Must Know Google SERP Features to Help Create Feature-Worthy Content
When it comes to producing great content the aim is always to rank on Google. Yes, you need to create content that engages your reader and that should be your first aim. However, if you can’t rank it then it will never be seen. This is where SERP features can help you.
The thing is that Google has changed over recent years. In fact, Google is an ever-evolving beast and so staying abreast of updates is key. We are now in a time when ranking number 1 on Google is hard work. Without the right strategy, you are facing a losing battle from the start. What is perhaps hard to stomach is that even if you do hit number one, there is still a chance that you will be upstaged.
SERPs are one of those Google special features that can see your number one ranking content not even appearing at the top of the results. We’ve long accepted that Google ads will appear at the top, but it appears that there is now number 0 that comes before number one. To make sure that you are getting seen, you need to know how this works and you need to understand the content that will get you there.
What does SERP stand for?
First things first. Before we go too deeply into explaining all about SERPs and creating feature worthy content, it is worth making sure that you know the answer to the question “What does SERP stand for?”. SERP stands for search engine results page. What determines what appears on a SERP is the keyword that a user searches for. With keyword targeting, you can increase your chances of showing up in the results.
SERP doesn’t just include organic content. Yes, if you have got the quality of your content right, and if you have explored your backlinking strategy, then in time you will start to show up in results. Alongside your content though, you will also find that there are paid-for ads, YouTube videos, and SERP features.
With your content strategy, you need to ensure that your SERP results are great. If you don’t want to go down the line of paying for ads, then your next best bet is to aim for SERP features. Outranking number one on Google is a heck of an achievement, but it can be done.
What are the SERP features?
As we have seen, search results will bring organic results as well as paid for ads. Alongside these (although usually above!) you will find the SERP features. Some of the most common include:
- Featured snippets
- Related questions
- Knowledge cards
- Rich snippets
- Local packs
We’re going to take a look at each of these Google special features in turn so we can see exactly what they are as well as considering how you can claim these spots.
A featured snippet is likely to be one of the SERP features that you are already aware of. When you enter a search query into Google, featured snippets are what appear at the very top of the page. You will see that these show text that has been pulled from a website and that the same website will usually also show up in the organic results.
Research has shown that appearing in featured snippets is perhaps more beneficial than you’d think. As SERP features go, this one sees you stealing away over 8% of clicks from the number one ranking organic search result.
How to rank for featured snippets
This SERP feature usually relates to specific questions. Think of things such as “How far away is the sun?” or “How big is the moon?”. This means that if you want your content to rank here, you need to be producing it with definitive answers.
To help you do this, top tips include:
- Researching long-tail keywords that are phrased as questions
- Make sure that these questions appear in your content followed by your answer
- Keep your content informative and ensure that it is accurate
- Use headers and bolding to highlight the key parts of your content that you want Google to see
This Google special feature is self-explanatory in terms of what it is and there is little doubt that you will have come across these numerous times. As you type a query into Google, you will see your results appear. As well as these you will also see a section that says “People also ask”.
Google pack a punch when it comes to its power and intelligence. From your initial query, it is able to cross-reference with other queries and realise that one is extremely relevant to another. Often this feature can bring up results that are more helpful than your initial query.
How to rank for related questions
If you are wanting to produce content that ranks for the related questions SERP feature then it is worth taking a look at what is already out there. You will notice that all of these types of results have something in common – they’re all around 30 words long.
So, if you want to rank for this feature you need to be creating content that is 30 words long and addresses the biggest questions that your readers are likely to have about your topic. The key here is to ensure that these 30 words are included early on in your piece.
This is perhaps one of the older Google special features around as knowledge graphs first appeared in 2012. It has certainly become more popular, and hence more visible, from 2018 onwards. When you enter a search query, it is the knowledge card that gives you high-level information.
A way that this can work for you is if someone searched your brand name. What you would want is for a knowledge card to show that showed relevant photos, perhaps your social media presence, and links to your website. Large companies/celebs will often have Wikipedia entries showing here too.
