SERP features are an amazing asset when it comes to search! Google loves them, users love them, and you should love them too. Earning any SERP feature will gain your website visibility, credibility, or both. Now let’s see how you can get yourself a nice set of features with the help of the SEMrush toolkit.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before contemplating the SERP features, you first need to try and get your website to the first page of Google’s search results. The majority of featured pages are in the top 10 positions within Google search results.
Even if you are struggling with the classic SEO, you still need to keep the SERP features in the back of your mind throughout the whole SEO process. Most of our tips are relevant for getting into all obtainable special search results. But to illustrate the process, we will show you how to hunt down a Featured Snippet, one of the most desirable SERP features.
Let’s break down our operation into four steps:
They sure do seem similar to the steps of your classic SEO workflow, but there are some distinctive know-hows. So, let's get started.
Uncover SERP Features Occupied By Rivals
Analyzing your competitors is an obvious and integral part of any marketing strategy, and it is important for a SERP feature strategy. You can learn how to research your competitors’ keywords and backlinks from our recent blog post. For now, let’s assume that you already know who your rivals are.
Next, you need to find out if your opponents already occupy the features that you want for yourself. Here is what you do:
Go to the Domain Analytics’ Organic Research and type in the website you want to compete with.
To the right of the Positions report you will see the SERP features widget. It shows all SERP features that are triggered by the keywords that the analyzed domain is ranked for in the chosen country.
By clicking on any SERP feature, you will filter the Organic Search Positions Report that you can see below. Filtering by a SERP feature that links to a domain will show you all the keywords paired with your rival’s landing pages that have won a SERP feature.
Now you can make use of advanced filters. Play around by choosing various ranges of keyword difficulty and volume, try different positions and number of words to get the best results for you. Certainly, filter out keywords containing your competitor's brand name, as these are of no use to you. All these advanced filters will help you narrow down your list of targets.
Keep a tab on the winning landing pages, since you are going to need them in future steps. You can analyze these pages to get ideas for keyword research and content optimization. Downstream we will sort out what to pay attention to.
You can pick out keywords right here and export them to CSV or Excel files for further use or, by using the Export Manager, you can assemble a list of keywords from a variety of results. Analyze different rivals, use different filters, and simply tick the boxes adjacent to the words you like, then click the Add to Export Manager button. By clicking on the check mark with a word count near the button, you will get a list of your keywords from different sources. Now you can edit it and export to CSV or Excel.
Usually, there would be no reason to use Domain Analytics for your own site as it is designed for researching competitors and analyzing your niche. But there is no filtering for SERP features in Google Search Console, so you might want to use Domain Analytics to examine your own website for appearing in special search results on the national level to explore your overall scope.
Spot Keywords Triggering SERP Features
As we mentioned previously getting into SERP features is an extension of a traditional SEO strategy. And just as with competition analysis, keyword research is at its core. The Keyword Magic Tool is a great asset, and this article can tell you everything you need to know to develop a keyword strategy with our tool.
While forming a list of keywords in Keyword Magic Tool, pay attention that you can filter words that trigger different SERP features. We are after Featured Snippets, and Featured Snippets show up to answer specific questions. So, if you want to get featured, you have to update or create content to provide the best answers. But first, you need to figure out for which questions you want to get a Featured Snippet. Luckily, in seven languages, Keyword Magic Tool has an option to sort out keyphrases with question words in one click.
Next, you can pick the most fitting keywords for you, and by clicking the button with the plus sign, you can send them to Keyword Analyzer for further research. In Keyword Analyzer you can update metrics to get the freshest data and groom your list of keywords.
When you are done looking for keywords, you can send the list from Keyword Analyzer to the Position Tracking tool by clicking “Send to other tools” button and selecting Position Tracking (you need to set up a project beforehand). There, you can start monitoring your own, as well as your competitors’ rankings and all of the triggered SERP features.
Track Opportunities to Seize SERP Features
Position Tracking lets you track the rankings of your website, as well as your competitors’ websites. You can set up multitargeted tracking and simultaneously oversee positions for different locations and devices. This is very important since the SERPs can vary depending on what area you choose and whether you are targeting desktop or mobile users.
After you set up Position Tracking you can put in your keywords and competitors, use filters to include or exclude certain words, and determine the range of volume, positions and CPC. But more importantly is that you can filter the Rankings Overview by SERP features.
You can find keywords that trigger SERP features, as well as keywords that do not. You can do this by selecting a feature from the dropdown menu and switching between “Feature on SERP” and “Feature not on SERP”.
You can also check whether a certain domain ranks for a feature or not. Set the target domain as the first in the top menu, then pick an option in the SERP Features filter to see if it “ranks” or “doesn’t rank”. This way you can easily track your own domain for a SERP feature and find results where you have a good position on SERP but do not own a feature. These landing pages should get in line for optimization.
