A SERP feature is any non-traditional result on a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). They are Google’s way of providing quick and relevant results in a format that is most appropriate to the information being presented. SERP features are often more prominent than traditional results, so a good SEO plan should include optimizing your website for SERP features.
Google has implemented about seventeen different kinds of SERP features, which can be split into two categories: organic and paid.
Organic SERP Features
Organic SERP Features are those with results that are determined solely by Google algorithms.
1. Featured Snippets
Featured snippets extract data from a third-party site to answers direct questions from search terms. This feature is known to yield the highest click-through-rate. For example, if you searched for “How old is Tim Cook?” you might get this:
Featured snippets can increase the visibility of your site, which can lead to more traffic. However, if the user gets all the information they need from the featured snippet, they might be less likely to click on the link, decreasing your CTR in some instances.
2. Rich Snippets
Rich snippets (or microdata) are structured data markup elements that allow a search engine to better understand what is contained on the page. Google can use that information to determine if the page refers to a person, business, or product, and display more details in the search results. In this rich snippet example, an aggregate rating for the establishment, as well as a price range, are displayed below the link:
3. Local Packs
These provide local business offering services that match the search terms. For example, if you searched for “pizza near Seattle WA” you might get this result:
Local 3-packs give quick information on average ratings, price range, and type of service offered (for example, type of cuisine offered). By clicking on any of the businesses listed, a potential customer can get all the contact and location information they need without ever having visited your website. Prominence on this feature can make a difference to any business’s customer traffic.
4. Local Teaser Packs
Like a local pack, this is a grouping of three local business results depicted on a map with additional information about each business provided below. With this feature, you can sort and filter on a variety of parameters, and adjust your results for business with availability during a particular time frame, all this without clicking on a single link.
5. Twitter Packs
These are tweets displayed directly in SERPs, mixed in with organic results. Tweets from prominent public figures or those relevant to the latest news are generally featured.
This feature is an enhancement to usual links by providing additional links to specific pages within the website in the result. This helps the user navigate to their intended destination on the site much quicker. A local search engine usually accompanies these, if the site has one.
7. In-Depth Articles
Visually, these are often indistinguishable from regular search engine results but, they are ranked differently than other traditional results and are typically drawn from large publications.
8. News Boxes
Time-sensitive and news topics are sometimes returned in blocks of reports from Google News.
9. Knowledge Graphs and Panels
These elements are displayed in a panel on the right-hand side of the page to provide factual information about the search topic. Graphs and Panels look very similar to each other, but there is a distinct difference in the way they function. Google typically scrapes the data for knowledge graphs from Google and external sources, while the data for knowledge panels is typically obtained from just Google Maps or My Business Listings.
Reviews provide aggregate star ratings with search results:
11. Image Packs
Image packs are returned when Google determines that visual content is vital for a comprehensive results page:
Similar to image packs, video snippets are sometimes included in search results if Google thinks that they add value to the results page:
13. Knowledge Card
Knowledge cards extract data to provide a fairly succinct result to a search term. They are commonly used to display numerical data. The data they present can be extracted from a variety of sources:
14. Search Boxes
These usually appear in conjunction with sitelinks and allows users to search for content on a site directly from the SERPs. The website would need to already have a search engine for this to work.
15. People Also Ask card
This card shows algorithmically-generated questions that Google thinks might be relevant to your search. Each question has a drop-down arrow and expands to reveal answers to the question and a link to the site from which the answer was obtained. The location of People Also Ask cards can vary and they are mixed into organic search results:
Paid SERP Features
In contrast to organic features, paid SERP features are purchased by an entity to increase the visibility of their products and services. The most common are:
1. Shopping Results: These are purchased by commercial entities to sell their products and services:
2. AdWords (Top / Bottom): These are typically found in the first four spots of a results page. They also sometimes appear at the bottom of the results. AdWords look similar to regular results except they typically have a marker denoting their “ad” status, and they are very effective at increasing page traffic. Again, these spots are purchased by a seller to drive traffic to their site.
What This Means for You
Overall, the goal of SERP features is to enhance the UX or “user experience.” The easier search results are to interpret, the more pleasant the experience. As is probably apparent, the lines of distinction between different features are not always sharp. A SERP might incorporate elements of multiple features. Optimizing a site so it can get picked up by SERPs will be critical to gaining prominence in search results and, thereby, driving site traffic and sales.
Coalition Technologies Is Here to Help
Learning how to take advantage of SERP features can make a world of difference in your business. Don’t let bad SEO keep your business down. As a team of world-renowned SEO professionals and a top-ranked SEO firm in Los Angeles, the experts at Coalition Technologies have the resources and know-how to take your website to the next level. We are also a Certified Google AdWords Partner, and experts in lead generation, and local SEO. Contact us today to get started!