Today, Google is the uncontested search engine market leader, and CTR studies show that websites appearing on the first page of Google retain over 75% of searchers’ clicks.

That’s why it’s crucial to know which type of results you should target when optimizing your website to gain more exposure on the first page of Google.

In this guide, I will show you 33 types of search results that may be triggered when searching on Google, and what changes you need to make for your site to target such results and make your client or manager happy with your results.

Let's dive right in.

What is a SERP?

A Search Engine Results Page (SERP) consists of a list of web pages served by Google to its users when they are searching for something online.

A SERP contains two main components:

  1. Search query - a single word or phrase that users type into a search engines’ search box (such as Google) to find the information they need.
  2. Search results - a list of web pages returned by the search engine in response to the user’s query. Each result typically has a URL pointing to the actual web page, a title and a short description. It can also feature visual enhancements such as rating stars, thumbnail videos, or images.
SERP representation graphic

We can then break down the search results into three general categories:

  • Sponsored - placements for which you have to pay to have your website pages displayed on the search engine results page. Google ranks paid listings by their relevance, cost-per-click bid, click-through rates, and competition.
  • Organic - unpaid, natural listings ranked by the search engine’s algorithms based on their relevance to the search query. Paying a fee to move a listing higher up in the natural search results is not possible.
  • SERP Features - additional elements used in the Google SERPs that are not regular Organic results nor Sponsored placements.

1. Text Ads

The placements displayed at the top and bottom of the search results pages are called Top or Bottom text ads and resemble a lot with Organic results. They are being differentiated from the Organic listings using a visual clue - a small, black label that contains the word “Ad”.

Although the Top ads may occupy up to the first 4 positions of a SERP, they do not bring the same CTR value as the top organic positions do as highlighted in this study.

2. Call-Only Ads

Same as the above-mentioned Top and Bottom text ads, Call-Only or Phone ads are Paid placements that prominently display your business’s phone number.

Clicking on these ads will result in a phone call to the business. For this reason, these kinds of ads can appear only when the search happens on a device that can make phone calls.

Such ads are more likely to be spotted at the very top of mobile SERPs when the commercial intent is high, or the searcher is looking for a specific business like a flower shop.

In a mobile-first world, calls are a leading channel when it comes to reaching a business. Thanks to features like Google’s Call-Only ads (for Paid advertising) and Click-to-Call buttons (for Organic search), 60% of the searches performed on smartphones result in a phone call to a business.

If you want to encourage your prospects and customers to interact with your business, make it as easy as possible for them to call you.

60% of smartphone users have contacted a business directly using the search results

3. Shopping Results

Similar to the Top, Bottom, and Call-Only ads, the Shopping feature is a Paid placement that may appear in Google Search at the very top or the top-right of the results page.

They appear when a user searches for a brand or product name or enters a query with high commercial intent, such as making a purchase.

Google labels shopping results as “Sponsored” or appear with an “Ad” or “Ads” label to differentiate them from the other search results featured on the page.

They are attention-grabbing and stand out most from all sponsored placements as they contain multiple image-focused product listings. Alongside the product image, each listing may feature the store name, price, customer ratings, and special offers.

How Can I Get My Web Pages Displayed As Sponsored Results?

The only way in which you can own a Text Ad or Call-Only placement is by setting up a sponsored campaign via Google Ads.

For Shopping results, you will also have to set up a Google Merchant Center and link it with your Google Ads account.

Implementing Sponsored results requires at least basic knowledge about pay-per-click advertising, bidding strategies, or competitor research. If you are new to paid search, you can start with this guide.

How Can I Track Sponsored Results?

You can monitor paid search results originating from desktop devices with Advanced Web Ranking, via the dedicated Google Sponsored search engine.

Advanced Web Ranking's Sponsored search engine for monitoring paid results
Brodie Clark avatar

Google’s new eCommerce-related features have been available for around a year now and I've been referring to them as 'Organic Product Carousels'.

I often write posts keeping track of developments and they're now slowly starting to roll out worldwide.

