the left section of the SERP with a white background. This section also includes Google Places (formerly Google Local Business Center), which has become very visible in local search queries. It corresponds with Google Maps now displayed in the top right section are also organic results. These results are generated from the primary indexes of the web. In this case, Pages from Canada. Ranking is based on relevancy determined by the search engine – which is based on their complex (and constantly changing) algorithms.

Paid Search Results
Typically the paid search results will be found to the right of the SERP page (under Google Maps if displayed) and often above the unpaid results. Paid search advertising is identified simply as “Ads” (formerly Sponsored Links) by Google. These text ads are generated by Google’s search ad platform – AdWords. Ranking depends on a number of factors including relevancy, bid amount and quality score.

Google is forever testing new formats and changing their SERP’s layouts. Generally beta testing occurs via Google.com – and then is rolled out to the other English language versions such a Google Canada.

How are you appearing and ranking in the SERPs?