Search engine results page (SERP) features aren’t just a great way for web users to find the information they’re looking for – they also give brands an opportunity to get their content in front of an audience. By ranking for SERP features, you can increase visibility for your brand and drive more traffic to your business.
Through this guide, you’ll learn about the different kinds of SERP features and how to win them on Google.
What Are SERP Features?
SERP features are any element on Google’s search engine results pages that is not a traditional organic result. In other words, SERP features are not the standard blue links that make up the top ten spots on the page.
While SERP features still fall into the category of organic search results, they take on nontraditional formats, such as boxes, drop-downs, and panels, adding a different dynamic to the page. These features enhance web users’ search experiences by providing them with more detailed results, giving them answers to their queries without having to click a link.
Benefits of SERP Features for Local Businesses
Every local business can benefit from ranking for SERP features. If you win SERP features on Google, you can expect to experience improved visibility for your site, resulting in increased organic traffic. With more site visits comes greater engagement from local visitors and increased conversions, ultimately leading to more revenue. Ranking for SERP features can also make your local brand appear more credible to consumers, making them more likely to trust you.
Ranking for SERP features also comes with unique benefits on the local level. One in three people searching on mobile are looking for location-specific information, and 88% of these individuals end up visiting related stores within a week of their search. That’s why ranking on Google for SERP features like local packs can result in increased foot traffic to your physical location, boosting in-store sales. You may also receive more direct phone calls to your local business, equating to more leads.
In short, ranking for SERP features will help your local business both online and offline.
The Four Most Common SERP Features
Google has created over a dozen SERP features since its establishment in 1998, coming up with more and more ideas for improving the user experience. However, there are four SERP features that appear on Google most frequently. By knowing these elements, you can better understand how to rank for them.
1. Rich Snippets
Rich snippets are designated for specific search results, displaying extra data through visual elements like review stars and ratings, images, FAQs, recipes, and events. These features typically appear beside or below traditional organic results to draw users’ attention and generate a higher click-through rate (CTR).
2. Paid Results
Though most SERP features are organic, paid results are the exception. Also known as pay-per-click (PPC) ads or AdWords, these elements appear at the top or bottom of the SERPs. Though they have the same structure as traditional organic results – including a title tag, meta description, and URL – paid search results are differentiated by an “Ad” label that appears in the lefthand corner above the title tag.
Rather than earning PPC ads organically, sites purchase these results by bidding on keywords. Through this process, bidders establish the maximum amount they’re willing to pay each time a user clicks on their ads. Then, the paid ads are ranked by their relevancy to searchers’ queries.
3. Universal Results
Universal search results take content from within the search results categories that appear beneath the search bar, such as videos, images, news, shopping, and maps, and integrates them into the organic search results. That means searchers can see tailored results based on their queries without paging over to a different category tab. By incorporating this media into the SERPs, Google minimizes user search efforts by more accurately pinpointing their intentions.
4. Knowledge Panels
Knowledge panels look similar to featured snippets, but appear in the form of panels or boxes on the righthand side of the page. When a user searches for a specific entity like a person, place, or business, Google will pull information from its Knowledge Graph, which automatically generates data from factual sources across the web. Then, it provides a knowledge panel containing basic information that answers the query.
Other Types of SERP Features
If you observe Google’s SERPs closely, you can find a handful of different SERP features on a single page. Some of the many elements to look out for include:
- Featured snippets: These boxes appear at the top of the SERPs in position zero and feature a short section from a specific webpage to answer a user’s search query. Featured snippets typically have higher CTRs than other organic search results.
- Image packs: Image packs are featured in a horizontal box containing a collection of images. Google includes image packs in the SERPs when visual results would benefit the searcher based on their query.
- In-depth articles: Google will sometimes display a block of in-depth articles for broad or ambiguous search queries. These articles are typically longform content created by authoritative publishers.
- Knowledge cards: Knowledge cards are small boxes that appear at the top of the SERPs. They are used to display definitive, concise answers to specific questions posed in the query.
- Local packs: Google uses local packs to address queries with local search intent – typically featuring “near me” keywords – and displays three physical locations with addresses, reviews, contact information, and interactive Google Maps.
- Local teaser packs: Local teasers are similar to local packs but feature fewer details. Instead of displaying addresses, phone numbers, or site links, these SERP features show only images with a short description of the business, a rating, and a price.
- News boxes: News boxes contain timely content about newsworthy topics pulled from Google’s “News” tab. Google displays news boxes when users search for something that recently appeared in the media.
- People Also Ask: PAA cards display a series of questions related to a user’s search query. When searchers click one of the FAQ drop-downs, it expands to review an answer in the form of a featured snippet.
- Reviews: Review stars often appear for items like products, recipes, and books to communicate their value. Google also displays rating data beside review stars, such as numeric ratings based on a certain number of votes or reviews.
- Shopping results: Also known as Product Listing Ads (PLAs), these results appear in response to buyer’s queries, displaying a carousel of product listings with images, prices, and ratings attached.
- Site links: When a user searches for an exact domain, business, or organization, Google will display the website’s homepage, along with a pack of up to 10 internal page links within the site.
- Tweets: Google will display recent or trending tweets relevant to user queries in boxes located anywhere on the SERPs.
- Videos: Videos appear at the top of the page when a video format makes sense for a search query. These SERPs include a video title, thumbnail, description, and viewing link.
How To Rank for SERP Features
Ranking for SERP features is a great way to get audience’s attention and drive traffic to your website. Strive to win SERP features for your brand and drive conversions with the following tactics:
- Conduct keyword research: Perform keyword research using keyword research tools to identify SERP feature opportunities like rich snippets and other special results.
- Answer questions: See what people are searching for in Google’s PAAs and target those questions by answering users’ search queries.
- Format content wisely: The way you format your content plays into its likelihood of ranking on Google. Try replicating the formatting of content that’s already ranking for SERP features, using elements like headers and bulleted lists, which Google likes and understands.
- Utilize metadata: When optimizing for SERP images, implement metadata like titles, descriptions, file names, and alt text with related keywords to increase your chances of ranking.
- Optimize your Google My Business profile: If you want to rank for local SERP features, your Google My Business profile should be accurate and up-to-date, containing your business’s address, hours, and contact information. Be sure to use keyword-rich descriptions, tags, and titles.
- Publish helpful content: Any content you write should answer search queries in a way that’s relevant, clear, and concise.
- Analyze competitors: Study content that’s currently ranking for SERP features. How long is the featured paragraph? What kind of information does it provide? What’s in the header? Use these insights to inform your own content.
Bring Traffic To Your Site By Ranking for SERP Features
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