Stands for "Search Engine Results Page." A SERP is the page that you see after you perform a search using a search engine. It includes a list of search results that are relevant to the search phrase or keywords you entered. Each search result typically includes the title of the page and a brief description of the page. The description may either be taken from the page's description meta tag or may contain snippets of text from the page that contain keywords from the search phrase.
SERPs vary between search engines, but they all use a similar layout. The top of the page contains the search field, which typically shows the user's most recent query. The results are then displayed in order of relevance beneath the search field. Many search engines also include other search options, such as Images, Video, and News searches. You may also find an "Advanced Search" link that provides options for performing a more specific search.
The results produced by the search engine's search algorithm are known as "organic results." These results are the primary content of each SERP and are displayed for every search in which results are found. Since webmasters typically want their sites to rank high on relevant SERPs, various search engine optimization SEO techniques can be used to try and improve the ranking of pages on SERPs.
Depending on the search phrase entered, the search engine may also display ads or "paid listings." These links are typically displayed above the initial search results and on the right side of the page. Typically these ads are denoted by a phrase such as "Sponsored Links" or "Sponsored Results." They are supplied by advertisers who bid on keywords that are relevant to their content. Paid listings provide a way for companies to generate traffic to their websites through search engines even if their organic search ranking is not very high.
Updated: March 10, 2009