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The Search Engine Results Pages

The crawling of websites and indexing of web pages are constantly going on even when no one is searching. The last part in the search process is part that you’re probably most familiar with – the actual search. You type in a word, short phrase, or question, and the search engine displays a list of websites.

That list of websites is called the search engine results page and sometimes referred to as the SERPs.

If you do a search and look at the SERP, you’ll notice two columns. Above the right column it says "Sponsored Links." These are paid advertisements. The companies and organizations listed here pay a fee to Google for each person who clicks their ad, so they’re often referred to as Pay-Per-Click or PPC ads.

In the left column are the unpaid search results also sometimes called the organic results or natural results. These are the websites the search engine believes are most relevant to the search phrase that was queried. Sometimes search engines also display sponsored links in the left column above the natural results or will even place a block of pay-per-click ads in the middle of the natural results. Sponsored links are always labeled, though not always very clearly.

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