How Do You Stand Out in SERPs: 11 Tips for Winning SERP Features
Winning SERP features is one of the best ways to increase your organic search traffic. But how do you win SERP features and start standing out in SERPs?
Securing a spot on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is a crucial strategy for boosting your visibility. However, just making it onto these pages is only half the battle. The real challenge lies in standing out among countless other search results. That’s where winning SERP features come in.
SERP features, such as rich snippets, local packs, or site links, can dramatically enhance your search result’s appearance, making it more noticeable and appealing to users. They not only improve your online visibility but can also significantly increase your organic search traffic.
So, how do you win these coveted SERP features? In this guide, we’ll share 11 tips for helping you make it onto the SERPs.
What is a SERP Feature?
A Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is the page you see after typing a query into a search engine like Google. This page includes a variety of results that the search engine believes are relevant to your query, including websites, images, local listings, and more. With millions of internet users relying on search engines to navigate the digital ocean, a prominent place on SERPs can dramatically boost your visibility.
So, what exactly are SERP features? SERP features are elements that search engines use to enhance the visibility of some search results. They offer users additional information, aiming to satisfy their search intent directly on the SERP without them having to click through to a website.
Some of the main SERP features include:
- Featured Snippets: These are selected website snippets that appear at the top of Google’s search results. They aim to answer the user’s query directly from the SERP.
- Local Packs: These are results that appear for local search queries. They display a map and three business listings, making them extremely important for local businesses.
- Knowledge Panels: These are boxes that appear on the right side of Google’s search results, displaying key information about businesses, people, places, or things.
- Image Packs: These are groups of images that appear in search results for queries that Google believes are best answered with visual content.
- Sitelinks: These are additional links under a search result to help users navigate a website more quickly.
- People Also Ask Boxes: These are boxes with questions related to the search query, which expand to display answers directly in the search results.
By understanding and optimizing for these SERP features, you can enhance your visibility on search engine results pages and attract more organic traffic to your website. (For more information on SERPs, check out our article What Are SERPs (and Why do They Matter?)
How to Win SERP Features
So, if you want to stand out in SERPs, you should focus on winning SERP features. Here are 11 tips for doing just that.
1. Nail Your SEO
At the heart of securing a spot on SERPs is a strong Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. SEO involves tailoring your website and content to the specifications and algorithms of search engines.
Start with extensive keyword research to help you understand what your target audience is searching and incorporate these keywords naturally into your content. Also, ensure your site is mobile-friendly, has a quick loading speed, and has quality backlinks. (Here are 5 Must-Haves for a Winning SEO Strategy).
2. Leverage Local SEO
If you’re a business with a physical location or serve a specific area, local SEO is your golden ticket. Local packs are a common SERP feature.
To take advantage of local SERP features, you’ll want to ensure your business is listed on Google My Business and other online directories. You’ll also want to use location-specific keywords and encourage customers to leave reviews to boost your chances of being featured in the Local Pack on SERPs.
3. Create Quality Content
Quality content is critical for search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines like Google aim to provide the best results to users’ queries, and they determine the ‘best’ results by crawling and evaluating the content of web pages. So, websites with high-quality, relevant content are more likely to rank higher in search results and, in turn, have a better chance of winning SERP features.
Quality content also helps answer the searcher’s query. Many SERP features, like the featured snippet or ‘People Also Ask’ boxes, directly display content from web pages on the SERP. If your content provides clear, concise, and relevant answers to common queries in your field, it stands a better chance of being picked up for these features.
Additionally, quality content encourages user engagement. When users find your content useful and engaging, they spend more time on your page, share your content, and are more likely to return. These user behavior metrics are signals to search engines about the value of your content, influencing your page’s ranking and potential to win SERP features.
So, if you want to win SERP features, you must invest in producing the best content possible. From blog posts to videos, ensure your content is relevant to your audience and answers their queries effectively.
4. Make Your Content Clear and Answer the Searcher’s Query
While this sort of goes into creating quality content, it’s slightly different. It’s not only important to create high-quality content. You also want to make sure it’s clear and relevant as well.
In other words, don’t bury the good information in a mountain of useless text or answer questions the searchers aren’t interested in. Instead, create content that directly answers searcher queries and provides meaningful insight, as this can improve your chances of being featured on SERPs.
5. Invest in Video Content
Videos are increasingly featured on SERPs thanks to their high engagement rate. So, host your videos on platforms like YouTube, optimize their titles and descriptions with relevant keywords, and provide transcriptions to increase your chances of appearing on Video Carousels or individual video results.
6. Answer Frequently Asked Questions in Short Paragraphs
Another effective way to get featured on SERPs is by addressing frequently asked questions related to your industry or field in short, concise paragraphs.
This can make your content eligible for the ‘People Also Ask’ section on Google, providing more visibility. When it comes to formatting FAQs, you can either list the FAQs at the bottom of your articles or have FAQs represented as H2s with clear answers beneath them.
