Monday, December 17, 2007

The Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) Explained

Every year my family publishes a “Bad News Letter”. Ever experience the annoying high achieving family newsletter that comes in the mail from a distant relative? That’s not the case when it comes to my family. We love to highlight and laugh at the bad things that happened throughout the year. You won’t find any braggarts in that gem. I've been busy after work hours getting it together to pass out to relatives on Christmas Eve.

On to the subject…

Last week I was conversing with a client over the phone and she mentioned that she wanted her new website to be on the top of the SERP’s page. When I started to explain to her the logistics of being listed at the top for her search terms she was fascinated. She is a very intelligent woman with several websites already, and it got me to thinking that I should probably do a post for people who don’t quite understand it all.

So, with that in mind – let me just explain (gently) how it all works:

Whenever you go to a search engine such as Google and you type in a keyword or phrase (the words you are using to search for something), after you hit “Search”, the items that come up are broken down as follows:

Take a look at the image below with the results in red:

Those are the top paid results. To get in that position, you have to be engaged in a PPC (Pay Per Click) or (Adwords) campaign with Google and you have to be the top bidder for the keyword phrase that was searched on. In this case the phrase was “complete business cards”.

In the next image, look at the results in red:

These are also paid or “sponsored” results from a PPC campaign. The results on the side are not the top dollar advertising. Again, the person in charge of the campaign has a choice on what keywords to bid on, how much they want to spend per word or phrase and what position they want to be in.

In the next image, look at the results in red:

These are the natural search results. Meaning, the results that are showing up here are based on SEO (search engine optimization) and not a paid advertising campaign. This clearly demonstrates how important search engine optimization can be to your marketing budget.

I can get into more about PPC campaigns and how they work in another post. Next time we can have a look at Yahoo or MSN. I hope this was helpful to you.


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