In this article, we’ll take a close look on a typical Google search result in its SERP (Search Engine Results Page). The objective is to understand the elements of the search result so we can then easily apply Google Operators to fetch information from vulnerable websites. I’ll write more on Google hacking in the coming days. For now let’s focus on the basics.
A Google search result consists of the following elements:
- Title: This is the text within the HTML <title/> tag of the webpage. If the title tag is empty or blocked from being crawled, Google pulls the anchor text of a link to that page as the title.
- Snippet: Its the description of the page that appears underneath the title. Google may take this from the page’s meta description tag or may pull contextually from the page based on the words in the query. It may also use the description from the ODP (Open Directory Project).
- Bolding: Google bolds the query words that appear anywhere in the search result to notice the searcher that the page has relevant information of what they’re searching for.
- Cached Link: It helps to load the page directly from the cache if the page is down or loading slowly.
- Meta Data: Other items in a search result include URL, page size, and for very “fresh” pages, how long ago the page was crawled.
Some results include a “more results from” link, which triggers a site: query which results all pages from the website.
These results are completely algorithmic. And are pulled from the site’s homepage. You may see them only from sites that are specifically optimized for sitelinks appearance in search results.
Some search results include something called a “plus box” that extends to provide additional information. If the site includes a location information, then a map might be available in the plus box.
For instance the Flipkart search gives a custom search bar, sitelinks, and a map.
Matt Cutts, Head of Google webspam team explains the elements of the Google search result elegantly in this video. Watch it so you’ll get much broader understanding.