As evolution continues to happen to search engines, there are a variety of ways in which information can be provided to users. In particular, the SERP- ‘search engine results page’ feature results are becoming have become more important for improving SEO performance, getting in front of your customers and ahead of your competitors.
A common question in SEO is ‘what are SERP features’. There is often confusion around the different SERP feature elements and how they work.
To answer this question in detail, the most basic way to describe SERP features is that they are visual elements which makes available multiple pieces of information a user is able to research. They are designed to respond to search queries more effectively. Google uses the most relevant SERP features to present answers to user queries in a range of different formats on the results page. This allows users to explore and find what they need, easier and faster.
When finding SERP features, it is useful to know that they are based off Google’s algorithm and are much more reliable than traditional webpage listings. Each SERP would contain the highest-ranking and most appropriate website content related to the search query. Their unique information can sometimes provide users all the information they need without having to visit a website.
In a nutshell, the ultimate goal of SERP features is to help users get the most relevant search results possible. By appearing in the SERPs, you are able to drive increased organic traffic and engagement.
There are plenty of ways a site can be optimized to increase its chances of appearing on SERP features, whether your site is on Shopify, WordPress, Wix, Squarespace or other sites.
Most Common SERP Feature Types
They are split into two separate categories. They are the ‘paid’ and ‘earned’ organic placements. They are determined by Google’s algorithm. Every SERP has a group of different features which are displayed to meet the user’s search intent. Depending on the search queries entered by the user, the SERPs will show a variety of navigational, informational and transactional features.
Here is a breakdown on the most common organic SERP feature types.
1. Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are short piece of text, highlighted within a box that appears at the top of Google. Their purpose is to provide a user’s search query more efficient and effective answer.
This quality information is related to search queries Google lifts from webpages, so it can be accessed by users more easily. The type if content you get in a featured snippet is one which is direct, this is because you want your customers to get quick responses.
According to a study by Ahrefs, about 8% of all organic clicks are amassed by Featured Snippets!
Most common types of featured snippets:
Definition Box – Usually found when searching a ‘what is’ query The Table – Data from a page inside a table which Google has pulled The List – Answer is broken down into a list with specific order – mostly used for step-by-step results.
2. Knowledge Card vs Knowledge Panel
Knowledge Card is another major SERP feature. This SERP feature type can appear in a variety of formats, from a panel, box and a card. It typically appears when you run checks on the weather or about a celebrity. They are known for containing a range of highly structured data as well as multiple images or videos. However, these results rarely contain any third-party links.
This panel shows specific information, usually about people, places and organisations, lifted from high authoritative sources. They provide exclusive and comprehensive information on what users make research on. That way making it easier for them to get what they want. They tend to appear to the right side of the organic results on desktop search. When browsing on mobile, you can find them directly under the ‘People also ask’ section or just above the ‘People also search for’ feature.
A knowledge card is usually found on the top left of the SERP. It usually contains a brief, but inviting mention of the specific search query. This answer us usually pulled from the highest ranking sure on such search query. It sometimes includes images, or just a link to the original information source.
3. Image vs Video
The image pack and video pack SERP features gives users a closer look on latest trending image and video content, relevant to their query topic. They appear when Google believes visual content will be most suitable for answering the query tabled by the user. Media type search results are getting more engagements and at such becoming popular. They give users valuable information without even paying a visit to Google images or the video tab.
An image pack appears horizontally in the search engine results. They contain series of high-rated Google image links. These are individual images relevant to the user’s query. Google chooses to show an image pack when they see that there’s a need, or it best for serving the user. The horizontal row can be positioned anywhere in the organic results.
A video will be shown if Google thinks the user will benefit from it. The videos could either appear as a carousel or a pack of series of appropriate and relevant content to that gives answers the user’s query. To better make the search easier and relatable, they display a title, thumbnail and the link to a hosting platform like Youtube or Web pages which contain an embedded video. Videos do not appear all the time, they only appear in the SERPs for certain keywords.
