SERP features can do a lot of favours for your business, helping to catch the eyes of your target audience. This article will dive into what types of SERP features are out there and how they can benefit online users.
Firstly, SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page and this is what you’re presented with after you Google something. SERP features (also known as search result features or rich results) are any results which are not ‘traditional’ organic results.
For example, when you search ‘Golden Retriever’ the SERP looks like this:
As you can see, lots of organic search results and other SERP features such as ‘People also search for’, sitelinks, rich snippets, a knowledge panel and a ‘People also ask’ section which answers popular queries appear.
Further down the same page, we see even more SERP features, including a local pack and videos:
These SERP features are designed to cater to the user’s needs and answer their search query. In this instance, the search query was quite vague and it is uncertain if the user is looking to buy a Golden Retriever, wants information about the breed or is simply trying to find the location of a pub named ‘The Golden Retriever’. Therefore, Google has provided a range of results (after all, it’s a search engine, not Mystic Meg!)
What types of SERP features are there?
There are lots of different SERP features that can pop up on the SERPs, here’s some of the most common ones and what they look like:
Rich snippets add more detail to information provided on a search result and can include visuals such as a thumbnail image and ratings for products or services. Take a look at this example:
Here, the user has searched for ‘beef bourguignon’ and the snippet features a picture of the dish, the recipe’s rating, meal prep/cook time and the calories it contains. Moreover, it also has sitelinks to other recipes, helping users to find the right page quickly; sitelinks can appear when a user searches for a specific domain or when their search intent seems clear to Google. Essentially, what distinguishes this as a ‘rich’ snippet is the fact it includes more information than a typical snippet would. It’s also worth pointing out that rich results can also appear as a carousel on the SERP, like so:
These snippets are incredibly useful for users and businesses alike - whilst the user gets more detailed results, businesses can benefit from a higher click-through rate (CTR) and therefore, more site traffic.
Looking back to our Golden Retriever SERP from earlier, we were also given rich snippets which gave us further details about the breed:
This is just another example of how informative rich snippets can be in order to highlight key information for users. It’s worth noting that on PDSA’s website, this information is presented in a table which may have increased its chances of appearing on the SERP. Sometimes, the way in which you format your information can impact the likelihood of it appearing on the SERP. For instance, Google may prefer to display content which was formatted in a numbered list as a featured snippet for instructional related queries; it’s all about what will benefit the user most.
In the long term, rich snippets can have a positive impact on your rankings as Google rewards pages receiving more clicks (as they’re perceived to be more useful based on user activity) with a ranking boost to help you get ahead of your competitors.
Universal results will appear alongside organic results and can include images, videos, news results (including Twitter SERP packs), featured snippets and local packs. Let’s look at these in more detail…
Featured snippets are organic results which appear at the top of the SERP below paid ads (also known as position zero) and give users direct answers to their search queries (please see the below example).
The benefit of having featured snippets for your business is that they can increase your CTR, in fact, Ahrefs reported that featured snippets get approximately 8.6% of clicks on average which can help boost your SEO efforts.
As seen in the Golden Retriever example earlier, local packs display three local businesses that are related to your search query (with the option of viewing more). These packs include business locations, reviews and contact details, helping the user to get in contact with the right person quickly. They are absolutely invaluable, especially for brick-and-mortar businesses - why not read our blog ‘What is local SEO’ to learn more and find out how you can boost your own local SEO efforts?
News results and Twitter SERP packs
Google News can display recent news articles and important topics in a block of results which are relevant to the user’s search. In the example below, the top stories include a variety of sources (not just newspapers) to share interesting topical updates from around the world with the user. In terms of getting your site to appear in the top stories section, Google states that publishers can appear here provided they have ‘high-quality content and comply with Google News content policies’. Find out more about appearing in Google News here.
Moreover, Twitter feed can also appear on the SERP. In the screenshot below, you can see how Tweets can be presented clearly to allow users to click onto the thread to read more or engage with an account. The obvious benefit here is that if your business has a Twitter account, it can be used to help increase your brand’s online visibility and reach out to your target audience.
The ‘People also ask’ section displays related queries that Google thinks the user may find useful and when you click on a query, it expands to resemble a featured snippet. Whilst related questions can appear in various places on the SERP, they are valuable for businesses as they can help drive traffic to your site.
Paid results are advertisements which can be bought by bidding on certain keywords from platforms such as AdWords or Google Shopping. When a user includes that keyword in their search, the paid results can appear at the top, bottom or even the side of the SERP to increase a brand’s online visibility.
In terms of how these ads are then ranked, Google Support states that this is done by considering the advertisement’s relevance to the user’s search and the bid among other various factors.
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Knowledge panel/ knowledge graphs
Knowledge panels are SERP features that appear on the right hand side of the SERP and display data from numerous sources such as Wikipedia to give in-depth information relating to the user’s search query. Typically, these knowledge panels are seen on SERPs for celebrities, characters, countries, plants, animals and businesses. These knowledge panels can really dominate a SERP which is why they can be so useful in helping your site to stand out from the crowd.
As you can see in the screenshot below, knowledge panels can quickly inform users about a particular topic, providing images, related information and links to social media profiles.
Believe it or not, there are plenty more SERP features out there which haven’t been covered in this blog. The key takeaway here today is that SERPs are becoming more and more advanced to cater to users’ individual needs. You can maximise your chances of your own business being featured on the SERP to benefit from the increased visibility through improving your PPC ad campaigns and working tirelessly on your SEO efforts...OR, you could let us do the hard work for you.
If you’re looking to boost your digital marketing efforts, drive more traffic to your website and increase sales and conversions, we can help! We are a digital marketing agency in Bournemouth with years of experience in helping brands across the UK improve their online presence. Take a look at our SEO and PPC services here and get your brand the attention it deserves!