The most significant modifications to Google's SERPs

Search engine results pages (SERPs) sales

Google is growing into a sales facilitator — not just a search engine – depending on the sector or issue. Its purpose is to insert itself into the sales process and keep the searcher on Google properties until they complete the transaction.

What would the Google SERP look like if we could get in our Delorean and travel back to 1998? For starters, we'd still get ten listings per page, which has remained steady over time. Back then, though, every listing was natural, and every link directed to a third-party website.

Since then, the internet has developed, and user behaviour has evolved alongside it. But what exactly does serp stand for, and what does it imply? Let's begin with an explanation.

What are search engine results pages (SERPs)?

Search engine results page (SERP) is an acronym for search engine results page. In a nutshell, it's the page of results that people see after conducting a web search.

This page may have a variety of features, such as videos, photographs, news stories, items, traditional websites, or even particular replies, depending on the inquiry.

Let's have a peek at what the Google SERPs might look like in 2020.

  • The SERPs have become more sophisticated over time, allowing for carousels, rich snippets, and shopping.
  • The primary purpose of Google is to deliver a positive user experience for searches.
  • No-click SERPs should be factored into your SEO strategy.

The evolution of Google's search engine results page (SERP) is detailed.

When Google introduced AdWords in 2000, the straightforward search engine results pages of 1998 became a little more sophisticated. This is when the SERP began to take on its now-familiar format, with advertising appearing first, followed by organic listings.

AdWords was initially only available to 350 advertisers. Ads are now a common sight in the SERPs. And Alphabet (Google's parent company) reaps the benefits of those advertisements. Here's a quick rundown of the search engine result page timeline:

  • In the year 2001, image search made its debut.
  • In 2005, YouTube revolutionised online video.
  • Universal Search was launched by Google in 2007. Local packs, relevant searches, photographs, videos, news, and other items were merged in the main search results using this functionality.
  • Google launched the Knowledge Graph in 2012, a SERP feature that gathered information on popular topics and displayed the findings at the top of the SERPs.
  • The advertising in the right rail were removed in 2016.

Moving forward to now, you'll observe that Google's zero-click strategy has evolved. In fact, the Google SERP may be said to be more than just a search engine. It is a self-contained website.

The most significant modifications to Google's SERPs

The SERPs in 2020 haven't deviated from the path Google set in 2012. They're still working on improving the zero-click search experience. But it's worth mentioning that, by 2019, zero-click SERPs had become a more typical occurrence. More than half of searches finish without a click to further content, according to a survey done throughout the summer of 2019.

Google will continue to introduce features in 2020 to assist users find the information they need without having to click on a single link.

Search engine results pages (SERPs) sales

Google is growing into a sales facilitator — not just a search engine – depending on the sector or issue. Its purpose is to insert itself into the sales process and keep the searcher on Google properties until they complete the transaction.

Let's take the case of hotels.

Are you looking for a hotel in Chicago? A widget to reserve your room is now available on the Google SERP. It also allows you to filter results right in the SERPs! Fill in the dates. Sort by best match, lowest price, or highest rating for the best results. Decide on the amount of people who will be attending. Indicate if you desire a higher customer rating or a higher hotel class (or both).

Just let Google know if you'd like to bring your dog. Maybe you're looking for a place to park for free? It's no problem. What about a hotel that caters to children? Yes, you should identify that as well.

You can also switch between choices at various maximum price points, right down to the dollar amount.

Is a map representation of your hotel alternatives easier to interact with? No problem, simply click on the map that appears in the SERP. Sift through your choices until you locate the exact hotel, room, price, location, and amenities you want.

Then click the "Book a Room" call-to-action button.

Although the final checkout may take place on the hotel's website, 90% of the transaction takes place in the Google SERP. You can sometimes arrange accommodations within the Google ecosystem as well. In either case, the search results page is the one who closes the deal.

Case study: decreasing click-through rates on Google SERPs

I personally witnessed the impact of decreasing clicks on a long-term consumer. For the first six months of 2016 and the first six months of 2018, the client's site held the number one organic position for a 60,000+ monthly search phrase.

You might expect the traffic to be similar between the two time periods. That's not even close.

Over the course of two years, organic sessions on the same page with the same organic ranks dropped by 27%. This resulted in 26,000 fewer sessions for the client! That particular SERP is now clogged with adverts and Google search results that are delivered instantly.

What should an SEO strategist do if he or she is desperate for traffic? We'll make it. Let's look at the anatomy of the zero-click SERP for now.

