When Google responds to a user’s search query, it no longer returns a list of website pages and paid adverts. Today’s Google is ‘intelligent’ enough to interpret the language that has been used in the query and to return different SERP features or elements which it thinks are the best match for the user’s intent. It will not only display the relevant web results, but in many cases will also extract key information and display it in a way which is easily digestible for the user. This could be factual information, images, links to website services or maps, but the key point is that optimizing your website for the right SERP features can be a great advantage for your business.
Here are 3 key SERP elements which businesses should be targeting, as well as some advice on how to increase the likelihood that you will feature in them.
- The Local Pack
When a user searches for a local service with phrases such as, ‘dentist near me’ or ‘personal trainers in Miami,’ Google will usually show them something called The Local Pack. The pack includes 3 businesses and lists the business’ name, address, contact details, opening hours, and any customer review ratings they have. For most searchers, this is taken as a recommendation by Google that these are trustworthy businesses which are the best match for their needs (although of course, this is not always the case.)
The Local Pack provides enough information that users don’t even need to visit your website before they contact you. Pre-2015 this used to be a 7-pack but it has been condensed to a 3-pack for improved mobile experience. This means it’s now more competitive to appear, but here’s a great guide on how to appear in 3 pack listings for businesses.
- The Featured Snippet
The Featured Snippet is the boxed answer which appears at the top of the SERP, which contains the answer to a user’s query. Google extracts the answer from the web page it deems to provide the best answer to the question and will include a link to the original web page in the snippet, sometimes with an image. The potential issue with Featured Snippets is that it if it satisfies the user’s query there and then, they are less likely to click through to the website. However, it is often the case that the short extract Google provides is just enough to entice the user into wanting to know more and, as Google has prioritized your answer, they may see your business as a trustworthy source. To find out if your website has any Featured Snippets, you can use the SEMrush tool.
To get your content into a featured snippet, you should aim to get it onto the first page of results. Find a question or questions which you would like to be the featured result for and create a separate page for each query. The question should be stated directly on the page either as an H1 or H2 heading with a brief and clear answer after it. Including an FAQs page on your website can also be a useful technique.
The sitelink feature appears for navigational or branded search queries to help users find the exact page within a website which matches their intent, rather than sending them to the homepage and making them find the right page themselves. It provides better user experience, helps to establish your website as a trusted brand if Google can display your site in this way and increases traffic to internal pages, which is a great ranking factor. The best way to optimize for sitelinks is to build a simple website with user-friendly navigation and a clear page hierarchy such as using a sitemap. You should also ensure there are no broken links on your website.