It’s always great to be on the first page of Google. Optimizing your site for SEO makes it possible to get that coveted number one spot. But did you know there’s an even more lucrative position zero? That’s right, Google is not just ten blue links!
SERP features, as they are known, come in many different forms and act as powerful tools that drive significant traffic to your site. By occupying desirable real estate, your organic listings can be noticed by significantly more daily users.
What are SERP Features, Anyway?
SERP snippets are organic results on Google that are visually distinct from regular search engine suggestions. They come in three primary forms:
1. Featured Snippets
Google displays featured snippets on the first page of organic listings in the form of lists, tables, and text, occasionally with accompanying images and videos. Since featured snippets are more visually prominent than ordinary organic search results, website owners get more chances to acquire increased user traffic.
Featured snippets are becoming increasingly popular as Google tries to enhance and simplify the user’s search experience. Google’s intention is to provide searchers with accurate, to-the-point answers to their queries without having to perform multiple clicks.
Most likely, featured snippets will be presented as a title, a URL, and a description of the page—a section of which will be highlighted keywords that match the search query. Occasionally, Google will use pieces of content from your site to populate the snippet more comprehensively.
Why Are Featured Snippets Important for SEO?
Occasionally referred to as Position Zero, featured snippets multiply the level of engagement between users and websites. Generally appearing just below paid ads on a Google SERP, the outcomes for many website owners who have featured content in the form of a featured snippet can prove valuable.
For Google’s algorithms to notice you, it is essential to understand the intention of users and optimize your content accordingly. Featured snippets are designed to give users immediate answers to their questions without clicking or scrolling. However, not all questions can be answered in a few words.
Depending on your optimized content, you may see different types of featured snippets.
Types of Featured Snippets
Text snippets are the most common of all the featured snippets. Usually, they come in a short paragraph, no more than two or three sentences long. Text snippets often reference questions that start with How to, Why is, and What is.
Suppose Google recognizes your content as accurate and responsive to the initial search query. In that case, it collects text from your meta description and referenced page and populates the snippet accordingly. Therefore, the most effective way to get a featured text snippet is by referencing the question and giving a concise answer immediately afterward.
Add extra information that may spark the user’s interest to encourage click-through.
Google will occasionally decide that the best way to answer a question is by populating a list instead of conventional text. Even if the data isn’t structured in a list formation on your site, Google is still capable of using the data to meet these requirements.
You will often see List snippets when there is a logical ranking for something or a set of steps one might take to reach a goal—think recipes, dates, or measurements. Google SERP List snippets are ideal for users who want a quick and easy answer to something without having to click too much.
The table snippet’s primary function is responding to comparison queries. Table snippets are commonly seen when a user is comparing restaurants, clothing, or perusing review websites.
Website owners can optimize their content to acquire a table snippet by presenting information in tables or rows, so Google may recognize its usefulness concerning the query.
Video snippets are used when Google thinks visual content is the best way to respond to a specific question. Then, you will be shown a YouTube video thumbnail.
With an option to click and be redirected to YouTube, video snippets sometimes come with a timestamp that takes you directly to the section that best matches your search query.
2. People Also Asked (PAA)
People Also Asked (PAA) is a search feature that appears as a table comprising four additional questions related to the initial search query. When a user clicks on a PPA question, the table expands to a text section resembling a featured snippet. Occasionally, Google might employ video in an answer box to enrich the search experience. As with all PPA search results, the URL of the source and a link to perform an additional search for that question is present.
PAA boxes are an excellent way to generate leads, often appearing as the top result in searches. SEO specialists and website owners now have additional opportunities to increase engagement.
What Makes PAA Important?
PAA can enhance the user experience by saving time on unnecessary subsequent searches as people generally look for accurate results rapidly, especially on mobile SERPs. Website owners can help users find the solutions you offer by attempting to rank for the PAA SERP feature.
How do I optimize my site for PAA?
There are several ways to optimize your content to appear in a PAA box. They include:
- Refining your topic and target keywords to give a definitive answer to a question.
- Using clear formatting on each piece of content.
- Writing blogs and information pages with the question and direct answer you want to rank for.
- Using headlines with relevant keywords.
- Updating video content and descriptions to match user search terms on YouTube.
