Hands in the air if you want more users visiting your site. 👋
We hear ya.
Driving traffic to your site requires a lot more than just a good product; it requires a great marketing strategy. (A good product really does help though).
On top of knowing your audience, using the right target keywords, creating well-thought-out and quality content, then optimizing it all with best-practice SEO, there are these things called ‘SERP features’ to think about.
That’s if you really want to stand out and gain traffic. How? By maximizing your brand’s digital assets so you’re better represented (and have some prime real estate) in the searches.
If that sounds like you (it does, doesn’t it?), read on to learn everything you need to know about SERP features, including what they are, why you should care about them, and what to focus on in your search marketing strategy.
What are SERP features?
SERP features are elements that appear on Google’s search engine results page that go beyond traditional organic results.
By traditional organic results, we mean the standard plain text layout:
Website name: The core website name, minus all the other bits
Cite: Usually a breadcrumb format, which Google sorts for you
Title: The blue link directing you to the URL of the landing page
Description: A snippet of information explaining what the user should expect to see on this page
🚨 Common SEO misconception: You may be sitting there thinking that the Title and Description sections are always taken from the page or your metadata, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, Google likes to do its own thing using AI, to give users more relevant suggestions based on the search query.
Why should SERP features matter to you?
You should care about SERP features for one big reason: more visibility in search results.
Now, around 175 new websites are created every minute – *slowly picks up a pair of oversized, geeky glasses* – which means a huge 252,000 websites are created per day. For more perspective, the same survey from May 2023 told us there were already 201,045,211 active websites.
That’s a lot of competition.
By understanding SERP features and how you can win them for your business, you’ll stand out more from that – very large and overwhelming – crowd.
And what happens when you stand out? More brand awareness. And more brand awareness equals what? More brand authority. And more brand authority means what? More relevant traffic seeing your brand as the go-to site for information in your field.
Enough of the cheerleader chants now – here’s a sneak peek into your website traffic if you read this guide: 📈
Most commonly found search behaviors
To understand which SERP features you want to win, you’ll also need to understand user behavioral patterns when it comes to search.
But the thing is, humans aren’t predictable creatures – and neither are our searches.
We often pose strange questions and disjointed queries to search engines and just expect to get the information we’re looking for. This can even include jargon or colloquialisms that don’t really exist outside your friendship group, or some other bizarre and unheard-of – but trending – topics that suddenly appear in world news.
Just look at the most asked question on Google to prove it.
So, how do we define search patterns and behaviors when they can be so random? Like Google, search marketers have got an answer to everything.
It might sound like a strange term, but it’s actually the most common of our search behaviors: the bouncing between the SERP and the individual results for information.
This shows search at its best: good keywords and relevant results.
Say hello to the second-most common pattern: your initial query is broad, generic, or imprecise, then you narrow your search down.
So, once you see the results, you’ll refine and then refine some more.
This can include altering the search to include three or four keywords, or using filters on the search engine to narrow the results further. How about an example?
🌮 Say you’re in the mood for some good guac and tacos. You start your search by typing in “mexican restaurants” and realize this isn’t specific enough because you’re not so keen on traveling to Mexico for a meal. Your search then turns into “best restaurants near me” which gives you a much more accurate and proximate result, and a booking for two in just a few clicks.
This one is when you look at the results, but not extensively. After a bit of time taking in the – usually top – search results, you realize you’re going to have to change up your query to get the kind of results you’re looking for.
With this, you try different variations and longer terms. Think “duvet”, “double bed duvet”, “double bed duvet cover in blue” as an example.
Casting a wide net with your search term results in generic – and often irrelevant – results, which is why ‘expansive’ search is not super common.
For example, you might search for “converse trainers for sale in black” and work backward searching for something broader like “converse sneakers for sale”, “converse sneakers”, or even just “sneakers”.
The result? You ending up with a whole lot of information to look through.
5) Pearl growing
This one’s for the SEO experts out there.
When you’re scanning a web page or document, you’re mining its content and metadata to gain an understanding, right? And ultimately, you’re doing it to find new and useful keywords.
These keywords you’ll take to find more of what you’re looking for, create content to beat competitors, or simply use as inspiration for your own strategy to dominate the SERPs. Pearls, see.
