Over the years, Google has gone a long way from simply listing search results.
Thanks to various SERP features, the user experience of searching things on Google has improved tremendously.
In this blog post, we’ll be going through various SERP features and explain how your website can benefit from ranking for them.
What Are Google SERP Features?
SERP stands for Search Engine Results Pages.
So when we’re talking about SERP features, we’re discussing various elements that show up on the search results page on Google.
SERP features can be any visual and textual elements that complement the organic search results.
Their purpose is to improve the searcher’s user experience and help them get the most relevant info when searching for something.
They’re organized smoothly so that they don’t interrupt the search experience.
Have a look at this example:
As you can see in the red squares, there is supporting relevant info that would be helpful for the searcher.
In this picture, you can spot three different SERP features:
- The “People also ask”
- The Knowledge Panel
- Social Media SERP feature
However, organic search results are still visible and easy to access. Naturally, there’re all kinds of various SERP features, but we’ll talk about that soon.
Let’s talk about what you get out of them.
What Are the Benefits of Ranking in SERP Features?
If your page is anywhere in the top 10 search results, it has a shot at ranking in SERP features. Ranking in some SERP features can be fantastic news for your website or blog.
Think about it.
When content appears in a large share of the search results, it will naturally attract more attention from users.
SERP features allow users to find relevant information to their search query more quickly.
This fact makes them an asset.
If your content ranks as a SERP feature, it can get a significant traffic boost because users can easily get an idea of the content on the page.
When the specific SERP feature has the information users are looking for, they immediately check if it’s the content they need.
If users require more information than what’s offered, they click on the page.
But that’s a big if.
Being ranked for a SERP feature isn’t beneficial by default in terms of search volume.
If users are looking for a small, specific piece of information and get it just by looking at a feature, they won’t click on the link.
The industry calls this a no-click search.
An enormous chunk of searches today doesn’t even result in a page click because they get the information straight from the search results page.
The bottom line is that not all SERP features are equally beneficial.
Some get you more visibility and traffic, but others immediately give searchers what they need and discourage them from clicking on your page.
To use SERP features to the fullest and reap all the benefits, you have to know which specific SERP features you should aim to rank for.
So, let’s break down the critical SERP features you should know.
12 Google SERP Features You Should Aim to Rank For
You will see different SERP features almost every time you start a search on Google. But like we’ve said, not every SERP feature is worth the same.
In this section, we’ll go through all the SERP features you should rank for and why. Let’s start with feature No. 1…
Featured Snippets are the best SERP features you can rank for.
They are the zero-position of the search results, above the page that ranks first. They reveal a portion of the content of the page on top.
Have you seen a featured snippet lately?
It might tempt you to think featured snippets get the most clicks, but that’s where you’re wrong. They don’t get the most traffic but instead steal some of the traffic from the page positioned as no.1.
The first result under the featured snippet gets about 19.6% of clicks on average, while a featured snippet page gets around 8.6% of clicks.
But here comes the kicker.
Without featured snippets, the page that ranks first in search results would actually get around 26% of all clicks.
This means that featured snippets take about 7-8% of clicks from pages with a no.1 rankings.
If your page ranks 9th or 10th on the first page, scoring a featured snippet would secure you more traffic than your search ranking alone.
So how do you rank for a featured snippet?
The first thing you need is to be in the top 10 ranking positions. Otherwise, you’re not getting a SERP feature position.
Second, you could aim for long-tail keywords as they trigger the most featured snippets.
Look at the image above again; the keyword has 8 words. When picking keywords for your content, go for long-tail.
This doesn’t mean short tail keywords don’t rank as featured snippets, but just that they are a harder way of doing things.
And now for the most important thing.
Aim to produce amazing content that can address what the searcher is looking for.
That can mean:
- Leveraging FAQs: a paragraph-to-paragraph response to what is and who is questions
- Embedding tables and charts
- Using various lists in your content (like the one in the example image)
The next SERP feature we’ll talk about is knowledge panels.
Knowledge panels are SERP features keen on giving visitors basic info about their search.
Panels can be about organizations, websites, businesses, celebrities, etc.
They’re brilliant for increasing the searcher’s experience because they reduce the need for clicking on the website to get the info.
Here’s an example:
As you can see, if you Google information about Elon Musk, you could get the essential information about him from the knowledge panel.
Google aims to show the most relevant information about the thing you searched for, which can vary.
To generate a knowledge panel, Google pulls the data from Google’s Knowledge Graph, its primary database.
For other SERP features, Google typically uses different sources, like your website or social media.
If you want Google to feature your business in the knowledge panel, you have to add information about it on Google My Business.
When businesses create knowledge panels, they increase their visibility in the search results even though users will be less likely to visit their website then.