3. Knowledge Graph
Generally, you will see a knowledge graph (sometimes known as a knowledge panel or knowledge card) on the right-hand side of a Google SERP. Dealing with primarily factual information on people, places, and things, the Knowledge Graph can appear with text, a photo gallery or carousel, links to videos, and other related search possibilities. Sometimes this search feature can occur with all of these options, opening up a myriad of opportunities to be noticed by users!
Can my business feature in a Knowledge Graph?
Acquiring a knowledge graph can be tricky, but it is made easier if you have optimized your site for SEO correctly. The following ideas are a good way to start:
- Use Schema Markup.
- List on Google Business Profile
- Have a comprehensive Wikipedia page.
- Build a concise About Me page on your site.
- Use structured, bulleted lists of what you do.
- Create backlinks with company info.
- Build consistent internal linking.
- Appear in business directories.
Entity Sources for Knowledge Panels
Wikipedia is the most common entity for Google’s knowledge graphs as it is a trusted and heavily moderated source of information. Unfortunately for many website owners, there is a belief that the creation of a Wikipedia page will result in the appearance of a comprehensive knowledge panel. This is most definitely not the case.
The following are also good sources of information:
Getting a Knowledge Graph is not guaranteed!
It is important to note that as a website owner, you have no say in whether Google will populate a knowledge panel for you. However, if you are successful, your efforts will likely be rewarded after a long time of trying. Like anything to do with SEO, patience and persistence are vital, and once you have a knowledge graph, there is a chance it can disappear if you do not update it regularly.
By getting your brand in the knowledge panel, you occupy considerable real estate and enhanced visibility on the Google SERP. As we all know, attention is everything.
Other SERP Features
Aside from featured snippets, PAA, and knowledge graphs, Google has a few other SERP features that website owners can access through clever optimization of their web pages.
1. Rich Snippets
Rich Snippets are organic search results with eye-catching supplementary data and are more likely to encourage engagement. Occasionally referred to as Rich Results, extra information is extracted from structured data in a website’s HTML script, creating a visually appealing search feature.
How are Rich snippets different from other SERP features?
Rich snippets are more visually striking than the average search feature and often lead to a higher click-through rate (CTR). Usually appearing as reviews, recipes, and events, You have undoubtedly seen many rich snippets before—and possibly interacted with them too!
A bonus for website owners is that rich snippets can appear on any search page, enhancing engagement opportunities should your content not feature on page 1.
How do I optimize my content to get a Rich Snippet?
Optimizing content to acquire a Rich Snippet requires website owners to modify structured data markup in your page’s HTML, requiring a little technical know-how to implement correctly. There are many types of structured data, but Google prefers JSON-LD scripts.
According to Google, most search structured data uses schema.org vocabulary—the recommended format for your website. By selecting and marking your content type, you can insert that into the relevant pages on your site in the HTML. It is vital to give Google basic information about your business, like your website address, business name, and logo.
Google has tools to help users check and test their code to ensure the rich snippet is functional. When you have confirmed the accuracy of schema markup, wait a couple of weeks (as google has to crawl the site) before checking to see if they start populating on the SERP.
Sitelinks are additional links that are presented underneath the main URL of a website when you perform a search on Google. These links go directly to pages other than your landing page.
According to Google, sitelinks are a search feature that assists users in getting to the best pages on your domain. Sometimes, you might see sitelinks in a search box, which gives users even more control over how they will access your site directly through the SERP.
Why are Sitelinks Useful?
Sitelinks are useful as they offer increased visibility towards the internal pages of your website you want users to see.
Here are just a few examples of why sitelinks are a must-have for your company:
Improve Click-through rate
Sitelinks are reported to enhance the click-through rate by over 20%. With as many as six sitelinks possible for any URL, your company can occupy around 4x the space of a typical desktop SERP page—a massive advantage over your competitors. On smaller screens, mobile sitelinks give you maximum visibility.
Take Users to Revenue Generating Pages
Sitelinks are product awareness-generating machines! Having sitelinks that go directly to where you sell your product or service gives you the best chance to speed up the customer journey. Sitelinks, therefore, enhance your brand awareness.
Sends users to pages other than your homepage
Occasionally, savvy internet users may like to skip your homepage entirely. With sitelinks, your internal pages such as blog, services, and contact details may already be present! Sitelinks enhance the user experience by quickly getting organic traffic where it wants to go.
How do I ensure SERPs show my sitelinks?
Unfortunately, you can’t. Google automates how sitelinks are shown on SERPs. However, there are some crucial things you can do to give yourself the best chance of acquiring them.
