SERP Features Monitor – Tracking the State of the Search Results Pages
Search has come a long way from the days of 10 blue links. Google does still show blue links but now the SERPs are populated by myriad other SERP Features, which are additional elements on the search results page above and beyond traditional organic results. The most important SERP Features include images, videos, maps, knowledge panels, featured snippets and many more. As the range of SERP Features is ever-changing, Searchmetrics uses its SERP Features Monitor to summarize the current state of SERP Features and how widespread they are in the Google search results – all the data for desktop and mobile, in the US and the UK, is updated here on a quarterly basis.
SERP Features – Country Overviews
The following charts show the latest data for how common the most important 15 SERP Features are in the Google search results, distinguishing between Desktop and Mobile. Clicking through the tabs allows for a comparison between the range of SERP Features in the results of Google.com in the USA and Google.co.uk in the UK:
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SERP Features – 6-month Trend
These charts show how the prevalence of five selected, important SERP Features has developed in the US and UK search results over the last six months. The SERP Features shown are videos, images, maps, news and featured snippets. As above, you can use the tabs to compare results for the United States with the trends in the United Kingdom:
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SERP Features – Definitions and Descriptions
Google continues to transform from a simple search engine that just lists relevant websites to a powerful answer engine that aims to keep visitors inside the Google universe. One aspect of this is the expansion of SERP Features in the search results. This section provide summary documentation of all SERP Features covered by this Searchmetrics Monitor. The SERP Features are listed in alphabetical order:
For this SERP Feature, answers are pulled from Google’s Knowledge Graph and shown within a widget above the organic search results. Direct Answers can be shown for fact-based search queries to which there is a single, unambiguous answer. As opposed to Featured Snippets, Direct Answers only display one fact, and this is drawn from Google’s own data sources. This SERP Feature does not contain any external link to a relevant web result, as this is an example of Google aiming to answer the searcher’s query on the search results page itself.
These boxes contain an extract of a website that Google deems relevant in terms of its ability to answer a search query. The information displayed in a Featured Snippet box can be a text paragraph, list, table or video, and appears above the organic search results, giving it a high level of visibility. Though occupying a similar space, Featured Snippets differ from Direct Answers, because their content comes not from Google, but from third-party websites. This means that Featured Snippets represent an opportunity for websites to obtain an additional, highly prominent ranking in the search results.
Google Images is one important part of Google’s search engine. It is the most comprehensive, wide-reaching image search in the world, giving users access to many billions of images, and dealing with over a billion search queries every day. Results from Google’s image index are integrated as a SERP Feature into the organic search results. Attention to Google Images is a relevant part of search engine optimization because, as with organic results, images appearing high up in the rankings can be a valuable source of website traffic.
Knowledge Panels have become a well-known feature of Google’s search results. Today, Knowledge Panels don’t only include basic information on entities like people, institutions or companies – they can also include more in-depth details and/or information on other topics, such as illnesses or the response to an entertainment search. More information regarding the Google Knowledge Graph, which forms the basis for the content shown in Knowledge Panels, can be found in the Searchmetrics glossary.
One SERP Feature exclusive to mobile search results is Mobile Apps. For relevant mobile search queries, Google displays a box with suggested apps in the organic search results. The presentation of the apps borrows from the (Android) Play Store, and includes a preview image, rating and any costs. A user who clicks on the app in the search results is taken directly to the Play Store where they can download and install the app.
Google News is a vertical search engine that Alphabet launched in 2002. Selected results from Google search – usually news – are displayed in a highly-prominent box amongst the organic search results. For a website snippet to be included in Google News, it has to fulfil various technical and qualitative criteria and be accepted into Google’s news program for publishers. More information about Google News can be found in the Searchmetrics glossary.
Google provides a variety of options for advertisers to position their products or offerings in prominent places on the search results page. The main types of paid search result are:
- Google Ads: Google’s text-based AdWords ads can appear in two places on the search results page – above or below the list of organic results. They are marked by the word “Ad”, but otherwise replicate the appearance of normal organic results. More information about Google Ads can be found in the Searchmetrics glossary.
- Google Shopping: The Product Listing Ads (PLA), displayed in Google Shopping units, are usually shown for product-related searches of a transactional nature. This SERP Feature has a few variations, with Shopping Units appearing either above or to the right of the organic results, sometimes in carousels and sometimes as individual display ads. As well as (usually) a product image, each PLA includes price, retailer and other information like reviews. More information about Google Shopping can be found in our Searchmetrics whitepaper.
Related Questions appear in the search results as a SERP Feature under the heading, “People also ask”. The aim is that if a user is not satisfied with the results or information initially available on the first search results page, then they can get more quickly to the answer to a related search query – and do so without having to leave the Google search environment. Clicking on a related question opens a Featured Snippet that includes a short extract from a search result Google deems to be relevant, including a link to the website this has been sourced from.
Site Links are most frequently displayed in the Google search results when people search for brand keywords. Here, Google displays an additional SERP Feature, expanding the main organic result to include further relevant sub-pages, e.g. of the brand’s domain
The inclusion of video results on the SERP is one of the earliest integrations of additional content in the Google search results. Initially, Google Video started out as a separate vertical search engine. The better a keyword’s search intent can be served by audiovisual content, the more likely it is that video snippets will be included amongst the Google search results.
In Summer 2018, Google began showing a large number of video carousels for desktop searches. This meant displaying a horizontally scrolling video box that contained between four and ten videos, with three immediately visible without scrolling.Set up a Consultation