However, it’s not all about page visits. Sometimes, quick, accessible information means more.
For example, a knowledge panel would be handy if you have a restaurant business because it shows images of your business, its map location, and working hours.
By doing so, you’re making it easier for potential customers looking to order from you.
Remember that the key benefit from this SERP feature is increased visibility, which is vitally important for some businesses.
If you ever googled for a location, one of the first things you see are local pack SERP features.
Local packs are a combination of a location map and a list of companies and relevant information. That info typically includes names, ratings, addresses, etc.
Whenever you trigger a location-based search, Google will assume you’re looking for a specific place and offer you the information you need.
So, for instance, let’s say you’re in the mood for pizza, and you search for Domino’s in Boston.
A local pack will appear right away:
You can clearly see a map, names and all the relevant information you need.
However, local packs also appear when you google for things like restaurants near me.
It’s because Google assumes you’re looking for something local, which makes returning a map and relevant local information logical.
Local packs are handy, especially for smaller businesses. Even if your business doesn’t have a SERP 10 ranking, it can still appear on the first page of SERP.
And then it gets to enjoy a higher volume of targeted traffic.
To get your local business ranked as a local pack, first you have to register in Google My Business.
You’ll next enter detailed info about your business, including its address.
From there on, as you pick up positive reviews, Google will be more likely to rank your business as a local pack if the search doesn’t specifically look for your business.
Let’s talk more about reviews.
Review SERP features are the user rankings of a website, shown as stars.
They’re critical because they determine whether users will engage with your website. After all, nobody wants to do business with a website that has a 1-star rating.
On the other hand, if your website stacks terrific reviews, reviews are going to encourage other users to click your page and check out your products or services.
Look at this result:
The great reviews are certainly making a great case to visit this store if you googled Comic stores near me.
If you want star ratings to show up for your website and appear as a SERP feature, add a rating form to your website.
If you’re using WordPress to power it, you can do it by adding a rating plugin.
Now, how about related questions that pop up in the search results?
People Also Ask (Related Questions)
Since Google is keen on improving the search experience, the People also ask box is a popular SERP feature.
The People also ask feature offers users answers to questions related to their original search query. By doing so, it expands the search results hoping to improve the search experience.
When users click on an answer, they get a preview of the page that answers it, similar to a featured snippet.
Google hasn’t revealed the methodology for ranking in this feature, nor disclosed how often users interact with them.
Nevertheless, we can tell you how to improve the likelihood of Google using your pages.
Start by finding a relevant “people also ask” (PAA) question and publish a page that answers it.
The PAA feature is also a fantastic source of topics for blog posts and content.
Whatever your niche is, the PAA section will tell you related topics you can easily cover to get more traffic.
Afterward, make various on-page optimizations to improve the page’s rankings and the likelihood of Google using that page as an answer. Think in terms of a featured snippet.
The next thing we’re going to look at is visual SERP features, starting with video.
Video content is relevant more than ever, and that trend isn’t going anywhere. Users search for topics all the time, and a video can often provide the quickest answer to their query.
Thus, naturally, SERP features include videos.
Let’s say you want to understand more about SEO optimization. When you scroll down the first page of SERP, you would spot a video explaining the topic.
Since so many users prefer watching videos over reading blogs, the search engine will direct them to a YouTube video.
After all, YouTube is a big part of Google’s ecosystem.
This is Google’s way of improving the search experience. As time moves on, video SERP features are likely to become more critical, especially in content marketing.
By having relevant video content and optimizing its SEO, your videos too can rank as Video SERP features.
Video won’t send the users directly to your website, but it can still be beneficial because it connects and introduces them to your brand or company.
If users engage with your video, they can later subscribe to your channel and enter your content marketing funnel.
When you upload your videos to YouTube, make sure the metadata on your videos and channel is complete.
It would also help to do YouTube keyword research, so the topics you cover in your videos are easy to rank and receive the highest traffic.
We talked about videos, so naturally, images are next.
Even though images are a separate search channel on Google, they can still appear as a SERP Image pack on the first page of the search results.
That happens often.
If Google assumes the images will improve the search experience, they will show them on the first page. It might not be on top, but it’ll be visible.
Here’s a practical example for you:
Google assumed that a person searching for effective meetings would also be interested in some relevant graphics and images, which is why they appear on top of the first page.
These are not traffic-rich SERP features, but they increase your content’s visibility, which means they benefit your website.
So what are you going to do to rank your images for SEO features?
You can continuously optimize the SEO of your images with ALT tags to increase the likelihood of them ranking for an Image pack.
However, that’s usually a time-consuming process.
That is, unless you have an amazing SEO tool to speed things up.
Here’s how you can quickly do it with SERPtimizer’s SEO audit tool:
The tool enables you to scan all your SEO assets, including images, and list all your images with missing ALT tags.