- Ensure headings, sub-headings, and page titles are informative, to-the-point, and concise.
- Optimize your site’s architecture so users can navigate easily.
- Use internal links to highlight essential pages.
- Provide Goggle with a well-structured sitemap.
- Make sure you rank number one for your company name as only the first result receives sitelinks.
- Ensure your Google My Business listing is up-to-date and accurate.
Carousel SERP features are a practical search feature for acquiring clicks from target keywords. Useful for when search intent is unclear, carousel featured snippets appear when Google requires more information or clarification. There are three types of carousels you may see on Google SERPs.
Image and Text-based Carousels
With image and text-based carousels, Google suggests a few related keywords and presents them in small boxes at the top or bottom of the search result. When these keywords are clicked, the content of the featured snippet morphs to something more representative.
Appearing alongside the text, an image thumbnail appears, so the higher quality of the images, the higher the click-through rate.
Sometimes when you Google something, the best answer is a video. These videos come from YouTube and are displayed as thumbnails in a carousel along the search results.
Video carousels are a selection of the most applicable images and videos related to the SERP. Getting your image or video into the SERP’s featured carousel is potentially more lucrative than ranking first for specific keywords. Recently, carousels have become more and more popular—especially on mobile.
You will see image packs as a row of related images to a search query. Upon clicking, users are sent to Google Images, where they can click on the appropriate website that best matches their search terms.
Image packs can appear in any organic position on a SERP, so here is yet another option to improve your SEO through SERP features.
Tips to Acquire Featured SERPs
Google recommends several ways of optimizing your content to start acquiring featured SERPs. Once you have clear SEO indicators, it will automatically determine which type of snippet is fit for purpose. However, if you’re unsure where to start, try configuring the following content.
Utilize Meta Descriptions
Every page on your site should have a clear, concise meta description that describes the content precisely. Keyword stuffing doesn’t work, so write in complete sentences that contain relevant information, as this is what is likely to be in the SERP feature. As a bonus, It will also improve your click-through rate.
Create unique and accurate content on each page on your site
Pages on your site need to be original and descriptive while keeping the reader engaged. Google will often pull content from paragraphs of text on your pages, so it pays to be diligent.
To rank well on Google and attract potential visitors, use clear indicators like headlines, sub-headlines, and images with relevant alt text. Correctly format your text, and you will be rewarded.
Focus on Questions
If you consider that many Google searches start with a question, it stands to reason that you should preempt likely queries and answer them accurately. The question/answer technique will pay dividends as many SERP features use this format to display relevant results.
Try to write in a style of language similar to what searchers use and quickly answer the question—not halfway down the page!
Avoid Brevity and Check Grammar
Contrary to what many people think, shorter is not better. Google flags brief word counts as ‘thin’, so plan the content before you write and ensure you respond to every type of query the user has.
Also, check your work; then have someone else check it. Grammar and punctuation must be A+ because users will immediately switch off and select a different page. Don’t cause unnecessary damage to your brand because of some misspelled words!
What Other benefits do SERP features have?
SERP features are regularly used by Google to give accurate descriptions to voice search queries. Unlike a desktop or mobile device written search, where the user has around ten organic results on the first page, a voice search will likely give you only one. Now, website owners can have the only answer to a search query. With voice search volume growing exponentially, we are sure you can see where this is going!
As a bonus, Google devices will answer voice questions, usually with a featured snippet, so making an effort to rank for these featured SERPS is a great idea.
Don’t have to be number 1 to get the benefits
Depending on the SERP feature, being top of the SERP on page 1 may not be that important. For example, featured snippets can draw attention to other page areas, allowing users to respond with increased engagement with each new update. Of course, if you are already ranking highly for specific keywords, reoptimizing your content could prove doubly lucrative.
Trust and Authority
If your page is selected to be featured on a SERP, it is considered trustworthy and authoritative. Now, you can expect to see a higher click-through rate and gain validation for using SEO to improve your offering.
Once you have your first SERP feature, analyze the techniques you used, so you can replicate the formula repeatedly.
Papaya Search Can Help!
Ranking for SERP features such as featured snippets, knowledge graphs, carousels, and sitelinks can be time-consuming and require considerable attention to detail. If you struggle to get featured SERPs for your site’s web pages, reach out to our team.
We have a dedicated team of professionals who manage everything from content creation and off-page SEO to trickier technical SEO. So, let us do the heavy lifting and contact the team. We are more than happy to help!