Understanding the SERPs, feature by feature

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Time and again we talk about the importance of SEO and it is indeed an important part of online marketing. In the process of SEO, your major focus is on getting a good ranking for your business website on the SERPs. With so much focus being put on SERPs, have you ever given a closer look to what other aspects are there on a SERP apart from the general list of website links? Chances are that you have but still ignored these other aspects as you did not understand what they are. Therefore, to understand the other aspects of a SERP, we have created the following list.

 

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Image Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/google-search-engine-on-macbook-pro-40185/

Featured Snippet

We often use search engines to find quick solutions for our queries. Did you know the search engines are smart enough to understand the difference between when you are searching for a term and when you are asking it a question? So if you ask a question to the search engine, it will highlight the best result of the answer and show it on top of all the results. This highlighted result is known as the featured snippet, and all the other matching results are then displayed below the snippet. Here is an example:

Featured snippet.png

Carousel

A carousel is a rotating slider that appears on the top-most section of the SERPs. It is a display of search results along with images for the user to quickly browse through. This type of search result is displayed when you look for something that has multiple options and has visuals to support the search result. There is one thing about a carousel though. If you click on one of the options given in a carousel, it does not take you to another website. Instead, it takes you to another SERP displaying the results based on your selection.

Carousel.png

Now if you clicked on any one of the books in the image, you will be directed to another SERP which will have links related to that book.

Advertisements

Search engine ads are ads that appear on the SERPs based on the keyword that a user puts in the search engine query box. No user specifically searches for ads. However, these ads still appear on the SERP based on the relevancy of the ads to the user’s query. These ads can appear either on the top of the SERP or the bottom. It is easy to identify these ads as there is a small green icon of ‘AD’ on the right corner of the ad title. An example of the same is given below.

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Knowledge Panels

A knowledge panel is another smart feature of the search engine devised to cater to users that are looking for quick results. This knowledge panel scouts millions of websites and when it finds the best possible source to solve the query of the user, it makes the information concise to fit in a small box of information, just enough for a user to read. Majorly, a knowledge panel will source information from Wikipedia as it is an encyclopedia that is universally popular and trusted. If you are able to get your website information featured in a knowledge panel, it will be one of your biggest achievements.

Knowledge panel.png

Local Pack

The local pack, as the name suggests, will make a recommendation for the user based on the current location of the user and their search query. The local pack will consist of three recommendations of local places where the user’s needs can be met. Earlier these recommendations used to be seven, only recently they were reduced to three. Generally, this type of search result turns up when a user is looking for movie details, restaurants, specific recipes, etc. To be featured in a local pack, you need to be registered with Google My Business. For example, if you search for a dish like “poutine in Edmonton”, you will get your general result along with something like this:

local pack.png

Trending Results

Trending results are something that a user searches for or something that pops up on the SERP based on the user’s related search query. When a user is looking up for something that has been a trending topic for some time now, the search engines will showcase the trending social media posts and news articles related to the search query on the SERPs. For example, if you look up ‘Justin Trudeau’, you will first find the most recent trending stories related to him.

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Twitter Cards

Twitter has gained a reputation of being a quick tabloid to provide trending stories in limited characters (280 characters). With the popularity of this short form news, Twitter cards also became a part of the SERPs. So if you put in a search query for a trending issue of something that a famous personality tweeted, you will find these Twitter cards on your SERPs. In order to get featured in a  Twitter card related to a particular industry, you need to skillfully draft your tweets with appropriate hashtags. Here is an example of how Twitter cards look like.

twitter card.png

Product Ads

Product ads are something you commonly see when you search for specific products. These also appear when you state a problem in the search query which can be solved with the help of a product. For example, if you put in a search query for ‘teeth whitening’, you will get a few product suggestions of teeth whitening gels and toothpaste just like this.

product ads.png

The Big Picture

The order in which things are displayed on your SERPs completely depends on what you put in the search query. A big picture generally appears on the SERP and has a video to support the result. For example, if you look for the PM’s Canada Day speech, you may end up seeing the big picture like this.

big picture.png

AMPs

The SERPs have a similar interface on your mobile devices. However, sometimes some aspects of the SERPs may differ on a mobile phone. One such different aspect is the accelerated mobile pages or the AMPs. These AMPs are pages that load quickly with display card of a few selected links based on the user’s search query. Generally, these links will either have top rated blogs or news websites. As a business, if you want to feature in the AMPs, you need to pay extra attention to your search engine markup properties. Here is an example of the AMPs.