For my eComm clients, this is a huge opportunity to get more visibility in Search.

To become eligible for these features it uses input unlike any other organic feature: feeds submitted via Merchant Center and Manufacturer Center (plus Structured Data).

The carousels can involve 'Similar Products', 'Popular Products' or 'Best Products'. They're hard to become eligible for (you need to actually have a solid offering already), but there's definitely a lot that can be done to ensure Google has all the information they need. Here's another post I wrote which goes into more detail on this.

Chapter 2

Organic Results

Unlike Sponsored results and SERP Features described later in this guide, Organic listings are present without exception on every page of search results, and we can divide them into two categories:

  1. Regular Organic Results
  2. Enriched Organic Results
Organic results illustration

1. Regular Organic Results

This category describes the search results based on unpaid, natural rankings determined by Google’s search algorithm.

Organic results are ranked according to their relevance to the search terms using hundreds of factors, also known as ranking signals. For this reason, in contrast to Sponsored listings, no one can pay to get listed in the Organic search results.

You can optimize Organic listings for higher positions in SERPs using Google’s SEO guidelines and best practices.

2. Enriched Organic Results

Sometimes referred to as Rich Snippets, they are enhanced Organic search results.

The enhancements are elements on the regular Organic results, in addition to the blue link, title, and description snippet meant to enhance the user experience or provide additional information relevant to the search query.

As opposed to regular Organic listings, the Enhanced results are more visually appealing. The Rich Snippets stand out, and depending on the page enhancement format they may gain more exposure on a SERP.

That usually leads to higher click-through rates when compared to common Organic results.

Most enhancements require using structured data on the web pages (e.g. review stars). At the same time, some of them, such as sitelinks, can be earned without any coding, being implemented automatically by Google.

It is important to note that structured data only enables an enhancement to be displayed in Google search. Providing structured data is no guarantee that a web page will appear in search results with that particular enhancement.

For this guide, I picked the most significant vertical enhancements of organic results, as follows:

  • AMP
  • Sitelinks
  • Search Box
  • Breadcrumb
  • Ratings and Reviews

AMP

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, a Google-backed project aiming to help you optimize your web pages for higher performance and more efficiency on mobile devices.

AMP results are accompanied by a small “Lightning Bolt” icon, which helps users identify the pages from mobile SERPs that load quickly and smoothly.

Although AMP itself is not a ranking factor, speed is an essential signal for mobile search ranking.

Also, implementing correct AMP article schema markup on your web pages will increase the likelihood to be featured on mobile search as part of rich results (e.g., recipes) and carousels (e.g., Top Stories).

It is worth mentioning that besides its advantages, the AMP project has some significant downsides, as highlighted by the community. There are two aspects of its implementation that raise concern among the community members:

  1. For “opt-in” to AMP content, Google may include promotional content on web pages and may alter your site layout (e.g., no longer shows email opt-in forms).
  2. AMP diverts traffic from your pages, keeping the users who have clicked on an AMP result on Google’s domain.
How Do I Get Started With AMP?

You can use the official documentation to start implementing AMP for your website, a plugin if you use WordPress, or enable it on your Squarespace website.

AMP is also available on other platforms.

Ratings and Reviews

The Ratings and Reviews snippet appears between the page title and description. As its name suggests, this enhancement includes a rating score and sometimes a short excerpt of review.

Google uses a horizontal line of orange stars and a one to five numeric scale to show the rating.

The rating value is the average of the combined rating scores from all the reviewers. Search results also contain the total number of ratings the product has received.

Results with ratings usually appear in searches related to e-commerce services, products, or recipes.

As they grab users’ attention and provide credibility via social proof, Organic search results featuring rating stars typically lead to significantly higher CTRs than those without them.

How To Implement The Ratings And Reviews Snippet?

Here’s what you need to do to get this type of search results:

  • Follow Google’s guidelines.
  • Apply the Review markup to your product pages.
  • Make sure Google can crawl your pages.

It is worth saying that product ratings are just one of the many enhancements that Google can trigger for your Organic listings. 

