The first page of results is often referred to as a SERP (Search Engine Result Page). It’s the most important page of search results because 95% of the total search volume will end up clicking on a result on the first page but less than 5% will venture past to the second page. (~Forbes 2017)
The goal for all websites has traditionally been the number one spot on the first page, however, the emergence of Google SERP features has changed the value that a number one position holds. More traffic is being drawn from the organic listings and absorbed by various SERP features. It’s necessary to survey and assess the first page of results to determine what features you will need to optimize your website to produce the most traffic.
What is a Google SERP feature?
A Google SERP feature is a Google product that is displayed in order to enhance the user experience. The type of features can range in appearance. Each feature can provide additional traffic to your website. Different features present more traffic opportunities than others. Here is a list of the types of features and the frequency they’ve appeared in a search query in the last 30 days.
People Also Ask Box (PAA)
The first SERP feature on the list is Related Questions, or PAA boxes (People Also Ask). This feature has been appearing in 89% of total searches (as seen in the above chart).
PAA boxes are triggered mostly by questions asked in a search. Each question within the box can lead a user to a different website.
The box is interactive meaning that when you click on one question another few lines of questions will appear related to the question you clicked on. This could go on indefinitely and has been one of the reasons for a decline in the number of visitors that make it past the PAA box to the organic listing.
Google Ads (Formerly AdWords)
Pay-per-click ads, also known as Google Ads have sponsored placements at the top of the organic results. The highest bidder gets the highest position on the page. Paid ads are only distinguishable by the small green “Ad” posted to the left of the domain.
The advantage of running an Ad campaign is that your website is placed at the top of the SERP if you’re the highest bidder. This gives your website a priority position for being the first listing seen when a user searches a term. Google Ads are performing considerably better on mobile searches than they do on desktop based on this fact alone.
A disadvantage to a paid ad is that when you stop paying, so does the traffic. Your website disappears from the first page when your campaign ends which makes paid ads relatively expensive. Organic search results provide a better ROI over the long run because of the difference in traffic dispersion to the organic listings. Once your website is optimized to receive traffic organically it will continue to produce unless you lose position to a competitor.
The three websites that are ranked at the top of the local finder are displayed as the local pack on the first page of results. The websites selected for the local pack are businesses that can show relevance, prominence and proximity.
Local packs can generate a substantial amount of local traffic that is typically comprised of high converting visitors.
A rich snippet is any feature that shows up to enhance a search result. More companies are including reviews in the meta descriptions to encourage higher click-through rates.
The Knowledge Graph is Google’s own database for collecting and categorizing information on people and places. A knowledge panel will appear whenever a search for your company is directly made. The knowledge panels will display information about your company mainly extracted from your Google My Business profile.
It isn’t uncommon for images to be displayed as the best response to a query. Images are selected as features according to how well they’re optimized for a specific query.
As videos gain more relevance as solutions to search intent they will continue to grow in the frequency of appearance. This SERP position can be won and used to drive traffic at all stages of the buyer phase.
Websites with excellent organizational structure will generate relevant links in a search listing.
This SERP feature can come in a variety of forms such as the list, paragraph, chart, or graph. Featured snippets are displayed to provide the user with the quickest answer to a search query.
Often times you will see a carousel of products appear in a search result. These are images of sponsored ads that can be bid on in a Google Shopping Campaign.
Featured stories are displayed by Google and extracted from news aggregators and websites.
This feature answers generic questions. The information is generated from high authority sources such as Wikipedia and Wikidata.
Despite the numerous SERP features that have continued to appear more frequently, organic traffic represents a large part of a successful inbound marketing campaign.
When building content it has become absolutely mandatory to take into account the SERP features that appear in a keyword search because of the percentage of clicks that may be absorbed.
In order to maximize the number of visitors to your website consider the features that present the opportunity for additional traffic.