However, keeping up with the latest changes to search engine ranking criteria is challenging, especially when Google changes every. single. day.
Most importantly, Google’s ten blue links don’t drive as much organic traffic as they used to because of new SERP features.
So if you want to win the top spot in the search results, you need to fully understand how SERP displays results.
This article will give you a solid understanding of the many Google SERP features in play in 2022.
What is the SERP?
A Search Engine Results Page (SERP) appears after a user submits a search query through a search engine. SERPs display links to websites that the respective search engine’s algorithm deems most relevant to a given search query. In addition to organic results which are traditionally displayed as links, SERP features also appear regularly on the page.
Below is an example of a Google SERP:
The term SERP isn’t unique to any specific search engine — Google, Bing, and Yahoo all serve SERPs to users.
Why is it important?
When talking about SERPs, we emphasize more on Google SEO. Why? Because Google is the most widely used search engine in the world.
And when it comes to the mobile search market in the United States, Google leads again with a massive 93% market share.
But that’s not all. Google’s dominance is even more prevalent in many other huge markets, where market Google’s market share is more like 87% to 89%.
What is the purpose of SERP in a Digital Marketing Strategy?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of achieving a high ranking in the SERPs without paid methods (like Google Ads).
With content marketing, you create content to rank well for a specific keyword, giving them a higher position and maximum exposure in the SERP. You could also build a backlink profile with websites that have high domain authority. Try to get websites that Google trusts to link to the content on your website. This will improve your domain authority and SERP rankings.
Plus, high-ranking organic content will usually maintain its position in the SERPs for a long time as compared to paid methods. Basically, it’s a more sustainable and durable marketing channel.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is the process of acquiring traffic from search engines through paid listings and ads. Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) is one of the most common SEM channels. These paid listings appear on Google above and below organic search results, and sometimes at the side.
Each paid listing is driven by targeted keywords, and each click on each ad is charged — hence the name Pay-Per-Click, or PPC.
Despite not having the staying power that organic listings have, paid results do come with their own benefits.
First off, Return On Investment (ROI) is delivered a lot quicker.
A well-targeted Google Ads campaign can help your website climb straight to the top of the SERPs and expose your business to more customers.
What’s interesting is that although paid results aren’t likely to see click-through rates (CTR) as high as organic listings, Google PPC ads see an average of 2% CTR, and those who do click are often closer to converting.
Additionally, paid results also come with a suite of analytics that provides a clear path to higher CTRs and conversions. This knowledge is critical to optimizing your SEO efforts.
That’s why the best to rank at the top of the SERP is to utilize both SEO and SEM.
Features of SERP
These days, each SERP is unique. Each result displayed is personalized for each user. This is why you will sometimes notice different search results when searching on other devices or from a new location.
Rich answers (also known as answer boxes, quick answers, or direct answers) are often displayed in the SERPs for simple questions such as “Who built the Eiffel Tower?”
Google doesn’t provide credit to the sources of rich answers because according to them, the information is part of the public domain.
A rich result (earlier known as rich snippets) looks similar to a normal Google SERP listing. The difference is that it contains more information than the standard title, meta description, and URL.
The additional information is usually customer ratings, prices, or additional links.
Website operators can add structured data markup like Schema.org in order to optimize their content for Google’s rich results.
Rich Card (Mobile)
Rich Cards are the mobile-first version of rich results. Most Google searches happen on mobile devices, so it’s essential to have a mobile-first strategy.
Knowledge Cards work similarly to Rich Cards, except these are based on specific data, such as statistics.
Knowledge Graphs are shown above organic results or on the right-hand sidebar. They usually include images, facts, maps, and related search topics. This SERP feature is usually shown for queries about certain topics, places, or people.
To create Knowledge Graphs, Google pulls information from their own data from services like Google Maps, as well as external sources like Wikipedia.
Knowledge panels look almost exactly like Knowledge Graphs, except Google will only pull information from Google Maps or My Business listings. That’s why knowledge panels are shown for queries about brands, businesses, or organizations.
Knowledge panels tend to include images, facts, social media links, and related searches.
This is a SERP feature with a map and a list of three local businesses as rich results. Local 3-packs are generally shown for queries about nearby businesses or organizations.
