Quick Reference Guide to Common Google SERP Features

A library catalog organizes categories much like a Google search engine results page.

The Google search engine results page (SERP) is ever-evolving. Not only does Google aim to improve the SERP with new features each year, but also every search query presents a new SERP with varying features to rank for.

So getting to know the most common SERP features is a good starting point on your journey for optimizing for them.

In this article, let’s discuss:

What Are SERP Features?

A SERP feature is a type of result shown on a search engine results page (SERP) that falls outside of the traditional organic search results (i.e., the blue links).

A Google search engine results page displays features outside traditional results.

Why Are SERP Features Important?

SERP features offer different ways for search engine users to discover information and for website publishers and brands to show up on the SERP.

Optimizing for the different SERP features should be a part of any SEO strategy. It starts with understanding what SERP features that show up for your target keywords, then creating content or structuring information in a way that allows you to compete for a spot in those SERP features.

Of course, not all SERP features are going to give you the opportunity to rank. Some SERP features provide answers to queries without the user ever having to leave the SERP. A direct answer is a good example of this — more on that later.

While SERP features vary based on the query, it’s also interesting to see the big picture, like what search features are most prominent on average.

Google SERP features per Searchmetrics for April 2021.
Image credit: Searchmetrics

Learn more:

Types of SERP Features in Alphabetical Order

As you read through this list of common SERP features, remember that you can optimize for some things, and others Google automatically generates.

Ads

Ads are paid placements on the search results page that can show up when you have a Google Ads account. Ads can show up above or below the other search results on a SERP, or on the side. Ads show up in different forms: text ads or Google Shopping ads. Read more about advertising here.

Ads Example

A Google SERP displaying cat food ads.

Carousels

A carousel is a type of result appearing on the SERP that displays a visual list or gallery of results. Clicking on an individual item in the gallery starts a new search for that item. Carousels can show up for any number of search queries. Common search queries are on films, recipes, music albums, etc.

Carousel Example

A Google SERP displaying carousel of Jennifer Aniston films.

Featured Snippet

Also referred to as “position zero,” a featured snippet is a snippet of information pulled from a third-party webpage (like yours) that appears at the top of the search results above all organic results but often below paid ads. Sometimes, more than one featured snippet appears for a query.

Featured Snippet Example

A Google SERP displaying featured snippet of information pulled from a third-party website.

Images Carousel

An image carousel is a row or gallery of images related to the search query. Clicking on an image brings you to the Google Images search vertical to explore more images related to the search.

Images Example

Google SERP displaying images for cute kittens.

Knowledge Card

A knowledge card is another way Google answers queries — and these answers are typically considered common knowledge. As such, Google relies on multiple sources to pull this information (like data agreements with third parties) but not third-party websites (like yours).

Knowledge cards can display in many different forms. For example, a direct answer is a form of a knowledge card and a direct answer comes in many different forms, whether it’s showing the weather, offering up a conversion calculator, showing the nutritional value of a food, offering a dictionary definition or something else.

Knowledge Card Example 1

Google SERP shows a knowledge card for the query "what is 2+2."

Knowledge Card Example 2

A Google knowledge card example of the query "how many calories in a bottle of red wine."

Knowledge Panel

The Knowledge Panel extracts semantic data from many sources to offer information about a search query, including Wikipedia information, images, business information and more. The Knowledge Panel is a Google Knowledge Graph feature and typically displays at the top or the side of the SERP, depending on the device you use.

Knowledge Panel Example

A Google SERP knowledge panel of Bruce Clay Inc.

Local Pack

The local pack shows up as a map with local business results (including basic information about the businesses) listed below. The local pack appears when a search query has a local intent and at the top of the SERP. For more, see: Checklist for Local SEO.

Local Pack Example

Google local pack example displaying local results for Italian restaurants in Simi Valley, California.

Local Teaser

A local teaser is focused on local business just like the local pack but for hotels and restaurants predominantly. It differs from the local pack in that it doesn’t include a direct link to the company website.

Local Teaser Example

Local teaser example showing results for hotels in Simi Valley, California.

News

Google features relevant and timely news articles from news publishers in the SERP as related to a query. News articles are featured often in a “top stories” carousel pulled from the search vertical Google News and other sources. To learn more, see: Your Guide to Google News SEO

News Example

News snippet example showing results for spring break.

Related Questions / People Also Ask

The “people also ask” section presents a list of common queries related to the original search query. Search engine users can expand the questions featured in the box to see a snippet of information that is pulled from a third-party webpage to answer the query.

This section is dynamic in that toggling the answer to a specific question in the box prompts new questions and answer snippets to render.

Related Questions Example

Related questions section presents list of common queries related to the query "how to make homemade fettuccini."

Related Searches

At the end of the SERP, there is a “related searches” section where Google presents searches related to the original query. Clicking on a related search option will start a new search.

Related Search Example

Related search results section for the query "how to make homemade fettuccine."

Tweets

Google often displays tweets on the SERPs related to the search query, often for brands or people but also for trending topics. Selecting the tweet from the SERP opens up the featured tweet on Twitter; selecting the featured account name opens the account page on Twitter.

Twitter Results Example

Twitter results displayed for the query "Matthew McConaughey."

Videos

Video thumbnails show up for certain queries — some more than others. For example, “how to”-type searches often surface video content. For the most part, all videos are from YouTube (owned by Google). For more, check out our article on YouTube SEO.

Video Results Example

Video results for the query "how to change a car battery."

Can You Optimize for SERP Features?

Yes, there are a great many ways to optimize for these common SERP features (and other SERP features not listed in this article). As mentioned earlier, some you can optimize your webpages for and others are automatically generated by Google.

In this help file, Google shares all the ways you can enable search result features for your website. That is a good place to start, but it only scratches the surface of how you can optimize for the entire SERP using SEO.

Request a free consultation with us if you’d like to discuss how we can help optimize your website.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay, Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn and other social networks from Bruce's author page.
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2 Replies to “Quick Reference Guide to Common Google SERP Features”

Thank you for sharing these tips – I will make sure to utilize all of them!

Things have come a long way past the 10 blue links… thanks for posting this info :-)

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