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Evolution of Google SERP

Evolution of Google SERP
April 7, 2021

Evolution of Google SERP

Apr 07, 2021
Devyani Paliwal
Devyani is an ACJ graduate with a bachelors in English Literature. A voracious reader since her school days, cinema aficionado and music enthusiast, she has been doing content writing for some time now.

Humans beings have several reflex reactions and one of those, whenever they are searching for an answer, is searching for it on Google. It's an automatic response. We have become so accustomed to using the search engine that even before we have properly digested the question, we've already opened the Google search bar. But the results or SERPs that we see today, have had a journey of their own, spanning over two decades. 

What is a Google SERP?

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) refer to the web pages that are displayed whenever one searches for something using search engines, such as Google. After the user enters their query in the search bar, the resulting pages that align are SERPs.

Ranking high on SERPs is a primary goal for every business hoping to establish a presence since it leads to more traffic and ultimately, more sales. 

Google SERP Over the Years

Since the world was blessed with the power of Google, how search results were displayed and what they included has evolved a lot, over the years. Some highlights have been given below:


1998: The Beginning

John Hennessey, a computer scientist, was the first one to ever use Google search. He searched for 'Gerhard Casper' and instead of getting the results of Casper the Friendly Ghost, he got the links to the specific person he was searching for - Gerhard Casper.

2000: Invention of AdWords

This year, Google came out with Adwords. Originally supposed to launch for 350 advertisers, 2000 kicked off pay-per-click advertisements. The paid ads are the ones that usually appear at the top of SERPs and are made to look similar to the other results on the list, except that they have a lower CTR (click-through-rate). 

2001-07: Transitioning to Universal Search

From just a couple of web pages, Google has expanded and covered the globe to become the ‘universal search’ for all content available on the internet. The vertical search engine, in this period, added these important functions to its framework:

The primary goal of Google was to provide as appropriate a result as possible, be it involving any of the functions given above. The only condition was that the content is present somewhere on the world wide web. Along with accuracy, speed was another major factor that the search engine worked to constantly keep improving. To do so, some of the functions that were introduced were:
Advanced Search
Alternative suggestions
Google Instant (results displayed as one is typing) 
Google Suggest (suggestions offered in real-time)

2010: Introduction of Place Search

Moving over Google Local, Google came up with place search and Google Maps was brought into focus. This made it much more simple for customers to get to stores near them. 

When it was launched, everyone sat up and took notice since it had quite an impact on how SERP results were displayed. 

2011: Schema Markup

The schema markup was launched by Google, Bing, and Yahoo together. This was done so that there could be a unified set of schemas when it comes to structured markup. Schema markups provided more structure when it came to displaying data.

2012: Knowledge Graph

This refers to the panel that is displayed on the right side of search results. It gets information from the web and provides prompt snippets as well as summaries regarding whatever content the user is looking for. 

2013: Carousel Launch

Formerly released for Local (supposed to show places such as restaurants, etc.), but then that idea was not acted upon. However, the carousel idea did not die here and went on to show several search results.

For instance, whenever you search for a movie genre, the horizontal strip that appears at the top is called a knowledge graph.

2014:’In the News’

It began as ‘In the News’ and was included in SERPs in terms of display but then its name was changed to ‘Top Stories’, and the display was changed to the carousel format. These are an important part of SERPs.

2016: Featured Snippets

The quick answers feature of SERPs was officially changed to 'Featured Snippets'. Snippets show a quick summary of whatever answers the user is looking for and could be in the form of paragraphs, lists, or tables. 

If you get featured in the featured snippet, it has several advantages. The primary one is that it brings enhanced visibility as you'll be displayed on top and have Google's trust. This leads to more traffic for the website in question. 

2017: Jobs

The launch of Jobs led to a massive disruption in the recruitment industry. Aiming to make job search easier for the users, Google was consistently trying to, and still is, to make this job search process as easy as possible for both - the candidate and the recruiter. 

2018: Inclusion of Videos in Carousel

As it says here, videos started being included in the carousel feature of SERPs to make them easily accessible as well as broaden the results spectrum for the users. 

2019: Improvement of Ads

For clarity, from this year onwards Google began to label ads so that mobile search was better for the users. Black 'Ad' labels were attached to ads so that they were prominently visible. 

Further, the 'search by photos' feature was also added so that users could further simplify their search experience by requesting visuals, in addition to descriptions. 

2020: COVID-19 Local News Coverage 

COVID-19 had an impact on SERPs as well. For the information relayed and the swiftness with which Google changes its framework to incorporate the pandemics universally lauded. 

It supplied information keeping in mind the local impact and rearranged the data accordingly so that the users were getting the most recent news of their area and staying updated.


The word that describes Google the best is reinvention as it is constantly outdoing itself and only getting better as the years go by. Moreover, the company shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon since they always seem to be brimming with ideas that are followed by perfect executions that make the lives of the users easier every day. 

If you’re interested in learning about how exactly SERPs work and can be used to get more, don’t forget to go over the various courses offered by Digital ready and become a digital marketer. 

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