All The SERP Features You Need To Know
Each and every day, Google is constantly working to improve the overall search process. While we don’t see the results of every single small change, searchers and marketers alike most certainly notice the array of SERP features being released and updated throughout the year. From knowledge panels, to direct answers and carousel results, keeping up with all of the SERP features available for us to use and businesses to take advantage of can be undeniably difficult.
With over 30 SERP result features and plenty more to come, we’ve dug a little deeper to put together a full guide to all of the current SERP features. For more information, or to speak to one of our experts about optimising your site for any of the features, get in touch on 0800 088 6000, today.
Table Of Contents
Organic Result Features
Organic results are what every indexed page will have but over the years, Google has gone on to enhance these results completely. With the right on-site schema and internal structuring, you have the potential to gain any one of these features on your search result:
Just like Hansel and Gretel, breadcrumbs in a search result show you the trail taken to get to the listed URL. While this isn’t always shown (e.g. on Homepage results), it cuts out the legwork for users looking for specific pages or products on a site and does it all for them. Rather than entering a website from the homepage and clicking through navigation to find something, Google will have already done that work for you, taking you straight to where you want to be and shows it’s journey via ‘breadcrumbs’ beside the shown domain.
b. Image Thumbnails
Google’s thumbnail feature has been designed to enrich the search results and provide improved context for users. It offers a sneak peek of what you’ll see on the page and is also hyperlinked to provide improved accessibility.
c. Search Box
For websites with search features of their own, Google sometimes offers a search box directly on the SERPs. Take booking.com for example – due to the sheer size of the website, Google offers a search box so that users can whittle down their search further, without having to first load the website. The search will take the user to the domain, but to the search results as opposed to the home page.
Websites with reviews listed may be given a reviews/stars feature within the result. This will appear as a star rating underneath the listed domain, followed by a numeric rating (1-5) and summary information about how many reviews, votes or ratings that led to that result.
e. Site Links
If a website has featured pages, Google may display them underneath the core domain. The link will take you directly to that page, preventing the need for internal navigation on the site and saving the user time. Searchers can access the pages they’re looking for without having to go through any excess navigation (in most cases), even if they didn’t directly search for that page. For example, if you searched for ‘Facebook’, the site links would allow you to go straight to the log-in page.
f. Structured Snippets
Structured snippets work in a similar way to a featured snippet, but will appear under your domain at its usual position in the SERPs. If you have upcoming events, for example, structuring the information on your page correctly could see the list of events appearing directly in the SERPs, with hyperlinks to take the user directly to that event’s page. These snippets have also been seen for features included in services, product specifications and more.
g. Twitter Carousel
If your brand has a Twitter account, Google’s Twitter feature lists the most recent posts in a carousel format. This often appears under the main listing in the SERPs, though only when Google knows that the Twitter account belongs to that domain. If your twitter is clearly linked and formatted on your website, there is a higher chance of this SERP feature appearing.
h. Video Thumbnails
This feature is similar to that of the image thumbnail, only the image will be a screencap of the video being linked in the SERPs. The feature appears alongside the standard SERP listing and will feature the length of the video in a small rectangle in the corner of the cap. If you click on the image or the URL, it’ll take you to the host site for the video (e.g. YouTube).
Knowledge graph features offer information to users, gathered from a number of different sources. They typically appear in a knowledge box above, or directly beside the search results and can both include an indexed URL or be information directly from Google itself.
a. Direct Answers
Direct Answers provide you with exactly what the name suggests – a direct answer to your search query. Any query that may have a direct, simple answer can bring up the Direct Answer box, ranging from conversions and dictionary definitions to the age or height of a celebrity or well-known person. Visit section 4 for a full list of the Direct Answer boxes.
Google uses carousel formats regularly within the SERPs, but two of the main types are Carousel (Black) and Carousel (White). The ‘Black’ version of the carousel typically present information that would be otherwise available in a list, showing images with small snippets of text below (usually a title, year, etc.). The Carousel (Black) feature is usually used for lists of movies, musical artists or albums, book titles and more.
The Carousel (White) feature works in a similar manner but appears against a white background as opposed to a black one. This variation typically displays results in more than one row, with predominantly written text with small image thumbnails. It’s most commonly seem for lists of songs, but can appear for things like cast lists, though usually, this will only feature one row.
For both carousel types, clicking on a result will take you to a new search relating to that result, effectively starting a new query.
c. Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are Google’s way of offering it’s searchers a better experience, by providing the answers and information that users are looking for without them having to click through a number of different web pages. They can come in a range of different formats, including:
- Lists – The answer will be displayed as a list. These are often numbered but can be bullet-pointed instead.
- Carousel – There will be a carousel of up to 10 featured snippets at the bottom of the main answer box.
- Paragraph – The answer given will be a paragraph. This is usually only around a sentence or two but will be longer than a single-word answer as with instant/answer boxes.