By adding the right markup on your product pages, a lot of additional information like price, stock availability, thumbnail videos or images, may be enabled as well. 

Besides the documentation from Google, you can find inspiration on Product structured data also on the schema.org page.


Sam Underwood avatar

An essential part of any SEO's job is considering how to enhance how you look in search results.

Implementing structured data and acquiring rich results is a great way to improve your sites CTR so it should be a core part of your search strategy.

Google provides a variety of tools to make this all easier for you, including:

So make sure to make the most of them and get improving your search snippet!

How Do I Get My Web Pages Displayed On A Higher Position In Organic Search?

Optimizing your website to reach the top 10 positions on Google’s result pages isn’t at all a straightforward process. Organic SEO is more of a long term commitment, which takes time, involves lots of hard work, and sometimes luck before seeing any improvements in your Google ranking.

Your optimizations skills, the resources and budget you are willing to invest, and how your business stands up against the actual competition play a significant role in the process.

So, long story short, if you want to rank higher in Google in 2020, you still have to avoid spammy schemes and follow Google’s guidelines.

Since every business is unique, there are no quick win techniques, strategies, best practices, guidelines, or you name it :) that can guarantee you a specific search result. The same tactic likely has a different impact on two websites.

You must continuously make improvements, test new techniques, measure results, and adjust as needed.

Here’s a list of recommended resources that may come in handy:

  • The official YouTube channel for Google Webmasters, where you can learn the basics of improving your site’s presence in Google Search.
  • SEO Marketing Hub from Brian Dean, where you can find tips and strategies on SEO, keyword research, content optimization, and more.
  • SEO tutorial for beginners that covers white hat SEO strategies that matter in 2020.
  • Essential starter kit with 55 resources for new SEO marketers.
  • The Junior SEO task list, a customizable training program designed to help junior marketers get the right SEO skills in just a couple of months.
How Can I Track Organic Listings Of My Website?

Organic search results originating from searches performed on Desktop and Mobile devices can be monitored with the help of Advanced Web Ranking when selecting the Organic search type for Google.

Advanced Web Ranking's Organic search engine for monitoring organic positions from Google

Chapter 3

SERP Features

These are special search results that Google may include on its pages in addition to the above mentioned Organic and Sponsored results.

Alongside the Organic results, which are present on every search results page, there is a variety of SERP Features that Google can trigger as a response to a search query:

  1. Featured Snippets Results
  2. Direct Answer Results
  3. Local Pack
  4. Local Teaser Pack
  5. Image Pack
  6. Top Stories
  7. People Also Ask
  8. Twitter Pack
  9. Video Carousel
  10. Recipe Cards
  11. Knowledge Panel
SERP features illustration

2. Direct Answer Results

For some queries, Google may display the answer in the form of a light-gray bordered box containing only a brief answer to what you are looking for.

Also known as Rich, Quick, or Instant Answers, these results instantly answer basic questions about weather, sports scores, the nutritional content of food, and more. The information featured is a part of the public domain but may also come from Google's Knowledge Graph and data partners.

The majority of Direct Answers are uncited results - they do not credit the source of the answer nor include a link towards a web page - which, often but not always, appear right at the top of the SERP, above all the other results.

Similar to the Featured Snippet, the query does not necessarily need to be in question form or clearly expressed for a Direct Answer to occur. If Google can answer the question immediately, without requiring you to leave the current SERP by clicking on any other result, then a Direct Answer will be triggered.

Although they have a similar format (the answer appears in a light-gray bordered box), Direct Answers shouldn’t be confused with Featured Snippets.

The difference lies in the attribution. The Direct Answers feature publicly available information and don't link to the source. At the same time, the Featured Snippets pull the answers only from the top-ranking search results and include a link to the web pages the featured answers come from.

Depending on the questions people ask, a Direct Answer can take a variety of forms. Some answer boxes, such as the Math Calculator or the Unit Converter, are interactive with options to change formulas, units, etc. to produce a new answer based on the information fed into them.

