In this article, we will cover the list of SERP features that are considered the most popular right now, show you how they work and how you may benefit from them.
What is a SERP feature?
First, let us define what a SERP is.
A SERP is a Search Engine Results Page. In SEO, the SERP is identified by its “keyword,” or the query that generated the results. The contents of a SERP can consist of organic results, paid results, and SERP features.
For example, the SERP for “donald glover” looks like this:
An example of a Google SERP
On the SERP pictured here, we can see both organic results and SERP features (People also ask, Videos, Sitelinks, and the Knowledge Panel).
The difference between organic results and rich results on Google's SERP
Now, let us dig a little deeper into the SERP features meaning. It is important to point out that the term “SERP feature” is unofficial. Google itself names these types of query results "search result features" or "rich results".
At the same time, Google may apply different terms that actually mean the same to specific search result features. Sometimes it may cause confusion.
Quick tip: you can test if your page supports rich results here.
Bearing this in mind, let’s define a SERP feature as any additional element on a SERP that adds something new to the typical format of a results page with only blue search result links and descriptions.
Google continues to test and improve these special features to provide a more user-friendly experience on its search engine.
In this post, we will be using the term “SERP feature” instead of “search result feature” or "rich results" since it is more widespread.
What are the most common SERP Features?
Here are the most common SERP Features you may see on Google:
- Featured Snippet (Instant Answer)
- Local Pack
- Top Stories
- Knowledge Panel
- People Also Ask (Related Questions)
- Google Flights Block
- Hotel Pack
- Job Listings
Featured Snippet (Instant Answer)
Different search queries and Feature Snippet results
Featured Snippets appear near the top of the organic results and are designed to give specific answers to search queries that may or may not include exact questions or user intent. Google Featured Snippets may link to the domain containing the text/answer/image related to the search query.
A weather widget on Google SERPThis feature is common for queries about personalities, events, scientific facts, sports, conversions, calculations, color picking, etc. Sometimes it may pop up in the form of a widget - for example, if your search query says “weather” or “convert in to cm”.
Google Local Pack search resultsA Local Pack shows up in SERPs when a query includes local service, local intent, or includes a geographical name like “coffee shop near me,” “best pizza nearby”, etc, and will include results close to your current location.
A less specific query like “coffee shop” or “coffee shop in ny” will provide you a local pack with a broader map radius.
On a SERP page, Google Local Pack usually consists of a map with locations’ pins, a 5-star rating scale for each location, and three search results, some of which can be ads. The Local Pack sits at the top of a SERP under the AdWords results, although occasionally it may slide below the organic links. Clicking on a Local Pack will take you to a map with a longer list of businesses to explore.
A click on an icon of a business will provide you with more detailed information about the place, including working hours, phone numbers, pictures, Q&A, popular times, and most importantly - reviews.
Mind that 60% of smartphone users have contacted a business directly using the search results (e.g., “click to call” option). Also, a large volume of voice search queries consists of “near me” questions, adding to the popularity of this feature as voice search grows more common.
This makes Local Pack a very strong marketing tool for attracting customers. We recommend learning not only top-level tips on improving your local SEO presence but to get hands-on Google My Business since much of the data used in Local Packs search results are taken from there. Running your GMB profile will let you take control of this data.
It’s important to note that rankings in Local Packs are determined from a different algorithm than rankings in organic search. Local Pack SEO, therefore, requires a different approach. Along with standard SEO tactics (mobile-friendliness, page speed optimization, UX, etc.), you should also focus on creating and optimizing your Google My Business account, as well as getting into local listings.
You can learn more about the Local Pack algorithm and how to improve local rankings from Google’s official guide.
Goole Reviews SERP features
Reviews (or, officially, Review snippet) complement ordinary search results with a rating (yellow stars) and an image.
You may be able to get this feature provided that your content can be reviewed by the users and it has the right markup.
Seeing a rating out of 5 stars is a universal symbol, so it can communicate value to all kinds of searchers.
Studies have shown that search results with reviews can yield a higher average CTR.
Pay attention that Google checks the credibility of the reviews and whether or not reviews are deemed “self-serving” or appropriate for the webpage.
Sitelinks SERP feature
This feature enhances a basic organic search result by adding extra links to areas of the same site under the description. Usually, it appears for websites whose navigation system is easy to understand by Google.
