How Google Displays Search Engine Results

Search Engine Results

Written by Jeremy Earle, JD

January 15, 2022

Colorado Springs SEO

The way Google presents search results is instructive. Learn about the different types of SERPs, such as general, local, etc.

Before we get started, I’d like to issue a complete disclaimer. Every day, I start by sifting through the headlines to keep up with what’s happening in the world of search.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see a flurry of Tweets early in the morning.

This month, I decided to post every SERP (search engine results page) style change in the previous month. That section included a total of 18 slides. For February 2019, that was just the beginning.

I’d want to emphasize this topic, which we’ll return to later. It’s critical.

For the time being, the only thing to keep in mind is that there’s a strong chance something will have changed between the time this article is published and the time you’re reading it.

Between the time I finish writing it, revise it, and post it, there’s a good probability that something will have changed.

Search engine results pages (SERPs) are changing at such a rapid rate.

Even though they’re small, they have a big impact on our lives when we see them more than a dozen times a month.

We’ll concentrate our attention on these blocks and some of their components. What this means for you is that you’ll learn about the most important topics and how the data used to create them is acquired.

SERP Layout Template

An example of a typical search engine results page (SERP)

As we’ll see in the next section, this isn’t the only arrangement, but it’s likely recognizable to you.

What are these sections called?

The Answer Box or Featured Snippet

Search results appear in the upper portion of the page, above the organic results.

As illustrated in the preceding example, if the only goal is to get a quick answer, this is the most likely (but not the only) location.

That’s just the beginning. Your material should be structured so that it results in the response box, which is especially true for Google voice search. However, this isn’t always the case, as evidenced by the above example.

The knowledge panel or graph

Generally, this is a summary of the information Google considers to be fundamental to the identity of a business or recognized individual. Put another way; these are the kinds of things a searcher is likely to look for.

However, for more generic questions (such as the American Civil War), we identify significant information and photos, often with links to other related events or entities.

As I mentioned earlier, voice search results don’t just come from the answer box.

Most of the results will come from this knowledge panel when there is one. Although it may be a shortened form, I’ve yet to come across an exception.

The Question Is Also Frequently Asked

Here, you’ll find a list of questions related to the original enquiry.

When a user’s original inquiry signals that he or she is looking for information on a certain subject, this area is usually activated.

The list of questions is more related to the query itself than to the number of people searching for it. To put it another way, they aren’t always the most often asked questions about a given subject but rather those relevant to the original query.

We are expanding search results in an answer for the query, with a link to the source of the response and a search result for the query with further information.

On the first page of results, the solution was:

It is different from the answer in the Answer Box on the results page if you click on this link:

They’re probably assuming that the user’s goal is different when the query is added to the previous rather than searched directly.

Relatively Unprocessed

Everything that appears on the website above is a product of the natural process.

Everyone reading this post is well aware of the complex algorithms employed by Google to produce these results, which are then ranked according to those algorithms to produce the most relevant results for the user’s likely purpose (s).

It isn’t the point of this paper for me to get into the specific signals employed.

E: The End Results of the Video (Alternate: News or Images)

A carousel is commonly used to present popular videos that attempt to answer a question.

In this case, we’ll find photos if Google thinks that the user’s intent would be realized if they were included.

Alternatively, if the query suggests that the user is looking for news, you can assume that they are:

Difficult to Separate

A row of related entities based on a core attribute can be found in section F above.

We looked for information on a major military conflict in the sample query.

Google has concluded that “military conflict” is the entity association most relevant to the searcher and hence has listed other relevant associations.

However, I have yet to see more than three rows of results at the bottom of the page.

Related Searches

The related searches can be found at the bottom of the page.

Because they don’t have to be questioned, they’re a bit different from the “People Also Ask” (though they can be). As a result, some overlap is possible, although not always.

For the most part, these results are based on searches that others who searched for the current query have also searched.

The Local SERP Layout

What’s that? As of this writing, neither Google nor the SERPs has begun to monetize their efforts.

Let’s give it another go.

As it’s about lunchtime, I’d want to seek up pizza places in my area. We’re on the same page:

Packs / Maps / Local Information

If you’ve ever searched for something with a specific location in mind, you’ll recognize the map, snack, and local pack. Those are a lot of people’s names.

A Terminology Class: There were seven results in the map pack until August 2015, which may be confusing to those new to SEO. It dropped to three on August 7th.

The snack pack was referred to as such because everyone was used to the 7 being the map pack, which was a much lower number.

This guide on Local SEO can help you if you’re a local business and want to show up in Google Maps search results.