Below I created a list with some of the most popular types of Direct Answers that Google may return when searching online.

Weather Box

Search queries about the current weather and upcoming forecast for a specific location usually result in a Weather Box answer.

If you do not specify the location in the search query (e.g., "weather" or "temperature"), Google will display local weather information relevant for your IP address.

The Weather Box always appears at the very top of the search results. It features the current temperature, precipitation, humidity levels, and also the wind speed of the given location.

This Answer Box is interactive, allowing users to select the temperature unit - Celsius or Fahrenheit - or swap between the temperature, precipitation, and wind upcoming forecasts for the next few hours or days.

How Can I Get My Content Featured In A Weather Answer Box?

Google is pulling the weather information from its partner — weather.com, so there are no chances to have your content displayed in the Weather Box.

WhenIs Box

The WhenIs Box, also known as the Brief Answer, is usually displayed for search users that are looking for a quick answer about:

  • past or upcoming holidays and events (e.g., “easter 2020”)
  • famous people (e.g., “Madonna's birthday”)
  • movies (e.g., “star wars release date”)
  • sports (e.g., “Fenway park opened”)
  • places (e.g., “when was America founded”)
How Can I Get My Content Featured In A WhenIs Box?

For this type of direct answer, Google is using only information publicly available. Since the information provided is not linked to the source, brands are not eligible to be featured in the WhenIs Box.

Google Flights

When searching for flight information, such as plane tickets or routes between two destinations, a Google Flights result may occur.

The Flights Box is a flight finder service embedded by Google right in the SERP, which aggregates airfares from over 300 travel partners, including airlines, online travel agencies, and aggregators.

When you explicitly state the destination in the search query (e.g., “cheap flights to Amsterdam”), a list with the best departing flights and the duration of each flight is provided. This type of Flights Box format indicates whether the flights featured are nonstop or connecting ones, and it shows pricing information as well.

Most Flights Boxes are interactive with options to specify the departure and arrival airports or destinations, airlines, and dates to find the best departing flights for. Upon clicking on the Search flights arrow at the bottom of the box, you can expand your search on Google’s dedicated flight search engine - Google Flights - part of Google Travel.

Google Flights does not sell plane tickets to the consumer so a flight cannot be booked directly from this search engine. Google Flights will pass the user to the partner websites where he can complete the booking.

However, after selecting a flight, you can also find the option to Book on Google, if available. You will complete your transaction with the airline or travel agency without leaving Google.

Starting with January 2020, Google stopped charging partners for referral links on Google Flights and removed the “ads” and “sponsored” labels from Google Flights and the flights unit in Google search results.

How Can I Get My Business Featured In A Flights Box?

Google gets the offers suggested in the Flights box only from its travel partners (over 300 airlines, online travel agencies, and aggregators). For more details on how you can earn the Google Partner status, check out this article.

The partnerships seem not to impact whatsoever the way Google is ranking the flight search results. The results suggested are listed based on price and convenience using factors such as flight duration, number of stops, airport changes during layovers, etc.

Currency Converter

In response to currency conversion queries, Google usually returns a Currency Converter built-in directly on the search results page.

The Currency Converter features the exchange rate for the query initially typed in Google’ s search box and an interactive calculator where the user can specify two new currencies and the amount to generate a new conversion for.

This type of Direct Answer also shows a chart with the exchange rate trends for the currency pair selected.

How Can I Get My Web Page Featured In A Currency Converter Answer Box?

Google takes the exchange rates from its partners, so unless you own one of these websites, your content probably will not be eligible for this type of Direct Answer.

Unit Converter

Search queries about units of measurement may trigger a unit conversion calculator embedded right at the top of the SERP.

The Unit Converter features three dropdown menus, which allow users to specify another type (i.e., Time) and other units (i.e., Hour to Second) of measurement to produce a new conversion for.

The two conversion fields displayed are also interactive allowing users to type in the numeric value they wish to convert from one unit of measurement to another.

How Can I Get My Content Featured In A Unit Converter Box?

