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Decoding SERP Features: Understand Google's Results

Learn how to decipher SERP features and optimize your website for better visibility on Google. Discover the secrets behind Google's search results now.

Have a question? Google it. It’s no secret that Google dominates the search engine market. In fact, Google holds an 84.69% share of the global search engine market, making it critical to appear on the search engine results page—or SERP—for maximum visibility.

Understanding Google SERP will help inform your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy and give you the tools to succeed online. SERP goes far beyond the hierarchy of organic search results—SERP features are additional elements sprinkled throughout the results page aimed to simplify the search results. These informational boxes make the search results page more interactive and targeted to better provide users with answers to their search queries.

Showing up in a SERP feature can be a great way to elevate your brand and gain more traffic. This guide breaks down the basics of SERP features, as well as when and how to incorporate them into your strategy.

What are SERP features?

SERP features are various elements included throughout the results page that appear beside the traditional organic results. Features include news articles, videos, images, featured snippets, and more.

Google identifies search queries and tries to match users with the perfect results. The purpose of SERP features is to provide users with quick, relevant information directly on the search results page. This means that users don’t necessarily have to click through to a website to find the answer to their questions.

SERP features often appear above organic results on the search result page. Rather than displaying the link first, a block of text and often an image are shown above the website link. SERP features place emphasis on the result itself by providing users with instant answers to their search queries.

Why are SERP features important?

The nature of a search query will often dictate whether or not a Google SERP feature will appear on the search engine results page and what type of feature will be displayed. That being said, SERP features are appearing more frequently and Google is constantly testing and rolling out new SERP features so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends.

SERP features are crucial for growing businesses because they can increase brand visibility, attract new customers and ultimately drive more traffic to their websites. Many features appear in “position zero”, or at the top of the SERP, meaning brands that appear in these features benefit from increased visibility.

The Google algorithm aims to match the best results to search queries and thus, credibility is an important factor. Businesses that appear in a featured snippet or Knowledge Graph can enhance their credibility and become an authority on the topic. This is vital for building trust and growing a loyal customer base.

Today, SERPs are much more diverse, featuring a range of elements designed to provide users with quick and easy access to the information they are looking for. By understanding the different types of SERP features, businesses can optimize their content to appear in these elements and increase their visibility in search results.

Rich snippet

One common SERP feature is a rich snippet. Just like its name, rich snippets enrich the search results. They provide a preview of additional information in the search results to provide users with more context. Rich snippets make it easier for users to make informed decisions before clicking on a website.

Rich snippets often display details ranging from ratings to reviews to pricing and more – some snippets also display images. The extra information Google pulls to create rich snippets helps make the search results more attractive and can lead to a higher click-through rate.

Knowledge graphs

This SERP feature displays facts and figures from Google’s database—the Knowledge Graph. Google pulls from a variety of public sources and licensed data to provide information about people, places, and things. The Knowledge Graph is designed to provide users with instant answers without having to visit multiple websites and perform extensive research.

Businesses can benefit from the Knowledge Graph through increased visibility and authority when relevant information about their brand or products is displayed. Businesses should focus on providing accurate information across all platforms to increase the likelihood of content appearing in the Knowledge Graph.

Featured snippets

Featured snippets are a type of SERP feature that provides a direct answer to the search query. The answer to a user’s query is displayed prominently in the featured snippet box, making it visually distinct from the organic listings.

For example, if a user searches for “how to make muffins”, a featured snippet will appear in the search engine results displaying the recipe, ingredient list, and instructions. Featured snippets still link to the web page, but provide as much information as possible to directly answer the user's search query.

People also ask

One of the most helpful SERP features is the people also ask (PAA) feature. It appears as a box in the search results and displays a list of related questions that other users have searched. Each answer in the PAA box generally includes a featured snippet.

This feature helps users throughout their search journey by exploring related searches. The PAA can inform your content strategy by providing new, related topics to cover. Creating high-quality content that answers questions in related searches can help your web page appear in the PAA.

