An Introduction to SERP

Prior to 2007, Google was just a search engine. Flash forward to today and it's so much more than that. So let's dive in and get to know the SERP.

An introduction to SERP. I’ve often found myself reminiscing as of late. Back to simpler times. Prior to 2007, Google used to be the same. You typed in a phrase or name and you would get ten blue lines. Ten blue lines with the SEO title, some metadata about the page and the actual link to the page. (Refer to the blog header if you can’t remember!). As a website owner, you’d have to do a few things. Like put up some content, enter some keywords and get found on the internet. Google was just a search engine.

Flash Forward

Not today. Type in Toilet in 2007 and get ten links on the left side of the screen and some sponsored links on the right. Type in Toilet now in Cranberry Township, PA and prepared to be absolutely dazzled with new features and old favorites including:

  • One PPC Ad
  • Eight webpage results
  • Shopping components,
  • People also Ask Featured Snippets,
  • Knowledge Graph,
  • Local Pack – Map and local search,
  • Image Pack – Images,
  • News Box – Stories

But Before We Go Any Further

Don’t worry, we’re going to go into more depth and detail and part two of this blog. But before we get there, we need to get familiar with a few things.

 What is a Search Engine Results Page (SERP)?

Once you type your keyword into Google’s search bar, a new page will suddenly appear. That, friends, is our SERP. A SERP shows you the top ten results found for your keyword. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you click to the next page. This page will also show ten results. This page is also a SERP.

What is a SERP Feature?

As of late, you may have noticed that Google produces different looking SERP pages. You may see some things when you search for a recipe. Different things come up when you’re looking to buy a car. As you may have noticed, not all searches are equal, and not all SERPs look the same. Often, you’ll see other elements on the SERP in addition to the organic results, like a video at the top, some images, or even a large box with a quick answer to your question.

These are all SERP features: additional links to content search engines think you might find relevant. SERP features come in many shapes and sizes and each kind can be triggered in various ways. We’ll review these in more detail during part two, but for now, here are the basics.

Featured Snippet

Featured snippets are triggered when search engines think they can display a short, succinct answer to a question in around 40-60 words. It tends to be formatted as paragraphs, bulleted lists, numbered lists, and tables.

featured snippet

Local 3-Pack

Local 3-packs are triggered when search engines try to pair you with local businesses matching your query. And it will always be formatted as a map paired with local information.

local 3-pack

Knowledge Cards

Knowledge cards are triggered by business names, prominent people, places, food, and other specific nouns. They tend to be formatted into long columns providing a number of details.

knowledge card

Site Link Extensions

Site link extensions are triggered mainly from branded terms. In regard to formatting, several other popular site pages for the website being searched will be shown.

external site links


The video feature is triggered when search engines believe that video content would be helpful. Videos may show up on their own or in packs of 3.



 Images are triggered when search engines believe images would be helpful. And they tend to appear as multiple small boxes lined up in a row.


Related Questions

Related questions are triggered by most questions. And it is formatted in a box containing a list of related questions.

related questions


The carousel is triggered by categories such as movies, games, music, team rosters, travel. It is formatted similarly to images; small image boxes running horizontal across the top of a SERP.


Instant Answers

Instant answers are triggered when search engines believe a very short answer will satisfy searchers. It normally appears as a large box first thing on the page.

instant answers

Top Stories 

Top stories are triggered when search engines believe a newsworthy topic would be helpful. They are normally formatted as horizontal cards displaying the headline, publisher, and publish date

top stories

Text Ads

Text ads are triggered when vendors bid on searches related to the keywords used in the query. They don’t always look the same. However, most commonly they have two headlines, a URL, and a short description of the offer. Ads have a colored [Ad] next to them.

text ads

Shopping Ads

Shopping ads are triggered when vendors bid on searches related to the keywords used in the query. They appear as cards comprised of an image of the product, listed price, and vendor. They sometimes also contain star ratings.

shopping ads


Tweets are usually triggered from branded queries. Will often appear as a card 3-pack displaying the tweet text and date of the tweet.


Ratings and Reviews

Ratings and reviews are triggered by products, recipes, brand names, and other relevant items. They are displayed between an organic result’s URL and meta description.

ratings and reviews

Google is Changing

Yes, the world is getting more fast paced and technology driven. These SERP features are just the beginning. And that’s why we here at onCOREventures do what we do. Make sense of the digital world so that your small business can thrive. Contact us today to see how we can help grow your Pittsburgh small business authentically.

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