For now, we are chasing Featured Snippets, and for our mission, we will employ another great resource of Position Tracking – Featured Snippets Solution. This asset will scan your tracking campaign and give you the keywords best fit to win Featured Snippets on a silver platter. It will also keep track of the Featured Snippets you have already won and will provide you with valuable insights into Featured Snippets volatility in the SERPs.
When you open Featured Snippets in the Position Tracking menu, you will be presented with two widgets and a list of keywords with seven tabs. The widget on the left shows your current visibility and estimated traffic, and the potential result you will get after achieving Featured Snippets. The right widget shows historical data on how many keywords from your campaign trigger Featured Snippets, and also how many your domain owns.
By default, the Featured Snippet Solution brings to the top of the list the keywords for which you outrank the URL in the Featured Snippet. If you see a positive number in the “Difference” column, it means that Google itself ranks your page higher than the one in the Featured Snippet. With a little tweaking, you should be able to easily get featured for your keywords.
This report allows you to set a specific date range for closer analysis. You can select to check not only the root domain but any subdomain, folder or URL. Along with filters for keywords and their volumes, you can sort out the results where the analyzed domain ranks in top 3, top 10, and so on. Also, you can apply tags to keywords which could be really helpful in keeping track of groups of keywords.
Now let’s look at the sections of the report:
Opportunities. This tab is self-explanatory as it shows keywords that trigger a Featured Snippet, and for which the targeted domain is not featured.
Already featured. Pretty obvious as well. There you see which keywords won the targeted domain a Feature Snippet.
New. Shows where the domain obtained a Featured Snipped.
Lost. There you can see the keywords for which the domain won a Featured Snippet once, but no longer ranks for it.
New on SERP. This is a neat section that shows keywords that did not trigger a Featured Snippet before but now do. Review this list to find opportunities before your competitors. A keyword with a label “You” means that for it your domain is already present in a Featured Snippet.
Lost from SERP. Here you can see all the keywords that did have a Featured Snippet on their SERPs, but currently, do not. Keep an eye on that tab, especially on the keywords labeled “You”. These are the keywords the target domain has had Featured Snippets for.
URL changed. This tab shows the occasions when the target domain was in a Featured Snippet for a certain keyword, and still is, but now with a different page.
The “New”/”Lost” and “New on SERP”/“Lost on SERP” tabs depend on the date range you chose. It compares the first and the last day. Same goes with the keyword tag “New” and “Lost” in other tabs. If the word is labeled “New” in the “Already featured” tab, it means that the targeted domain was not occupying the Featured Snippet on the first day of the selected date range, but is featured on the last day.
In the “Opportunities” tab the “New” keyword label means that the word did not trigger Featured Snippet on the first day, but did on the last. The ‘Lost” label here means that the domain lost Featured Snippet by the last day of the date range.
On-page Optimization for SERP Features
With the steps above, you have learned about your competitors, figured out all of the keywords that bring about SERP features, and have figured out which of your pages have what it takes to get into a feature, but it was not the hard part. Especially with the instrument doing all the heavy lifting. It is time to roll up your sleeves and start working on your pages.
The optimization process consists of analysis and adjusting. While writing this article I witnessed the page take over the Featured Snippet for “Walt Disney logo”, that was previously occupied by this page.
Although it is quite a mystery what Google considers to be a quality content, we can use the example above to try and figure it out.
It has the basic on-page SEO and the winning page is well-optimized. It has a shorter and easier to read URL. Plus, it is an older page, and Google tends to prefer old-timers. Almost 60% of the top 10 results are the pages that are three or more years old. Don’t get me wrong, fresh content is always good, but it seems that the older page (especially if it is updated) would usually outrank the newer one.
Logaster which has a winning page is a design company that makes logos, and its blog has published articles about logos for years, which really helps them. Having a lot of content on a certain topic establishes your topical authority in the eyes of Google. And this, in turn, increases your chances to get featured.
Most Featured Snippets have around 40-50 words in them. So it is probably a good idea to break your content into smaller chunks.
For better or worse there is no magic trick or secret formula to get into Featured Snippets. Update your old content and create new, and try adding lists and tables. The key is to keep researching and experimenting to try to provide the best and most complete answers.
Now that all is set, it is time for the final battle! Which, when it comes to SEO, is waiting. A bit anticlimactic, but that is the reality. You have to wait to get results. For how long? SEO takes time, and there are too many variables to try and predict success. It takes experimentation, data gathering, analysis, and sometimes just luck to achieve. It can happen within hours or weeks and even months, so keep at it!