Way back when SEO was first getting started (in the dark ages), tracking your ranks on Google was as simple as figuring out where your URL landed on the SERP.
Unfortunately, many business owners’ ranks are suffering these days because they think rank tracking is still that simple.
In recent years, Google has added dozens of SERP features that ALL change the way your sites are indexed and ranked on the SERP.
How should you handle these new SERP features and incorporate them into your ranking strategy? What are the most important SERP features that you should be tracking?
We’ll look at those questions (and more) in this article. Let’s get started!
- What Are SERP Features and Why Should You Care?
- Why SERP Features Are Important
- Why You Need to Track SERP Features
- 4 Google SERP Features You NEED to Be Tracking
- How to Track SERP Features Using ProRankTracker
- 6 Other SERP Features to Consider Optimizing for
What Are SERP Features and Why Should You Care?
What exactly do I mean by “SERP features”?
A SERP feature is any type of Google result that doesn’t look like the “traditional” Google results.
For example, take a look at this standard Google result:
It’s just the standard meta title and meta description. There’s nothing other than a simple description of the page and a link to the page.
Now take a look at this enriched Google result:
This Google result shows pictures and an answer to a common question about the search term.
SERP features come in a lot of different variations–many of which we’ll look at in this article.
But why does that matter to you?
SERP features are important because they offer chances to distinguish yourself from the other results on the search page.
For example, imagine you see 10 results that look the exact same and 1 result that looks different in some way. Which will you be more likely to interact with?
The one that’s different, of course!
By utilizing SERP features, you can take advantage of that increased attention from your viewers.
Why SERP Features Are Important
SEO is cut-throat. It’s all about distinguishing your results from your opponents’ results.
The core reason that SERP features are important is that it offers a distinction between your URL and all the other URLs that are competing against you.
In other words, the primary benefit of SERP features is that it helps you stand out.
However, there are 2 specific benefits that we need to look at before we move on:
- SERP features offer higher visibility
- SERP features get more clicks
If you want to get more traffic to your website, the first thing you need is more impressions.
An impression is any time your search result appears on a Google searcher’s screen (whether or not they click on it).
More impressions mean that your website is getting more recognition.
When you utilize SERP features, people are more likely to see your post because it is set apart from the other results on the SERP.
When more people see your website’s URL, you’re more likely to make money off of that interaction.
Let’s be honest though–impressions don’t pay the bills. For that, you need clicks!
This is where SERP features really shine. They get more clicks per view than standard results, and it’s not even close.
For example, you’ll get about 30% more clicks with structured markup (rich snippets) than with normal Google results.
That’s HUGE! Getting 30% more clicks could drastically increase the size of your business over time. Each type of SERP feature has different CTRs, but you can rest assured that they’re typically much higher than standard Google results.
Why You Need to Track SERP Features
Hopefully, you’re convinced that you need to incorporate multiple SERP features into your SEO strategy.
But do you need to track SERP features, or should you just stick with good ol’ standard rank tracking?
You should absolutely track SERP features that you utilize in your SEO strategy. If you don’t you won’t get a very accurate look at the success of your strategy.
Let’s look at 3 specific ways that tracking SERP features will help your business.
First and foremost, tracking SERP features helps you rank higher on the SERP.
To figure out how, let’s imagine 2 different websites: one with tracking and the other without it.
The first website doesn’t track its SERP features, but it spends a lot of time researching all the best keywords. Unfortunately, it can’t monitor long-term trends and adjust its strategy accordingly.
The second website tracks all its SERP features and is able to notice the ranking trends based on different SEO strategies. Over time, they’re able to improve their strategy and continue on an upward trend.
Tracking SERP features ranks makes a HUGE difference in how well you can adjust your strategy and how high you’ll be able to rank on the SERP.
If you aren’t tracking your own SERP feature ranks, you can’t compare your competitors’ ranks to your own.
Without competitor monitoring:
- You won’t notice your competitors’ strategic developments.
- Your competitors will more easily be able to pass you on the SERP.
- You’ll miss out on learning from your opponents’ strategies.
Monitoring competition is an important part of SEO, but you have to be tracking your ranks for different search features to do it effectively!
The only way you can stay on top of your ranks when disaster strikes is to be tracking them using a rank tracking tool. The same is true for SERP features. You need to know when things are going wrong so you can fix them.
Rank tracking tools notify you when things are going wrong so you can quickly adapt and fix the issue before it gets too serious.
The 4 Most Crucial Google SERP Features You NEED to Tack
Now that you know you should DEFINITELY be tracking Google SERP features, let’s get into some specifics.
In this section, we’ll talk about 4 types of SERP features that you should start tracking ASAP.
The featured snippet for a given Google search is the top result that is displayed in more detail than all subsequent results.
For example, take a look at this featured snippet for the search term, “How can I learn landscape photography?”
It includes the first several bullet points from the article as well as a featured photo. These features make it much more attractive for viewers, which means it gets a much higher CTR than other SERP results.
Featured snippets are won by the page that answers search intent in the quickest and most easy-to-digest way.
Your site should use schema markup to increase the chance of winning a featured snippet. Tracking those URLs for featured snippets is a must if you want the coveted real estate at the top of the first page.
The Local Finder is a Google feature that shows searchers a list of local businesses related to their search term.
You must have a Google Business profile to make it into Local Finder. You can use a rank tracking tool to track your URLs with the location data attached.
ProRankTracker allows you to specifically track Local Finder results, as well as the local Snack Pack (which we’ll talk about next).
