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search engine results page (SERP)

Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco

A search engine results page (SERP) is the list of results that a search engine returns in response to a specific word or phrase query. Each listing includes the linked Web page title, the linked page URL (Uniform Resource Locator), a brief description of the page content and, in some cases, links to points of interest within the website.

There are three main types of results on a SERP: Pages that the search engine spider has crawled and indexed; pages that have been manually added to the search engine’s directory; and pages that appear as a result of paid inclusion. The highest-ranking hits generally link to the most useful information; links grow less relevant as they move farther down the list.

Depending on the number of Web pages that contain a particular word or phrase, a SERP might show anywhere from zero (in the case of no matches at all) to millions of items. For example, entering the phrase "complex-number admittance" into the Google search engine yields few results. In contrast, entering the single word "hurricane" yields millions of results.

In most cases, search engine users will look at only the first one to three pages of hits (results). Web designers and site owners use search engine optimization (SEO) methods to make their sites and pages appear at or near the top of a SERP.

This was last updated in October 2012

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