Take Advantage of These 3 SERP Features

Google is continuing to develop new ways to keep its users on its platform, and that means creating innovative, intuitive ways to serve users the most relevant information. Sometimes, that means giving users what they’re looking for without even requiring them to click through to your website. 

Sounds like a bad thing, right? After all, the primary objective of any SEO strategy is to increase website traffic by earning that click. 

But in the words of the great Lee Corso…

Lee Corso Not So Fast GIF - Lee Corso Not So Fast Host GIFs

Search engine results pages (SERPs) used to contain ten blue links on a page – that was it. Now, as the search experience has evolved, there are more places for your website to show up. That means more opportunities to showcase expertise, build authority and earn trust. Let’s look at some examples. 

  1. Featured Snippets 
The featured snippet for the search query “content publication for a magazine” is provided in the form of a box at the top of search results.

While these SERP features may certainly take clicks away from your website, it also takes clicks away from the competition. 

In scouring the web for the most relevant answer to a search query, it determined your webpage has the best information. Rather than requiring users to click through, the featured snippet SERP feature pulls that key information through into the SERP itself. While this can dampen your click-through rate, it helps your brand establish visibility and trust with users. The next time they have a question around the same topic, they’ll be more likely to think of your brand first. 

2. People Also Ask 

People also ask box for creating magazine content.

When people have one question, they often have another. Google designed the People Also Ask box to highlight these additional related questions and allow users to easily uncover the answers with the click of a drop-down. Again, this means they might not leave the SERP to visit your website. However, it’s another opportunity for your brand to educate your audience, provide solutions to pain points and help them recognize you as a thought leader on a particular topic.

3. Podcast Carousel 

A search engine results page (SERP) feature displaying podcasts in search results.

Different content types used to have trouble landing themselves in search results, but search engines have evolved. Now, they’re using different SERP features to place a greater emphasis on discovering these content types, and arguably the greatest beneficiary has been the podcast. 

“Our goal is to double worldwide podcast listening, to not just make it easy to listen to podcasts on Android but make podcasts a first-class citizen on Google.”

  • Zack Reneau-WedeenFounder and Head of Product, Google Podcasts August 2019

Enter the podcast carousel. 

Users no longer find podcasts simply through Spotify and Apple. They also search for them, and Google has obliged the growing search demand by featuring podcasts within their own unique SERP feature. 

Look for opportunities to add structured data, or schema markup, which is code that gives search engine crawlers a better understanding of the content. Not only will this allow you to compete for a spot in the carousel, but it will qualify your podcast for voice search results too. 

Thanks to these SERP features, there are ways to optimize your content other than gunning for No. 1. In the SEO world, it’s known as positionless search, and it can boost your brand’s relevance and build trust with your audience.

How Search Algorithms Work

Google is notoriously tight-lipped on the specifics of how its proprietary algorithms work. It has been up to diligent SEO practitioners over the years to uncover trends, dig into the algorithm update announcements that Google makes, track the data and test variables to develop best practices on what matters most and how to get content to rank in the SERPs.

There are three aspects to complete SEO: on-page, off-page and technical. The algorithms consider metrics in all three groups to determine whether the content is relevant to the search being performed, whether the site is trustworthy and authoritative, and whether the page functions well enough to deliver a good user experience.

On-page SEO

On-page optimizations primarily focus on keywords and content quality. Google indexes every word on the page as well as its relative importance according to placement and context. Keywords placed at the beginning of any section — title, H1, H2, body copy, metadata, etc. — are considered more important than those placed further down. Beyond that, the content needs to be structured clearly, be informative and remain engaging.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is a cousin to PR. Its entire purpose is to earn backlinks and brand mentions from reputable, relevant websites. Inbound links are an important signal Google uses to evaluate whether your page is authoritative and trustworthy enough that other high-reputation websites use it as a citation, source of SEMs or related resource for additional reading. Much of this work consists of reaching out to website managers to negotiate partnerships and ask for favors. Often these partnerships include an exchange of links or guest blog posts that benefit both brands equally.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is a collaboration between design, UI/UX, analytics and the SEO practitioner. UI/UX helps ensure the website information architecture makes sense both to a user and to Google; that the relationship between pages makes sense from both a content and hierarchy perspective. Design helps make sure that on-page images and other assets are the right size and do not slow down page load times across device types. Analytics helps identify any performance issues as part of regular reporting. And the SEO practitioner puts all the pieces together, managing elements such as redirects, broken links and anchor text, and monitoring Google announcements for algorithm updates that might mean they need to make adjustments to any of the above factors.

Now That You Know How Search Algorithms Work, Start Optimizing

Together, these three areas of practice work together to signal to Google that a page is relevant and high-quality, that the site is trustworthy and reputable, and that the experience of the user post-click will be a good one. So as you review your existing and in-progress content, make the updates needed to meet each criteria. When you do, Google will be much more likely to serve up your content to your target audience.

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