Search engine results page
A search engine results page or SERP is a screenful of web pages listed by a search engine such as Google or Yahoo or Bing after doing a keyword query. For each web site listed on a page, there is a title for the web page, a link to it, and a brief description showing the particular search terms in context of the website. Frequent searches are sometimes held in a cache by the search engine and displayed instead of doing the actual search; while this speeds search time, it risks inaccuracies because sometimes newly-added web sites are missed.
Each search engine has particular strengths and weaknesses, and can include different types of listings, including sponsored listings, images, maps, definitions, videos, and suggestions for differently spelled terms. Sometimes users can choose, in advance, which type of search to perform; for example, on Google, a user can limit a search to images only.
Many SERPs have ads which fund their operations, which typically appear to the right side or above regular search results. Revenues from sales of advertising can be considerable and are increasing. There are programs which can compare SERP results from two different search engines side by side, so that a user can determine which one does a better job. One Wall Street Journal reporter set about trying to improve her own SERP (the page which she got when she searched for her own name) and listed her own search engine optimization strategies. One reader commented saying the best approach was to follow the search engine firm's "best practices" by interlinking information about her from different sites, and creating content that users will find valuable.
- Robin Wauters. Search Smackdown: Bing Vs. Google, Washington Post, June 2, 2009. Retrieved on 2010-03-02. “That was fast. Irish programmer and SEO specialist Paul Savage has made this very basic web service, which lists all results for search queries on Google and Bing side by side so you can compare which one produces the best results for the keywords you enter on one single page. We've played around with it a bit and found that the tool proves that the user experience for both search engines really is very different”
- Julia Angwin. How Are Your Google Results?, The Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2009. Retrieved on 2010-03-02. “For a long time I didn’t, so I embarked on a campaign to improve my SERP (search engine results page). To knock out some annoying results, I resolved to bury them underneath sites I had created myself. I beefed up my profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and began creating content (also known as writing articles in The Wall Street Journal).”
- Julia Angwin. It's a New Me (As Seen on Google), The Wall Street Journal, FEBRUARY 5, 2009. Retrieved on 2010-03-02. “One of the paradoxes of the digital age is that the boundless freedoms of the Internet also constrain our identity. Before the ubiquity of search engines you could go on a date or a job interview and construct a narrative about your life that fit the situation. No one in your book group had to know that you were a punk-rocker in high school. But it's much harder to package yourself in the Google era. Online, your digital identity often comes down to the top 10 links on your SERP, or search-engine results page.”