- Video – Video-based featured snippets will embed the chosen video and may offer you a suggested clip that answers the question or query at hand.
- Table – If you have information on your website that’s structured as a table, this can appear as a featured snippet in Google’s form of a table.
The knowledge panel provides additional information about a topic, person, business or entity that you’ve searched for. The panel will typically pull information from Wikipedia for the initial snippet and can display any other relevant information Google deems necessary including social profiles, latest news, images and more. It will also provide you with a ‘People also search for’ section, providing you with similar topics to guide you through the search process if the results haven’t given you exactly what you were looking for.
Page One Features
Page One features only appear on – you guessed it – page one. They typically offer a more enriched and seamless search process that provides the information needed without having to click away from the SERPs to check a result.
Google’s paid search platform, Google Ads, puts advertisements directly on the SERPs. Nowadays, they resemble standard results, with the only key differentiation being the small ‘Ad’ label on the result. Businesses that want to list an ad on Google can do so through the Google Ads platform, where users are given the opportunity to produce ads and set ad budgets in order to ‘bid’ for positions in the SERPs for specific queries. For more information about Google Ads or for help setting up your own, our paid search team are on hand to help.
b. Discover More Places
The ‘Discover more places’ feature on Google is effectively a supplement to a ‘Local’ pack result (see below) and appears lower down in the SERPs. It’ll usually appear as a carousel of images, featuring additional categories that can be selected a simple click or tap. Currently, this feature only seems to appear for restaurant and eatery-related queries and upon selection of a category, a Local Finder will load up, with the locations marked out on the map.
c. Google Jobs
Google’s jobs feature effectively keeps the job hunting process on the SERPs, preventing the need to click through to other websites to see listings. Generally, three listings will appear to begin with but can be expanded to see more if needed. The listings are pulled from job sites and Google then displays the job title, the company offering the job, salary information where applicable, when the listing was posted and the website that the listing was posted on. Clicking on any job will take you to the full feature, from which you can then look at the full job listing.
d. Google Posts
While we may have lost Google+ as a social media platform, the search engine is still using and showcasing a number of social media-esque features. One such feature is ‘Posts’. This typically appears within the knowledge panel, but can appear in the organic search results, and presents content posted online in the form of cards in a carousel. Businesses can post content via their Google My Business account, with links to their main website where necessary.
If your search relates to visual results, Google may display a selection of images from the Google Image results within an Image Box. Generally speaking, Google will display this feature for queries where it believes you may be looking for a visual answer, or where there is a chance a visual could answer or enrich the query or result. The box will feature a collection of images that you can click on to be taken to the image search result, as well as a ‘more images for…’ link that does the same thing.
f. Local Pack
The Local Pack appears for search queries that appear to have a local intent, such as searching for a restaurant or service in your local area (e.g. Italian restaurants near me). In some cases, this will also appear for standard queries (e.g. Italian restaurants) by using location-based data to determine the area that you’re searching from. It typically takes up over half of the page when browsing on a desktop, and the whole screen on mobile.
The feature will usually show three locations considered most relevant by Google’s algorithm, taking into account the name of the company, their reviews and ratings and, of course, their location. Google also provides the ‘More places’ option within the Local Pack, which enables users to see and explore more than just the three initial listings.
Google’s News feature has its own algorithm and for that reason, any query that has related news stories has the potential to show the ‘News’ box. If the search is related to recent and current events, the chance of seeing a News box is much higher, but it can also appear for celebrity searches, business searches, and any other topics that Google deems relevant.
The box typically appears in the form of a carousel of cards, displaying three at a time and an arrow to make scrolling through simpler. Generally, the card will feature the headline of the article, the source of the article, and when it was posted.
h. Related Search
At the bottom of the search results, you will see the ‘Searches related to…’ feature, which displays a list of around 8 potential queries relating to the original. Clicking on any of the listed suggestions will take you to a new Google search.
i. Things To Do
This is a local search feature that enables users to see a selection of attractions and things to do relating to their query. For example, searching ‘Things to do in London’ will see the feature appear at the top of the SERPs, with cards that state the name of the attraction and a short description. Clicking the ‘More [PLACE] sights’ drop-down underneath the results will take you to Google’s Travel Guide feature, offering more listings, and more information about the locations first listed.
j. App Pack
In a similar manner to the shopping features, Google answer has a SERP feature that allows you to find and download the app directly from the results. On Apple, the download button will take you to the App Store, while on Android, it will take you to the Google Play store. From here, you can download the app.
If there is a short, concise answer available for a search query or question, Google offers this answer in a single box. This is thought to be a form of the featured snippet and can occur for queries regarding weather, conversions, time, celebrity ages, heights and more.