You can identify them in a second and add ALT tags to optimize them.
If you want to improve their SEO outlook, add relevant page titles, URLs, and their unique metadata.
This tool will identify these missing elements as well.
Next stop: Carousel Results.
A carousel SERP is a horizontal line of images or videos that features several relevant answers grouped as a list.
Unlike featured snippets, users aren’t directed to a website by clicking on a single part of a carousel; they start a new search. So carousels don’t contain pages but links to other SERPs.
If you ever searched for books or films, you’ve seen a Carousel Results SERP feature.
If your page is on the carousel, it will appear on the directed SERP as well.
But what are the benefits of ranking for Carousel Results if your users won’t be sent to your website?
The answer is simple.
Carousels distract users from organic search results.
Let’s say your page is ranking 10th on SERPs, but it appears in a carousel. Since a carousel is on top of the search results, users can click on it and be directed to your website, which feels like jumping the line.
There’s no official method from Google on how to rank for Carousel Results; however, there are things that can help.
Start with securing a position in the top 10 search engine results.
Then, monitor which search queries relevant to you have carousel results. Try to identify the umbrella term that groups the keywords together and create a page around one of those keywords.
Finally, optimize the page to the fullest.
SERP features also include ads on top of the page.
They’re shown as links separated from the organic search results. You can quickly notice them because they have the AD tag beside them.
It’s no secret why businesses use ads; they need to raise awareness of their website, so they’re relying on a fundamental Google feature.
Google Ads demand a monthly investment, but they can appear above the first organic search result in return.
It’s not a bad tradeoff by any means.
If your ads are on top of the page, they push the organic search results down and affect their click-through rates.
Whether they appear on top of the SERP page depends on several factors.
Here are the most important ones:
- Your maximum bid
- The quality of your ads and landing page
- Ad rank quality thresholds
- The auction competitiveness
- The search context
While the success of your SERP ad strategy depends on many things, it’s helpful to understand which search queries you’ll use ads on instead of trying to rank for a SERP feature organically.
You can do this by analyzing every search query that applies to your website.
Since many companies using ads can outbid you, it’s critical to save resources and carefully pick where to compete for a top position.
There are Bottom Ads as well.
Similar to Top Ads, Bottom Ads are paid SERP features that appear on the bottom of a page.
Why are they at the bottom?
Because it costs less money to rank at the bottom than the top, and having bottom ads allows businesses with lower budgets to use Google’s paid advertising.
When your business competes against larger marketing budgets, you can’t win every bid over the top ad SERP position.
That’s why you can fall back to Bottom Ads.
Our previous example, the keyword employee engagement software, has websites ranking as both Top and Bottom ads. The image below shows a list of Bottom Ads.
The downside is that such ads get much less attention than the ads that appear on top because the searcher has to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see them.
That won’t happen if they find what they’re looking for on top of the page.
As a result, Bottom Ads have lower click-through rates, but that’s to be expected. What you get out of them is the fact that your page is shown on the first page of the search results.
And, they’re far less competitive than Top Ads, which means it takes far less effort to secure the ad placement.
Top stories is a SERP feature that shows the latest news referring to the search query.
Like the rest of SERP features, its purpose is to improve the search experience by adding the recent developments closely related to the search term.
What’s specific about this feature is that only news publishers and media outlets can rank.
In case you’re not a media company, you can’t rank for top stories. Even if your site has news posts on your official blog, such as company news, they won’t rank here.
However, if you do have a news media website, registering it in Google News will enable you to rank in this SERP feature.
When your posts rank, users can easily spot them on the first page of SERP.
Have a look:
As you can see, a person googling for general info about the European football cup can easily spot developing events related to their search query.
Here’s an interesting one.
If Google’s algorithm assumes adding additional internal site links will improve the search experience, it will add them to the first page of SERP.
This usually happens when users search for specific domains or organizations.
Let’s say somebody googles our website:
Google will scan our website and add helpful page links.
The major benefit of the Sitelinks SERP feature is that it enables users to find the info they’re looking for without having to navigate through the website.
Ranking on this feature is highly specific, but you can still optimize your website for it.
Sitelinks are auto-generated, which means you should have a neat website structure that’s easy to navigate and crawl.
It will allow Google to find additional relevant links and add them to the search results.
Don’t expect your traffic to skyrocket, but at the very least, you’ll make things easier for your users, and that makes it worthwhile.
Understanding the specific benefits of various SERP features is hard, especially with all the nuances that keep showing up.
On the other hand, knowing the best options for your website after you’ve reached a SERP 10 ranking will take your SEO game to a whole different level.
Take some time to consider our advice, and we’ll be seeing you soon.