A Definitive Guide to Google’s SERP Features

SERP features are different elements and features that Google uses to show you information when you enter a query. The type of SERP feature you’ll be shown depends on the type of query you entered. If you type in “pizza places near me” you’ll most likely get a Local Pack in return. If you type in a celebrity’s name then you’ll most likely get a Knowledge Panel featuring some basic information. The primary goal for SERP features is to give the searcher the most relevant information as quickly as possible. SERPs used to just contain link after link without much variation. Sites had to compete in the same ways to rank for a multitude of keywords without much to help distinguish themselves in the results. Now they can optimize their webpages for a few bells and whistles to increase their visibility in the SERPs. Well for starters they add nuanced ways to disperse information for different audiences. For the brands that aren’t industry leaders they represent a chance to build brand awareness and drive traffic. For marquee brands it’s a chance to give relevant information extremely quickly and cement their reputation as industry leaders. Whether you’re a marquee brand or a small e-commerce operation, by optimizing your webpages according to certain guidelines, you can put your website on prime SERP real-estate to drive traffic or get people to your business quickly. So let’s take a look at each SERP feature and the practices that help get websites to rank as them.

Featured Snippets

A Featured Snippet is information pulled from a third-party website and displayed in a box typically at the top of a SERP with a link to the website the information was pulled from. Perhaps the SERP feature with the highest click-through-rate (CTR), the featured snippet is extremely valuable for driving traffic, instilling brand credibility, and establishing your brand authority. This featured snippet has a direct link to our former site and occupies the first position in the SERP. While Google’s implementation of some SERP features–that provide answers immediately for queries such as this–can reduce the amount of users that click through, they actually retain good CTRs and drive traffic. Although the search volume is low for the above query, the CTRs are still at a high percentage.

How do I rank for a Featured Snippet?

To rank for a Featured Snippet you should be already ranking within the top 5 positions (sometimes it can be positions 6-10, although it’s very rare). Using structured data like Schema Organization Markup can help search engines like Google understand your content a bit better. Schema markup is not required to rank for a featured snippet; however, as many other types of SERP features do require structured data to rank for them, it doesn’t hurt. Featured Snippets don’t always come as direct answers to questions. They can be definitions of certain things as well, as noted above in Positionly’s Featured Snippet. If you want to increase your chances of ranking as a featured snippet, it helps to have FAQs or a knowledge base that tries to directly define and answer queries about certain topics. E-commerce sites also have the ability to rank as featured snippets, which can link directly to product pages.

Difficulty of ranking as a featured snippet: Medium – High.

You should be ranking in the first 10 positions for a keyword, so after you climb that hill you can try to optimize your content accordingly.

Featured Snippet Value: High.

The traffic and credibility you get for ranking as a featured snippet is incredibly valuable.

Can it link to my site? Yes.

Clicking on a featured snippet will take you directly to the website.

Adwords Top and Bottom

Adwords’ (the first Google SERP feature) positions can typically occupy the first four positions of a SERP and drive traffic to your website, at a cost. Prices can vary as you will have a higher cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-mile (cost per 1000 impressions) depending on the search volume of the keyword you want to appear in relevant queries for. Organic traffic completely dwarfs that of paid traffic, and in the same article they also referenced a study by Groupon that found that 60% of all their direct traffic came via organic search. The study concluded that organic positions 1-5 accounted for about 67% of clicks, 3.7% for positions 6-10, roughly 6% for all results after, leaving just 3.7% for Adword positions. Hence, Adwords can provide a boost in traffic; however, it’s not the SERP feature to channel the majority of your effort and resources.

How do I get started on Adwords?

To get started on Adwords you can visit Adwords Express and follow their steps to begin your paid campaigns. You will only play when users click the ads that appear, so it’s not relative to how much time your ad appears in the SERPs unless you’re paying for cost-per-thousand-impressions (vCPM). An impression is anytime a query produces your ad to show up in the search results.

Difficulty to appear as an Adwords result: Low.

Just build your campaign on Adwords and start. It’s that easy.

Value: Low.

The CTRs for adwords are much lower than traditional organic results, even for positions 6-10, so you’re better off optimizing your webpages with traditional SEO methods.

Can it link to my site? Yes.

Clicking on an Adwords result will take you directly to the page.

How do I rank for Related Questions?

Try to rank for related questions in much the same way you would for Featured Snippets; with good SEO. Already ranking in the top 10 results will make it easier if your webpages are answering specific questions or defining certain things. FAQs and knowledge bases are great tools for these.

Difficulty to appear in Related Questions: Medium-High.

Similar guidelines that apply for Featured Snippets also pertain to Related questions.

Value: Medium-High.

They obviously have less of a CTR than Featured Answers do; however, people often type in queries and want answers for what’s in Related Questions rather than the answer box, and will thus look in the dropdown for answers to their queries.

Can it link to my site? Yes.

Clicking on a related questions result will take you directly to the page.

