What are SERP Features?
When you search with google, you enter a phrase or question into the search bar on google.com. In a fraction of a second, Google’s search algorithm searches through all the possibilities and then displays a rank-order list of the most relevant, useful results in various formats.
Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) is the term for Google’s returned search results for a given query. When you look at the search results, you will notice various types of search results – Google Ads, organic search results, Featured Snippets, etc.
Let’s look at this example, my search was for a specific brand of cowboy boots, “Justin Cowboy Boots.” On the left, you will see that the first three listings are ads followed by the organic brand listing. Below that will be the local pack search results highlighting local businesses that sell Justin Boots. On the right are more ads. Below the ads on the right is one example of how a brand knowledge graph listing appears.
Personally, my mind filters out the ads on the top and right and zeros in on the organic search result. I want to order straight from the brand, get their warranty, and have no middlemen.
For searchers, it can be helpful to understand what these different formats are so that you can click on the one most relevant to your intent. For a business owner or marketer, you are likely wondering, “How do I get that placement?” Below we will cover the 5 main SERP types and briefly discuss a few of the sub types you might come across.
Organic Search Results
Organic search result listings display in between Google ads and often below the local search results. Organic search results can look different depending on the type of search result and the schema markup (i.e. page vs recipe post).
Your company website is the most obvious standard type of organic search results, but there are also social media listings, new listings, images, videos, etc.
Organic search results are determined by Google and hard-earned through diligent search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
When determining how to rank website’s pages and posts, Google’s Search Algorithm uses over 200 ranking factors pertaining to your domain, the page, the website performance, backlinks, user behavior, brand signals, spam signals, etc.
You don’t get to pay for this placement like with ads, but rather you work for it with fresh, relevant, quality content that is structured in away that Google can easily understand and reward.
Google Ads are typically displayed at the top, bottom, or on the right of the page. The example to the right shows to search ads for “website design delafield wi” Regardless of where the ad is, you will see the word “Ad” or “Ads” nearby. These ads are created through Google Adwords and are an example of pay-per-click advertising.
Google Ads are created through Google Adwords Campaigns. How the ad displays will depend on the type of Google Ad’s campaign.
- Search Campaigns allow you to create search ads that display above or below the organic search results. Simply start by creating a Google Adwords account.
- Shopping Campaigns enable you to create product ads that link to the organic listing and are typically displayed as a block ad. Start by creating a Google Merchant Account and loading your products then you can later start a Shopping Campaign.
- Local Campaigns allow you to draw customers to your physical stores with ads in the search results, Google Maps, YouTube, etc.
There are many other types of Google Adwords Campaigns that you can consider to get your ads to place on other websites (i.e. display campaign), on YouTube video (i.e. video campaign), etc. Search, shopping, and local campaigns are the most relevant campaigns for SERP placement.
Local Search Results
Local search results are displayed in various forms but the two most common are the local knowledge panel and the local pack. The local pack displays on or near the top of the page and features 3 local providers for the given search. Usually, there will be 3 listings displayed and a Google Map. See example on right.
The local knowledge panel listings are usually displayed on the right-hand side and are displayed for branded keywords and other search terms that suggest the searcher is looking for a specific business or location. See example below.
Create and/or claim your GoogleMyBusiness listing. You can specify your contact information, your logo, category, and business description as well add images, posts, products, services, etc.
Even if you are a service provider who works from home, you can set up a GoogleMyBusiness listing for your service area while keeping your address private. If you search “kreative solutions Wisconsin,” you will see one listing is set up as a service area business while the other in Whitewater has a physical location.
Once you have your GoogleMyBusiness listing published, don’t forget about it! Encourage customers to leave you a review. Keep the information up to date. Use the special features of adding a post, product, or service to expand your reach through your local listing.
Google’s Knowledge Graph enhances the search engine results with information that is presented in “infoboxes.” These “infoboxes” may be displayed as a carousel or brand box.
On the right, is an example of a carousel knowledge graph that is displayed for the query “top country songs.” A carousel is displayed when the search query suggests the searcher is looking for options to choose from and are common with informational queries. Carousals are primarily beneficial for entertainment (i.e. music, movie, theatre-related queries), but not necessary for businesses.
The initial query “Justin Cowboy Boots” provided a great example of a brand knowledge graph (also referred to as a knowledge card). Brand knowledge graphs are commonly displayed for navigational search queries, where the searcher is looking for a specific brand, band, celebrity, movie, etc. A brand knowledge graph is much more useful for a business as it is a great illustration of the company’s authority and enhances trust. This information is collected from a variety of sources – company websites, social media, Wikipedia, and Wikidata.
Google ultimately determines how knowledge graphs are displayed, but there are a few things you can do to increase the chances of getting one for your brand. Add schema markup to your company’s homepage. Verify your social media accounts. Create a Wikipedia page for your brand. And lastly get a Wikidata listing.
A featured snippet is a dedicated block that usually appears at the top of the search results. Its a form of an organic listing and pulls information from a third-party website. It is usually displayed for queries like what, who, when, why. There are different types of featured snippets – paragraphs, bulleted/numbered lists, tables, etc.
In this example, Kreative Solution’s blog post “7 Website Essentials for 2020” is the rich answer in the form of a list displayed for the query “website essentials 2020.” Rich answers are brief answers displayed by Google at the top of the page. This is one way Kreative Solutions drives traffic to the website, illustrates authority, and establishes credibility. This post is one of the top pages/posts in terms of bringing traffic into the website.
Google determines what content is displayed as featured snippets. There is no direct way to get that placement, but it is possible with quality, fresh, comprehensive content and solid on-page search engine optimization.
Since rich answers are typically displayed for what, when, and why related queries, brainstorm a list of customer’s FAQs and create content to answer those questions. Once you have created this content, display it on a post/page that is optimized for Google Search and incorporates schema markup so that Google can understand your content easier.
Organic search results, Google Ads, Local Listings, Knowledge Graphs, and Featured Snippets are 5 different ways you can show up on Google’s search engine result page. These top 5 were focused on as they are the broadest and most applicable to wide range of searches and businesses.
There are also more additional SERP types that tend to be more specific and will vary depending on business type as well as content strategy. News boxes, twitter packs, image packs, videos, and shopping results are a few examples of more specific, niche SERP types.