For the Unit Converter, Google uses only publicly available information. Since the answer returned is not linked to a source, web pages are not eligible to be featured for this kind of Direct Answer.

Math Calculator

Similar to the Currency and Unit Converters, the Math Direct Answer is a basic calculator integrated directly in the search results page that can solve most mathematical equations.

The Math Calculator occurs when searching "calculator" or when you type the equation into the search box on Google.

How Can I Get My Content Featured In The Math Calculator?

Since the answer returned uses information from the public domain and is not linked to a source, web pages are not eligible to be featured in the Math Calculator.

Dictionary Box

When searching for a word’s definition, form, synonyms, or antonyms, Google may list a Dictionary Answer Box above all the other search results.

Usually, Google includes in the Dictionary Box the definition of the word, the transcription, and an audio file with the pronunciation, but sometimes thumbnail images can be featured too.

To get more info about the featured word, you can expand the Dictionary Box by clicking on the dropdown arrow at the bottom. When expanded, the box will show the word’s origin, translation to other languages, and a chart showing its usage over time.

The Dictionary Box is a digital dictionary built-in directly on the SERP. You can use it to find a new definition by typing the word in the featured search box.

How Can I Get My Content Featured In A Dictionary Box?

The definitions featured are pulled only from Lexico.com, a collaborative project powered by the world's leading digital dictionary - Dictionary.com - and Oxford's free English and Spanish dictionaries. Answers from other websites are not eligible to be displayed.

Nutrition Box

The Nutrition Box may appear for people looking for a particular nutritional category (i.e., protein) of food.

The Nutrition Box is interactive, allowing users to instantly calculate how many nutrients the food product has for various gram quantities.

When there are multiple types for the food item shown in the Nutrition Box, like happens for yogurt, users can also specify the type of product they want to get the info for.

How Can I Get My Content Featured In A Nutritional Answer Box?

The United States Department of Agriculture is, by far, the most cited source for the Nutrition Instant Answers, so it is less likely that answers from other websites to be displayed.

Sports Box

Google displays the Sports Direct Answer for queries related to sports, like division/league stats or a sports team results.

The sports realm is vast and, depending on the search query intent and seasonality, the Sports Box may appear in a variety of formats, but in essence, this Direct Answer displays the last few matches and upcoming schedule of a sports team or championship.

In most formats, the information shows in a tabular form with the team/championship’s name and logo, the score of recent games, the date, and sometimes a game recap video.

Clicking on any of the box’s interactive elements will result in a visit to a vertical page with detailed info about the upcoming matches, related news, standings, or players.

This block stands out from the other types of Direct Answers as its color can change according to the representative color of the club or championship featured.

How Can I Get My Content Featured In A Sports Box?

Google hasn't publicly mentioned the source of sports results, nor it includes links to sources, so it's unlikely that you will be able to get your data in the Sports Box.

Stock Box

Most of the time, when you enter a query related to stock in Google’s search box, it returns a Stock Direct Answer.

As its name suggests, this Direct Answer shows the stock’s price and a line chart with its evolution for every 5 minutes of trading for the current date.

You can see the history of the stock price over various periods as well by clicking on the desired time interval tab - 5 days, 1 month, 3 months, year-to-date, 1 year, 5 years, or since the first listing on the stock exchange market.

How Can I Get My Content Featured In A Stock Box?

Google’s Stock Box only pulls a company’s financials from big stock exchange platforms, like the Nasdaq Stock Market, so other websites are unlikely to be featured.

Translation Box

When the search query involves translating a word or phrase, Google may display a Translation Box containing their equivalent into another language.

The Translation Box is the minimal version of the Google Translate service, embedded directly in SERP, just under the search box.

Such as Google Translate, on the left, you can find the query in the language from which you translate. Then, on the right, you can find the correspondent in the language to which you translate.

Depending on the query entered, a Translation Box can appear in a variety of display formats. The most basic format features two clickable menus to specify the languages and the audio files with the pronunciation of both the original query and its translation.