AMPs1.png

 

 

Related Searches

Search engines are constantly adapting and learning to make the user experience better. With this learning, often search engines make suggestions to the users in order to help them find what they are looking for. One such type of suggestion is the related search. The ‘related search’ section is found on the SERPs, right at the bottom. This section has a few keyword suggestions based on the query you put in the search query box. These suggestions are based on similar types of searches done by other users. For example, if you put in a keyword of ‘digital agency Edmonton’, you will get related searches like this.

related searches.png

See Results About

Sometimes when you are searching for something online, you end up with a different result altogether. This happens when the same keyword could have multiple meanings or uses. With more and more urbanization in the English language, this phenomena has become quite common. So to tackle with user’s frustration of not finding what they are looking for, search engines have a section on the SERPs known as the ‘see results about’. In this section, you get to see the alternate result for the same keyword so you can select the alternate result if that’s what you were looking for. Here is an example of the same.

see result about.png

People Also Ask

‘People also ask’ is another smart suggestion feature that you find on the SERPs. This feature turns up on the search engine result pages when a user puts in a question for the search engine. While answering your question, the search engine will scan multiple websites and check for what similar types of questions were asked by other users. It then finds the most relevant questions and suggests them to you. This not only helps you refine your search but also find more information related to your search query. Here is an example of how a ‘People also ask’ looks like.

people also ask.png

Recipes

We already discussed how smart search engines are. With the help of machine learning, search engines are able to decipher your query and actually understand what you are looking for. So if you put a keyword like ‘caesar salad’, you will see search results like this.

recipe cards.png

If you see closely, the first four suggestions made by the search engine are recipe cards. Since the search engine understood that we are looking for a dish, it used its intelligence to recommend some recipe cards before suggesting anything else. These recipes cards include the link, a small thumbnail image of the dish, the preparation time, ratings, reviews if any, calories, etc. This is quick access information given for the user’s reference.

News

In general, the search engine has sections divided based on the type of content. These major bifurcations include, ‘All’, ‘News’, ‘Videos’, Images’ and ‘Maps’. If a user is especially looking for a news article, they can directly view it under the ‘News’ section. However, sometimes a user is not specifically looking for news but general information. Still, they will get news suggestions. These suggestions are known as news cards. These news cards are suggested by the search engines to a user if the search engines find it relevant and important for the user’s search query. For example, if you search for ‘robbery in Edmonton’ you will get top news card like this.

news cards.png

Medical Cards

Google has become the go-to place for almost everything. The online users now use Google to not only search for general information but also medical advice. That’s right! Online users simply put in the symptoms they are suffering from and look forward to the advice and remedies Google has to offer. Noticing this trend, Google has now started displaying specific medical card on the SERPs that highlight the disease and provide quick information to the users. This quick information includes details about the disease, its major symptoms, and treatments to try. Here is an example of the same.

medical card.png

 

These medical cards are generally taken from the websites that have the most appropriate information about the medical condition.

Search engines have been improvising a lot with time. With the introduction of artificial intelligence and machine learning, search engines are now able to understand their users even better. Only time can tell what new features will be introduced on the SERPs next. So keep yourself updated with these latest changes and trends, and work on your search engine optimization process for better results.

Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing – Canada’s fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500’s and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company’s customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches.
Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they’re most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.

Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing - Canada's fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500's and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company's customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches. Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they're most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.

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