Google SERP features are the results on the Google Search Engine Result Page (SERP) that go beyond traditional organic results. These features provide additional information on the search query.
Since Google aims to improve users’ search experience constantly, SERP (Search Engine Results Page) features are ever-changing.
In the picture above you can see how SEM Rush, an SEO SaaS company, has a featured Ad popping up at the top. Adwords are a SERP feature, however it’s a paid search service, and it follows a PPC or CPC tracking metric.
What is a Traditional Organic Result?
In past times, Google SERP displayed solely traditional organic results along with paid results. These organic results include:
- Metadata (Meta Title Tag and Meta Description)
Most importantly, they are based on a complex Google Algorithm which means the ranking position of the organic results is determined by more than 200 ranking signals. Although the Google algorithm is a mystery, we know that some of the most impactful ranking factors include:
- ON-Page SEO signals (keywords)
- OFF-Page SEO signals (backlinks)
- Website Loading Speed, etc.
Today’s Google SERP appears differently and goes beyond the standard type of organic results. In order to help users find more relevant information as fast as possible, Google has introduced many features, so searches can return information cards, images, etc. Understanding how traditional results work will help you the user (searcher) get to your pages by typing in the relevant ‘search term’ in the browser’s search box. This is how you get clicks from search engines.
Let’s dive deep into the world of Google SERP features!
1. Rich Snippet
Rich snippets are standard results with extra data such as reviews and events. Google gets rich snippets from Shema Markup found in the page’s HTML.
These results are more eye-catching than standard traditional results, so they typically have a higher Click-through rate (CTR).
Even though using structured data is not a ranking signal, rich snippets can indirectly improve ranking position in the long run. Since these results are highly clickable, they can boost a website’s organic traffic. Ultimately, this will lead to a better ranking position on the SERP.
A few conditions that you need to meet before getting a Rich Result:
- Optimize the page for Local Search
- Make sure the page is properly crawled and indexed by Google
- The page needs to be mobile-friendly
- The page should rank for high search volume type of keywords
- Make sure your page is well optimized with on-page SEO (search engine optimization)
2. Featured Snippet answer
Featured Snippet (also known as an answer box) is a search answer displayed at the top of the organic results, and beyond the paid results – ads.
When Google recognizes informational search intent, it provides a featured answer in order to serve users better. This way, searchers get a quick and easy answer to the search query, without visiting a website.
Achieving a featured snippet is actually more beneficial than reaching the top of the standard list of organic results. It puts your content right in front of your audience, which increases the chances they will notice you and click through the website. Plus, it contributes to your brand’s authority, so both Google and users will consider the website to be more valuable and authoritative.
According to Semrush’s article, evidence from 2020 showed that 19% of SERPs had Featured Snippets.
How to get Featured Snippets?
Once you understand the purpose and importance of featured snippet answers, you need to learn more about how to get your content featured.
Answer boxes are showcased in different formats:
- Bullet or number list
- Paragraph (the most common type)
Thus, you should also use these formats of content within your website.
Aside from this, keep in mind that approximately 30% of search queries that trigger featured snippets have a question form and started with: ‘Why’, ‘Where’, etc. This indicates that searchers are seeking a direct response, so make sure to answer these questions directly in your articles.
Sitelinks take people to a specific page on a website or a section of a webpage.
This way, they improve users’ search experience by allowing them to jump directly to a page or section they want to see.
Sitelinks are featured usually for highly searched terms, as well as websites that have a proven record of delivering a good user experience.
The site links are for URLs that match/relate to the keyword searched. These inbound links are powerful traffic drivers. However, their true value is in taking up much of the SERP real estate.
4. ‘People Also Ask’ Section
‘People Also Ask’ is an interactive SERP feature that includes a box of 3 or 4 questions that are related to the search query.
Each question from the box contains a featured snippet. When you click on a question, you will get a snippet answer from a website, as well as a link to the webpage. Clicking through the webpage link, you can learn more about the answer and get additional information.
Google has created ‘People Also Ask’ to level up from the ‘information engine to a knowledge engine”.
When it comes to the user’s search experience, this feature result enables people to find related answers easily and quickly, so there’s no need for multiple searches. Plus, this is a great help for those who are not confident about what they’re searching for.
On the other hand, this is a valuable resource for topic ideas when conducting keyword research. This way, you can use subsections within an article to answer related questions from the People Also Ask section.
5. Knowledge graph
The knowledge graph (also known as a semantic network) is a comprehensive database of entities – facts on people, places, and things. Plus, it understands the connection between different entities.
Google uses authoritative websites as sources such as Wikipedia. Every time Google detects an entity search, it serves a knowledge graph.
Thankfully Google algorithms such as Penguin and Hummingbird, Google has built this knowledge base that makes information easily and quickly accessible.
How Does Knowledge Graph Work?
Knowledge Graph works by using machine learning algorithms to link datasets. To achieve so, the knowledge graph uses ontology as a framework together with real data about entities.
Ontologies refer to semantic data models that define:
- Classes (types of things)
- Attributes (describe an individual class)
- Relationships (link different classes) in a domain of knowledge.
They are generalized data models, so they don’t include information about specific individuals.
Let’s take a look at the example.
For instance, we have information on the following classes: books, their authors, and genres.
The relationship between distinct classes (books and authors) could be:
A book has the author
The attribute of books could be:
A book originally published (date). So this is a description of the class ‘book’.
By adding real data about individual classes to this framework, we create the knowledge graph.
6. Image Packs
Image packs are specific Google SERP features that appear as a raw of images. When you click on an image, it will take you to a Google Images Search.
Based on testing user behavior, Google is able to understand whether a user wants images as a result.
RankBrain is a Google algorithm that helps Google execute this process.
7. Shopping Results (Featured Products)
Free Product Listing is a program that offers free organic advertising. Organic ads are shown in the Google Shopping tab, below the paid ads, so they compete with each other completely organically.
This allows eComm business owners to increase their exposure, so they can enhance their marketing efforts by using both Shopping results and paid ads.
Most importantly, this is a great way to boost conversions since those who have a commercial search intent will see your products.
How Do Shop Results Work?
First of all, you need to be familiar with Google Merchant Center which helps you manage how your e-comm store and products appear on Google. With this tool, you make product data available for Shopping Results. Those who already running Paid ads won’t need to change anything.
After creating a Merchant Center account, you need to link and verify the AdWord account.
Keep in mind that organic shopping results have far more competition, so it’s necessary to optimize your shopping results properly.
Summary: Google SERP Features You Need to Monitor in 2022
- 1. Rich Result
- 2. Featured Snippet answer
- 3. Sitelinks
- 4. ‘People Also Ask’ Section
- 5. Knowledge graph
- 6. Image Pack
- 7. Shopping results
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