Google SERP features

 Google SERP layout

 For quite some time, there hasn't been a "standard" layout for the Google SERPs. Instead, the layout you see varies depending on the type of search you conduct. Google will determine which of its features will be most useful for your search and will show you with a mix of them.

Answer boxes, featured snippets, similar questions, see results about, tweets, carousels, shopping results, or the knowledge panel may be displayed as a result of this. It could return AMP pages or local results. Many of Google's own innovations abound in the SERP. These elements can be combined in different ways, but there is a limited number of them.


Many of these aspects are intended to provide consumers with the information they require as quickly as possible. The answer box is the most literal illustration of this. Do you want to know what the current temperature is? Do you want to double-check your favourite sports team's game time? Are you curious about the age of your favourite celebrity? Your best friend is the answer box.

However, why is Google so fixated on zero-click searches? Sure, there's the basic fact that staying on Google is better for the company's bottom line. However, beneath the cynicism lies a genuine care for the user's experience.

Google's success as a corporation is dependent on providing searchers with the most accurate, smooth, and user-friendly experience possible. Traditionally, this meant providing users with the most relevant list of web pages for their searches.

However, Google noticed along the road that people frequently ask simple inquiries like "How old is Queen Elizabeth?" In that instance, sending someone to a random web page to read a complete biography only to get the solution would be a terrible experience. Telling them the answer is the best experience.

So there's a method to the chaos of zero-clicking. You can bet that if it wasn't good for the user, Google would stop doing it.

Knowledge panel

 A knowledge panel is a giant answer box. If you Google a person, a place, or a historical event, the search engine will compile data from a variety of trustworthy sources, including human-edited resources like Wikipedia. They can also use their own index and data gathered through private data partnerships. The results are very comparable to a Wikipedia article, but without the need to go to Wikipedia.

Snippets of interest

A featured snippet is a featured piece of information that displays at the top of the search results and contains a link to a website (or websites) where you can learn more. The answer box and knowledge panel are both examples of featured snippets. Most SEO strategists see highlighted snippets as the creme de la creme: the illusive "position zero" in the search results, rather than as its traffic-sucking rivals.

While the answer box and knowledge panel may rely significantly on verified sources like as Wikipedia, other types of featured snippets will pull material from the website that best organises, optimises, and trusts it. From how-tos to in-depth definitions and explanations to "best of" product lists, virtually any type of useful information is fair game.

Excellent outcomes

Almost every Google SERP layout includes the traditional list of ten organic results, whether or not it includes a highlighted snippet. A rich result is one that goes beyond the normal blue website link in this list. This can be as simple as a website link with many internal page links stacked beneath it. It might also incorporate reviews, carousels, or any number of other structured data markup-based features.

The nicest thing is that adding structured data markup to your code can often result in rich snippets. It is important to note, however, that structured data is not a ranking criteria. In most circumstances, however, it can help your listings stand out, so it's worth using.

However, there is a long and ever-expanding list of structured data alternatives, and it would be a waste of time to include each one to your site. Even if the markup is in place, it does not ensure that Google will use it. Examine the SERPs for priority keywords and observe which types of rich results appear most frequently, or which would logically appear for the query. Concentrate on them. Also, make sure to adhere to Google's structured data rules.

Results of organic searches

Organic results are anything in the SERP that isn't a sponsored advertisement by definition. Most SEOs, on the other hand, refer to organic search results as a list of 6–10 blue links.

The mobile and desktop SERPs seem fairly similar after the January 2020 core update. A Favicon and a breadcrumb trail are now included in every organic listing. On the next line, the page title appears, followed by the meta description. Site links will appear beneath the meta description if your listing contains them.

Recent headlines

Is the topic of your search interesting? Then get ready for some Top Stories to appear alongside your results. These are algorithmically generated news stories from (mainly) reliable sources, based mostly on keyword, recency, and publisher/article popularity. While blog entries and AMP sites occasionally make it into Top Stories, being a publisher or media site is the best method to earn one of these slots. If all else fails, persuade them to talk about you or your products.

Image and video results

If Google thinks it'll be useful, video results (thumbnails with a link to the video) and image results will be included (a collection of images pulled from Google Images, with a link to see more). Are you having trouble ranking on Google's first page for a highly competitive keyword? Then movies and photos that have been optimised may be your ticket in.

Results from Twitter

If a search returns Top Stories, there's a significant probability it'll also return Top Tweets. After all, social media frequently reflects current events. Top Tweets, like its news counterparts, are culled using a simple search algorithm: keyword or hashtag, recency, and popularity.