Users searching for local businesses often have high commercial intent. So gaining a position in a local 3-pack can do wonders for bringing in new customers.
Remember that this SERP feature is only available to businesses with brick-and-mortar locations. If you’re an online-only dropshipping business, it won’t be available to you.
This SERP feature is shown for any search query that specifically refers to images, or would benefit more from visual results. Nearly 26% of Google SERPs show images, and it grows day by day.
Unfortunately for businesses, when a user clicks on an image, they’re taken to Google Images and not the website that the image is from.
This also works in your favor for Google Image searches; when a user clicks on an image, they are taken to your site.
Google SERPs will sometimes display a carousel of three YouTube videos, like in the image below.
This SERP feature gives you an expanded group of links from a specific domain. Sitelinks are generally shown when users search for a particular organization or website. Google aims to allow users to navigate directly to the website page they’re looking for.
In the above image, Low Cost Web Agency is our website while the other links are expanded links within the website.
Vertical search appears at the top of the page when Google needs to pull information from many different categories like images, videos, or news. This SERP feature is usually shown for queries about topics or locations.
People Also Ask
“People also ask” boxes display related questions to help users further explore a topic. They’re very common and typically shown for a search query that is a direct question.
This SERP feature is simply a carousel of the three most trending tweets from a Twitter account. These tweets can include images and links. Users can even scroll to the right to see more tweets from the account.
This SERP feature shows breaking news or trending stories in relation to a search query. Google includes 3 top stories in the feature, and each contains a headline, image, source link, and the time the story was published. Earlier, this feature used to be known as “In the news”.
Google’s Featured Snippets are one of the best ways for businesses to gain exposure in SERPs organically — and because of this, they’re commonly referred to as “position 0.”
According to Ahrefs, 99.58% of featured snippets are pulled from pages that are already ranked in the top ten positions in the SERPs. So businesses must already rank highly in the SERP in order to stand a chance at achieving position 0.
Here are the 5 main types of featured snippets:
- Paragraph Featured Snippets
- Numbered List Featured Snippets
- Bulleted List Featured Snippets
- Table Featured Snippets
- YouTube Featured Snippets
To create paragraph-featured snippets, Google pulls text and even an image from a page in order to answer the searcher’s question directly within the SERP.
This is the most popular type of featured snippet and they are usually shown for questions that begin with “how to,” “what is,” or “why is.”
These are scientific or research-based articles that show up in their own dedicated section on Google SERPs.
Google pulls these sources from its own Google Scholar search function. Science/research journals and other similar articles will feature in this section.
Scroll to the bottom of the SERP and you will see related search suggestions. These are Google’s recommendations based on the user’s original query — maybe they scrolled to the bottom and didn’t find what they’re looking for, so Google offers suggestions for related search queries.
Related searches are presented in various ways. As search text all the way at the bottom:
And as image carousels, you can scroll through them. These are typically directly above the text-based related searches or scattered throughout the SERP.
Now that we’ve covered all of the main organic SERP features, let’s take a look at the two types of paid Google SERP features in 2021.
Google Ads (formerly AdWords)
These are advertisements created with Google Ads, and businesses can use them to target specific keywords. They look almost identical to regular listings but also include a little “Ad” badge before the URL.
The four most sought-after ad positions are above the organic results at the top of the SERPs.
But Google also presents paid listings below organic results at the bottom of the page. Typically, these have lower click-through rates and hence, are less expensive to purchase.
Google Shopping is the second paid SERP feature. These are returned for queries that are closely related to products, and these users generally have high commercial intent.
Paid shopping results consist of multiple product listings. Each listing will often contain the product’s title, image, seller’s name, and customer ratings.
At times, Google will show shopping results in the right-hand sidebar alongside other SERP features and organic results.
Google has even introduced popular product carousels on SERPs, which give a list of thumbnails and star ratings for related products.
That is the end of our guide to Google’s SERPs in 2022! Now you should know what SERPs, SEO, and SEM are, as well as the various Google SERP features available.
Remember that there are 2 approaches to SERP marketing:
- Organic: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Paid: Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
The best SERP marketing strategies use them both together to maximize traffic.