Local Packs

A Local pack is a SERP Feature that Google will display if the search engines believe a query has local intent in regard to locations. Queries like “pizza places near me” will return local packs. They are typically shown as 3 top results that will open up more local results and map locations when you click “More places”. They are extremely frequent with mobile queries, especially voice-searches as they are becoming more popular with the rise of mobile search.

How Do I Rank for a Local Pack?

  • Optimize for Local SEO
  • Use barnacle SEO directories like Yelp, Yellow pages, etc.
  • Use Google My Business
  • Have a website that is optimized for mobile. Response web design, adaptive design, or mobile URLs are great ways to build a mobile site.
  • Use a Schema Organization markup for your business location, name, and telephone number

Difficulty to Rank in a Local Pack: Medium.

If you’re optimized for local SEO and implement the abovementioned practices, you can rank for this SERP feature with time and effort.

Value: High.

Local packs are great for driving real life business to your branch and have good CTRs.

Can it link to my website? Kind of.

Clicking on a local pack result will take you to the maps results page which will typically feature a Knowledge Panel with ratings, reviews, directions, hours of operation, and a link to the website.

Local Teaser Pack

Local teaser packs are so similar to Local Packs that they’re almost indistinguishable. The main difference between local packs and Local Teaser Packs is that teaser packs tend to feature hotel and restaurant results with more information regarding hours, reviews, pricing, and images while Local Packs highlight a wider variety of local businesses.

How Do I Rank for a Local Teaser Pack?

Follow the guidelines listed above for a Local Pack with special attention to filling out your organization schema markup completely.

Difficulty to rank in a Local Teaser Pack: Medium. 

Following the guidelines mentioned above for optimizing your site for local SEO and you’ll garner similar results for a Local Teaser.

Value: High.

Prices, ratings, and photos give a surplus of information right there on the SERPs and it takes up a lot of quality real-estate on the page.

Can it link to my website? Yes.

Clicking on a local teaser pack result will take you to the maps results page which will typically feature a Knowledge Panel with pricing, ratings, reviews, directions, hours of operation, room availability if it’s a hotel or hostel, and a link to the website.

Difficulty to Implement Ratings and Reviews: Low.

Follow the directions within Google and apply the correct schema markup and you’ll find results like the ones above.

Value: High.

Reviews and testimony often provide great social proof that your business has served others well in the past.

Can it link to my site? Kind of.

When they appear within SERP results under sites like Yelp, users that click on them will be taken to the Yelp page; however, when they appear in Local Packs or Knowledge Cards, a direct link to your site appears close to the reviews.

In-depth Articles

An in-depth article is a SERP feature that is hard to distinguish from a typical organic result. They are usually found at the bottom of a SERP and provide users with lengthy content about the subject they want to know more about. They are normally reserved for topics about people, organizations, and broad subjects. This SERP feature is usually reserved for publications from top publishing houses and can appear in blocks of three. You can see how many other articles have referenced the linked ones, which only adds to their credibility right there on the SERP.

How can I appear as an In-depth Article?

To appear as an in-depth article, you need a schema article markup and to correctly optimize the following elements:
  • Headlines
  • Alternative headlines
  • image (must be crawlable)
  • Description
  • Publishing date
  • Article body
You need to use rel=canonical tags for paginated content and if some of your pages require sign-ups or online registrations, you may not be eligible to appear as an in-depth article as Google will not allow for content to be posted it cannot crawl.

Difficulty to Appear as an In-depth Article: Low.

If your content is verifiable, long enough, and contains the correct markups, appearing as for this SERP feature isn’t too difficult as long as you are a recognized publisher.

Value: Low.

They don’t do much in the way of driving revenue or traffic as are typically featured lower down in the SERPs.

Can it link to my site? Yes.

Clicking on an In-depth article will take you directly to the website hosting the document.


Sitelinks are other relevant links within your website that appear for queries involving your exact domain or brand name. They are extremely helpful in helping users get to main pages they want to see directly from the SERP. Sitelinks have great CTRs and essentially let your website occupy up to 10 SERP positions within the first position. Sitelinks are effective SERP features for spreading traffic around your website and negating the hassle of needing to navigate from the homepage to the visitors’ desired page.

How can I get sitelinks to show up in the SERPs for my website?

To get sitelinks for your website, you’ll need to make sure you have the following:
  • A good navigational structure and hierarchy for your website. Internal linking is paramount here
  • A sitemap that you’ve submitted to Search Console
  • A website schema markup
Your site must also receive a decent amount of traffic under your brand name. Also, make sure your meta descriptions for each page are showing up properly and that they describe what each page will contain.

Difficulty to display Sitelinks in the SERPs: Low.

Follow the abovementioned steps and sitelinks should appear when branded queries are entered.

Value: Medium – High.

This SERP feature acts as a link multiplier on the SERPs, giving your top result up to 10 links for users to visit your site with.

Can it link directly to my site? Yes.

Sitelinks go to different parts of your website as displayed in the SERPs.

Search Box

A Search Box also appears in conjunction with sitelinks, but gives users the ability to search for content on your site directly from the SERPs. You have to already have an existing search engine on your website to enable the search box feature.