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What’s In A SERP? Google Search Results & Features You Need To Know

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What's In A SERP? Google Search Results & Features You Need To Know

Google Search is constantly evolving to serve more useful results to searchers.

One of the more recent figures we have states that Google conducted 4,887 launches, 17,523 live traffic experiments, 383,605 search quality tests, and 62,937 side-by-side experiments to improve the results search engine users received in a single year.

The results of rigorous testing allow Google to determine the best search features to deliver search results in a format that is most useful to your query.

This leads to changes in the way that search results are delivered.

In this article, you’ll learn what a SERP is and the various search features that could affect the way your business appears to your target audience.

What Is A SERP?

SERP stands for search engine results page. This is the page that gives search engine users the best results for their queries.

Search engine results pages can vary from one search engine user to another based on a variety of factors including whether you are logged into your Google account, your location settings, your language preferences, and your search history.

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The following is the SERP for SEO.

Screenshot from Google, March 2022

At the start of the search results, Google displays the approximate number of search results for the query and the time it takes to deliver the SERP.

In this case, there are approximately 828,000,000 webpages indexed for the keyword SEO, and results were delivered in 0.59 seconds.

The first four results starting with an Ad label are pay-per-click Google Ads that target the keyword SEO.

Following the four Google Ads, you see the first organic listing that appears in this SERP for Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.

After this organic listing, Google includes a People Also Ask section.

When search users click on a question, additional related questions appear. The answers typically link to a webpage for further information.

To the right of the Google Ads, organic listing, and People Also Ask section is Google’s knowledge panel for search engine optimization. Knowledge panels can vary based on the entity they describe.

In this case, the knowledge panel pulls the definition for SEO from Wikipedia, followed by related terms, SEO podcasts, and related terms people also search for.

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The next portion of the SERP for SEO contains two more organic listings, followed by the local pack featuring SEO companies.

The following is the SERP for SEO.Screenshot from Google, March 2022

To the right, you can also see a continuation of the knowledge panel, which searches for the dictionary definition of SEO.

Following the local pack, Google displays the top news stories about SEO from the past 24 hours.

The following is the SERP for SEO.Screenshot from Google, March 2022

After another organic listing, Google places three videos from YouTube about SEO into the SERP, followed by another four organic listings.

Finally, Google has more organic results and related searches.

The following is the SERP for SEO.Screenshot from Google, March 2022

If you are on a mobile device, Google doesn’t make you click through to the second page of results.

Instead, after a listing of related searches, the next page of search results will automatically appear as you scroll down.

The following is the SERP for SEO.Screenshot from Google, March 2022

In this case, the second SERP begins with a Google Ad.

SERP Features

In the first example of a SERP from Google.com for SEO, there are multiple search features beyond organic search results including Google Ads, People Also Ask, knowledge panels, top stories, and videos.

According to Semrush Sensor, most SERPs have at least one feature.

In the U.S., only 2.34% of desktop SERPs do not have a feature. In other words, 2.34% of SERPs only list the top 10 organic search results on the page without ads, knowledge panels, local packs, etc.

Let’s take a look at the SERP features most often seen on Google.

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Sitelinks

One of the top search features – found in over 66% of SERPs in the U.S. – is sitelinks.

Sitelinks are simply links that will allow search users to find specific content beyond the homepage.

In the following SERP for REI, you can see that REI has the first position in organic search.

Beneath their listing, Google displays a sitelink search box followed by four sitelinks to popular pages on their website.

Example of sitelinks SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Learn more about how to optimize your website for sitelinks.

People Also Ask

Another top search feature is the People Also Ask section. This feature can appear anywhere on a SERP.

It typically begins by displaying five of the top questions asked about a search query.

In the following SERP for [search engine], Google adds a People Also Ask section after the first organic search result.

Example of People Also Ask SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

When someone clicks on a question under the people also ask section, it will display the answer to the question, along with a link to the source for the answer. It will also automatically generate additional questions related to the one the user just clicked.

Reviews

In addition to the stars you see in the local pack for local business reviews and the stars you see in shopping ads, Google may also display star ratings and review counts within organic search results.

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In the following SERP for a current bestselling book, you can see the reviews feature in action on two of the top three organic listings.

Example of Reviews SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Learn more about how you can optimize relevant pages on your website for reviews with the review snippet.

Images

When Google anticipates that a search query would best be answered visually, they use the images feature. This feature can appear anywhere throughout the SERP.

In the following search for a [pumpkin plant], Google serves up a dozen photos of pumpkin plants.