In addition to the extra links, your website can get a Sitelinks Search Box. You can power it by your website’s internal search engine if you implement the structured data correctly.
Video SERP feature
A video SERP feature related to a search query appears on a SERP among organic results. The feature includes the following components:
This SERP feature may link to a video hosting platform like YouTube or a webpage with embedded video.
Highlighted SERP feature
A Featured Video is another type of video SERP feature. It has a thumbnail and there can be only one Featured Video per SERP, appearing at the top of it.
Go here for more information on how to make your videos found by Google.
Google Top Stories SERP Feature at the top of a SERP
The Top Stories block is a group of thumbnails linked to the news articles, with time stamps and the name of the publisher indicated. Top Stories may appear in the following forms on SERPs:
Google Top Stories SERP Feature in the middle of a SERP
Images SERP Feature
Just like with the Video SERP feature, Image Packs appear when Google thinks that visual content will serve for a more comprehensive results page. Image results may appear as a row or block of related images among organic results. Clicking on a result will take you to the “Images” search tab, and only from there can you get to the website hosting the image. In order to get the most out of image search results, you should learn more about image search optimization.
Twitter SERP feature
A couple of years back Google partnered with Twitter, and started to index tweets and show them in the SERPs. Twitter search results usually favor the most recent and trending tweets related to a query. They can pop up anywhere on the SERP, but usually, appear after a few organic results. Also, the results can be shown tweets from both verified and unverified accounts.
If Google knows about an account that may be valuable to the searcher, it may display a special Twitter block. It has a link to the Twitter profile and some of the user's most recently published tweets.
The Knowledge Panel is a feature that provides an extensive block of information that answers a specific question about a public figure or entity.
Knowledge Panel is powered by the Knowledge Graph – Google’s database that gathers general factual information from sources such as the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia.
Usually, it sits at the top right corner of a SERP on desktop results and at the top on mobile devices. It includes a short description (sometimes with a link to the source) and a variety of information relevant to the topic.
FAQ SERP feature
FAQ drop down lists show up under organic results for queries that are asking questions or include “FAQ” directly. In order for your page’s result to include this feature, the content needs to be marked up with FAQ Schema.
People Also Ask (Related Questions)
People also ask SERP feature
This feature usually starts with a list of four questions. It can expand and provide short answers that look like a Featured Snippet.
More questions can be added to the bottom of the list when you open a question. Related questions may show up anywhere on a SERP, but they usually stay at the top, often under the Featured Snippet. Clicking on a result of a related question will take you to the website that provided the answer.
Google Flights Block
Google Flights SERP feature
This block takes information from Google Flights and presents a table of options that you can filter and sort through directly on SERPs for flight-related queries. Both organic and paid listings from flight companies are eligible to show in this pack.
Hotel Pack SERP feature
This block displays hotel listings directly on the SERP in a map pack similar to the local pack. This pack, however, features hotels only, and the placements are paid for by hotels and advertisers through Google Hotel Ads. This feature is paid and managed through the Google Hotel Ads system.
Job Listings SERP feature
Google lists a table of job postings that it aggregates from career websites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn and company websites with open listings. You can get the listings from your site onto this special block by using the Job Posting schema markup.
Technically, one may consider that advertising is the first Google’s SERP feature, and historically it was the first deviation from the ordinary blue links.
Previously known as AdWords, the Google Ads block is not technically a SERP feature in the same sense as the ones listed above because this space comes with a price tag.
The listings here are PPC (pay-per-click) placements, indicated by the bold “Ad” label, that vary in price depending on the search volume or competition of the keyword that the ad is targeting.
If a results page is overwhelmed with features or competitive organic results, you can create a Google Ads campaign to increase your probability of being noticed on the SERP.
Shopping Ads (Product Listing Ads)
Shopping Ads is another paid space on the SERP, containing Google Shopping ads designed to sell products directly. This block shows up for queries that include product names. Thus, the type of ad may have the following attributes:
Those are just some of the most common SERP features that you may run into as a digital marketer.
Be aware that Google is going to keep testing out new formats and types of SERP Features as the company strives to continually improve the experience of their results pages.
Part of being a good SEO is always keeping an eye on the newest features of the SERPs and learning how they may have a positive or negative impact on certain websites.
Is there a SERP feature you’ve seen before that was not covered in this article? Let us know in the comments!