When a user types a phrase into the Google search bar, the search engine displays a list of results for that query. Every result includes several pieces of information, but where is Google finding this text? We’ll make it easy to understand how Google builds a result in its search engine and how you can change what is displayed.

Google Search Results Page

This is what a typical search result page looks like, although they frequently include elements such as local results, image result suggestions, and video suggestions on YouTube.

The Google Adwords area features advertisements from those who are targeting the keywords that you’re searching for. If you should happen to click on these results, the advertiser will pay Google for the traffic that it’s brought to the website.

The answer area is generated from popular results for questions, that Google deems a good answer to your question. This isn’t necessarily from the top result, and it’s not always from wikipedia, although it can be. This can be a good place to find a succinct answer to a simple question.

Next, you’ll see where organic search results begin. These are simply websites that meet the search criteria, and rising to the top of these results is what SEO is all about, as searchers are most likely to click on the first results.

But what is that blue text there? Where does Google get that snippet from? Let’s examine the components of an organic search result.

Google Search Result

The title of the page is displayed in bold, blue letters and is the most prominent feature of a result, making it an extremely important element in SEO efforts. This will be pulled from the SEO file of your website, and will be marked <title> in the code. Keep in mind that there is a given amount of space for the text, so anything past about 50-60 characters (depending on the size of those characters) will be cut off.

The URL, shown in green, is simply the address for the website. This will show searchers if your website is secure (via the https://) and can help viewers recognize a brand that they trust.

The Author or Publisher is displayed in gray beside the address. Not every result will include this information, as not all websites include this code. Adding an author or publisher to your pages can increase trust in your website, so it’s a good idea to do so. Simply include a link to the individual or company’s Google+ page, denoting whether this is the author or publisher.  Individuals will need to be denoted as an author, while businesses or organizations are considered publishers. For instance, a page of our website would include the publisher’s note as follows: <link href=”https://plus.google.com/+Hyperlinksmedia/rel=publisher />.

The small blurb included in the result is the Meta Description, and it is also pulled from the SEO file of the website. These should give a brief summary of the page, and offer an opportunity to appeal to searchers. While they can be any length, meta descriptions are usually cut after 160 characters, so the optimal length is around 150-160 characters.

Your listing among search engine results is your first chance to win over potential visitors and customers while standing out from your competition. Understanding the components of the Google results will allow you to improve your internet marketing efforts and SEO tactics. Make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward and appealing to the right customers with great title tags, meta descriptions, and other search result elements.