Local packs

If you’ve ever added “near me” to your Google search, then you’ve likely seen the local pack feature. Local SEO is an important tool for targeting users in your area. A local pack displays relevant local businesses and services.

For example, if a user types “Italian restaurant near me”, Google displays the local pack feature at the top of the results which provides a list of Italian restaurants near the user’s location. The list will include relevant details, such as an address, phone number, ratings, and website links. This helps users quickly find a restaurant near them without having to scroll through searches related to the initial query which aren't locally relevant.

Top stories

The top stories SERP feature displays a carousel of articles and news stories from various sources in the search results. This feature showcases the headline, thumbnail image, and source. The top stories feature is designed to give users the latest news and updates on any given topic.

News media organizations can focus on publishing timely, accurate, and high-quality news content in order to appear in the top stories SERP feature.

Video thumbnails

For any search query related to video content, video thumbnail SERP features will appear. This feature shows a thumbnail image from the video in addition to the title, length, and source.

For example, if a user searches “how to make a website”, the video thumbnail SERP feature might display a thumbnail image of a video tutorial. Video thumbnails can also appear in a featured list if there are several relevant videos.

Image packs

The image pack SERP feature is designed for users searching for visual or image-driven topics. Typically, Google displays the image pack above the organic search results and showcases a range of related thumbnails from Google images.

To appear in SERP image packs, it’s important to optimize your images for search engines. Make sure to use descriptive alt tags, image file names, and relevant captions.

Site links help you navigate through the search results to find the page you wish to visit. Site links can appear underneath a search result, featuring a list of links to subpages and small snippets to better locate the most helpful page. Typically, site links appear for branded search queries.

Benefits of SERP features

As the online landscape continues to evolve, search engine results pages (SERPs) have become increasingly complex, with a range of features appearing alongside the traditional list of search results.

In this section, we will explore some of the benefits of SERP features and how businesses can take advantage of them to enhance their online presence.

Increases visibility and traffic

One of the main challenges related to Google SEO is ranking high in organic search results. This is why targeting SERP features is a great opportunity for brand building and increasing visibility. SERP features are displayed prominently in the search results and can lead to higher user engagement and traffic to your site.

Elements such as featured snippets appear at the top of the SERP, giving it more visibility than other organic listings. Google search results are vast, so visibility is key for standing apart from the competition.

Improves click-through rate

Google SERP features are elements including additional information beyond the standard meta description and title tag. These extra details can help users determine whether your website is relevant to the given search query.

Basically, a SERP feature gives your website an extra boost for helping improve click-through rates to your site. When users are more likely to click through to your web page, the likelihood of conversions increases.

Enhanced user experience

The goal of a search engine is to provide users with answers to their questions – the goal of Google SERP features is to enhance this experience. Featured snippets, local packs, top stories, and more are all designed to provide relevant information quickly and efficiently.

This improves the user experience and increases the likelihood of users returning to your site in the future. Users are more inclined to trust your brand when they get the information they are looking for simply and clearly.

Increases brand awareness

Brand awareness and trust are key to winning and maintaining customers. SERP features often include elements that can increase brand recognition, such as logos and images.

If your brand consistently shows up in featured snippets or other common SERP features, users may be more likely to remember your brand and continually return to your web pages. If your goal is to increase brand recognition, then optimizing for SERP features is a great way to appear in a useful and trusted section of Google SERPs.

Best practices for optimizing SERP features

Optimizing for SERP features has become essential for businesses looking to improve their online visibility and drive more traffic to their websites. However, optimizing for SERP features requires a different approach than traditional SEO tactics.

By following these best practices, businesses can increase their chances of appearing in SERP features and attracting more clicks from users.

Understand your audience

Different users have different search intents and behaviors. Understanding your audience can help you tailor content and optimization efforts to meet specific needs. If you understand your audience’s Google searches and related search queries, you can increase your chances of appearing in relevant SERP features.

