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Before we dive into working on getting your website to show up in the search results, it's important to understand what those results actually look like. Although there a lot of search engines around the world, and they all have some distinct differences, there are some common characteristics that their search engine results pages, or SERPs, may have. One thing that we're probably going to find, are some paid listings. Paid listings are very different than the traditional organic or natural listings that we'll be focusing on for our SEO efforts. These paid listings are actually advertisements, and programs like Google's AdWords or Microsoft's adCenter allow advertisers to bid on and place these ads in the search results page.
A typical search engine results page will have 10 organic results that link out to different web pages. Each result might look a little different, but they'll all have at least a headline, a description, and a visible URL. It's important to know what these components look like, because later in this course, we'll be modifying and optimizing these particular elements that may appear for an individual result. One important thing to point out is that the Internet has changed a lot since search engines first appeared, and there's lot of content on the web beyond just text and web pages.
Search engines have done a good job of keeping pace, and while we still view web page results, they've also begun returning things like video, images, products, and maps on a search engine results page. A common way of describing this would be that we now have blended search results that include all kinds of different content. Sometimes the blended results will have a group of video clips that match a user's search query, or it might show a list of local businesses accompanied by a map. It could be a group of images and prices for a particular product that you can buy.
Social signals allow search engines to return more personalized results, like news articles that your friends have shared. These results can show up in a variety of different ways, based on what the search engines think is relevant and appropriate to the user's search query. The important thing to remember is that you have a lot of opportunities to have your content show up in the search engine results pages. And the more you understand how search engines decide to show results to users, the more you'll understand how to get the search engines to show your content above the rest.
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