Guide to Google SERP Features - Ignite SEO Series Transcript
Rank Ranger’s Ignite SEO - Guide to SERP Features
Welcome to the first edition of our Ignite SEO series. I’m Mordy from Rank Ranger and I’ll be your host as we explore the wide world of Google’s SERP features. For those not familiar with the Ignite format… I have 15 seconds to get through each of the 20 visually enhanced "slides.” Which is fine, because I’m a New Yorker, and we talk fast.
SERP Features? Who Said Anything About SERP Features?
What is a Google SERP feature? Really long story short, SERP features are elements on the page that offer users a slew of additional information. Simply, they’re visual enhancements that offer you more, or more easily accessed, information related to either your query or the sites on the page. Bit confused? All in good time.
SERP Features - Boooooooorrrrrrinnnngggg
SERP features… who cares? Well, users care because SERP features often give them answers to questions without ever clicking on a website... how convenient. They also provide users with information… like is a site secure or not. They can even streamline accessing the information on a site…. Anything but boring!
And As for We, the Professionals?
This is a bit more complex… think about SERP features as the front page of the newspaper… or for sports fans, the back page. This is where you want to be… the big headline with the ginormous picture. SERP features, or at least the ones SEOs care the most about do that... except on the SERP. They place a site front and center, and make it more noticeable than others.
Not Made of the Same Stock
Not all SERP features were created equal. Some are more popular with users while others are vastly more important for SEOs. Some are even kind of insignificant (and Google removes such features from time to time). Please allow me highlight a few of the more relevant and all-around meaty features so you can see just what in the world it is that I’m talking about.
HTTPS - Better Safe than Sorry
Yep… that little "insee weensee" part the URL is a SERP feature. And you should care, because if somewhere on your site you’re asking someone to log in and enter a password, users might balk at the idea of doing so on an HTTP site… at least tech saavy users. My grandma would not… which is why we don’t let grandma use the computer anymore.
Ads - Less is More
Ads are important because money is important… who doesn’t love money right?
Like in real life money complicates things in the Google-verse. After all, if Google got too greedy and put ads here, there, and everywhere… well you the user wouldn’t like that very much… you might not use Google anymore... and Google wouldn’t like that very much. It’s a delicate balance between earning revenue while not shoving ads down your SERP.
Featured Snippets - The Hero in Zero
Imagine ranking above even above the top result via a box that contains not only a link to your site, but a snippet of info that makes you look as authoritative as Mick Jagger on what it means to live forever. Imagine this "0” ranking box that feed answers to Google Home… that’s a Featured Snippet. Want one? You and everyone else!
Related Questions - Popping the Question… a Lot of Them!
Related Questions (aka People Also Ask) are yes, questions related to the search you just did. Meaning they are the 5 year olds of the Google SERP….. An endless array of questions that literally keep going forever. However, unlike your 5 year old, these questions answer themselves in what is all but a Featured Snippet.
Local Packs - Near, Far, Wherever You Are
Local Packs are like that awful Celine Dion song.... With it you can see which pizza place is near... far... wherever you are. Local Packs list local businesses related to your query. I mean how relevant is a plumber who is 100 miles away when your 5 year old shoved an army of office supplies down the toilet? (If you haven’t guessed yet, I have a 5 year old at home… two of ‘em.)
Knowledge Panel - Google’s Very Own Wiseguy
Like a wise guy in the mafia, Google’s Knowledge Panel packs a powerful punch (just not the brass knuckles kind). The info in a Knowledge Panel is customized to fit the entity. A panel highlighting a department store corporation may tell you who the CEO is, while a local panel on a specific store may show how busy the store is right now... seriously.
SiteLinks - Cutting the Line!
SiteLinks are like instant gratification without getting something super cool. It’s better than it sounds. Have you ever been to those sites where you scour the menu to find the exact page you’re looking for? Of course you have. SiteLinks are kind of like Google’s way of avoiding that by displaying links to a site’s various landing pages on the SERP… so no more rummaging through the directory.
AMP - Off to the Races!
AMP is a project that is meant to make the mobile web faster and less clunky. Think of it like an upgrade from one of those boxy 1980’s robots to something a bit sleeker. Meant to do away with those hard to navigate mobile pages, AMP is a special way of setting up a page so that it loads about 4X faster. Hence the lighting bolt icon… fast as a flash.
Rich Cards - Rich, Filthy Rich!
Rich Cards are not rich in the way you’re estranged uncle Jasper might be… no, no, no, no! This mobile only carousel is rich with content such as images, reviews, and a slew of other tidbits that are sure to lure users to click on a given card.
Carousels - Round and Round We Go!
Carousels are to the SERP what shrimp was to Forest Gump. There are single row carousels with large images, row over row carousels with small images, AMP only carousels, mobile carousels that are not AMP…. It’s seriously enough to make your head spin.
Answer Boxes - King of the Content Castle
Ask Google a question, any question, and see how the amazing, the mystifying Wizard of Google provides you with the exact answer within a box that appears at the top of the page. Sounds great until you realize there is no link to a site, this is Google acting as content provider.
The Many Faces of Answer Boxes
There are way too many variations of Answer Boxes to list here.... Why? Well....
Ask Google what the weather in Timbaktu is… you’ll get a Weather Box… the price of Apple’s stock… Stock Box… how bad the Knicks lost last night… Sports Box… what time Uncle Harry’s flight gets in… Flight Box. I could go on… and on…
News Box - Google Goes All Katie Couric On Us
This just in.... It’s called News Box, but it’s not an Answer Box. Rather, it’s (usually) a series of articles within a carousel related to the topic that is your search query. FYI, mobile’s version increasingly only shows AMP optimized articles within the feature. How’s that for news Katie?!
Change Is in the Air
With SERP features, the only constant is change. Pay close enough attention and you’ll see Google conducting all sorts of tests… Local Packs with ads in them, ads labeled with every color on the rainbow, and what not… so it pays to keep up. (Plug, I publish a SERP news blog post each month that highlights many of these changes… I’m just saying.)
Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow
Sadly, we must say good-bye. I hope you have a better understanding of SERP features and why they are an important part of SEO.
And now a few goodies. Namely our free tools (for desktop and mobile) that track SERP feature trends, as well as our visual guide to Google’s SERP features.
Mordy is the CMO of Rank Ranger as well as the host of The In Search SEO Podcast. Despite his numerous and far-reaching marketing duties, Mordy still considers himself an SEO educator first and foremost. That's why you’ll find him regularly releasing all sorts of original SEO research and analysis!