4. Local Pack
The local pack is seen on the first page of organic results for any search query with a local intent, local service or geographical name e.g. ‘spa near me’. This usually contains at least 3 related listings that make the user’s query get an answer easier.
The business listings are pulled from the GMB directory. It always appears in the form a list, with a map above to highlight the relevant area while it provides a link to ‘more places’. For each business listed, reviews, working hours, a physical address and a link to the company’s website are listed.
Sitelinks appear below the main web result and are a group of separate links for one particular domain. The sitelinks support users in navigating your site and allows them to browse its different features which might interest them.
They can be found in certain organic results and are shown as sub-listings under the first result in the search engines. They usually include between four and six links to the other web pages of the main URL. It usually highlights some of the most important sections of your website to users, to make sourcing their information easier and faster.
6. In-depth Articles
This is one of the most difficult SERP features to get identified. In-depth articles are always positioned at the bottom of the organic results and contain a block of three different articles. Their design provides additional context for users so they can understand their specific web page prior to clicking on it.
In-depth article features make it hard for other brands to appear there, because they are typically reserved for higher rated content publishers. It will only show in organic results when a user’s search query requires detailed information. It appearing is down to Google’s discretion, if they believe the user is trying to research, it comes up, of not, it doesn’t.
7. Related Questions (‘People Also Ask’ & FAQs)
This feature is just like the feature snippet. Google features questions which are related and relevant to the user’s search. Their location in the search results varies and when you click on each question, it expands into what looks like a featured snippet. This allows users to get more information which might be the answer to their next query.
Typically, it is 30 words in length. It’s specific aim is to answer the most popular questions related to the main topic a user has searched. They tend to also be keywords. The winner of the related question is the winner of the featured snippet that is shown. Additionally, the SERPs will only show algorithmically-generated questions.
Benefits of SERP feature rankings
By appearing in SERP feature rankings, this helps to significantly boost the organic traffic to your website. As a result, you’ll be able to generate more engagement and conversions through driving users to relevant pages on your website.
It puts your site to having increased online visibility and you’ll be able to get in front of your competitors. It makes it easier and quicker for your website to be found by users. A SERP feature ranking is also an effective way to improve your website’s credibility and authority level due to the fact that Google is recommending your website.
Why target SERP feature rankings?
Increased organic traffic
Boosted online presence
Improved brand credibility
Drive more conversions
Get above your competitors
Reach your target audience
How to feature as a SERP
It is important you see what information the search engine needs to be able to rank your website in the SERP features. You will need to ensure your website is optimised for the specific SERP feature you want to target, as different SERPs features different information.
The main purpose for featuring as a SERP is to create high quality, rich content which the search engines deems fit to recommend. Rich content includes types of structured data that Google can use to respond to a user’s search query, such as reviews, recipes and events, product markup and video. When you add any of these contents to your website, you get to appear in the rich snippet SERP features.
Be sure to check what results are currently showing in the SERP features you want to target as this will give you tips on how to optimise your website.
For example, if to feature in the Frequently Asked Questions section is what you want, you will have to ensure the relevant page on your website answers those queries effectively. If Google finds your website content as better, it will replace the competitor’s SERP link with yours.
How to find SERP feature opportunities
By using tools like SEMrush, Moz or Ahrefs, you can track new SERP feature opportunities for specific keywords in organic search. Most of these tools allows you discover what SERP features your site and your competitors are ranking for. You do this by visiting Site Explorer and entering the competitor domain you want to check or you can find the SERP features
If you want to find what SERP features are available by yourself, simply search for the keyword you are targeting in Google and you’ll find all of the SERP feature options you can optimise your site for. The most featured includes People Also Ask, Featured Snippet, Images and Videos.
We hope you have found our guide to SERP features valuable and that you now understand the clear advantages SERP feature rankings can achieve for your website. If you’re interested in learning more about SERP features in SEO or other ways to build your online presence, Eastside Co, the Shopify Experts, are on-hand to help. Simply get in touch with our friendly team, we’d love to hear from you!