To gain a direct answer box result for your site, you need to ensure you’re answering common questions concisely and, if you can, in as few words as possible. However, it’s important to note that not every answer box will have a link to a website, and not every answer box can be won, either. Google offers information like time and date by using the location of the user, rather than by pulling the information from a search result so it’s important to evaluate whether your answers might be answered by Google automatically.
Google’s conversion features offer quick conversions for currency and various units of measurement dependant. While the currency and measurement conversion snippets are technically different features, they both offer the same service – simply enter a query relating to conversion (e.g. cm to inches), and the answer box will appear. If you’ve already entered the amount (e.g. 1cm), then it will already have the answer for you, or you can type in the amount in the fields provided.
For most one-word search queries, you’ll see a Dictionary Box appear. This will show you the definition of the word you’ve typed in, the phonetic pronunciation and in some cases, a syllable breakdown. You’ll be given synonyms as standard too, and in some cases, the answer may also feature an audio clip.
There is also the option to expand the answer box to receive more definitions (where applicable), as well as translations and a graph displaying its popularity and commonality over time.
If you’ve entered a search query that could refer to a number of different things, you could see a Disambiguation Box. This feature will list potential alternatives to the result you were given. For example, if you searched ‘Titanic’, the disambiguation box could list the movie, the disaster itself, the song and more. This feature usually appears on the right-hand side on desktop, underneath the Knowledge Panel.
The earthquake feature does precisely what you might expect – it provides you with information about recent earthquakes. This safety-focused feature provides users with information about the magnitude, the quake’s epicentre and the overall reach. There is also a carousel below the featured quake, showing all recent and nearby earthquakes, as well as a drop-down feature to provide recommended action to take if you were affected by the disaster.
The ‘Flights’ direct answer box is technically a form of sponsored content in Google’s SERPs, but one that is designed to make the flight booking process simpler. This box will provide you with flight information between two stated destinations, including prices and flight duration. You can expand the feature to see more information, including the departure and arrival times, connecting flights, and all search filter options covering these. There is also a ‘Flights’ direct answer box that shows you the current status of an ongoing flight, including its status, gate information and predicted land time.
f. Info Box
The info box isn’t too dissimilar to the knowledge panel but tends to be smaller with just enough information to take in at a glance. It has the potential to offer pictures and relevant links, as well as maps and listed details. It typically uses Wikipedia as a source, but this can differ depending on the industry or the query entered.
Google’s Maps tool is invaluable, and the SERP feature version means you can utilise its capabilities without leaving the results page. Direction and location-related queries can bring up the map, through which you can select the desired route depending on duration, steps or even the transport choice. The feature will provide you with information about how long it’ll take, any tolls and when you expand a route option, step-by-step directions. The ‘directions’ button will also take you to Google Maps, where you can get a more detailed look and take advantage of the full range of features.
Health has become a hot topic in recent years, so it’s only right that Google has responses with an easily accessible nutrition calculator. This feature will help you to determine the fat content, carbohydrates, calories and more within a certain kind of food, with the ability to adjust the quantity or volume you’ve had or are planning to have. Branded foods can bring up this feature too, though may not be as common as with generic food searches.
i. People Also Ask
Google’s focus on providing more in-depth, relevant and accurate results has brought about the introduction of the People Also Ask feature. This particular feature manifests in a list of questions, that can be expanded to their own form of a featured snippet. At first, four questions will appear and after one question is expanded, a further four will appear to help you dig deeper into a particular topic to find the answer you want.
Sports direct answers can appear in a range of different formats, including a team’s schedules, match results, information about the next upcoming game and in some cases, provide links to team pages or buy tickets to an event coming up.
Simply put, the Stocks direct answer box provides information on how a stock is performing. The feature will show you information about the current price of the stock, the percentage it’s moved and the current trend line via a graph. You can customise the graph by changing the period of time you want to see the information for across a day, 5 days, a month, 3 months, a year, five years or ‘max’.
Google’s translate feature is essentially a miniature version of the main translate platform. If your query relates to the translation of a particular term, Google may provide a box above the main search results split into two sections – the ‘detected language’ field, and the neighbouring translated one. You can change the language options within the feature, flip the translation around, as well as hear the pronunciation of the translated text. There will also be a link to open the translation in Google Translate if you want to utilise the full features.
The weather box offers a short weather report dependant on your location. It’ll use your location details to provide you with a simple report or take a location from your search query (e.g. weather in London) to determine which report to show you. Google provides you with information about the temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit, with the option to switch between the two, as well as humidity levels, wind speed and the current change of rain.
The chart underneath this information shows you how the weather is set to change throughout the current day, or the day selected from the carousel below the chart.
m. “When Is”
The ‘When Is’ box essentially provides you with information about when an upcoming event or holiday is. Using your location and the location of the holiday or occurrence, it will determine the date in question, and in some cases, the location. For events that last more than one day, you’ll be given a start and end date.