Google Search has become part of our daily lives. From people seeking information, to people marketing their businesses — Google is a tool almost everyone uses daily.

It’s easy to forget that Google and it’s search engine results pages (SERP) are only about two decades old. Originally it was known as “BackRub”. It did much the same thing as it does today — comb through a diverse and nonstandardized group of web pages to return results based on a user's search query.

Google Search Results: BackRub was a success.

Over the course of the next few years it began its evolution into the search engine we know and rely on today. Monthly updates and algorithm shifts were the norm, and in the first few years there was a steady stream of changing logos — all with the distinctive primary colors still in use today. As Google evolved, both consumers and brands came to rely heavily on the results provided.

Once upon a time, getting listed on the first page of Google was enough for a brand to thrive. In the beginning, a total of 10 websites were listed on a results page; the page title, description and text were all that showed up for users.

It didn’t take long for brands to start vying for the attention of early internet-savvy searchers. Search marketing came into existence. 

The Google SERP Features

Those original Google results were organic. This meant placement was determined by relevance of the content to the query a user searched on. Relevant keywords could power your brand to the top.

It wasn’t very long before the search engine results page began to change. The SERPs started to include other non-organic results — or SERP features. Today the non-organic SERP features come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they can help boost your brand’s visibility in search.

The features range from AdWords, which is a pay-to-play service, to Featured Snippets or the Local Pack — to mention just a couple.

The 3 Most Common SERPs

Organic results remain as relevant today as they once did. Useful and unique content that will truly benefit users is the goal for achieving better organic results, and this type of content can also be great content to appear in some Google’s SERP features.

Some SERP features are easier to achieve than others. For example, it is much easier to bid on an AdWords spot than it is to be awarded a Knowledge Card, but a Featured Snippet is likely more attainable than a Knowledge Card.

Paid Results: This is really just advertising. It is the result of purchasing placement in the Google search results. If you are spending money on AdWords, Google Shopping or AdWords Express, you are buying paid results and getting attention for your brand with this SERP feature. This is the best example of non-organic results, and in the digital marketing world is considered part of SEO.

Knowledge Panel: Boxes, panels, or cards that display highlighted details, data or information. These results are either based on human-edited data, or data extracted from Google’s index. This is a SERP feature that website owner’s have little control over except to produce useful, unique content. The real opportunity is to understand which keywords are affected by the Knowledge Graph and then prioritize your keyword and content targeting.

Featured Snippets: This feature can hold a great deal of opportunity depending on the nature of your content. These add extra details to a search result. Google extracts, and returns results from a your website’s content to answer a user’s query more specifically. Similarly to the Knowledge Graph, there is also opportunity to understand which keywords are affected by the Featured Snippet and then prioritize your keyword and content targeting.

According to Moz, performing in-depth keyword research and then creating the best content possible could help you snag this coveted location on the SERPs page.

While it may take time, the impact on your results is considerable. Taking the time to properly target a keyword and to prepare a useful, concise piece of content could help you grab the spotlight for your organization when it comes to the Featured Snippet.

Other SERP Considerations
Beyond paid search, there is no magic method to getting your organization into a coveted SERP feature. Delivering quality content, focusing on showcasing a complete picture and ensure best-practices for technical, and on-page SEO are being implemented increase the likelihood of making an appearance in the SERP features.

For example, one SERP features that helps to boost your brand’s visibility are sitelinks. These are individual pages from your site that get listed under your primary result. Technical SEO, and even the “human friendliness” of your URL could impact where your page ranks and when you show up in organic results.

In Conclusion

While snagging a top organic spot in Google SERPs is ideal, it is not the only way to get attention for your brand. From featured snippets to your own knowledge card and even an appearance in an image pack can help increase your visibility and consumer awareness of your brand.

Most of us have seen the variety of Google SERP features when we’ve used the search engine. Become more aware of the opportunities they hold for digital marketing. Learning more about how SERPs work. Understanding the Google SERP will you make the most of search engine marketing.

Over the next two weeks we’ll be sharing how to articles to help you get started taking full advantage of the Google SERP features. If you’d like to talk to a digital specialist please contact me.

Main Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash