Natural listings, organic results, sponsored ads, SERPs — these are just a few of the terms used to describe elements of a Google results page. But do you know what each one means? If they’re Greek to you, then keep on reading.
When you conduct a search query on Google, the results page presented — also known as a search engine results page or SERP — usually contains links that are free as well as links that are purchased. Free listings are referred to as “natural” or “organic” results. They represent the majority of the results on a SERP and are found along the left side of the page. See the green box in Figure 1 below.
Purchased links are called “Sponsored Links,” but may also be referred to as “pay-per-click ads (PPC),” “Google AdWords” or “paid ads.” Sponsored links are found along the right side of the page, and may also be the top three links on the left side of the SERP. See the pink boxes in Figure 1 below.
As suggested by the name, Sponsored Links are paid ad placements based on the purchase of clicks for specific search query keywords. Organic results on the other hand, are completely controlled by Google. Google bots crawl millions of web pages every day, constantly analyzing the context of pages and adding them to its index. Using Google’s proprietary and incredibly secret algorithm, it serves up organic results to your query, making every attempt to provide the highest quality web pages matching the keywords.
There is a lot more that may be said about how PPC and organic listings happen, but we’ll leave those for other posts. For now, if you would like a detailed explanation of all of the elements on a Google SERP, visit Google’s Web Help page (link).