How SERP Features Impact Ranking13 min read
In the latest episode of Hack My Growth, we’re looking at the impact SERP features have on ranking position, click-through rates, and overall traffic.
We’re talking about SERP features and the impact they have on our ranking, click-through rates, brand traffic, and visibility to those end customers that we’re trying to reach.
How SERP Features Impact Ranking
Let’s take a look at SERP features that are impacting today’s search results and how they impact how you rank your website inside of Google and some of the other search engines.
What are SERP Features?
These are also referred to as rich features, and it’s a result on Google that is not one of those traditional organic results. There are a number of these SERP features today. Some of the most prevalent or the most common ones are:
- Rich snippets
- Paid results
- Universal results
- Knowledge graph
1. Rich Snippets
When you look at a rich snippet, these are going to be those review stars that stand out for a product ranking. A rich snippet could also be an FAQ listing or how-to listing that adds a visual layer to an existing result.
2. Paid Results
You also have the paid results. These are also considered rich features and these are expanding quite a bit as well with Google. We see not only the traditional AdWords but also Google Shopping and a number of other instances or new creative ways to display ads.
3. Universal Results
We also can see universal results and these appear in addition to those organic results. Maybe an image carousel or a video carousel, as well as what’s called featured snippets so those are those position zeros.
4. Knowledge Graph
hen we also have knowledge graph data and this typically appears in panels or boxes usually to the side of the search results, but sometimes within the top. It could be maybe the weather or some sort of information about a celebrity.
If you want to learn more about rich features or SERP features, just read a little bit more of the different types, check out the article that we are sourcing here from Moz. It’s a very good article and they do a great job covering that.
These are some of the most common SERP features.
Again, this is pulled from that Moz article and some of the research that they’ve done. Things like the AdWords and the featured snippet image packs, maybe articles, knowledge cards, and the like. There are a lot of different ones, but these tend to be the most common in the search results today.
If you want to look at all of the different types and see how they look, that can often be pretty difficult, but Cyrus Shepard did a good job of making a massive search result, which includes a majority of these different rich features. And let’s take a look at that right now.
This is a mega SERP result and it’s super long, but you can see things like a carousel up here for restaurants. You can see songs, different ad placements related to Taco Bell, or other ads where you can shop and buy things.
This is a knowledge graph on tacos. Here’s another ad carousel. You can see information on the calories of a taco or images of tacos, Taco Bell as a company. There’s a lot of information here as you can see. There are so many different types, whether it be like a local pack or somebody who writes about tacos, or images. Here’s a map itself.
You have in-depth articles, which would be like news articles. There’s another version of an ad. There are lots of different ways that these can be displayed and there’s, even more, today than Cyrus put on this one.
This is quite a large, massive SERP result. And honestly, if you saw one like this, your head would explode because there’s just too much information here. But these are some of the different ways that Google now is displaying information within the realm of search.
How Does SERP Feature Change Results?
How does this impact us as SEOs? How does this impact how we approach ranking or trying to rank within the search results? A cool tool is this CTR study done by Advanced Web Rankings, where you can see what the potential click-through rate would be ranking in a certain position. They do it one through 20.
When we look at natural organic results, we can see that on average position one gets nearly 40% of the clicks. 38.13% of the clicks go to position one, which is massive. You can see that it dwarfs. It’s almost three times the amount of clicks as position two and it tails off pretty quickly here. This is just an organic listing without adding any SERP features to the mix.
What happens to position one once we start seeing more SERP features? Well, I just added a few, some of the more common ones, things like organic with ‘People Also Ask’ or organic with a featured snippet and ‘People Also Ask’, or organic with a local pack.
When we look at just adding ‘People Also Ask’, position one drops seven points. Instead of being 38% of the clicks, it gets 31 now. What happens when we add a featured snippet to the mix? It goes down to 19.5.
Automatically, we start to see the gap closing between one and two. This is a little bit hard to read with the way it’s layered in the colors here, but you can see in the organic listings normally, position one would be 38, position two way down here.