I: Explore Additional Destinations

As a beginner, this search results area can be a little puzzling.

  • A pizza search brought up a range of results,
  • but when I scrolled down to the bottom of the page,
  • I saw that the results were all related to the high-level category of “pizza.”
  • Google has introduced a box at the bottom of the page to enable me to either filter my search, focus it further on sub-categories like delivery, or shift gears altogether.

Assuming I haven’t specified my preferences or even known them, they’re offering additional alternatives if I hit the bottom of the page.

Page 2 is now a non-issue.

AdWords on the SERPs

All of this, and we haven’t seen any commercials at all. So, let’s look at the SERP and accomplish two goals at once:


There is no need for us to know what this area is used for.

As a result, things like purchasing Burning Man are possible, such as paying for all of Google’s operations.

Purchases Made

The shopping ad units can be found on the right or in a carousel within the results, but at their foundation, they are simply Google Ads powered with product-specific data.

For businesses who sell products, have an inventory database, and invest in Google Advertising, a shopping feed is a must-have to power their shopping ads.

Related Searches for K and K2

We’ve seen this tactic before, but it seems to be working this time.

Entity associations on a thematic level are used to compile these lists.

In the first list, all works are nonfictional about the American Civil War. List two deals with the subject of the Civil War, but it does it from the perspective of fiction.

What’s intriguing is that Google doesn’t presume that you’ve found what you were looking for in the first place but rather are encouraging you to take an alternative route.

My browser takes me to the following website when I click on “The Civil War: A Narrative.”

An extended version of the preceding page’s list is displayed in a carousel at the top of the page. Of course, they include another ad if I decide to buy it.

Because this is a well-defined entity, there is a knowledge panel, and organic results are then.

Additions to the SERP Layout and Features

Even though the vast number of potential permutations, layouts, and sections means I’m bound to leave some out, here are some of the more interesting layouts that inhabit the zones stated above:


Section A of the featured snippet, which we mentioned previously, has been expanded to include events. The last time it happened was on a mobile device in February of last year.

So, update your event schema.

The Cherry Blossom Festival in Tokyo is a must. Therefore we’ll need somewhere to stay.


A short search on Google can bring up a list of hotels and other lodging establishments in your area.

An interactive carousel and map provide familiar alternatives and lead you down a conversion route.

Even though this is comparable to a standard map layout, the sheer number of filters and options makes it a major challenge to the travel industry.

Google Hotel Ads are the only method to get into this area.


Topics that are currently popular include:

Search results that include tweets from high-profile Twitter accounts.

What’s the Point of All of This?

You may be questioning why it matters. There is no need for you to worry about anything else if you’re only interested in the top 10 organic links or featured snippets.

In the simplest terms, understanding the various areas and elements on the page allows you to take advantage of the possibilities that exist in each one. In reality, with the initial search I made above, there are a lot of hidden chances.

Examine the query and the layout for any items that could direct people to specific subsets.

“What is the civil war?” I inquired. Is it possible that a “People also ask” will take me off course?

Suppose I’m sucked into the YouTube vortex. Google is trying to keep me from going to the second page of results by presenting me with various suggested searches.

Hidden opportunities can be found in these places.

There’s more to it than that.

As you go through these parts, you’ll learn exactly how Google sees the big picture when it comes to your issue.

Think about what the “Searches linked to” (G) section tells you when it comes to big issues. Make a mental note of what the Related Entities (F) signify and how they connect to the content you should be putting on your website.

Think about what the “People also ask” (C) and Knowledge Panels (B) are indicating when you’re looking for more specific information.

Shouldn’t you respond to questions that Google has considered relevant to your questions?

You may be wondering, why are the “Related Searches” (K) so vague? This is clearly stated in the section’s name.

As long as Google demands customized results for specific queries, searchers will respond. Because of this, they will respond to your efforts if you put anything out there. Also, keep an eye on the presentation styles.

Insight into how Google links things together and what it means for relevancy may be found in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Keep the search engine results pages (SERPs) in mind when planning your content strategy.

Not to Mention Mobile Search Engines

I’ve included a lot of desktop-centric examples in this post. I had to decide, and taking screenshots was a lot simpler. What can I say?

You’ll find the same essential pieces on mobile, but they’ll be arranged in a slightly different way.

Make sure you pay attention to the zones’ relevance on different devices.

There are more films and carousels on mobile devices than on desktops.

Having this information will assist you in better understanding your traffic and where to focus your efforts based on where your market conducts its inquiries.

However, the information it gives you about your subject remains consistent, but it may advise you on how to format that content.

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