More complex formats can contain images, a voice-to-text translation option and a drop-down menu to see synonyms or definitions of the translated word.

How Can I Get My Content Featured In A Translation Box?

The answers featured in this type of Direct Answer are exclusively sourced from Google's Translate free platform. Information from other web pages is not eligible to be displayed.

How Can I Track Direct Answer Results?

Most Direct Answers feature information that is part of the public domain so brands are not eligible to be displayed. And since Google doesn't provide the source of the answer, there is no value a website can acquire from this kind of search results.

3. Local Pack

The Local Pack, also referred to as a 3-Pack, or Local Finder generally shows up when the search query implies finding a local establishment like a swimming pool or barbershop.

Local boxes are usually located at the top of the search results page and consist of a map with three local establishments listed below.

The map has pins to indicate where the local establishments related to the search query may be found, while under the map are featured the name, physical address, phone number, and website link for the businesses listed.

Depending on the industry-specific format, the information featured for each business is different and may include directions, open hours, or star ratings from the associated Google My Business pages.

The businesses appearing in the Local Pack are primarily ranked based on the searcher’s geographical location and query intent.

When the search query doesn't include the location, Google will use the IP address of the device where the search is performed and will return the businesses nearest to that location.

Clicking on any of the three local establishments listed will result in a visit to Google Maps, where the full profile of the business is available.

If more than three establishments are considered to be relevant to the search query, the “More Places” link is included in the 3-Pack. Clicking on this link will open up more local businesses and map locations on Google Maps.

4. Local Teaser Pack

Regular Local Packs can show up for all sorts of local establishments such as car rentals, hair salons, auto repair shops, gyms, and many others. But for reservation-based businesses, such as restaurants, the local-intent search might yield another type of local result called Local Teaser Pack (sometimes also referred to as Local Snack Pack).

The Local Teaser is so similar to the Regular Local Pack that they are almost indistinguishable.

The difference between a 3-Pack and a Teaser lies in the amount of descriptive information featured for each establishment. The Local Teaser lists more elements, such as prices, testimonials, amenities, or short descriptions.

Also, businesses appearing on the Local Teaser have no phone number, and instead of the link to the website and directions, their listings showcase a photo.

However, as with the Local Pack, clicking on one of the results will open a Google Maps page featuring more businesses and an extended card of the selected business, with a link to the website, directions, phone number, photos, social profiles and more.

How Can I Get My Business Featured In Local Results?

The most important factors considered when ranking local business are location and proximity to the searcher. 

A business will be listed in the Local Pack only if it is geographically relevant to the search query, so a starting point would be to make sure that the associated Google My Business (GMB) profile is up-to-date, professional, and complete.

Also, ensure that the business NAP (name, address, and phone) is accurate and consistent across all GMB listings.

Add LocalBusiness schema markup to your website to help Google understand it better. There is a variety of structured data properties you can fill out for a local business schema, but at first, you should start with the main ones:

  • the name of the business
  • the physical address of the business
  • the telephone number
  • a description of the company and offerings
  • the associated logo
  • information about the business's contactPoint
  • general openingHours
  • GeoCoordinates of the business

With the continuous growth of traffic coming from mobile devices and Google switching to Mobile-first index, Local Packs are becoming extremely frequent on mobile devices. Having a mobile-friendly website and both well-written and structured content will surely improve your local rankings.

Establishing a social media presence and generating positive reviews through Google My Business will also help. When serving the businesses in a Local Pack format, Google takes into consideration the number of reviews as well as the business’s rating.

All these should be part of your local SEO strategy to help boost local rankings for your client's businesses.

Daniel Leibson avatar

I think the local pack is one of the most misunderstood SERP features, to be honest. People have long focused on things like your Google My Business profile and local citations.

But the Google My Business profile is just table stakes these days, and local citations mean very little.

The best way to increase the number of local packs you rank in, as well as your individual pack rankings, is to aggressively focus on your site.

That means having a fast, crawlable, renderable site, with great location pages that have detailed local, service and product information. It also means having solid internal and external links!

