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Google SERPs

SERP Features: Google SERP Features Explained

What are SERP Features?

SERP stands for search engine results page and describes pretty much exactly what you’d expect. It’s the page you see after entering in a search, or query, into a search engine like Google. This is something we all do multiple times a day, and we’ve each probably seen hundreds if not thousands of SERPs just in the last few years, but have you ever stopped to consider all the different features these pages have to offer?

SERP features are the elements that appear on the results page that are more than just the simple blue site links that most associate with SERPs. Some of the most common features are Knowledge Panels, Google My Business, and Featured snippets. These days, it’s very rare to find a Google SERP that doesn’t have any features – SEMRush data (source) shows that less than 3% of Google’s first page results do not have SERP features of any kind.

Considering how unlikely it is that your potential customers will encounter a SERP without any features, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them all and apply this knowledge to improve your SEO efforts. Here, we take a look at some of the most important and visible SERP features on Google.

Knowledge Panel

A knowledge panel is a SERP feature that displays information Google has on a person, company, historical event, and a variety of other entities. Google must be absolutely sure of who/what you are and what you do in order to show up as a knowledge panel.

Typically, the knowledge panel will link to a relevant Wikipedia page along with a variety of other information. For example, a knowledge panel for a celebrity may include their birth date and location, height, present and past spouses, children, and parents. The knowledge panel for a business will often include reviews, directions from Google maps, the businesses’ address, phone number, hours, and owner(s). Here’s what the knowledge panel for SocialSEO looks like:

SocialSEO's Knowledge Panel & GMB

Featured Snippets

Featured snippets highlight a specific portion of a webpage in a large box and present it inside of the result itself. A webpage has to be one of the highest-ranking pages for a specific query in order for it to be a featured snippet. They will normally appear as the highest organic listing on a page below ads, but Google has started mixing them in lower on the SERP. They are also sometimes referred to as an answer box or spot #0, but featured snippet is the most widely recognized and understood term by people in the industry. 

About 12.3% of searches have a featured snippet, and they have quite the significant impact on organic click through rate, getting about 8.6% of clicks, according to Ahrefs (source). Interestingly, the result directly below a featured snippet has a much higher click through rate – almost 20%.

People Also Ask

The People Also Ask feature in SERPs (often abbreviated to PAA) is a set of questions that relate to the search query, with additional details being revealed when a user clicks on any one of the questions in the box. When a question is clicked, more questions will also appear below. Interestingly, Google only takes web content exclusively from text in the paragraphs on a webpage for PAA results about half the time. The People Also Ask box is one of the most common dynamic SERP features and often appears below featured snippets.   

According to data from Semrush, 75% of PAA results appear within the top three results in Google’s SERP, and queries with question terms generate a PAA 86% of the time (source).

Top Stories

Top stories are a purely organic driven SERP feature and display a variety of news stories that relate to the search query. Also referred to as a news box, top stories pull from multiple sources – almost always a news agency or media outlet – that offer timely and useful stories covering specific events. Considering the top stories rarely feature links directly to a brand’s website and the brand needs sustained media coverage from several trusted media sources that appear in Google News in order to be featured, most SEO efforts do not bother trying to rank in top stories.

This just scratches the surface of all the different types of SERP features users can encounter on Google, and while brands can influence them to a certain extent, the complexities of each are better explained by an SEO expert that understands the hundreds of factors associated with each. Want to learn more about organic SERP features and leverage them to generate more traffic to your website? Contact us today!

SocialSEO Team