Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) show more information than just a list of 10 links to organic search results. Over the years, new features have appeared to provide more relevant information to each particular search.
Q: Do you currently optimize content for SERP Features?#OwntheSERP— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) August 24, 2016
Some of the common features are accessible for common webmasters, although it can be difficult, as they require very high organic rankings. Other SERP features are more exclusive or follow rules different from SEO.
- Obtainable paying: Adwords Top, Adwords Bottom, Shopping Results.
- Obtainable via SEO*: Local Pack, Local Teaser Pack, Site Links, Featured Snippet, Related Questions, Tweet, Image Pack, Reviews, Video.
- Obtainable following specific rules: In-depth Article, News Box.
- Not obtainable: Knowledge Card, Knowledge Panel,
(* Some also require specific markup language or to be set up via Webmaster Tools)
Adwords, Top and Bottom.
These are ads that Google chooses to show to "highly commercial queries". They appear on top of the organic search results and at the bottom. The position will depend on the link's relevancy to the query, the bid, and a few other factors.
Screen capture via The SEM Post, features In-depth articles with 3 lines of snippet, before the most recent changes.
These used to look more like the "News Box", but now so many changes have been made on them that it is difficult to tell them apart from regular organic links. Still, they follow different rules.
Apparently, a block of three in-depth articles equals one organic search result. Google features them due to the authority and trustworthiness of the publisher.
Results from The New York Times, The Guardian, Vanity Fair or Business Week are examples that frequently appear in this format. It's high-quality and long-form content that makes the cut.
More information to optimise your site for the "In-depth articles" feature.
Local and Local Teaser Packs
These two features look and work in almost the same way.
- Local Packs suggest three physical locations based on the search query and their position on Google Maps.
- Local Teaser Packs are the same, only they feature local businesses instead of just any location. Therefore, the include information such as prices, reviews, pictures, and opening hours.
In order to rank for these SERP features you need to stay up do date and work on your local SEO.
Product Listing Ads look similar to the "Image Pack". In order to appear in this feature, your product must be in Google Merchant Centre. These are all paid results.
Read More: 10 Tips to Rock Google Shopping.
This block features articles from newspapers and magazines. It usually provides information on time-sensitive or controversial topics.
Official guidelines: How to get into Google News.
When a search query appears to focus on a specific brand, Google may show the organic search result to the brand's official page and several links to specific pages inside the domain, like shortcuts.
You can add Sitelinks from Google Webmaster Tools, going to Search Appearance > Sitelinks. Adding them can increase your CTR by 64%.
This is a special type of result that answers a specific question with a summary extracted from the page.
These featured snippet blocks usually appear at the top of the first SERP, and they are highly relevant to the search query.
Obtaining a featured snippet isn't an easy task. Your page needs to already rank organically on the first page, and then maybe Google will use the content and convert it into a snippet programmatically.
Users can't mark their pages as featured snippets.
It answers a specific question with concrete data that usually comes from trusted partners of Google. It appears as the first piece of information, on top of organic search results.
Knowledge Panel / Graph
This knowledge panel also contained data on particular episodes, social media profiles of the show, cast members, and related search queries.
It compiles information from different sources to provide the most relevant data about something at a glance. The specific types of information will depend on the query. It usually includes pictures, snippets, and related search queries.
Knowledge panels usually appear on the right rail of the SERP.
On Knowledge Panels and Cards: The information displayed on these graphs comes from Google's partners and other sources that aren't open for common webmasters to join.
Similarly to the suggested queries that appear when you start searching something on Google, these suggestions are based on questions related to your search. When you click on one, you can see a snippet and the relevant organic link where it is extracted from.
They appear to have some relation to the "Featured Snippets" feature.
Google features tweets directly on SERPs since 2015, in order to provide real-time information and help brands engage better with their audience.
This is a horizontal block that features the first image links from the Google Images results. In fact, if you click to see more images, that's where you go. An image pack can appear anywhere among the other organic search results when Google considers visual information to be relevant to the query.
In order to have your images featured on Google Images keep in mind best practices such as using descriptive "alt" texts and file names. Although to be on an image pack, your image should rank really high.
More information: How to write great alt text.
1-to-5 star ratings may appear in other features, but also as additional information under a link when the URL leads to a something like a product, a hotel, or a recipe.
According to MOZ, results with review stars "get highter CTR".
Google = YouTube, so it is expected to find videos from the platform among the results.
Videos from other platforms such as Dailymotion or Vimeo also appear. They feature the video's thumbnail, URL, publishing date and the beginning of the description.