What is a SERP?
A SERP is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Results Page. It is the page a user sees after entering a search query into Google.
For the sake of demonstration, let’s perform a search for plumbing company in washington dc
You can break a SERP down into 4 primary sections.
- Google Guaranteed
- Google Ads (AdWords)
- Google Maps
- Organic Results
There are also additional sections that appear on SERPs depending on the query. Some are:
Understanding SERP Features
Google Guaranteed is really just a modern extension of Google Ads, and you can learn more about how it works from Google.
PPC Ads (Google Ads / AdWords)
The next visible SERP feature on a typical results page is PPC ads. Not every query will produce PPC ads on the SERP. For example, low volume keywords may not show PPC ads because there’s not enough interest in the term, and therefore Google would be wasting money by advertising for that query. For mid to high volume search terms however, PPC ads will appear prominently, above both Maps results and traditional organic results. Securing your spot on the PPC section of a SERP requires an advertising investment. Google shows ads based on:
- Ad Extensions
- Max CPC Bid
- Quality Score
Maps listings appear beneath Google Ads but above traditional organic results. Like with PPC ads, they don’t show up for every single query. More obscure keywords will produce neither PPC ads nor Maps listings, meaning they show organic results exclusively. But most local plumbing terms do produce Google Maps listings, and it is critical to appear on what is known as the Local 3 Pack. This 3 Pack is featured on the SERP itself, and is one of the primary sources of search traffic for local plumbing companies and the most effective way to dominate your local plumbing market. Because the 3 Pack is aptly limited to 3 results, being #4 or #5 just isn’t good enough, as you will never show up directly on the SERP via Maps. Here’s how you optimize for Maps listings:
- Address Verification: Verify your business address, usually via postcard from Google
- Google My Business: Claim & optimize GMB profile
- Review Generation: Acquire customer reviews on Google
- Website Integration: Create uniform consistency between website NAP info and GMB NAP info
Traditional organic results are the 1-10 listings most closely associated with Google as a search engine. They are not paid for, and can only be earned through search engine optimization which coincides directly with providing the ideal user experience based on a specific search query. There’s so many factors that go onto Google’s final determination of a website’s organic ranking. Because of literally hundreds of factors, none of which are released by Google themselves, marketers are left to their own devices to come up with best practice strategies. Here’s what Plumbing Webmasters knows about how to rank as high as possible on organic:
- Keyword Research: Studying and identifying the best target keywords for optimal rankings
- On Page SEO: Placing the proper keywords in meta, title, and header tags, along with text content
- Off Site SEO: Building inbound links, signals, and citations from reputable 3rd party sources, including social media
- Technical SEO: Integrating schema.org microdata markup which encourages Google to properly parcel your data, and appropriately rank it on SERPs
Google’s knowledge graph or knowledge panel is most common on branded search queries. In other words, if a user has a pre-existing awareness of your company, either through word-of-mouth, a business card, a print ad, or some other outlet, a search of your exact name should yield a different kind of SERP than would be presented from a more general query. Branded searches typically show knowledge panels, which are sections of your Google My Business profile on the right hand side of the SERP. Make sure your GMB profile is:
- Active: Utilizes Google posts regularly to keep content circulating
- Branded: Displays your official company logo, and preferably high quality images of your office, truck, and staff
- Consistent: Has the correct company name and category to ensure an appearance on the SERP
- Updated: Has accurate and consistent information, from hours of operation, to phone numbers
Another SERP feature to be aware of is the featured snippet. These blocks of texts are answers to question based queries that generally start with qualifiers like who, what, where, when, & how. Not every website is ideal for featured snippets, but they do produce another opportunity to become visible on SERPs. For example, writing a blog post that uses the header, how to choose the right plumbing company, is a way to target a potential featured snippet. You’ll then want to answer your posed question in the subsequent text, which will hopefully earn the snippet. Here’s what you’ll want to focus on:
- Headers: Ask the question in the H1 or H2
- Paragraph Text: Answer the question in the subsequent paragraph text
- Quality: Give an accurate and robust answer, and surround it with an informative blog post
I Need Help With SERP Features for Plumbers
Do you find the SERP features discussed in this blog to be foreign to you as a plumbing contractor? If so, there’s no shame in investing in a digital marketing firm to handle them on your behalf. Plumbing Webmasters handles each of these SERP features with precision, putting clients in the most ideal position to generate traffic from different sources throughout a results page. As a company that specializes in plumbing marketing, we have unique insights unrivaled by general marketers, who have a wider range of clients.
It’s important to stress that optimal SERP features are the result of a full-spectrum digital marketing effort. It’s not enough to just create a website, or just write blog posts, or for that matter, just pay for ad space. The reality is that everything with Google is judged on a macro level. This means the more avenues you invest in digital real estate on, the more likely Google is to reward you in different sections. At Plumbing Webmasters, we help contractors and companies become brands in the eyes of Google, and generate leads as a consequence.