1. Home
  2. Knowledge Base
  3. Marketing, Advertising, Sales & PR
  4. Search Engine Results Page – Definition

Search Engine Results Page – Definition

Cite this article as:"Search Engine Results Page – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated April 25, 2019, last accessed September 26, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/search-engine-results-page-definition/.


Search Engine Results Page Definition

A Search Engine Result Page (SERP) refers to a list of results or information that a search engine compiles which is displayed to a web user. This list of results is only displayed after a web user launches a search or makes an enquiry using the search engine.

Web users frequently have information they need on the website, these information are searched by inputting certain keywords into a search engine. The search engine which is an information retrieval system then scouts for all relevant information relating to the keyword and display the results on a page for the web user. SERP contains a list of responses returned to a web user.

A Little More on What is a Search Engine Results Page

A search engine does not just display information for users, results are only displayed after the search must have retrieved or gathered all the relevant information relating to the query of the user. When a search or an enquiry is made on a search engine, there are two types of results that a user receives, these are the organic search result and sponsored search result.

While organic search results are general information retrieved based on a user’s query, sponsored results are basically advertisements that pop up when a user launches a query. Because of the voluminous information that the search engine retrieves when a keyword is searched, the SERP often contains information that are most relevant to the search.

There are three major elements that make up a Search Engine Result Page (SERP), these are the organic search results, the sponsored results also known as paid ads and the search query. Aside from these three major components, search engines also tend to enrich their SERPs with components that appeal to web users.

For instance, search engines such as yahoo, Google,  Bing and others include other elements on the results displayed on their SERPs. These include, images, videos, articles, maps, definition of keywords and other rich snippets. These search engines however put these components in segments to make them accessible to a web user.

A search query also mean a keyword or search string. This refers to the combination of words that a web user types on a search engine to get information. Users enter keywords relating to their topics of search on the search engine, the keyword then generates a number of responses that are displayed on the SERP.

Through a keyword or search query, search engines use search algorithms to filter the results that are displayed on SERPs. Therefore, without a search query, no results can be displayed on SERPs because results that match the search query are displayed on SERPs.

Organic search results make up the organic SERP listings, there are general and natural responses that match with the search query of a web user. Organic results are often derived as a result of their relevance to the keyword or search query.

Also, organic listings are results gathered from trustworthy sites that have rich contents. With the aid of algorithms, search engines filter web response in a bid to retrieve results that are only relevant to the search query. Generally, every page of search engine results have 10 organic listings but the most relevant results are displayed on the first page of the organic result.

Unlike organic results which are natural results, sponsored results are paid advertisements that appear on SERPs when a web user launches a search query. Sponsored results are also called paid listings or pay-per-click listings. It is a technique used by marketers or business owners to make their sites appear in the top results of a SERP. Therefore, if a web user input a keyword that relates to the contents of these paid ads, they also appear among the top results of SERPs. Most of the popular search engines accept paud listings as this is one of the ways they generate income aside from traffic.

Rich snippets refer to the structures data markup of a website that allows search engines filter the website for relevant information relating to a search query. Structured data markup helps the Google algorithm to index the content of a website. Rich snippets are also called rich results, they allow search engines to better understand what information is contained on each web page of a website.

Google is an example of a search engine that displays rich snippets of websites on certain data types which include; products and product reviews, recipes, events, news articles, science data, review ratings, organized events and many others.

Knowledge graph is a technique used by search engines to create interconnected search results that make more sense when a web user launches a query. Many search engines such as Google and Bing make use of knowledge graph and this help them expand their database and also organize varieties of networks of data into their system.

Knowledge graph for instance helps Google create a wholesome search result that incorporates information about people, events, places, businesses, countries and more when displaying query matches for users. This knowledge graph displays an additional infobox or sub-window next to the search results to help users expand their search.

References for Search Engine Results Page

Academic Research on Search Engine Results Page

A method for the design and development of medical or health care information websites to optimize search engine results page rankings on Google, Dunne, S., Cummins, N. M., Hannigan, A., Shannon, B., Dunne, C., & Cullen, W. (2013). Journal of medical Internet research, 15(8).

What, where and how are young people looking for in a search engine results page?: impact of typographical cues and prior domain knowledge, Dinet, J., Bastien, J. M., & Kitajima, M. (2010, September). In Proceedings of the 22nd Conference on l’Interaction Homme-Machine (pp. 105-112). ACM.

Guiding the content of tourism web advertisements on a search engine results page, Lin, C. F., & Liao, Y. H. (2010). Online Information Review, 34(2), 263-281.


SOS: Does Your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Need Help?, Speicher, M., Both, A., & Gaedke, M. (2015, April). In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1005-1014). ACM.

Examining the pseudo-standard web search engine results page, Turpin, A., Scholer, F., & Von Billerbeck, B. (2006). In Australasian Document Computing Symposium. Queensland University of Techology, Faculty of Information Technology.

DTM-Extracting Data Records from Search Engine Results Page using Tree Matching Algorithm, Hong, J. L., Siew, E., & Egerton, S. (2009, December). In Soft Computing and Pattern Recognition, 2009. SOCPAR’09. International Conference of(pp. 149-154). IEEE.

The effect of search engine results page presentation style on user satisfaction and eye movements, Shrestha, S. (2012).(Doctoral dissertation, Wichita State University).

Analysis Teknik Search Engine Optimization pada Website terhadap Search Engine Results Page Google, Achmady, S., & Irawan, B. (2014). Analysis Teknik Search Engine Optimization pada Website terhadap Search Engine Results Page Google.

Making sense of the changing face of Google’s search engine results page: an advertiser’s perspective, Mateen, A., Sharma, D., Gupta, A., & Pratap, S. (2017). Making sense of the changing face of Google’s search engine results page: an advertiser’s perspective, Sharma, D., Gupta, A., Mateen, A., & Pratap, S. (2018). Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, 16(1), 90-107.

Was this article helpful?