Google SERP features: What are they and why are they important?

Stay up-to-date on the latest SERP features that can make or break your SEO strategy. With changes and updates rolling out on a daily basis, it’s imperative to remain ahead of the competition.

What are SERPs?

SERP is an acronym for search engine results page, or the results that a user gets when inputting a query (keyword or phrase) into Google, Bing, or any type of search engine.

Here is an example of a SERP: 

SERPs include both paid and organic results – paid results typically being placed at the top of the page with organic results following them. Additionally, SERPs include a multitude of features that help users find the information they’re looking for. 

What are organic search results?

Organic search focuses on the concept that the higher a search result is shown in SERPs, the more likely users will click on it. 

In any organic strategy, the ultimate goal is to rank first in on the SERPs for any target keyword. There are a variety of strategies that can be used to accomplish this, but they must be aligned with Google’s ranking factors

What are paid search results?

Paid search involves bidding on keywords that are relevant to a business. The goal in any paid search strategy is to secure ad placements at the top of the SERPs and drive clicks to your site. 

What are SERP features?

SERP features are additional types of results served to users in response to a query. These additional features can appear in different areas on the SERP and should be considered when formulating a search engine optimization (SEO) or paid media strategy. 

SERP features are usually prioritized by Google because they push the most relevant information to users. At Croud, we take advantage of all optimization opportunities so our clients can perform their best. 

In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at each type of organic and paid SERP feature.

Organic SERP features

1. Featured snippets

Featured snippets are located at the top of Google SERPs (also known as ‘position zero’) where Google displays a snippet of content from a high-ranking organic result. Usually, this is shown in a question and answer format – so, when a user types a query into Google, the featured snippet provides a quick answer. Featured snippets are displayed above all search results and are considered highly valuable.

2. People also ask

The People also ask feature shows a list of questions that have been generated by Google’s algorithm to be closely related to the original search query. This gives users additional information in the form of FAQs (frequently asked questions).

3. Image pack

The Image pack feature displays images selected by Google for a specific search query. This feature usually appears when a query is identified to have visual intent and provides users with a selection of images that, when selected, brings users to the images tab of Google. 

4. Video carousel

Video carousels are similar to the image pack feature in that they are a set of video results or snippets that appear in organic search results. These videos feature a video thumbnail, title, description, and usually link to a YouTube video. Video carousels only appear if a site has embedded video content and it’s considered relevant content to a search.

5. Local map pack

A local map pack will appear when Google recognizes that a query has local intent. This can occur when a user enters a query with a specific location or if Google recognizes that a user’s search can be found nearby. A local pack includes a map with pins indicating the top three physical locations that Google deems relevant to a query, along with hours, reviews, contact information, and other relevant information. 

6. Knowledge panels

Knowledge panels usually include facts, images, social media links, and other relevant information related to a search query. Knowledge panels appear on the right side of organic results with information about businesses, brands, organizations, people, and places. Google aggregates information from multiple sources into a knowledge panel to provide users with a high-level overview.

7. Rich snippets

Rich snippets are a specific feature that adds star reviews or photos to search results, in addition to traditional search result information like page title, meta description, and URL. 

8. Sitelinks

Sitelinks are additional links to different pages on a specific website nested under a search result’s main URL and description. Google identifies pages on a site with the most traffic, best quality, and most relevancy to a query, and selects them to appear in sitelinks. 

9. Popular products and organic shopping listings

Popular products is an organic display of Google shopping product listings. This feature appears in the middle of the SERP and contains products available to buy on Google shopping that are related to the user’s search query. This feature occupies a large amount of space on the SERP and receives good visibility. The popular product feature is Google’s way of pulling organic shopping listings into the SERP.

Keep in mind that organic Google shopping product listings contain aggregated data from many different companies and websites selling the same product.

Paid SERP features

1. Google text ads

Paid Google text ads require advertisers to pay or bid on keywords or queries that they would like their search result to show up for. All Google text ads include a badge at the top left hand corner of the result that indicates the result is an ad. 

2. Google shopping ads

Google shopping ads are a paid placement feature where a carousel of products that are relevant to a search query appear from a range of advertisers. Advertisers pay or bid on keywords or queries that they would like their shopping ad to show up for and this gives users the ability to quickly see important information about a product. 

3. Local inventory ads

Local inventory ads are an easy way to promote a physical store location’s inventory of goods and drive more foot traffic. Local inventory ads are paid promotions that boost inventory listings related to a specific query. This gives users the ability to see what products are available to them based on their location with badges like ‘In store’ and ‘Pick up today’. 

SERP features are becoming increasingly popular

Google has introduced SERP features as a way to make the search experience as easy as possible for users to find what they are looking for. It is essential to all SEO and paid strategies to incorporate optimizations that cater to SERP features and the ever-evolving landscape of SERPs. There are a handful of options available for search marketers to leverage, so it’s best to make sure you’re taking advantage of the opportunities these features have to offer.

If you’re looking to learn more about SERP features and how to incorporate them into your SEO strategy, please get in touch with our SEO team.

by Molly From
16 March 2023



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