However, once we start adding in some of these other features, it gets to be a little bit closer between one and two where almost position one isn’t as important as it used to be. Furthermore, when we add a local pack, it goes down even further. We’re talking about 16% of the clicks and why is that?
Well, the user behavior is starting to change. Maybe they’re asking a question and the ‘People Also Ask’ is helping them to prompt them to go deeper, maybe ask a different question, or maybe the featured snippet answers the question, or maybe it’s just jumbled the ranking so much that it’s hard to see position one now.
Same with the local pack when you’re a local business. That’s why having that Google My Business listening is so important in making sure that you’re taking that into account when you’re trying to rank your business, not just your site.
A lot of times we look at SEO as ranking a URL, but in today’s world, it’s more about ranking your business and all of the different entities that your business owns that you could possibly earn SERP placements for your business.
How to Optimize for Today’s SERPs
How do we optimize for today’s SERPs then?
The first thing we have to do, we have to look at the SERPs. We have to understand what’s going on within a specific query. Then we need to understand all the different features that are available to us, everything from the ads to the organic features and where they sit within the search results. And lastly, we need to create a list of content types that we need to maximize our chance of ranking. Again, this goes back to not just ranking our website but looking at ways to rank our business.
Let’s take a look at a few different queries and how we might approach optimizing them for today’s SERPs.
Query #1: Marketing Video Template
For this first query, we’re looking at a marketing video template. Maybe we have some templates that we want to share and see. The first thing we see is the ad pack here at the top. It’s not as easy as it used to be to distinguish ads. Now, we just see this bold ad dot and we have these listings. Some of them look organic.
We have position one right here. But as you can see, position one is kind of crowded out by this result right here where we have a promo, the templates, and a video carousel attached to their listing.
Then right under that, we have videos. Here we have videos and most of these look like they’re coming from YouTube channels. We go down a little bit further and we have another listing with almost like an image slider as well. Then a sub listing here underneath where this business is doubling up.
Then we get a ‘People Also Ask’ and then, we have some more blue links, and then we have another video carousel where Google’s also giving us some other possible uses or terms like storyboard template examples here.
Then we have an ad pack at the bottom and then related search with another SERP feature here with some more questions that we can look at, and then ‘Related Terms’.
This is a pretty loaded result. As you can see, there are a number of different types of content that we could rank, whether it be an ad that we have, images, IMA, or videos. Maybe leveraging YouTube here would be a good play, as well as looking at some of these other questions we might want to add to our content or create additional content that we can link to and create a nice topic cluster around, all the way down to additional terms or entities we might want to look at as well.
If I’m ranking for this or I’m targeting this one, I have a number of different things I need to do. I need to create images. I need to create videos. I need to make sure that I’m answering these questions. I might even want to look at the ad pack if I need to in order to get myself into the position now. But even by doing this, I could rank this as a video.
I could rank these images here. I could try to rank some images here, attach them, and add structured data to my images so that they show up in an image carousel like this. Or creating some videos here as well on my YouTube channel in order to get that to rank as well.
I want to take account of all those. I want to look at the assets I currently have on my website and then work in reverse and see how I want to build all of this together.
This is one query. It’s starting to get a lot more complicated. In the world of search, we have to take all these things into account because the reality is Biteable right here, they’re position one. They are smashed in between all of this other content. They’re almost invisible even though they rank number one for this query.
And it’s kind of crazy to think about today, but number one may not be as beneficial in all cases. You might want to look at having opportunities to rank in other ways to create more of a potential for somebody to engage with your brand and not just your website.
Query #2: Mexican Restaurant
Let’s take a look at a local query. Let’s say I run a local business here, a Mexican restaurant. The first thing I see is the local pack. For local companies, this is a must. You have to have presence in the local pack if you want to grow your business.
Right below that we get Tripadvisor, Yelp, and all these aggregate sites. It’s not until we get to the forced listing that we start to get local businesses. But guess what? Both of these right here we can see, are they here at the top? They’re not. Their website ranks here on the homepage, but guess where most people are probably going to look when they’re looking to find a restaurant near them? Is this listing up here.