Example of Images SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

When clicked upon, the link goes to Google image search results for the query, plus additional details about the image clicked.

To optimize your images for Google image search and the potential to appear in the images section of related SERPs, check out these 12 essential image optimization tips.

Videos

Similar to the image feature, the video feature of SERPs can appear anywhere throughout the page.

In the following search for [1st party data activation], Google displays a section of videos from YouTube after four ads, a featured snippet, People Also Ask, and five organic search results.

Example of Videos SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

To appear in the videos section of SERPs, learn how to optimize your YouTube videos.

Knowledge Panels

Knowledge panels are automatically generated boxes of useful information, compiled from various sources around the internet by the Knowledge Graph. They generally appear on the right side of search results.

In the following SERP for [tennis], Google displays a knowledge panel with a summary of what tennis is and the most popular searches related to it.

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Example of Knowledge Panel SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Google offers specific directions on how to update the information contained in the Knowledge Graph.

Local Packs

When there are local results that match your search query, you may see them appear in a local pack.

Listings in a local pack typically appear with reviews, an address, and hours of operation.

Example of Local Packs SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

According to the Local Pack-O-Meter, 35.7% of approximately 60 million search queries in the U.S. contained a local pack in March of 2022.

Over the past year, it has fluctuated from 33% to 33.9%.

If you have a local business, learn more about local SEO and why it matters for your SMB.

Featured Snippets

Featured snippets generally appear at the top of SERPs, offering a portion of content from one of the top organic search results for a particular query.

For example, a search for [how to change app icons] may generate a featured snippet with a video from YouTube that answers the query.

Example of Featured Snippets SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Featured snippets are typically labeled as such in the lower right corner beneath the snippet content.

Other formats of featured snippets include numbered or bulleted lists, like the results of [how to submit a book to a publisher].

Example of Featured Snippets SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

In the above example, you can see that featured snippets sometimes fall below Google Ads for certain search queries.

In a search for [nft], the top result is a featured snippet in paragraph form.

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sample of featured snippets Screenshot from Google, March 2022

In this search for the best list of restaurants from a specific source, the result is a featured snippet in a table format.

Example of Featured Snippets SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

If you want your website to be the source of a featured snippet, follow this 12-step guide to optimizing your content for featured snippets.

Google Ads

Sponsored results from advertisers using Google Ads may appear at the top and bottom of SERPs.

In this search for auto insurance, the SERP begins with three ads.

Example of Google Ads SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

After organic listings, a People Also Ask section, and top stories, Google displays an additional three ads, followed by related searches.

Shopping Ads

In addition to standard text ads, Google also offers retailers the ability to create shopping ads for their products.

Shopping ads typically display the name of the product, price, retailer, and product rating.

Example of Shopping Ads SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

If you want to feature your products in shopping ads, be sure to read this beginner’s guide to shopping ads.

Carousels

Carousels generally appear at the top of SERPs, offering fast answers to the search query.

For example, a search for [dog breeds] results in a carousel of images with the most popular dog breeds that other Google users search for.

Example of Carousels SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Instant Answers

Want to get a quick answer to a question without having to click through to a website?

Instant Answers is a search feature Google uses to display answers to a search user’s query at the top of the SERP.

For example, if you search for today’s temperature, you may get the following for your location.

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Example of Instant Answers SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

If you are searching for showtimes for a specific movie, Google may display showtimes from the theaters closest to you.

Example of Instant Answers SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

If you need to convert currency at the current exchange rate, Google may be able to provide the answer in the SERP.

Example of Instant Answers SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Scheduling a meeting across time zones? Google may calculate the difference between two locations as well as show the current times in both.

Example of Instant Answers SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Not sure what a word means? Google may give you the definition, along with the origin and overall use over time.

Example of Instant Answers SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Need help solving a math problem? Google may display the answer along with a fully functional calculator.

Example of Instant Answers SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Google may also provide instant answers at the top of SERPs for the following types of queries.

  • Translating a word or phrase.
  • Calculating the number of days until a specific date or upcoming holiday.
  • Finding out the score of a recent sports game.
  • Determining the age of someone based on their birthdate.
  • Getting the dates to popular events, like conventions and festivals.
  • Seeing the current share price and market summary for popular stocks.

Top Stories

If a search query has related news stories, Google may display a section of top stories from media outlets.

In this SERP for MacBook, Google displays the top stories after shopping ads, organic results, People Also Ask, and more shopping results.

sample of serp for top storiesScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Learn how to optimize your content for Google News so that your articles can appear in the top stories for related search queries.

