What’s in a SERP? Understanding all the parts of a search result

In order to understand SEO and design the structure of a website, it is important to understand the components of a search result.

In this post we look at a Google search result and describe each part.

Features of a Google Search result

In the image below each basic feature of the Google search result is named in blue in to the left of the listing. As you can see, not all search results will include every feature.

google search_results


The Title of the search results is usually directly related to the tag on a webpage and the words that match the search query are highlighted in bold. In the first search result you can see that funny, cat, and captions are bolded in the Title meaning that these words relate to words that are entered in the search. If the word caption was used in the query for example, the plural captions is also highlighted.

The Title tags should be placed in the header section between the tags at the top of the page. On a Joomla website this is usually the Title of an article or other content item.


The Snippet is descriptive of the content of the page. In the Snippet any related words that were used in the query are also highlighted like in the Title.

The text may relate to the meta tag information in the section of a web page. Google may however select different text that appears to be more closely related to the query that was used. 


Sitelinks are additional links that Google has determined are useful pages inside the webpage.

As a webmaster you have no control over when and what Sitelinks Google will display for your site. If inappropriate Sitelinks are displayed, the website’s owner may request to have Sitelinks demoted in Google webmaster tools.

Although you are unable to specify what links to include as Sitelinks, a clear site structure that the Google bot can easily navigate will help Google identify any links it may include. It is important to include your most important pages in main menus or other easy to navigate elements if you hope to have these included as Sitelinks.

More on Sitelinks can be found in our Guide to Organic Sitelinks.

Search within a site

A “Search within a Site” box may be included in search results where Google determines that for the resulting site the user is likely to want to search the resulting site.

Websites which are likely to have a “Search within a Site” field displayed include large directories and online stores. More commonly the result will include a “More results from xxx »” link that simply links to a google search where the “site:” parameter has been inserted.


Under the Title we find the URL. This is simply the full link to the resulting page.

The importance of SEF (Search Engine Friendly) URLs is illustrated here as keywords are displayed. While there may be little value in relation to rankings, a SEF URL adds trust to a search result and is generally thought to increase click-through rate compared to a nonSEF link.

For example, in Joomla, the following URLs lead to the same content when the sample data is loaded during installation:


However the SEF URL is more descriptive and thus more appealing to the user.

Event - Rich Snippets

If Google is able to understand the context of the web page, it may be able to provide additional rich information or “Snippets” under the search results.

In the example above, the website has implemented event-related rich markup to allow Google to understand that the type of information on the page is related to events. The direct links to upcoming events result from the content author implementing Structured Data markup on their web site.

This additional rich information can add a lot of value to a search result, and makes it easier for searchers to find the exact information they seek. 

Some sample rich contexts:

  • Reviews
  • People
  • Products
  • Businesses and organizations
  • Recipes
  • Events
  • Music
  • Videos


The Breadcrumbs are an alternative way that Google may display the search results’ link(s).

Unlike the standard URL the Breadcrumb includes different levels of navigation, so it may include a link to the category as well as the article of the search result.

This is also considered rich format that can be a result of implementing Structured Data markup. Google may include Breadcrumbs for a site that is well structured and has achieved sufficient trust from Google.

Product - Rich Snippets

As with the Event related Rich Snippets, Product related Rich Snippets are a result of structured data markup to identify the content on the page as products as well as product related information such as ratings and reviews. Not surprisingly, ratings and reviews can significantly affect click-through rates.

Author information

An important thing for professionals and blogs is the Authorship structured data which identifies the author of the content on the resulting page.

The image and links to the author’s profile add authority to the content and makes it easy to track an author’s influence and statistics. In the Google Webmaster Tools you can track all the content across different sites to which an author contributes.

More about Google Search results

Hopefully this overview will add to your understanding of Google Search results and has introduced you to some more advanced features. In future posts we will explore the Rich Snippets in more details and introduce ways to implement structured markup in order to improve your search results.

If you found this topic useful, or you have suggestions for other topics, please post them below in the comments section.

Last modified on Oct102013
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