While this business down here did a decent job of driving people to their website, most people probably will never engage with them because people are engaging up here because they’re looking for something near them, they want to see the maps.
This is where you might want to focus differently for a query like this where owning position one or even being on the first page, it doesn’t matter if you don’t show up in the local pack. If we go down, there are also top stories. You may want to start to ask yourself, “How can we get our business featured maybe by the local business or one of the many USA Today aggregates that are out there?”
That could be a play that you want to think about. Maybe you need to have a Facebook. This company’s Facebook page is ranking too. But again, this company is not showing up here in the top three of the local pack.
It’s great that their website and Facebook are here. They have two places. Imagine if they also had the local pack, that business is going to now have three listings on the homepage. Four, if you count the OpenTable now. They’ve done a pretty decent job in that case, but the most important one, in this case, is the local pack.
You can also see the related searches where you’re going to markup your business to make sure your logo could possibly get pulled into here. These are some other queries you might want to think about; best lunch with kids, best restaurants near me, group-friendly restaurants.
All three of those can be very relevant to a local business that wants to rank for this specific term. Again, this is a local query and you can see it’s not your grandma’s Google. It’s a new and improved way of looking at SERPs.
They’re trying to give people the information they want as quickly as possible so they can get the correct answer. Whether they’re looking for a restaurant, finding how to make a template, or trying to learn something else.
Query #3: How to Relax
Let’s take a look at one more. For this last query, how to relax. Typically when you have some sort of like a how-to article, you’re going to see a featured snippet. It’s pretty common. Notice also what Google’s doing up here, they’re also helping you narrow your search. Google wants you to get to a very specific answer. They want to help you find the right one.
They’ve also seen related terms like for women, how to make yourself relaxed. For men, a girlfriend, around my boyfriend, partner, or parent. This is very relational if you look at this query.
You won’t get this information if you just look at an SEO tool, you have to go to the SERPs to find this. We notice here there’s a step 1, 2, and 3 going all the way through this from Healthline. They probably have an article that step 1, 2, and 3 that walk you through how to do this.
Google pulls this into the SERP features and notice what’s right below that, it’s ‘People Also Ask’, I haven’t scrolled yet, but position one is not even here. I have to scroll below the fold in position one and then right below that are videos.
Again, greatest, this website is ranking technically one for the term how to relax, but they’re invisible until I scroll. And then they’re sandwiched between two SERP features that make it difficult for the user, in my opinion, to click on this link.
This is an area where this company might want to think about how can we create an article that’s going to earn this featured snippet? Or maybe we need to start adding some video to our content because we’re getting smushed between two SERP features, which are way more visually appealing than our link. Even though we have some sight links here below, we’re not standing out, we’re kind of getting lost in the mix.
Below the video, we see the natural organic searches. We do see some additional steps here with some how-to markup. Then we have some images below here. We have related search with hobbies.
Here are the ways that you can add additional benefits to your content. As we’re using the SERPs, we can start to see the types of content we need to rank. There are a number of opportunities our business has to rank whether it be our website, local pack, YouTube channel, social media channels, and leveraging those to make sure that our business entity has as much visibility as it possibly can within the search results.
Having the right content is never going to be enough. You have to make sure that content is machine-readable and that the search engines understand it at a very deep level.
Having the right content is never going to be enough. You have to make sure that content is machine-readable and that the search engines understand it at a very deep level. Well, you do that by adding structured data.
Structured data is an important thing, and it’s more than just adding blog data and article data or the stuff that comes out of the box with a lot of our SEO tools or plugins today. You need to understand the requirements that are made by Google in order to earn some of these rich results.
I put together a course that helps you master structured data at schema.org to help you earn these rich results to help improve the visibility of your brand and extend the number of links that you possibly could get within the search results. And I want to give this to you at 25% off using the code YouTube. You can sign up today at learn.simplifiedsearch.net.
If you have any other questions about what we talked about today, maybe about SERP features or rich features or any of the other things that you’re seeing within the Google search results, please comment below. We’d love to continue this conversation with you. Don’t forget to subscribe and until next time, happy marketing.