How Can I Track Local Results?

Local results triggered for searches performed on Desktop devices can be tracked with the help of Advanced Web Ranking when setting Google Desktop to Universal, Organic & Places, or just Places search.

You can track local results that originate from Mobile searches with the help of the Universal version of Google Mobile.

Advanced Web Ranking's Places search engine for monitoring Local pack results from Google

5. Image Pack

The Image Pack appears for queries where visual aid is deemed relevant and beneficial to the search engine user. It commonly appears as a horizontal carousel of related images and can be situated on any position within the results page.

Sometimes, instead of a carousel, the Image Pack consists of two to three rows of images featured at the very top of the SERP.

Clicking on any of the elements (heading, filtering tabs, or one of the images) within the Image Pack will bring the searcher to Google’s Images vertical, and from there, you can navigate to the websites hosting the images.

How Can I Get My Images Featured In An Image Pack?

While being featured in the Image Pack may not bring much traffic, it does not hurt either to have them optimized. They can still be beneficial for a website as they can bring some backlinks if used by other marketers.

To have your images show up for the Image Pack you should:

  • Create descriptive file names using 2 to 4 plain words separated by hyphens, not by underscores or other special characters (e.g., woman-long-haircut.jpg).
  • Use ALT attributes to create short and concise (<100 characters) explanations that could include keywords relevant to the image.
  • Pick the right file format to get the best quality and compression for your image type (e.g., photo, text, icon, or line drawings).
  • Have an SEO-friendly and human-readable URL.
How Can I Track An Image’s Position in SERP?

You can track image results from Google’s regular search network with the Universal version of the Desktop or Mobile search engine, which is available for monitoring in Advanced Web Ranking.

Advanced Web Ranking's Universal search engine for monitoring Image Pack results from Google

6. Top Stories

The Top Stories feature appears as a block of three cards or more featuring trending topics or breaking news considered relevant to a search query.

It typically shows up in the top half of the first results page. Each card is enhanced with a small yet representative image or video preview retrieved from the featured article. The publisher and timestamps are provided as well.

Clicking on the “More for” link below the Top Stories will bring the searcher to Google’s News vertical, which can be usually accessed using the menu bar located under the results page's search box.

How Can I Get My Articles Featured In Top Stories?

In general, it is pretty difficult to gain a spot in Top-Stories because the articles featured are time-sensitive and mostly pulled from reputable news portals, online communities, and blogs who can publish reliable and trustworthy content quickly.

Top Stories pop up less often for queries about niche topics and websites that do not mainly rely on publishing news may find little value in this type of SERP feature.

However, since the Top Stories are prominent and visually appealing, they tend to have good CTRs, so it is important to be at least aware of them even if your business is not specialized in current news and trends.

The listings appearing in Top Stories are powered by Organic Search (not Google News) being completely algorithmically selected.

As a small business you can set up your website for a chance to appear in stories by producing timely content about topics of interest, in addition to preparing that content to get on the first page of search results by following traditional SEO practices:

  • Keep an eye on timely topics or anticipate upcoming events around your niche and create quality and unique content, not copied from the web.
  • Incorporate appropriate keywords throughout the headlines, body content, title tags, etc.
  • Properly format the content using HTML tags to ensure it is readable and easy to follow.
  • Promote your articles to acquire as many authoritative and reputable backlinks as possible.

On mobile devices, an increasingly large amount of the articles featured in Top Stories use AMP. By adding valid AMP support to your web pages and using structured data markup appropriately for your articles, you will increase their likelihood to show up in the Top Stories carousel.

How Can I Track Top Stories Results?

Top Stories results originating from searches performed on either Mobile and Desktop devices can be tracked with the help of Advanced Web Ranking when setting Google to Universal search.

Advanced Web Ranking's Universal search engine for monitoring Top Stories results from Google

7. People Also Ask

The People Also Ask result, sometimes referred to as Related Questions, is presented as a series of expandable boxes featuring questions that are similar or closely related to the original search query.