7. Answer Related Questions
Aside from FAQs, you can extend your relevance by addressing questions related to your primary topic. So, for example, let’s say you’re a local bakery owner, and your main keyword is “fresh baked bread.” You could also address related queries such as “where to buy fresh baked bread in [your city]?” or “what types of fresh baked bread are available at [your bakery’s name]?” This approach not only increases your chances of appearing in the ‘People Also Ask’ boxes for a variety of queries, but it also enhances your content’s usefulness to readers, potentially improving engagement and boosting your SERP rankings.
Here’s another example. Let’s say you run a small auto repair shop, and you’ve created a blog post titled “Car Maintenance Tips.” In addition to your main topic, you could also include answers to related questions such as “What regular maintenance does a car need?” or “When should I visit a mechanic for a car check-up?” By addressing these related queries, your content might appear in the ‘People Also Ask’ section for those questions, giving your small business extra visibility on SERPs.
This approach caters to semantic search and can potentially place you in the ‘People Also Ask’ section, further enhancing your visibility.
8. Optimize for a Featured Snippet on SERP
If your website already ranks on the first page for certain keywords, you have a good chance of being featured in a snippet. To further optimize your text for the highest chance of landing in that featured snippet box, try:
- Put the questions your article answers into the headers.
- Put the answer in the first sentence following the question header.
- Include the best answer you can in a paragraph, table, or list, and be sure to be concise.
- Include high-quality images on your page so the search engine can use them alongside your snippet.
9. Optimize for Rich Snippets
Rich snippets are a SERP feature that provides users with additional information about your page’s content. These can include star ratings for product reviews, prices, or preparation times for recipes.
Rich snippets are created through structured data, a specific type of HTML coding that communicates details about your page to search engines. Here’s how you can optimize your website to potentially earn rich snippets:
- Identify Your Opportunities: Start by deciding which types of structured data are relevant to your site. For example, are you a bakery with recipes that could benefit from recipe markup? Or perhaps you’re a retailer whose products could use review or price markup? The Google Search Gallery provides a comprehensive list of structured data types to guide your decision.
- Implement Structured Data: After you’ve decided on the appropriate types of structured data, it’s time to implement them. This can be complex if you’re unfamiliar with HTML, so you might want to consider hiring a professional or using a structured data generator tool. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, there are also plugins available that can simplify this process.
- Test Your Implementation: Once you’ve added structured data to your site, you’ll want to test it to ensure it’s working properly. Google’s Rich Results Test tool can do this for you. Just enter the URL of a page on your site, and the tool will tell you if your structured data was detected and if there are any errors.
- Monitor Your Results: After implementation, track your SERP performance to ensure your efforts are paying off. These analytics will give you insight into which types of markup are most effective for your site and where there’s room for improvement.
Remember, while structured data doesn’t guarantee you’ll earn rich snippets, it’s the necessary first step in making your site eligible for them. And even if you don’t immediately earn rich snippets, structured data can help search engines better understand your content, positively impacting your SEO.
10. Optimize Your Content’s Format Based on Its Purpose
Consider the format of your content based on its purpose. For example, if you’re explaining a process or how to do something, a numbered list could be super beneficial. But if you’re discussing multiple related items, a bulleted list might work better.
Using easy-to-read formats can make your content more scanner-friendly for search engines and potentially result in a featured snippet.
11. Submit Your Sitemap to Google
Submitting your sitemap to Google ensures that all your website’s pages are crawled and indexed. This increases the likelihood of these pages appearing on relevant SERPs. A sitemap is essentially a map of your website that helps Google understand its structure and discover all its pages. Here are the steps to do it:
Step One: Create a Sitemap
Firstly, if you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to create a sitemap. There are many free online tools you can use to generate one, such as XML-Sitemaps.com, or if you’re using WordPress, plugins like Google XML Sitemaps or Yoast SEO can do this for you. Your sitemap will typically be in XML format and should be accessible via a URL, such as www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml.
Step Two: Verify Your Website with Google Search Console
Before submitting your sitemap, you’ll need to verify your website with Google Search Console. This involves adding a string of code to your website to prove to Google that you’re the site’s owner. You can sign up for a free Google Search Console account and follow their step-by-step verification process.
Step Three: Submit Your Sitemap
Once your website is verified, go to the Google Search Console dashboard. Select ‘Sitemaps’ from the menu on the left. In the ‘Add a new sitemap’ field, type in the URL that ends with ‘sitemap.xml’ and then click ‘Submit.’
Step Four: Monitor Your Sitemap
After submitting, you can return to the Sitemap report to see any errors or issues Google encountered when reading your sitemap. It will also show you how many URLs in your sitemap got indexed, which can be very helpful in understanding how well Google can crawl and index your site.
Submitting your sitemap to Google is a simple but crucial part of ensuring that your website and all its pages get indexed, making it easier for you to show up in SERPs. Keep in mind, though, that while a sitemap helps Google understand your site, it’s equally important to have a well-structured and easy-to-navigate website, not just for search engines but for your users as well.
Start Working on Winning SERP Features
Securing a spot on SERPs is much like nailing a performance on stage. It takes a combination of understanding your audience (the search engine users), mastering your act (optimizing your website and content), and delivering a performance they won’t forget (providing value).
So, if you want to start winning SERP features, put these tips into action, and get ready for your moment in the SERP spotlight.
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