What are the best SERP features? (And how to rank for them)
SERP features, short for search engine results page features, are special results that appear for certain Google searches. Back in the day, every search listing looked the same. Now the results page is not only much more interesting to look at, but with the help of SERP features, we have access to a lot more relevant information to help us decide whether or not we want to click through.
While getting on the first page is a primary goal of an SEO strategy, the first position is highly coveted and rare to capture. SERP features are an additional chance and referred to as “position 0.” Just like position 1, these features require a combination of stellar search engine optimization strategy and high quality, supportive content.
There are currently 16 total SERP features. While they are all a major step up in the search game, here are a few top features to strive for and how to optimize your content to appear for them.
Knowledge Panel/ Knowledge Graph
In very few cases, you just need to do a couple of things correctly and there’s very limited competition to rank for the feature. That’s the case for the knowledge panel, which is unique to your brand or business. As long as you have a business website, are listed in directories, and offer enough information on your location and contact information, you’ll likely receive a knowledge panel when someone searches for your brand name.
Although the easiest SERP feature to rank for, this is one of the most powerful. It has great real estate and many actionable links. While you would probably want someone to access your website from this feature, they can also call you directly, get directions via Google Maps, order from your menu (if applicable), read your reviews, and many more.
The knowledge graph is similar, but less business-focused and more about factual information. Oftentimes, Wikipedia articles and other large knowledge bases take control of this feature. We all know Google is smart, but this is one of its smartest features. It focuses highly on searcher intent and is not just based on keywords like most other search results. The knowledge graph greatly supports voice search results.
Related Questions - People Also Ask
People Also Ask, or PAA, offers a unique opportunity to appear high up in the SERP. While it’s often at the top of the page, below the PPC placements and first result, if images or shopping cards appear then this unit can be pushed mid-page. Nonetheless, it’s great first-page real estate.
This feature is unique because many different pages can rank for this feature with the same keyword, it’s not limited to just one. It typically showcases four questions, but as the user opens each question to reveal the answer, more PAA results continue to appear.
PAA is essentially an “FAQs” unit. Each result within the PAA is an answer to a question, so the best way to rank for this feature is to answer a single question within your content. Take it a step further and actually title your page with a question – see how I titled this blog?
Another tactic is to use schema markup for FAQs on your website’s FAQ page. While it’s not guaranteed to work for PAA, this structured data increases the chances of rich data on your search result, which is visually similar to PAA, but specific to your page’s search result.
Related Questions - Quora
Oftentimes a Quora result will appear when a question is searched. While this might not seem like something you can optimize your content for because it’s not even your website, Quora is a search engine itself! Regularly prowl Quora for opportunities to respond and answer questions, and when you do answer questions, include a backlink to your relevant article or webpage. This is a great way to not only increase your referral traffic, but your response can also appear in the Google SERP.
The most seen SERP feature, and probably one of the most difficult to rank for, is the Featured Snippet. This feature appears in multiple different ways, such as an image, chart, metric, or pull quote. Because there is no single way this feature appears in the SERP, there’s no single way of optimizing your content to appear as a Featured Snippet. There’s a cumulation of many different tactics to attempt to get the sought-after Featured Snippet including:
- Optimize for page one
This one is obvious, that’s the entire point of getting a SERP feature. But it’s important to pick a primary keyword for each piece of content and work on getting that keyword to page one. If your content does not appear on page one for any search term, then there is no chance of appearing for a Featured Snippet.
- Seek out the competition
What does the current featured snippet for your target keyword look like? If it includes a large callout metric or stat, make sure you’re offering similar information in your content. If it’s a bulleted list, you should probably reorganize your content to appear in list format.
- Optimize your images, too
Featured Snippets often have images alongside some text, so prioritize optimizing those as tactfully you’re updating your copy. This article dives deep into responsive sizes, updating date published and modified, and other ways to optimize. You’ll also want to make sure not to forget to include your primary keyword within the alt text and file name.
- Choose only your best content
As you can probably tell by now, there’s a lot of optimization to be done to appear for any SERP feature, let alone a Featured Snippet. Not every piece of content has the fighting chance to appear for a Featured Snippet – and that’s okay! If you have an article defining the leading ingredient in your product, a .gov science blog might beat you out. And a web page all about your broad marketing service? There’s bigger fish out there that probably have that position 0 spot secured. Instead, optimize your unique pieces of content and the ones with achievable primary keywords.
SERP Features are by no means a new concept, but more tactics to achieve a position in one of them are being found all the time. Google is constantly updating and improving these “position 0” opportunities, which is why regular SEO maintenance is essential.