If you run an e-commerce business, understanding your customers’ search intent can help you optimize your product listings for shopping results and increase your chances of appearing in the shopping carousel SERP feature.

Your audience may tend to have the same certain search queries, meaning you can leverage this to optimize for specific SERP features in the search results.

Use structured data markup

Now that you understand the various types of Google SERP features, you can focus on how to optimize your site to appear in featured snippets and more in the search results. Using structured data markup is one of the best ways to increase your chances of appearing in different types of SERP features.

Structured data markup is a type of code you add to your website to help search engines understand the content on your site. Google provides a list of structured data types from which you can choose, depending on the type of content on your site.

Create high-quality content

The search engine’s algorithm aims to answer a user’s search query with high-quality content. To improve your chances of appearing in the search results as featured snippets or other types of SERP features, make sure your content provides value.

Your site should be optimized for readability and should incorporate visual content and both internal and external links. For example, a blog post should be engaging and accessible. Examples of quality content include how-to guides, tutorials, infographics, and more – as long as it provides value and answers your target audience’s search queries.

Optimize for mobile devices

Optimizing for mobile devices is more important than ever – 63% of organic search engine visits are done on mobile devices. Ensuring your website is mobile-optimized can improve your chances of ranking in a featured snippet, rich snippet, local pack, or other feature at the top of the SERP.

Using a mobile-friendly design with a responsive layout that adapts to different screen sizes provides users with a better experience.

Optimize for local search results

If you have a local business, it’s vital to optimize your site for local search. Appearing in a local pack or map pack can help drive traffic to your business. Local customers are more likely to convert into paying customers because they are already in the vicinity of your business.

Optimizing your content for local search results can give your business a competitive advantage over local competitors. Local businesses need to be optimizing for local search results because it can attract more targeted traffic and is a cost-effective method for winning more customers.

Use long-tail keywords

Keyword research is an essential part of any successful digital marketing strategy. Identifying the most valuable keywords to target in your content can improve your chances of answering a search query and appearing in featured snippets.

Longtail keywords are beneficial for many reasons. Longtail keywords are often more specific to each search query. This means that users often have a higher intent to take action or make a purchase, so if they find your site through long-tail keywords, they may be more likely to convert.

Some Google SERP features, such as feature snippets and answer boxes, are often triggered by long-tail keywords matching the search query. Considering relevance and specificity can help you target the most important long-tail keywords for your brand and match up with user queries in the SERP features and organic results.

Monitor your performance

Continuous monitoring is key to success in digital marketing and SEO. Monitoring your performance can help you identify new opportunities and improve your content strategy. You may find new target keywords or learn which types of content are driving the most traffic and conversions. This can help you refine and tailor your strategy for ranking in SERP features.

You should also measure success in order to stay competitive and adapt to changes. Identifying areas for improvement can help you understand which topics to focus on to outperform your competitors. You also need to stay up-to-date on changes to the algorithm and the introduction of new SERP features.

Maximize your online visibility with SERP features

Optimizing your website and content to appear in Google SERP features is a helpful tool for maximizing your online presence. Increasing engagement, driving more traffic, and improving relevance and authority can help improve performance in SERP features. Mailchimp offers a suite of tools and services to help brands achieve this.

Improve your SEO strategy and build your brand with Mailchimp's tools and expert guidance. Learn how to create a killer landing page with Mailchimp’s landing page builder – designed to help you create high-converting landing pages that target specific keywords and search queries to rank on common SERP features.

A great way to increase authority and strengthen your brand presence is through social media. Our social media marketing platform can help you reach new audiences and increase visibility. Likewise, Mailchimp’s reporting and analytics tools track performance across various areas and identify trends and opportunities for improvement, helping you stay ahead of the competition and continuously optimize for SERP features and beyond.

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