What Are The Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

For understanding SERPs, we need to see that it falls into two categories. Off to the side and at the top are paid text ads (more on this later). In the middle of the page are what is called organic results.

Below is a diagram of the SERPs for the keyword phrase “Best iPad Cases”:

What is a top result worth in the organic results? This can be tough to measure, as search engines have gone to instantly changing results as a user types in a keyword phrase. So, to measure the click-thru rate (CTR), it becomes tough as the result have already been fitered in real-time. And there is the question of collecting a statistically valid data set.

However, one study from 2010 for CTR based on position in the SERPs shows something like:
[Source]

(Hint: Notice the shape of that graph? Remind you of another graph we just saw?)

Another chart shows something very similar:

The data here is clear:

  • Showing up in the top 3rd of the SERPs for a keyword phrase is critical for driving traffic to your website.
  • Achieving a number one result is worth a factor of 3X more traffic than a number two result and it simply falls from there.
  • With some smart research we can find keyword phrases that hopefully we can focus on working our way to the top spot.

Key takeaway: While it may be impossible to rank as one of the first three results for the fat head of a keyword search (Ex. iPad cases), we have a good shot by targeting the Long Tail phrase and being ranked in the top three phrases.