How to appear in knowledge cards
Knowledge cards are a little different to other SERP features as it is not about trying to rank as such. They are more about letting Google know all about your business and ensuring that it has all of the information that it needs. To get yourself appearing in results, these are the steps that can help:
- Claim your Google My Business listing
- Carry out a search for your business name and if a knowledge card appears click to claim
- Once you have claimed this you can just follow the instructions
- Adding schema.org to your site can help Google to find all of the information that it needs
Part of the Google pack of SERP features also includes rich snippets. These are different to the featured snippets that we have already looked at. One thing that you’ll notice with rich snippets is that they look remarkably like organic search results. The difference is that they contain a lot more information.
You will see rich snippets come with extra details such as star reviews, details of recipes, products, music, events, and even videos. The extra information given means that users are drawn to these results as they can see a great deal without even clicking initially.
How to appear with rich snippets
To get your content showing with rich snippets the best thing to do is ensure that you are using structured data markup. By doing this you are giving Google a helping hand and showing it where the key information is on your site and within your content.
Structure data markup can be added to your site by using HTML coding. If that is something that seems a little too confusing, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can easily find a plugin that will do the job just as effectively.
The Google pack of features allows internet users to leave reviews for businesses that they have used. When someone enters a search query, you will see results appear that show ratings out of 5 stars. The star rating shown is an average taken from all of the reviews that have been given.
The reason reviews are so important is that people trust them. If a search query brings up your business along with a 5-star rating, there is a could chance that someone is going to go ahead and click on your link. Research has shown that 5-star reviews bring a higher click-through rate.
How to show for reviews
If you want to show up for this SERP feature, then you need to make are that your content can be reviewed. Part of this is ensuring that your site has the right markup. You can find more information about this by clicking here.
It is worth noting that Google monitor reviews. It is not in your best interests to have reviews written by your family or, even worse, by a company that you pay. Natural, genuine reviews are the ones that will bring you the benefits whereas fraudulent ones will see your site being punished.
If you have a business that is focused on a particular locality then local packs are one of the SERP features that you should be looking into. In fact, we would go as far as saying that local packs are vital to the success of a local business.
You will find that these Google special features appear when the search query includes a place name. It could be that someone searches “Decorators London” or “Car mechanic Leeds”. The local pack feature will display local businesses below a map in the search results.
How to rank when it comes to local packs
To aim to rank in local packs you need to:
- Get listed in Google My Business
- Optimise that listing
- Optimise your site for local search
- Keep your details up to date and monitor any reviews
Videos and images
Videos and images are SERP features that bring website owners some great results. You will see that Video SERPS appear amongst organic results. It could be that users see a large image leading to a video or it could be that thumbnails are displayed. The videos shown often link to a YouTube channel but they can also be videos that are embedded in your own site.
Images are shown in results when Google thinks that they will enhance the user experience. When these are clicked on the user is sent to the images search tab. From here they can then click and visit your site. Images matter more and more in search results.
How to rank for videos and images
If you want to rank for videos and images then it is all about optimisation. It is about creating great titles that are keyword rich and extremely relevant to the search query. When it comes to images, you need to ensure that you are using the best possible descriptions and that you are giving thought to the alt text that is being used.
SERPS features takeaways
The truth is that SERPs features certainly matter when it comes to getting your content seen and increasing your visibility, but they shouldn’t become your main aim. If you are producing well written and useful content then you are naturally going to rank. Of course, keyword research is key and you need to make sure that you are chasing the keywords that you have a chance of ranking for.
Although we have seen that the likes of featured snippets steal away a significant amount of traffic, the most traffic still comes by ranking first in the organic results. Focus on your content first and aim for the top here.
It is also important to make sure that you are keeping up to date with the changes that Google introduces. Whether it is an update to the algorithm for organic search results or developments in SERP features, you need to make sure that you know just what Google is looking for so that you don’t lose your position.