Quitting a search is the result of one of two options:
- You’ve found the information you’re looking for, so you’re ready to ride off into the sunset.
- None of the search results answers your question, so you give up out of frustration (or try rephrasing the query completely).
From the perspective of website analysis, quitting goes hand-in-hand with a website’s bounce rate. If your website has a high bounce rate, it can imply a few things, including:
- Your content doesn’t answer the searcher’s question or questions
- Your content isn’t optimized for the right keywords, and is misleading searchers
- Your website is unappealing and difficult to use
Looking to reduce that bounce rate of yours? 👈 Here are some top tips to help you out.
11 popular types of SERP features
There are a lot of SERP features out there – and by “a lot”, we mean a LOT. But which are the ones we see most often? Which are the most achievable to attain for you as a business?
We run through the top appearing SERP features in both your own and your users’ searches:
1) Featured snippets
Featured snippets are short and snappy text boxes that display quick answers to a searcher’s query. Sometimes, these answers are so good, the searcher doesn’t even have to click on anything – this is what we call zero-click searches (which is just another thing Similarweb has got data on).
Google classes featured snippets as, not a SERP feature but a ‘rich element’. This is down to the fact that it’s an organic result with a blue link that competes with other organic results with blue links.
To the rest of us? It’s definitely still a SERP feature.
There are more than 20 types of featured snippets. T w e n t y. Without us going into all of them in great detail, here are a few types of featured snippets you’ll probably recognise:
- Ordered lists
- Unordered lists
- Full width with images included
- Image thumbnails (eg. with recipes or products)
2) Paid results
While we are predominantly focusing on organic SERP features, the paid SERP features out there can’t go unnoticed or unmentioned.
Paid or sponsored SERP features can look similar to organic ones, and can look like:
- Product listing ads
- Popular products
- Local services
- Sponsored (eg. job listing, flights, and hotels, etc)
You’ll see paid SERP features appear when your search intent is slightly different. For example, you’re searching for “trainers” or “running shoes”. The intent? You want to buy some new trainers or running shoes, and brands will both optimize their content and sometimes pay to have this kind of visibility.
3) Knowledge panel
You’ll find the Knowledge Panel on the right-hand side of a SERP. They gather information from reputable sources to provide information about a specific entity, like a person, place or organization (if that’s the kind of thing you’ve searched for).
Say you’re looking up King Charles III.
In the knowledge panel for this search, you get all the details including:
- His name
- What he does
- A brief description
- Date of birth
- Family information
- …and who people also search for (hi, Queenie)
4) Answer boxes
Sometimes, you don’t need a whole article to give you the answer to your question, and search engines like Google know that.
Here’s one example of the instant answers you can get with the right kind of query:
Whether you’re looking for someone’s age, the definition of a word, or the weather for your holiday next week, answer boxes bring you the facts straight up, zero clicks necessary.
Video marketing has become more and more popular because, well, people like watching stuff. The most popular forms of video content are music videos (48.7%), funny or viral content (34.8%) and tutorials or how-tos (26.4%).
So, if you’re searching for your favorite artist, or video content creator, or you just want to know how to bleed a radiator, the SERP is most likely going to include a video snippet, multiple videos, or a whole video carousel for you to jump straight in.
YouTube may have reigned supreme in the world of video content, however, TikTok is certainly giving it a run for its money these days. Why? Because they get a message across – or get a laugh – quick.
Images are a great way to attract attention… and don’t we marketers know it. Making sure web pages and blogs have quality imagery is high on our to-do lists.
These same images are the ones that can pop up in the SERPs. You’ll see them in a number of ways, including thumbnails, carousels, featured images, or within a knowledge panel.
You’ve also probably stumbled across, what we call, an Image Pack in your time. These are a pack of image results (surprise) that are displayed in a horizontal row. When you click on them, it will take you to a Google Images search.
The secret to getting these? Image optimization, baby. That means not only thinking about image size, but also making sure the file name, alt text, and title attribute are describing it well – not in loads of detail, but well.
7) People Also Ask
Another SERP feature you’ve almost definitely seen is the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) list, or the “People Also Ask”.
Here you’ll find a bunch of common questions and the answers to those questions, all linking to a specific topic or what you searched for.
