How Results Are Displayed in Search Engines

Search Engine Optimisation (also called SEO) can help your business triumph over your competitors. By the same token, ignoring SEO can have dramatic negative effects on your business.

Excellent SEO carries considerable weight; especially when you are dealing with search queries in your local area.

Here, you’ll discover how Google and Bing display search results.

Why is this important? For any business operating in today’s ultra-competitive global marketplace, failing to make the first page of a search engine is akin to a newspaper article buried on page ten. Yes, included, but no one notices.


What Must I Know to Get to the Top of the SERP?

A working knowledge of the search engine results page is a valuable tool to help you when you are figuring out crucial details of your SEO, especially if you are dealing with a tight advertising budget.

Here are a few general facts that you should keep in mind moving forward:

  • Google Is the Undisputed King of Search Engines – This is true in Australia as well as globally. Google has the loyalty of 94% of Australian searchers. The next most popular search engine is Bing. Microsoft’s search engine holds 3.5% of Australian searches followed by DuckDuckGo and Yahoo with 0.54% and 0.52% respectively.
  • Google Sets the Standards – It stands to reason that the company with the most searchers calls the shots. Remember that working within the parameters of Google’s search algorithms are critical to success.
  • The Results Page Changes Quickly – It is true that some of these changes may appear insignificant at a glance. However, do not underestimate the havoc that can accompany them.
  • The SERP Needs Looking After – Because things change fast, someone with your business’ best interest at heart needs to stay on top of what is happening. We suggest using a qualified SEO expert.


How Are The SERPs Organised?

While set-up details can change on a results page, generally a SERP will appear quite similar to this outline:


The Search Engine Results Page


  • (A.) Answer Box or Featured Snippet – This is the first section on a results page and appears directly above the unpaid (organic) search findings. If paid advertisements are on the page, they will appear ahead of the featured snippet. The point of this section of a search page is to answer a searcher’s question by addressing user intent. These boxes tend to answer direct questions of the ‘who, what, where, or why’ categories.
  • (B.) Knowledge Graph/Panel – Typically this is on the top right of a SERP. Google places a summary of information related to the query in this section and will add links to related images or information.
  • (C.) Organic Search Results – A list created by Google’s algorithms; the organic search section can be immense. This is where excellent SEO work can make or break your company. Given the fact that 80% of searchers do not go beyond the first results page, no business can afford to let this slide.
  • (D.) People Also Ask – This is a collection of questions related to the original query and follows the featured snippet on the left side of a SERP. If a searcher expands a question, they will find links to the site providing the answer.
  • (E.) Images, Video, or News Results – These will follow the organic search results if Google believes the videos or images will answer the query. Additionally, if Google believes the searcher’s intent is for news related to the topic of the query, a list of related news articles appears in this section.
  • (F.) Related Searches – A section for searches which may overlap or be closely related to the initial search query.


Why Local Search Engine Results Pages Are a Key to Success

Understanding the local SERP that relate to your business is essential to your success.

We find that businesses often underestimate the importance of gearing your web page toward searchers in your immediate area. (Especially if your competitor two blocks away is prepared for local searchers.)

In case you are not convinced of the necessity of a high SERP ranking for local searches, here are a few facts highlighting the importance of local search:

  • A business’ location is a key factor for the majority of those who run a local search.
  • Approximately 1/3 of searchers go to a business as soon as they locate it.
  • 1/2 of those using a local search will stop by the business they found within a day or less.
  • Mobile local searches convert into sales before the day’s end 20% of the time.


How Are Local SERPs Different From Regular SERPs?

Depending on the nature of your business, a spot at the top of a local results page can be more important to your success than your placement on a general SERP.

This is because of the tighter level of competition.

For example, if a family in Perth is looking for an Italian restaurant to dine at, they will not be interested in restaurants located in Sydney.

So, all of the local Italian restaurants must compete for this family’s attention. This requires a modified strategy, and the SERP specifics look a bit different for a local search.


Local Search Results in Google


  • (G.) The Map – If the family in our example searches for ‘Italian restaurant’, the SERP will show a map with the location of three local restaurants. Below the map are listings as well as star ratings for three Italian restaurants in the local area. Other restaurants are displayed after these three.
  • (H.) Discover More – After reaching the bottom of the page, searchers get information on sub-categories or ways to refine their search. This works off of the assumption that if you are at the bottom of the first search page, you did not locate what you are seeking. In many cases, this ends any need to continue a search on to the second SERP.

This makes an extremely compelling case for how crucial the first page is for a local business.

Can you afford to be completely overlooked by potential customers, who may be right outside your door, because your position on the local SERP is subpar?


How Can a Business Be on the Map?

The playing field for placement on the map in a local search is level, much like the featured snippet on a regular SERP. Ads purchased for the page go above the map, and the map itself is organic.

There are a few factors that influence which businesses are part of the map.

Tip: For a more detailed guide, we recommend this article by Ahrefs.

  • Your Business Profile – Make your profile as complete and accurate as possible. This will require updating if details change (hours of operations, special events, new offerings) and also an extra moment to make sure your profile looks flawless.
  • Images – Customers love to see what they can get. So, whether it is a tradie’s latest granny flat, a chef’s signature dish, or a designer’s trending handbag, putting images of your work or products works in your favour.
  • Reviews – Go out of your way to provide amazing service for your customers. If a customer is really happy, politely ask if they can review your business. Granted, customers sometimes post reviews to express disappointment or displeasure. However, if you’re a great business that provides a great service, your reviews will illustrate this over time.
  • Directories – You want your business listed in several online directories. The best way to do this is to create accounts on various sites gradually. Also, be sure all information matches the information on your Google business profile. This will signal to Google your legitimacy and raise your credibility.


What About Ads, Social Media, Mobile & More?

Of course, there are more details about what to find in the Google Search Engine Results Page.

Ads, social media, travel, and events can be a part of your local SERP. The sheer variety of items on a SERP page can make business owners feel overwhelmed; as can the idea of carefully and correctly overseeing all of these many important details.

Tip: For more information about every combination of search results displayed on search engines, we recommend this article on Search Engine Journal.