SERP features are any additional element on a search engine results page that adds something new to the typical format of a search result.
Google calls these types of results “search result features” or "search features."
The company frequently tests and improves these features to provide a user-friendly search engine experience.
Here are some of the most common SERP features you may see on Google:
- Featured Snippet
- Local Pack
- Top Stories
- Knowledge Panel
- People Also Ask
- Related Searches
- Google Flights Block
- Hotel Pack
- Job Listings
- Google Ads
- Shopping Ads (Product Listing Ads)
- Rich Snippets
Let's take a look at each kind below.
Featured Snippets can be displayed above the regular organic results. Sometimes this is referred to as "position zero" in the rankings.
In the Featured Snippet, Google highlights a portion of text or video from a website to provide a concise, direct answer to the user’s question.
Featured Snippets always link to the domain the information is being pulled from. But unlike regular organic search results, the link comes after the majority of the text.
This SERP feature is typical for queries about personalities, events, scientific facts, sports, conversions, calculations, color picking, etc.
Sometimes featured snippets may pop up in the form of a widget — for example, if your search query says “weather” or “convert inches into centimeters.”
Google uses a knowledge panel to provide a quick overview of people, places, or things and often includes significant dates, a brief overview of the topic, and some images. The panel appears at the top right corner of SERPs in desktop results and at the top in mobile devices.
The Knowledge Graph powers the knowledge panel, Google’s database that gathers general factual information from sources such as the CIA World Factbook, Wikipedia, and millions of searches performed every day.
Image Packs appear when Google thinks that visual content will serve a more comprehensive results page.
Image results may appear as a row or block of related images among organic results. Clicking on a result will take you to the “Images” search tab, and only from there can you get to the website hosting the image. Learning more about image search optimization can help you get the most out of image search results.
Pro tip: Using structured data markup can help Google understand your images and display them appropriately.
Top stories play a valuable role when people want more information about a significant event or breaking news.
Google provides a carousel of news stories related to the query, noting when the story was published and by whom.
People Also Ask (PAA)
People Also Ask (PAA) refers to questions Google automatically generates based on queries it believes are related to your question.
The PAA box questions are connected to answers that users can click to read on Google SERPs. This can help people better understand their initial question without clicking on other results.
This feature usually starts with a list of four questions. However, it can expand and provide short answers that resemble a featured snippet.
Related questions may also appear anywhere on a SERP, but they usually stay toward the top of the page, often under the Featured Snippet. Clicking on a related question’s result will take you to the website that provides the answer.
Sitelinks are special links that Google features underneath the website result.
Google displays these links to help people quickly navigate to a particular part of a website. Usually, it appears for websites when Google easily understands the navigation system.
For example, if someone searches for a bank, the sitelinks under the bank’s main URL might offer shortcuts to pages like the “online banking portal,” “find bank locations,” or “contact us.”
In addition to the extra links, your website can get a Sitelinks Search Box. You can power it by your website’s internal search engine if you implement the structured data correctly.
At the bottom of the SERPs, Google also provides users with a “related searches” portion, prompting other search queries related to their initial search.
Google offers these related searches, some of which you may not have considered, so you can find the answer you seek.
If Google detects a buyer’s intent, it will display a carousel of products available for purchase in shopping ads from various ecommerce sites.
This allows people to quickly browse products across multiple ecommerce websites without searching for additional queries on the SERPs.
Review snippets complement typical search results with a yellow star rating and sometimes an image. Seeing a rating out of five stars is a universal symbol to communicate value to all kinds of searchers.
Studies have shown that search results with reviews can yield a higher average CTR.
You may get this feature if users can review your content and the page has the proper schema markup.
Google will check the credibility of the reviews and whether or not reviews are deemed “self-serving” or appropriate for the web page.
A Local Pack shows up in SERPs when a query includes local service, local intent, or includes a geographical name like “coffee shop near me” or “best pizza near in [insert city here].” These results include businesses close to your current location.
The Local Pack is positioned at the top of a SERP under the AdWords results, although occasionally, it may slide below the organic links.
