Search engines, and especially Google, are always working to improve the user experience. In essence the whole point of search engine is to provide relevant and accurate information as quickly and as effectively as possible on request. Over time Google has developed advanced ways to deliver information to users almost instantly. One of the ways they have managed to do so is with a range of SERP features.
What Are SERP Features? (And What Are SERPS?)
Search Engine Results Page (SERP) (that’s what they are) features are different types of results provided when a search query is performed in search engine. There are several different types of SERP feature, and one may be displayed when you search, depending on its relevance to the search query.
Optimising your site for SERP features has been proven to boost traffic for websites, but the rate at which Google changes them can make this difficult to keep displaying for consistently.
Different Types Of SERP Features
Below, we’ll list some of the most common SERP features. Please note that when we say that a result can be optimised for, what we mean is that your chances of showing up as a result for this type is improved.
These type of results mainly aim at answering question based queries. Google pulls the most relevant results related to your question query and presents an answer in a list form. Featured snippets are the most prominent of all SERP features and are shown above organic results.
They can be optimised for by ensuring that your page answers a specific question, (having the title, heading and URL reflect the relevant question) and presenting the answer to that question, preferably in the same list or bullet point format.
An example is shown below:
Local Pack & Local Teaser
This SERP feature is shown when a search query is location based. For instance queries like “book store near me” or “best restaurants in a particular place”. They include information such as a map, telephone number, opening hours and reviews of a business.
These type of results can be optimised for by ensuring your Google My Business page is accurate, up to date, and optimised in itself. See the example below.
This SERP feature is shown when a search query that requires an in-depth answer is performed. The result is provided as a thorough explanation in the form of an article.
Optimising for this type of result requires writing detailed and in-depth articles on your site, which contain the question a searcher will be looking for, as well as detailed, long-form information that answers that question. In-depth content is one of the most important ranking factors for Google, so making sure you have detailed content on relevant topics is crucial for your SEO.
This SERP feature is shown when a search query that requires an image result is performed. It will show a selection of the images most likely to match your search. It also includes a short explanation of the visual content in the results, which is almost always taken from wikipedia.
To optimise for the image pack, it’s important to ensure that your image file names, alt text, captions, etc. are all descriptive of the subject of the image.
See an example of the image pack below:
Like the image pack, the video pack shows videos related to the search query. If the user specifically includes the term “video” in their search query, only video results are shown. If the query does not specify, but Google thinks a video will be a relevant result, the results will show various potential answers, including two or three video results as part of the normal SERP.
In the below example, a featured snippet as well as the top video results show. Optimising for the video pack, or any video result, requires that your video and YouTube channel are optimised for relevant queries, including the title, description and category.
This SERP feature is shown when a news related query is performed. The page shows other results in a panel related to the query, the time the story was published and a link to the site that published it.
Obviously, you are most likely to optimise for “Top Stories” if your site is an established media outlet, but you can also use the correct Schema markup to increase your chances for industry specific news.
This SERP feature brings user reviews from applicable review sites directly into the search results. It will show an average star rating out of 5, as well as either an extract from the review, or information about the review site, with a link to the review.
To optimise for reviews in SERP’s, give your clients excellent service and a great product at a competitive price. Encourage satisfied customer to review your business, either on industry related review sites, or on your Google My Business page. (Or both.) Reviews posted on your own site will only be eligible for inclusion if they use the correct Schema markup.
Site links are a SERP feature shown with a normal organic result when Google believes that other, internal pages on your site may also be useful to the searcher. Although you cannot control whether or not site links are shown with your result, you can specify pages (via Google’s Search Console) that should not be linked to.
You can also ensure that you have clear navigation and a site structure which draws users deeper into the site, where they will find more in-depth content.
When a user searches for something that is relevant to a product or service that is being advertised, the Search Engine Results Page will display a number of advertisements, at the top, bottom, and / or side of the page.
These are paid results, and the advertiser is bidding on one or more of the keywords in your search query. If you click through to their site, they will pay that bid to Google. This is an effective way of staying visible in relevant search results pages, but it does come with a cost.
Knowledge Cards & Knowledge Panels
The knowledge card draws data from Google’s Knowledge Graph to present as much information as possible about a query in a single box in the results. Data is pulled from a range of sources, including Wikipedia. The knowledge panel offers a carousel of different relevant results, clicking on any of which will open a further search.
Below you can see examples of the knowledge card and knowledge panel respectively.
This SERP feature is shown in the results of a search queries that also have related questions about them. This helps to provide more information related to the query by showing what other related questions exist regarding the search query.
There is no way to optimise for this other than by having in-depth content on a range of subjects relevant to your industry.
This SERP feature is shown in results of a search query related to a specific product or type of product. The result includes the product’s brand name, price and a link to the site that sells the product.
This forms part of the paid results generated by Google Ads. In order to show up here, you need to physically sell a tangible product on your site, and make use of Google advertising.
Thanks to an agreement with Twitter, it’s possible to see tweets in your search engine results as well. This agreement gives Google access to the Twitter “firehose”and lets them index it.
The agreement has been suspended in the past, but was re-instated in 2015 and remains in force.