Sitelinks are a type of structured data markup that allows your website's internal or organisational pages to be displayed in the SERPs beneath the home page. These are typically found in branded searches. You can, however, optimise for them by employing navigational html jump links (or anchor links).

People also inquire.

Google may occasionally prompt you to dig deeper into your search by presenting you with a list of related questions alongside your results. Here are the "People also ask" results for the search query "people also ask Google:" if you like meta examples. 

If you're looking for keyword or content ideas, this element is a great place to go because of its potential to expand on a topic.

Results of a local search

Local SEO isn't just for small companies in your neighbourhood. Large firms with local brick-and-mortar locations also employ it. When Google thinks you're looking for a local business, the SERP structure changes dramatically.

Google testimonials

In the SERPs, there are two types of reviews that may appear: Google reviews as well as structured data reviews. Reviews derived from structured data appear in the website's search results and may include star ratings for items, recipes, and other topics.

Google reviews are the company's answer to Yelp, and they'll show up alongside any data gathered directly from the website. These only display for physical sites, as you might imagine.

Google, on the other hand, declared in September 2019 that "self-serving" reviews will no longer appear in the SERPs. This essentially implies that "in circumstances where the entity being evaluated controls the reviews themselves, Google will no longer display review rich results for the schema types LocalBusiness and Organization (and their variants)."


The local pack, also known as the 3-pack or maps pack, displays a prominently displayed map adjacent to or above three nearby companies that suit the searcher's needs.

Unless your company is located in a small town or operates in an unique industry, the competition for a spot in the top three can be strong. Complete your Google My Business profile and ask for those ratings!


 When it comes to carousels, Google used to present all of their local results in a horizontal carousel. They stopped doing it in 2014 and switched to 3-Packs, but they don't appear ready to give up the notion just yet. In 2017, they tested a different version of the local carousel. They also tested local carousels again in the summer of 2019.

Will the local carousel make a comeback in 2020? It's anyone's guess, but we're betting against it. The carousel's reduced selectivity means spammy company listings might slip into the results, but the streamlined 3-Pack provides a better mobile experience. Apart from that, "Discover More Places" is a fantastic compromise.

Searches that are related

The related search queries at the bottom of the page are a gold mine of information to help you with your keyword research. You can come across different ways of phrasing or overlapping themes that you hadn't explored before. They're probably essential if Google goes out of its way to show them to you!

Results of paid searches

Finally, there are the tried-and-true paid results. PPC advertisements and PLAs (Product Listing Ads – also known as Google Shopping feeds) are two examples. Google Advertisements can show above or below results, although in the case of PPC ads, they'll only allow up to four ads above (PLA carousels can contain more).

Make your site ready for the new Google SERPs.

Today, search engine optimization (SEO) entails treating Google's search engine results page (SERP) as a collaborator rather than a foe. So, instead of lamenting the loss of morning visitors due to the zero-click SERP, consider how you might design a marketing strategy to capitalise on this SEO trend.

What are the benefits of owning a featured snippet? As a result of becoming a member of the 3-Pack? From giving the user the definitive answer to their question? Or from dominating SERP real estate for a high-priority search keyword — normal organic listings, Google news, videos, Twitter, and images?

Yes, you will still see an increase in website visitors. Because providing sophisticated information, how-tos, or in-depth articles within the SERP would be a bad user experience, Google would never do so. If you want to compare prices, you'll need to go to several different websites (Google Shopping has plenty of limitations). You'll have to click through if you want to see something up close, read more than the headline, or watch a video.

As a result, the new Google SERP is a platform rather than a limitation. However, optimising for the SERPs is distinct from optimising your website for SEO, and success requires a comprehensive approach. stridec's Enterprise SEO service includes a comprehensive online SERP analysis to assist you compete for the keywords that drive traffic to your website.

To help you conquer the Google SERPs,

 consider the following questions:

  • Which of your inquiries yielded no results?
  • How can your brand become a go-to source for information in Google's search results?
  • What are the various elements of the SERPs for your target keywords?
  • Which SERP keywords have a better click-through rate? (and are less likely to be cannibalised by the new Google SERP features).
  • Look for long-tail keywords with a low chance of receiving an immediate response.
  • Is Google becoming a new factor in a searcher's decision-making process by launching a Google partner programme or widget, for example?
  • How can you improve the appeal and competitiveness of your organic listings?

Don't squander too many SEO resources on queries that don't require a click. Get in touch with our team to see how we can help you achieve actual results!


What are search engine results pages (SERPs)?

Search engine results page (SERP) is an acronym for search engine results page. In a nutshell, it's the page of results that people see after performing a search in a web browser.