Each question has a dropdown box that reveals an answer, provided by various websites – like this:
This kind of content can be taken directly from your content, or you can use FAQ schema. If you’re sitting there wondering what that is, it’s a specialized markup that you can add to your page’s code to communicate it’s an FAQ and that it’s basically perfect for this type of SERP feature.
8) Twitter carousel
Twitter and its real-time stream is another important SERP feature you’ll see for news and other trending topics.
Like that small tennis tournament that graces your newsfeed every July…
A Twitter carousel consists of a selection of popular tweets that you can enjoy as they come in by clicking that arrow on the right.
With the Wimbledon example, you’ll see it’s all from the official Wimbledon account, but the same can happen with hashtags or common Twitter searches.
9) Top stories
Along with real-time tweets, comes real-time news – journos, this is the SERP feature you should be most interested in.
Top stories. 🗞️
Using its machine learning, Google selects, collects and ranks articles based on the relevance to a search term. The favorites? The stories with new facts or information.
Sitelinks are additional links that you’ll find under a normal-looking search result. In other words: great for visibility and usability of your website – not to mention your click-through rate.
There are a few different types of sitelinks, including:
- Inline sitelinks: Typically seen as four simple links in a horizontal row underneath the main search result.
- Expanded sitelinks: Four links with a short description, highlighting popular or important pages so users can go straight there.
- Search box: Coming underneath the main search result, the search box sitelink allows you to search within a site without clicking through first.
- Paid sitelinks: Controllable by site owners, paid sitelinks can promote relevant campaigns and ads.
Designed to navigate users to the most relevant pages on the website quickly, sitelinks save the user lots of browsing time and highlight some of the most popular pages from a user perspective.
Here’s an example of expanded sitelink groups, which are most common for home pages and branded searches:
11) Local packs
Local packs are another type of SERP feature that appear at the top of your search results, but this one’s for local searches.
Typically, you’ll get three local businesses (the Google 3-pack) that are relevant to your search query, along with their contact information, address, and website.
But you will also see other types of local packs, like the Local Finder, Local Teaser, and a localized knowledge panel.
Local packs are a valuable asset for both businesses and searchers; it’s again, great for visibility and provides users with a really quick and easy way to work out their supper plans (and beyond).
Things that will affect a business’s ranking in local packs, include:
- The relevance of the business to the search query
- The prominence of the business, eg. online reviews, and social media mentions
- The distance of the business from the user’s location
- The quality of the business’s Google My Business profile
For more ways to see your website in SERP features, check out our post on the five types of SERP feature optimization you should be trying.
How to find SERP features opportunities with Similarweb
If you’re reading this, you’ll know the benefits of ranking high in SERPs for your business (brand awareness, visibility, traffic, conversions, revenue – you know, small things like that).
But Google crowning you King or Queen of its organic SERPs isn’t guaranteed, no matter how hard your SEO team works. But to rank high, it’s a box ticking task.
And Similarweb? We love to help you tick those boxes. Here’s how some of our features can help:
- Ranking Distribution: Using our handy SERP Feature filter, you can see how you and your competitors compare in the battle of the SERP features (and plan your next strategic move to win more).
- Organic Keywords: A cheeky competitor comparison to see who is winning the most traffic share for your target keywords, helping you make your next move in your search strategy.
- Keyword Gap: Find the content gaps where your competitors are getting traffic – and maybe even SERP feature – and you’re not.
- Zero-click searches: Thanks to featured snippets, a lot of searches get lost without a click – we’ve got the data on zero-click searches to spot the high percentage keywords to try and win the snippet for.
And on top of all that, our handy SERP feature filter gives full insight into who’s winning SERP features with your target keywords.
Like what you hear and love to see insights that *other* data platforms don’t have? Try Similarweb for free today or book a quick call with one of our experts.
What are SERP features?
SERP features are elements that appear on a search engine results page (SERP) in addition to the organic search results. They can provide additional information, answer common questions, or highlight relevant content. Some common SERP features include featured snippets, rich snippets, local results, knowledge panels, and ads.
What are the benefits of SERP features?
SERP features can offer a number of benefits for businesses, including increased visibility, improved click-through rates, and enhanced credibility.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when optimizing for SERP features?
Some common mistakes to avoid when optimizing for SERP features are using irrelevant keywords, creating low-quality content, and not using schema markup.