SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a critical part of any website aiming to gain online traffic. But it is difficult to keep up with the current changes to the search engine.
Especially when new changes are introduced by Google every day!
Even, the 10 blue links from Google are not able to drive enough organic traffic as they used to bring.
It is because of the new SERP features.
SERP is the short form for Search Engine Results Page and has made the SERP game more complex for businesses.
And in order to win the top position in the search results page, you have to completely understand everything about SERP.
In this post, you will learn what SERP is, why it is so important, and a lot more details about it.
What is SERP?
SERP is the abbreviated name for the search engine results page. It is the search page that search engines showcase against the search query of a user.
SERP as a term is applicable to all search engines including Yahoo, Bing, Google, etc.
The Elements of SERP Listing:
Over the years, SERPs have evolved as the Google search engine began in 1996, but still, SERPs contain three core elements:
The title is around 70 characters long including spaces. It is bold, dark blue, and must stand out.
The description is the second element, which is extracted from the Meta description of a page. The description is displayed in dark grey color and comprises 2-3 lines of text of around 160 characters. The search query or keyword which the user enters into the search box is mainly bolded in the description.
Usually, SERP refers to the first page of Google search results because anything displayed after page 1 of the search results receives less.
Why SERP is Important for SEO?
The SERPs determine the way your website appears on the first page on Google.
For instance, you rank on top of your website on the first page of Google for a particular keyword.
This works great till you identify that SERP features push the page 1 results below.
This implies that even if you are able to rank on page 1, you are not going to gain numerous clicks.
Moreover, there is a vital factor to keep into consideration when you need to evaluate the SERPs. This is no-click searches.
The no-click searches mainly occur because of the SERP feature, for instance – Featured Snippets (direct answers).
For this reason, you always need to target keywords that don’t incorporate numerous SERP features. This way, your result can stand out and get clicked.
Important Factors That Contribute to SERP
There are multiple factors, which contribute to the content that is listed and prioritized first on Google’s SERP.
1. Domain Authority:
Websites with higher DA are given priority in the search algorithms. It is because search engines know that these websites are trustworthy and reliable.
2. Keyword Relevance:
The more keywords on your webpage are relevant to the user’s search query, the more likely it will be that the content will appear higher in the SERPs.
3. Physical Location of the User:
Users searching results for a specific location is not interested to see results for any other location. Hence, Google automatically takes the location into account. It is applicable for non-physical products as well.
4. Browsing History of the User:
What the user is searching for impacts the result they see. This occurs even when the result differences for the same query between separate users.
The Different Kinds of Searches Which Affect the SERP – Searcher Intent
There are different types of searches that affect SERP.
1. Informational Searches:
It is where users seek out information about a particular subject. One such example of such searches is ‘how to install a new lock in the door.’
Such searches offer a great opportunity to rank high even if you have a small business. It is because it offers a wide variety of topics and keywords that you can cover. Such searches are not as similar to have PPC campaigns placing regularly because there is a low searcher’s intent to buy from them.
2. Transactional Searches:
These are searches where users are searching for something to buy. An example of this search is ‘discounting on taxation software.’ Such signals high intent to buy.
PPC ads are likely to occur for such searches and these SERPs have intense competition.
3. Navigational Searches:
In this, the users try to search for a particular brand or website. Maybe they are not able to remember the correct URL, or they forgot the brand name.
In such a situation, PPC campaigns are shown if businesses target the traffic of competitors. But if you are the website that users are searching for, it can be complex to rank well for this search.
The SERP feature is a kind of listing on the search engine results page, which is not an organic result. Such features offer an enhanced experience to the searchers by customizing each SERP to showcase more detailed and relevant information.
Based on SERP features the search results are categorized and then listed.
Presently, the SERPs on Google is highly helpful, accurate, and relevant. Google is trying to reduce the amount of effort and time it takes users to identify what they are searching for.
Google is regularly changing SERP features and introducing new ones. It implies that presently there are numerous ways to get your business to the top of SERPs.
Presently, Google considers the following SERP features:
1. Rich Answer:
Also called as quick answers, direct answers, or answer boxes, they are usually displayed in the SERPs for simple queries such as ‘what is the current time in the USA?’ or ‘what is an electric motor?’
There is no credit provided by Google to source such answers. It is because Google considers that the information shared is part of the public domain.
2. Rich Card or Mobile:
Rich cards are the friendly version of mobile rich results. Most of the Google searches occur on mobile devices, so it is vital to have a mobile-first strategy.
3. Rich Results:
Previously they were called a rich snippet. Rich results are almost similar to a standard Google SERP listing. The only difference is that it contains more details as compared to the standard Meta description, URL, and title.
