Can’t seem to crack the code that gets your website or blog featured at the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs)? Let’s walk through SERP features on how they can rocket your content past your competitors!
SERP features are shown at the top of search results pages and sprinkled throughout organic results. SERP features break up the black-and-blue list of links with dynamic formats, display blocks, ads, and rich snippets. So, how can you set your website up to consistently earn a spot at the top as a SERP feature champion?
What are SERP Features?
A search engine results page (SERP) is generated by the keyword or phrase that was entered into the search engine.
A SERP feature is any result on Google’s search engine results page that is not a traditional organic result.
The most common SERP features include:
- Rich Snippets – data that adds visual intrigue to a result (star ratings for products).
- Paid Results – data that appears by bidding on relevant keywords (AdWords or Google Shopping).
- Universal Results – data that appears interspersed in the organic results (image results, featured snippets).
- Knowledge Graph – data that appears in a panel display (weather, news panel, Knowledge Panel).
If a SERP feature is any additional element that adds something new to the results page format – then, what can that include?
Popular SERP Features
There are many types of SERP features that you can optimize your content for. SERP features a range from Top Stories, Reviews, Videos, Images, FAQs, People Also Ask (Related Questions), Job Listings, among many others. Let’s dive into the most coveted features that make the biggest impact on your SEO and rank.
Featured snippets display as instant answers to a search term – which is why some SEO specialists view these as a double-edged sword. Sure your content is being viewed, but if your search query returns an instant answer, there’s no need to click through to the website.
That’s why some webmasters and SEO specialists opt-out of featured snippets. They do so by adding featured snippet blocking tags to their website. Moz and SearchPilot conducted a test to measure the impact that losing a featured snippet would have on rank.
Moz applied Google’s data-nosnippet tag to multiple blog posts that were previously landing the featured snippet position. These blog posts almost immediately lost their featured snippets position and resulted in an estimated 12% drop in traffic on those blog posts.
Overall, it looks like landing the featured snippet position is still a win. They can add to domain authority, brand credibility, and hey – it will probably still lead to clicks!
While you cannot choose which portion of your text that Google select as a featured snippet, you can add meta tags, schema markup, and formatting techniques to encourage Google crawlers to index your page a certain way.
To optimize for featured snippets:
- Answer questions quickly and clearly in your text.
- Organize your content for search engines and user experience.
- Make sure your article answers many questions on the topic.
- Use eye-grabbing images.
- Implement SEO optimization strategies in your content.
- Use an SEO tracking tool to analyze your progress.
Keep in mind, Google usually only features pages that already rank in the top 10 results for the given query. So, if you’re not already on the first page of google for that keyword, it’s almost a guarantee that your content won’t get served up as a featured snippet.
That said, you need to first optimize your content, and push for page 1 on Google before trying to land a featured snippet position.
A Local Pack SERP feature is displayed for – you can probably guess this one – local businesses. When a search query includes local intent, keywords that include geographic identifiers like, “bookstore near me,” will return results closest to your current location. If your search term is less specific such as, “farmer’s market,” the returned Local Pack will include a broader radius.
To improve your business’s local ranking, use Google My Business to claim and update your business information. Make sure your information is accurate – specifically your business name, phone number, physical address, and categories. Include your operating hours, any photos that are related to your business, and be sure to encourage satisfied customers to leave a review!
Site Links help draw traffic directly to the inner pages of your website. It enhances basic organic search results by adding additional links to more targeted areas of a website.
You can also optimize your website for a Sitelinks Search Box if you set up your structured data correctly.
The Knowledge Panel provides detailed information about a public figure or entity – written summary about the topic, links to relevant websites, birthdays, spousal information, etc. Google gathers this information from their Knowledge Graph – which is powered by sources such as the CIA World Facebook and Wikidata.
FAQ drop down lists display under organic results for searches that include “FAQ” to find results. In order to be included in this type of SERP feature, you must use proper FAQ schema.
If search competition is high for a given keyword, you can start a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign to increase the likelihood of getting seen in searches. Google Ads, previously AdWords, was the first deviation from the blue-and-black list of linked results.
A Google Ads block is not an earned or organic SERP feature – it’s going to cost you. While it takes a little coin to get work in Google ads, you have control over the keywords, display schedule, and how much you’re willing to spend. Plus, if you tackle your ad campaigns with strategic persistence – they will also help your organic results, conversions, all while building brand awareness.
A great review is a major win for local, small businesses. As a customer, seeing multiple 5-star ratings is a universal sign that you can trust a brand’s expertise, product, and/or services.
Without knowing much about a company – other than the relevance to the search query, the brand name, and seeing those 5-star reviews – Review Snippets instantly inspires trust in consumers.
Conclusion: SERP Features 101
Not surprisingly, that list you just breezed through doesn’t even cover the full spectrum of SERP features. That’s why it’s important to choose an SEO agency that can help, or to use a comprehensive SERP tracking tool to help you stay on top of keyword and SERP feature opportunities.
Next Horizon provides holistic technology solutions for businesses looking to improve sales, increase agility and optimize productivity. From digital marketing to building bespoke business applications, Next Horizon uses its 40+ years of experience and award-winning talent to provide technical business solutions for its clients.