Google and its SERPs have changed a lot over the decades. And one area in which we’ve especially seen a lot of (visual) changes is in the many different SERP features.
What was once a basic and static – and rather ugly – list of links is now a highly dynamic space. In the past, ranking number one on Google meant you would almost, without exception, receive the largest share of traffic for the googled keyword. But times have changed.
Now, you might rank first place, but if the SERP includes Product Listing Ads (PLAs) from Google Shopping, then you’re bound to lose a lot of traffic to those rich results. And that’s just one example.
Below, we’ll explain what Google SERP features are and what different features you can find on Google nowadays. We’ll also give you some tips on how to optimize for Google SERP features.
The Google SERP features are more than just fancy visual effects to liven up the search results. They can either drive more revenue for your business or cause you to miss out. So which one will it be?
What is a Google SERP?
Every time you put a query in Google (i.e., you search for something), you will be presented with a page. This page is called the search engine results page (SERP).
This page contains links to separate pages that, hopefully, give you the answer to your query. This used to be a simple list of 10 links per SERP, but it has grown increasingly rich and varied in the content it displays.
What is a Google SERP feature?
Basically, everything that’s not just a standard listing of a link on the SERP. Note that this only accounts for organic results, so any type of paid result automatically counts as a SERP feature. We’ll discuss all separate SERP features in more detail in a bit.
How common are Google’s SERP features?
So how important is all this? Well, let’s illustrate it with some statistics.
At the time of writing this article, the SEMrush Sensor shows that only 3.14% of the SERP pages (in the top 20) do not contain any SERP features. This means that nearly every time you put a search query into Google you will be presented with SERP features in return.
And with a whopping 3.5 billion (!) Google searches conducted every day, as analyzed by Internet Live Stats, you simply can’t afford to ignore Google’s SERP features anymore.
List of Google SERP features
Google is updating its SERPs and the different content features it displays all the time. The full list of features today might be slightly different next month. Of course, we will try to keep this page up to date at any time to include any new SERP features that might appear.
You can find an alphabetical list of Google SERP features below.
The first SERP feature on this list is arguably the most debated and most valuable. Tests have proven that featured snippets have significantly higher Click-Through Rates (CTRs) than normal listings.
If you ask Google a question, it will try to give you the answer as quickly as possible, ideally straight in the SERP without you having to click through to any other page. And that’s where featured snippets come in.
Google extracts the specific snippet of content – from a page that ranks for a keyword – that best answers the question that the user wants to be answered. Google generally takes this information from one of the already top-ranking pages (positions 1-5).
To obtain a featured snippet, your page has to answer the query (question) as specifically as possible. Depending on the query, the featured snippet might be a bullet point or numbered list (e.g., describing the steps of a recipe), so formatting your page accordingly can help you land a featured snippet as well.
Google Ads are the paid-for promotions you see at the top and bottom of a SERP. Ads are the same as normal organic results, aside from it being labeled as “Ad.”
Google Ads can’t be obtained organically as you have to pay for them.
As the name suggests, the Image Pack SERP feature pulls images from the Google image search API and features them more prominently in a separate box in the SERP.
You will come across Image Packs when searching for visual queries, like flowers or animals.
You can obtain an Image Pack by ensuring you optimize the images on your site (e.g., by adding a descriptive alt text or title attribute).[Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]If you’re curious, here you can learn about a Google Image Search API: what it is and how it works. [Text Wrapping Break]
Google takes this information from its own data set as well as sources like Wikipedia. This type of feature is most commonly associated with googling place names. It will include pictures, Google Maps data, weather information, and more.
Practically identical to the knowledge graph, the knowledge panel shows up on the right side of the SERP and will highlight information about a business or brand, like contact details, reviews, location, and images.
The data for this is pulled from Google Maps or Google My Business, so the only way to optimize for this is by ensuring your data on those two platforms is up to date.
The local pack is another way in which Google may present your business. As the name suggests, the focus here is on local businesses based on either a location keyword in the search query (“bars in new york”) or the location of the user that’s browsing.
The feature shows a Google Map with business listings below it. Updating your Google My Business information and generating great customer reviews are key to obtain this feature.
If a search query is related to breaking or trending news it may show a news box feature (titled “Top stories”). It’s a horizontal box showing several thumbnails of related stories on news websites.
This feature generally uses data from large news publishers (e.g. Reuters) and is difficult to obtain for other organizations.
People also ask
This box shows questions related to your search query. It is a great area of opportunity for all sorts of businesses. The best practice is to try and provide clear answers to these questions on your page.
These are small extra features added to normal listings, like star ratings for a business. You can optimize for rich snippets through the use of schema markup on your web page.
Shopping Ads (Product Listing Ads)
These are paid product listings that appear directly at the top of the SERP. These are especially displayed when the search query contains a specific product, like “laptop.”
Google can expand your site listing on the SERP with a number of specific site links below it. These links lead to subsections of your website, like “About Us” or “Blog.” To gain site links, you need to ensure your website is properly structured.
A carousel showing Twitter posts may show up below a link to a company’s Twitter account. Keeping your business’ Twitter feed up to date is essential to obtain this feature.
Lastly, a SERP can include several video features as well, similar to an Image Pack or the Twitter carousel.