The additional details provided are usually prices, additional links or customer ratings. The operators of the website can even include structured data markup called Schema.org to optimize the content for rich results on Google.
4. Knowledge Graphs:
The Knowledge Graphs are showcased above the organic results or in the sidebar on the right-hand side. It usually includes facts, images, maps, and related search topics. The SERP feature is often used for queries about certain people, places, or topics.
For creating Knowledge Graphs, Google extracts information from its own data such as services like Google Maps. It also uses external sources like Wikipedia.
5. Knowledge Card:
It works similar to the Rich Cards, with an exception that they are based on particular data. For instance, if you search the Bozeman population, you will witness a Knowledge Card showcasing the answer including relevant details.
This feature is based on hard and specific data and hence it is quite tough to rank for such spots.
6. Knowledge Panel:
The Knowledge panel is almost similar to Knowledge Graphs. It has only one exception that Google pulls information from My Business Listings or Google Maps. Hence, Knowledge panels are displayed for queries about organizations, businesses, or brands.
Knowledge panels usually include facts, related searches, images, and social media links.
7. Image Packs:
It is a SERP feature that is showcased for any search query which particularly refers to images or any query that would benefit from the visual results. Around 25% of SERPs on Google, display images and this result continue to increase.
For businesses, when an image is clicked by the user, they are taken to Google images and not the site that the image belongs to.
The image pack is showcased in distinct ways. This feature works in favor of image searches on Google. According to Moz and Jumpshot, 26% of the searches on Google were for images. The only difference is that when the user clicks on a particular image, they are taken to the website.
8. Local 3-Pack:
This SERP feature contains a list and a map of three local businesses as the rich results. Usually, Local 3-packs are displayed for queries about nearby organizations or businesses.
Users looking for local businesses often possess high search intent. So scoring the position in a Local – 3 packs can be a great way to bring new customers.
This SERP feature is designed particularly for businesses with physical, brick and mortar locations. This SERP feature does not work for online companies.
Sometimes Google will also showcase a carousel of three YouTube videos. This can be displayed for search queries like ‘how to make a cake.’ The users can scroll to the related videos and click on their preferred results.
10. Vertical Search:
Such a search appears at the top of a page when Google is required to extract information from many distinct categories like videos, news, or images. This SERP feature is mainly displayed for queries that are related to specific locations or topics.
For example, when you search for ‘London,’ Google will show a vertical search that features ‘Top Things to do in London.’
This is another SERP feature that offers an expanded group of links from a particular domain. Usually, site links are displayed when a user searches for a particular website or organization.
The aim of Google is to enable users to navigate directly to the site page they are searching for.
12. People Also Ask:
The box for ‘People also ask’ contains related questions to help the users explore the topic. They are highly common and often showcased for a search query, which is a direct question.
Searches even ask for boxes featuring additional questions related to their search query. It offers them more details about the topic.
13. Top Stories:
This is another SERP feature that displays trending stories or breaking news related to a specific search query. Google always include the top three stories in this feature. Each story contains a source link, image, headline, and the date the story was published.
For this reason, this feature is also popularly known as ‘in the news.’ For example, if you search for a specific city or country, Google displays the top stories related to that city. Sometimes, the top stories may be displayed with or without images.
This SERP feature is a group of three most current tweets from a Twitter account. The results showcased can include links and images.
Users can scroll to the right in order to view additional tweets from that account.
15. Featured Snippets:
The Features snippets from Google are perhaps the finest way for businesses to gain exposure in the organic SERPs. Usually, they are referred to as ‘position 0.’
As per Ahrefs, 99% of featured snippets are extracted from the pages, which already rank in the top positions in SERPs. In order to win the position 0, it is extremely important for businesses to rank high in the SERPs.
Featured Snippets are of various types:
- Paragraph Featured Snippets – For designing paragraph featured snippets, Google extracts text and an image from a particular page in order to answer the queries of searchers directly in the SERPs.
- Numbered List Featured Snippets – In this, the search results are displayed in lists or number instructions.
- Bulleted List Featured Snippets – In this feature the details are listed in a bulleted form. They are usually displayed for unranked lists and the information is extracted from listicle articles.
- Table Featured Snippets – Sometimes, tables are displayed above SERP features that contain information like rankings and statistics.
- YouTube Featured Snippets – It is pulled from YouTube and mainly displays a particular clip from the video.
SERP is an important search engine page that lists the top 10 search results for a specific search query. In Google, SERPs contain both paid and organic results. If you wish to optimize the organic traffic for your website with relevant keywords, it is important to understand SERP features.