If you’re interested in making money online, it’s absolutely crucial that you understand the importance of a SERP. Also known as a search engine results page, a SERP is the webpage a search engine such as Google generates when a user searches for a particular term. It features the titles of webpages that match the keyword query, links to those pages, and a brief description of the content on each page. A SERP typically contains three types of listings: results automatically generated by a search engine spider, results added by a human moderator, and paid listings that are often advertisements for a particular product or service.
Listings that have been added by the search engine’s spider are often called organic search engine results or natural search engine results. Search engine spiders are programs that surf the web and automatically index pages according to a predefined set of criteria. To help their pages reach the top of these organic search results, companies often hire writers and consultants experienced in search engine optimization techniques. Although this strategy can be more expensive than simply buying a paid listing in the SERP, the investment is often seen as a vital component of building a successful business online.
Although search engine spiders are a highly effective way to index web content, this system has the potential for abuse. Unethical website operators have been known to create sites that provide no useful content and exist solely to generate advertising revenue on a SERP. For this reason, listings that have been added into the search engine’s directory by a human moderator or editor are preferred by many Internet users since these results are most likely to be relevant to a particular keyword query. Yahoo! is the best-known search engine that makes use of human moderators and editors when creating a SERP.
Listings that a company has paid to have included in the SERP for a particular keyword query are often advertisements for a product or service. These paid advertisements are the primary way a commercial search engine is able to generate a profit. However, to help users make better decisions about what results are most relevant to their search, paid listings are separated from other listings. In Google, for example, the paid listings on a SERP are displayed in a sidebar on the right hand column of the page. In Yahoo!, these listings are known as a Yahoo! Sponsored Search and displayed at the top and bottom of the page in a blue box.