Tweets

A small percentage of SERPs will feature tweets relevant to the search query.

In the following search for Search Engine Journal, after the first organic search result and a people also ask section, the latest tweets from our official Twitter account appear.

Example of Tweets SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Find out how you can use Twitter to increase your visibility in search results.

Apps

Google search users on mobile devices may see features that are only available on mobile.

In the following search for photo editing apps, Google displays apps from the Apple store after three ads and a list of apps from sources across the web.

Example of Apps SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Product Comparisons

Google has the ability to take product information and display it in search results for users looking to compare products.

In the following search for [iphone 12 vs iphone 12 pro], you can see a side-by-side list of the product images, reviews, price, and additional details.

Example of Product Comparison SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

When search users click on the detailed comparison link, Google displays additional details about the products compared, along with the option to add additional products for comparison when relevant.

Top Products

Unlike shopping ads, the top products feature showcases unadvertised products related to a search query.

In the following search for mirrorless cameras, Google displays the top mirrorless cameras after organic search results and a People Also Ask section.

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Example of Top Product SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

When you click on a product, additional details about the product appear.

Google displays reviews from third-party sites, prices from multiple retailers, top insights from media outlets, and reviews from multiple retailers.

Jobs

Google helps job seekers by aggregating jobs from various sources across the web and displaying them within SERPs for queries like [jobs near me].

Example of Jobs SERP featureScreenshot from Google, March 2022

Learn how to optimize your job postings to ensure they get noticed by Google.

Conclusion

Google continues to update its algorithm and search features to create a better experience for search users.

Always be on the lookout for new features appearing in SERPs for your targeted search queries.

Then, discover ways to optimize your webpages to appear in search features that will draw more attention to your brand in SERPs.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

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7 Data-Driven Content Strategy Tips For Improving Conversions

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7 Data-Driven Content Strategy Tips For Improving Conversions

There’s an old maxim in the marketing world, “content is king.” This has been true as long as search engine optimization has been around, and probably dates back even further in the world of general marketing.

But as simple as that adage is, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation, namely what kind of content?

In those early SEO days, it meant identifying your keywords and jamming them into pages anywhere they would fit.

But modern digital marketers are smarter (not to mention that strategy doesn’t work anymore).

These days, successful content starts with a plan that’s backed up by numbers, a data-driven content strategy, if you will.

But what exactly does that mean?

In simple terms, it means developing content using an approach built on user information. This can include information like demographics, survey answers, consumer preferences, etc.

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You probably don’t need to be told why this is important, but just to make sure there’s no doubt, let’s be clear: Using a data-driven content strategy helps you decide where to spend your time, effort, and money.

In other words, you have finite resources. You don’t want to waste them on people who aren’t likely to convert.

A data-driven content strategy allows you to tailor your marketing campaigns to generate the best ROI.

For the purposes of search engine and PPC specialists, it can help you decide which keywords to go after, ensuring you’re targeting the right audience.

Sounds simple enough, right? All you need to do is pop open your content research tool and look for commonalities, right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

But never fear, that’s why you’re here.

In this helpful guide, we’ll give you a step-by-step approach to developing, implementing, and optimizing your very own data-driven content strategy.

Ready to get started?

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1. Set Your Content Goals

The very first thing you need to decide is what you’re hoping to accomplish. You can’t be all things to all people, so you need to make some choices.

Do you want to increase traffic? Are you looking to make sales? Do you want more leads?

Determine what your content goals are and identify the channels best suited to meet them. Once you’ve done this, you can establish your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Be sure to keep this in mind while you’re creating content.

Everything you add to your website or campaign should serve a purpose. If you’re not sure what it’s doing, your audience won’t know either.

2. Define Your Target Audience

Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve, it’s time to figure out who to go after to make it happen.

Comb through the demographic data and other information you have access to. Spot commonalities that occur across many or some of your targets.

Many marketers find it helpful to create customer personas. Using your data, imagine a typical person for each of the various roles you’re targeting.

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For example, you may have a prospect persona, a lead persona, a buyer persona and a repeat persona.

Put yourself in the shoes of these imaginary people.

What type of language resonates with them? What is their highest level of education? Do they want professionalism or personability? Why are they on your website? What do they hope to accomplish with your help? Be as detailed as you can.

Many marketers even give them a name. For example, if you were creating personas for your plumbing supply company, you may have:

Lead Larry – 45 years old

A mid-career plumber, Lead Larry owns his own one-man business. He makes $75,000 a year. He went to a trade school and his work van is 6 years old. He’s looking for a way to reduce overhead and find cheaper parts than his local supply company. He values hard work, honesty, and professionalism.