A little less than half of all Google searches include local intent, so the Local Finder is extremely important. Make sure you track this SERP feature if you want to get more of those local searchers!
Snack Pack is comprised of the top 3 Local Finder results for any local Google search. Unlike the Local Finder, Snack Pack results are displayed at the very top of the Google SERP.
Their position at the top of the SERP makes the Snack Pack an extremely desirable target for any local business.
However, getting from the Local Finder to the Snack Pack involves a lot of strategy. To develop that strategy, you’ll need to track your Google Business profile and make adjustments as necessary.
You should start tracking your Google Business profile right away to give yourself a chance of making it into the Snack Pack as soon as possible.
Many people don’t realize that they can track their YouTube videos just like any other URL. Google even has a special SERP feature dedicated to relevant videos.
If you can get your YouTube video into the Google video feature, your view count will skyrocket due to the increased volume of impressions.
The key to getting your video into those valuable positions is to track your ranks. An advanced rank tracker will track your video ranks on YouTube and Google, giving you a more complete look at how your ranks are performing.
How to Track the Most Crucial SERP Features Using ProRankTracker
The SERP features we have just discussed can all be tracked with ProRankTracker.
ProRankTracker is a highly specialized rank tracking tool that can help you track your ranks across Google’s different SERP features. It can use specific local tracking data to help you access local ranking data as well.
As we go through this section, we recommend signing up for ProRankTracker’s 30-day free trial. Use it to follow these steps and see how much it can help you and your business.
Add URLs and Keywords
First thing’s first: you have to add URLs and keywords for tracking in the ProRankTracker system.
The easiest way to add URLs and keywords is with the Add Wizard tool. Just click on the Add Wizard tab on the left-side toolbar, then fill in the required information.
If you want more control over the details of how your ranks will be tracked, you can use the Advanced Add tool. It allows you to:
- Access more tracking types
- Upload multiple URLs simultaneously
- Add notes and other details to URLs and keywords
Group SERP Features Using Tags and Groups
One of the most important parts of tracking SERP features is the ability to keep them all organized.
ProRankTracker allows you to add URLs and keywords to groups and tags for easy filtering later. You can use this feature to group URLs by which SERP feature you’re tracking.
For example, you could gather all your YouTube videos into a group and name it, “Videos.” Doing so allows you to have more control over how you view your ranking data.
The easiest way to add groups and tags is to add them while you’re adding your URLs in the Add Wizard or Advanced Add tools.
However, you can also group and tag them after the fact by using the Groups or Tag tabs on the left-side toolbar.
Filter Your Rankings Views Results
Tags and groups won’t do you any good if you can’t later filter your results to analyze a specific tag or group.
Luckily, ProRankTracker has powerful filtering options that enable you to look at 1 or 2 tags or groups at a time.
There are 2 different ways to filter your results.
- The eye-icon in the top left corner
- The filter options at the top of each Rankings View
The eye gives you various options to quickly find a certain tag or group. This quick finder is also used to narrow search results by term, URL, and report.
The filtering options at the top of each page filter only the results of that page. You can filter by tag, group, or any other number of options.
If you find yourself repeatedly using the same filters, you can save them on the “Saved Filters” tab on the left-side toolbar.
6 Other SERP Features SEOs Should Know and Optimize for
Tracking featured snippets, videos, Local Finders, and Snack Packs will be all 99% of SEO marketers need to track.
However, there are other SERP features that you should still optimize for — depending on your SEO goals.
Schema markup (for creating rich snippets) is a great step for people looking to up their SERP game.
There are many different types of rich snippets, from recipe cards to reviews.
Schema markup allows you to embed code in your site that tells Google to display that search result in a specific way.
The “People Also Ask” section of Google is one of the most popular sections on the Google SERP. It helps people expand their research and learn more about the topic they’re searching.
Some estimates show that up to 85% of all Google searches show a People Also Ask box on the SERP. That means it’s an ideal target for getting more exposure.
To rank on the People Also Ask box, it helps to include schema markup on your page and target specific questions.
If you sell a product online, Google is probably one of your biggest referring sites. However, you can get even more attention from searchers if you include the appropriate markup on your product pages.
Marking up your product pages allows them to appear on the shopping Google SERP feature, making it much more likely that you’ll make sales from organic searches.
Additionally, you can (and should) include schema markup that allows Google to include additional information on your search result. It can include details like colors and price to help shoppers click on the right results.
Your tweets could be a source of referral traffic to your website, which means they could be earning your money. Most smaller businesses don’t realize that their tweets can also rank on Google.
Google has special results formatting for tweets that shows the full text of the tweet to the searcher. This unique formatting makes it more likely that users will pause to look at and click on the tweet.
Not every company uses AdWords marketing on Google, but those who do get access to a special Google feature. The AdWords Google feature is always displayed at the top or bottom of the page no matter how your search result is actually ranked.
In other words, you can buy the top slot on the Google SERP with AdWords.
You can customize your ad to show certain details like phone numbers, product details, special links, and other details.
More than 80% of Americans get their news from digital sources like Google. That means the news is a huge opportunity for businesses to attract new visitors to their site.
News snippets are a SERP feature that display near the top of the Google SERP, showing searchers the top stories about their search terms.
When you write a news piece on your site, it has the potential to appear in the news section of the Google search.
But to alert Google that this is your goal, you’ll need to include the proper schema markup so you have a chance.
Google SERP features are an important part of tracking your ranks and getting more attention on the SERP! They offer a unique search result that is more likely to get noticed (and clicked!).
By targeting SERP features and tracking them with ProRankTracker, you should quickly start to see your ranks improving.