Comparison of SEO and SERP

What is the difference between SEO and SERP?

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimisation, whereas SERP is an acronym for Search Engine Results Page. They are two different things, but very closely related. Here’s how they differ from each other.

A SERP (Search Engine Results Page) is the webpage a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo shows a user when they type a search query. The search engines aim to fill the SERP with relevant results that help the user find what they are looking for. For example, if a user searches for “blue shoes”, the search engine will show a list of results from around the web that talk about blue shoes in a helpful way.

Now, consider that
– the aim of a search engine is to get the searcher as efficiently as possible to the solution to the problem (or answer to their question) the user expressed
– the SERP is the vehicle for them to do that
– they will highlight in that SERP the result that they recommend as the best / most appropriate solution

…then we can define SEO as:

SEO is the art and science of persuading search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, to recommend your content to their users as the best solution to their problem. (original source and a long explanation here)

What is the difference between SEO and SERP?

Is SEO a part of SERP?

The short answer is no, but they are closely related.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the work a website owner does to get a webpage to the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for relevant user search queries.
Therefore, the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is an important concept in the field of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but SEO is not a part of (or subset of) SERP.


Jason Barnard has over 2 decades of experience in digital marketing.

He currently teaches Brand SERP optimisation to students at and writes regularly for leading marketing publications such as Search Engine Journal, SEMrush, OnCrawl, Searchmetrics as well as appearing regularly on digital marketing webinars and speaking at major conferences around the world such as BrightonSEO, PubCon, SMX London, YoastCon.