Be as creative and detailed as you like, just remember this isn’t a fiction-writing exercise. You’re creating personas based on your typical target, so keep your persona in line with who they actually are.

3. Review Your Competitor’s Content And Do Topical Research

Now it’s time to take a look at what the competition is doing. Maybe they’re just flying by the seat of their pants, but they’re probably putting some effort into their campaigns, too.

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Review what they’re doing and look for what appears to be working.

For example, if they’re blogging, they may have a view counter on the page. If so, what type of blogs are getting the best results?

Look for trends in your industry. What’s everyone talking about? Is there a big trade show coming up? Or a new technology about to be released?

Figure out who you’re competing with for clicks, not just to see what’s working for them, but also to gain ideas for content of your own. Start making a list of things you want to cover.

If there are influencers in your niche, this is also a good time to check and see what they’re posting about.

4. Conduct Keyword Research

Once you’ve settled on what your content should be, it’s time to perform that old SEO staple: keyword research.

Using a tool like Google Analytics, Semrush, or something platform-specific like YouTube’s Search Insights, figure out the type of language your content needs to use.

This will help you in more than just the SEO aspect, too.

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Using keywords in your content demonstrates to your audience that you speak the same language they do. And that doesn’t mean English, it means using the nomenclature everyone in the niche will understand.

Going back to our plumbing supply example, that means referring to a product as a “three-fourths full port threaded ball valve,” rather than a “metal connection thingy.”

Okay, that’s a ridiculous example, but you get the point.

The good thing is that you probably already have a working, if not expert knowledge of this.

5. Create Content That Aligns With Your Goals

If you remember, the very first step to creating a data-driven content plan was to determine your goals.

Now, equipped with everything you’ve done since then, it’s time to create the content that addresses them.

Don’t be intimidated. You don’t have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald to write the kind of content your audience wants. And you’ve already done a lot of the foundational work – now it’s just time to put everything together.

Your content could take nearly any form, videos, blog posts, infographics, case studies, or white papers.

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If you’re not comfortable doing these on your own, it should be reasonably easy to find a writer or videographer in your area or extended network. Just ask your connections for recommendations.

If you’re still not confident in your ability to deliver or you can’t afford to hire someone, don’t worry. We have an excellent piece that will walk you through everything you need to know about content creation.

6. Promote Your Content On The Right Channels

You’ve created your masterpiece of relevant content. Now it’s time to share it with the world. But how do you do that? Do you just post it on your corporate blog and wait for Google to index it?

You could take that kind of passive approach, but this is great stuff you’ve just made. Everyone in your niche will want to consume it. And to make sure you get the eyes you want on it, it’s time to promote it.

But before you go linking to it on Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn, and every other social media platform and aggregator site you can think of, pause for a minute.

When you were developing your user personas, you hopefully received some data about where your targets live online.

Are they regular Twitter users? Do they haunt industry-specific forums? Are you connected to them via Slack or other instant messenger apps?

Find out where they hang out and post away. In most cases, if you’re not sure if your targets use a platform or not, you should just go ahead and post anyway.

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There are some sites where you can be dinged for unpopular content (Reddit, for example), but most of the time, there’s no harm.

This is also a time to start thinking about how you can repurpose your new content.

Do you have an opportunity for a guest blog post on another site? Or, would your new infographic fit perfectly in your next investor report?

If your data-driven content is built on the solid principles we’ve discussed, it will get engagements.

7. Use Analytics To Measure Results

After your content goes live, you can begin measuring your ROI to see what you did well, where you missed the mark, and what could be optimized to perform better.

This is where the KPIs discussed back in step one come back into play.

Some of these are easier to track than others.

If increasing sales or conversions was your goal, you should have data that backs up performance. Likewise, if you set out to improve traffic to your website, you should have the analytics to track that.

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Things like brand visibility can be a bit trickier.

Regardless of what it is you’re using to determine success, you should find the data you need to track performance in Google Analytics.

For a detailed walkthrough of this process, we’ve provided information on exactly how you can measure content marketing success.

A Data-Driven Content Strategy Is A Winning One

Data is a marketer’s best friend. It tells you exactly what works, what doesn’t, and often, why that’s the case.

And a data-driven content strategy is vital for success in today’s hyper-competitive business and SEO environment.

Use the tools available to you to gather data – that’s why they’re there.

Learn to identify what the numbers are telling you and use them to help you craft the kind of content that not only attracts views but gets shares and achieves your goals.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: metamorworks/Shutterstock

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