A Local Pack usually consists of:
- A map with locations and pins
- A five-star rating scale for each location
- Three search results (some of which can be ads)
Clicking on an icon of a business will provide you with the Google Business Profile listing, which holds more detailed information about the business, including:
- Working hours
- Phone numbers
- Popular times
60% of smartphone users have contacted a business directly using the search results (e.g., the “click to call” option). Also, a large volume of voice search queries consists of “near me” questions, adding to the popularity of this feature as voice search grows more common.
This makes a Local Pack a vital marketing tool for attracting customers. We recommend learning both top-level tips on improving your local SEO presence and how to use Google Business Profile (GBP, formerly known as Google My Business).
Much of the Local Pack’s search results data are taken from GBP. Having complete control of your GBP profile will let you observe and manage this data.
It’s also important to note that rankings in the Local Pack are determined by a different algorithm than standard rankings in organic search. Local Pack SEO, therefore, requires a different approach.
Along with standard SEO tactics like mobile-friendliness, page speed optimization, and UX, you should focus on creating and optimizing your Google Business Profile account, as well as getting into local listings.
You can learn more about the Local Pack algorithm and how to improve local rankings from Google's official guide.
A video SERP feature related to a search query appears on a SERP among organic results.
This SERP feature may link to a video hosting platform like YouTube, Vimeo, or a webpage with embedded video.
In 2015, Google partnered with Twitter to index tweets in SERPs.
Twitter search results usually favor the most recent and trending tweets related to a query. They can appear anywhere on the SERP but usually appear after a few organic results. The Twitter results can display tweets from both verified and unverified accounts.
The FAQ drop-down lists show up under organic results for queries that ask questions or include “FAQs” directly.
For your page’s result to include this feature, you'll need to mark up your content with FAQ schema.
Google Flights Pack
The Google Flights pack compiles information about flights offered from across the internet and presents them in a table of options. You can filter and sort through directly on SERPs for any flight-related queries.
Both organic and paid listings from flight companies are eligible to show in this pack.
The Hotel Pack displays hotel listings directly on SERPs in a map pack similar to the Local Pack. This pack, however, features hotels only, and hotels and advertisers pay for the placements through Google Hotel Ads.
Google lists a table of job postings aggregated from career websites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, and company websites with available listings.
You can get the listings from your site into this special block by using the JobPosting schema markup.
How to Tell If Your Site Has SERP Features
Now that you understand SERPs and the many SERP features that can populate the first page, you might be wondering how to find out if your pages show up in any of these features.
We have just the tool for this!
With the Position Tracking Tool, you get an overview of whether or not pages on your website are displaying as SERP features.
To do this, navigate to the Position Tracking tool in the left sidebar.
Choose your project. This action will take you to your project’s Position Tracking dashboard, where you can select the “Overview” tab.
Scroll down past the graph, and you will find the list of keywords, their intent category, SERP features, their current position in SERPs, and their online visibility percentage.
By clicking on the number under the SF column you can see how many SERP features appear for a certain keyword. Then, click a category to sort by that SERP feature.
To view your SERP feature live, click on the view SERP icon.
After you click the icon, a new tab in your browser will open to show you the live SERP and the feature you are showing up for.
How to Tell if Your Competitors’ Sites Have SERP Features
If you are looking to see if your competitors are showing up for SERP features, the best course is to utilize the Organic Research tool.
To use the Organic Research tool, Select “Organic Research” in the left sidebar of the platform.
Next, type your competitor’s URL into the search bar and click the green “Search” button.
Once you search the URL, you’ll see a dashboard that will give you various website data and metrics.
If you scroll further down the page, you will land on a graph that shows the trend of your competitor’s SERP feature rankings.
There’s also a panel below that shows all the SERP features your competitor is ranking for as well as their missed opportunities..
In the Positions report, you can see how much traffic they’re likely getting from each SERP feature they rank for, hopefully giving you enough data to make your next move
Creating a well-optimized site that encourages clicks and engagement is essential for the success of a website and the business.
Having the right tools to analyze SERPs and their features can help your site attract your target audience’s attention and improve your digital marketing in all aspects.
Semrush makes understanding how and where your website is positioned in SERPs much easier thanks to our Position Tracking and Organic Research tools and 50 other valuable and easy-to-use tools for professional marketers.
Now that you have this knowledge, you can kickstart your website improvements, start ranking better, and meet your SEO goals in unimaginable ways!