What Are SERP Features and Why Should I Care?

Mobile device displays Google search engine results page for the query 'analytics.'
The search engine results page (SERP) has come a long way since it featured just “10 blue links” way back when. Over the years, search engines like Google have created many features for users to interact with on Page 1.

And this is good news for website publishers, too. More features mean different opportunities and ways to rank — but it does make it more complicated for website publishers.

In this overview, I’ll tell you what SERP features are, why they are important to SEO and how to take the first steps in learning how to optimize for them.

And, by the way, you can count on the SERP changing soon. The features are seldom constant. And, in fact, they are seldom all used at the same time, responding to user behavior, location and history.

What Are SERP Features?

A SERP feature is a type of result shown on a search engine results page.

Most people know the “10 blue links” — those are the organic listings that have been around the longest. But over the years, Google has integrated more features into the SERP.

Google integrates some results from vertical search engines (such as images from Google Images). Others are features that Google automatically generates based on the type of query (aka direct answers).

Here is a screenshot of a SERP with some — but not all — of the available SERP features:

SERP features for the query “how to change a car battery.”
SERP features for the query “how to change a car battery”

The mix of SERP features changes from query to query. So no two SERPs are going to look the same.

Why Should I Care about SERP Features?

The SERP features that show up on Page 1 for your target keywords can guide your SEO content creation and optimization strategy.

Remember that to compete online today, you have to be savvy in the content you produce for your keywords and how you optimize it.

Some keyword searches might be heavy on images or video, while others will display blue links and ads only.

It is important to know how to optimize for the search features that show up for your target keywords so you have a better chance of ranking.

For example, if Google displays a lot of YouTube videos on the SERP for a particular keyword query, you need to understand how to create and optimize videos for YouTube to have a better chance of showing up in the mix. Similarly, if images dominate the SERP for a certain query, sharpen your image SEO skills. If it’s just the 10 blue links, how is your on-page SEO?

How to Get SERP Features

There are many search features that you can optimize for and some that you can’t.

For example, you can optimize your content for a chance to rank as a featured snippet (aka “position zero”). You can’t, however, optimize your content to compete against Google’s answer box (direct answers, like a calorie counter that shows up in the SERP).

Google answer box (direct answer) in the SERPs for the query “how many calories in a banana.”
Google answer box (direct answer) in the SERPs for the query “how many calories in a banana”

Other SERP features are automatically generated, too, like sitelinks. Sitelinks appear as part of a website’s search result listing and are links to other webpages within the website. Website publishers cannot directly control their sitelinks but can do so indirectly. Read our Best Practices for Google Sitelinks for details.

First, it is useful to get to know the common types of SERP features to see what you are dealing with. I recommend reading our Quick Reference Guide to Common Google SERP Features.

Once you have a grasp on common search features, you’ll be able to identify which show up in your targeted SERPs. Then your next step is to understand how to optimize for them.

You can enable a lot of these features by using structured data .

Google has a handy help file that goes over how to enable search results features for your site. In it, Google covers:

SEO gets more complex by the minute. Every time search engines like Google introduce new SERP features, we need to understand how to create content for them and then optimize for them.

Studying the SERP features that show up for the keywords we are after is part of a whole-SERP strategy. It helps give us a solid roadmap for how to compete in the organic search results.

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 or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (7)
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What Are SERP Features and Why Should I Care?

7 Replies to “What Are SERP Features and Why Should I Care?”

Great ideas about the usage of SERP that improves your website traffic as your desire results. I always keep these practices to use long tail and business keywords that show user intent. Always make high PA DA links for medical equipment and supplies websites to get a better domain authority rate.

A great way to improve your chances of gaining SERP features that drive qualified organic traffic. Always you article blow my mind thank you

You can’t mark your page as a featured snippet. Google systems determine whether a page would make a good featured snippet for a user’s search request. For more you can check following link.

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/appearance/featured-snippets

Literally, this blog is informative. well, I prefer only Guest posting to enhance my website SEO and rank on a SERP. Also using some of the special Keywords on my blog.

A great way to improve your chances of gaining SERP features that drive qualified organic traffic to your site is in catering your content to the way these features are structured.

Some really good advice and information here, so glad I checked your page out, looks like I will be back for more, thanks Bruce.

Wow, just when I think I am getting up to speed with SEO, I find out there is so much more to learn. Great information, thanks Bruce.

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