When you click one of the featured questions, the corresponding box expands and provides a brief answer to that question along with the URL of the web page from where the answer originated.

Initially, a set of 2 - 4 questions are displayed in People Also Ask, but with each click on one of the featured questions, two or three additional questions appear. A PAA result is, therefore, ever-expanding, new questions being continuously added to it after each click.

The PAA result typically appears right under a Featured Snippet. Still, it can be dropped lower on the page if Google considers other search results to be more relevant and inserts them between the PAA and the Featured Snippet.

1) Usually, the Featured Snippet is accompanied by a PAA Box displayed on a lower position of the same SERP. Even if they coexist most of the time, the incidence of PAA results is considerably higher when compared to Featured Snippets.

According to Advanced Web Ranking’s SERP Features tool, for the US only, the occurrence of PAA box is 50% higher than the Featured Snippets triggered for the same queries.

The incidence of of People Also Ask and Featured Snippets search results  on mobile devices according to the Advanced Web Ranking's SERP features tool

2) The incidence of PAA results is not equal for all countries, being more popular in some countries, as highlighted in the Google SERP Features study.

The incidence of People Also Ask search results by country as highlighted in the Advanced Web Ranking's SERP Features tool

3) The PAA results are way more frequent on Mobile devices as the data from Google SERP Features study suggests.

The incidence of People Also Ask search results by device according to the Advanced Web Ranking's SERP Features tool
Kristina Azarenko avatar

‘People Also Ask’ results provide a deeper understanding of what users are interested in. This helps a lot while doing keyword research as well as recommending which content my clients should include on their website pages.

The questions, along with the related searches displayed below the search results are a goldmine. And these ideas are valuable not only for SEOs but also for copywriters researching the topics before writing the content.

At the end of the day, one of the main ideas behind SEO is to provide the content which satisfies users’ needs and answers their questions.

Kristina Azarenko - eCommerce & Technical SEO Consultant, MarketingSyrup
How Can I Get My Content Featured In People Also Ask?

PAA results are generated based on relational topics and machine learning algorithms. Currently, there is no dedicated markup meant to help your content gain a spot as a PAA question.

What’s interesting is that the websites that appear in the PAA section may rank anywhere in the top 100 results for that query.

However, each PAA question is essentially a Featured Snippet as they both provide a snippet of content along with the URL of the web page the answer was sourced from. 

This, correlated with the fact that until recently, the answer from the Featured Snippet was also displayed among the PAA questions, it is safe to assume that the optimization rules for Featured Snippets also apply for PAA:

  • Provide short yet complete questions and answers.
  • Write in natural, non-promotional language.
  • Structure your content following a logical question & answer flow, then optionally markup this content with Question schema.
  • Think about the semantic meaning of the questions and integrate similarly related keywords into the answers to provide more context to your content.
How Can I Track People Also Ask Results?

People Also Ask boxes triggered for searches performed on either Mobile and Desktop devices can be tracked with the help of Advanced Web Ranking when setting Google to Universal search.

Advanced Web Ranking's Universal search engine for monitoring People Also Ask results from Google

8. Twitter Pack

The Twitter feature shows up as a carousel featuring the most-recent tweets about the search query.

The carousel can appear anywhere on the SERP, but most often can be spotted halfway down the page when searching for brands or individuals.

Initially, the carousel consists of three cards with links to the image, other social profiles, or web pages mentioned in the Twitter posts featured. Clicking on the small arrow button will scroll to the right to reveal three more tweets.

The Twitter logo, along with the name of the Twitter profile, are displayed above the carousel. If clicked, both the account’s name and the “View on Twitter” link will open the Tweets section of the mentioned profile, while individual cards will open the actual Tweet.

How Can I Get My Tweets Showing Up In Google Search?

The Twitter Pack can be triggered only for brand or individual name queries meaning that the likelihood of someone finding a carousel of tweets without searching for a brand or an individual's name is almost zero.

However, the carousel is pretty attention-grabbing and occupies a significant amount of space on the results page. Therefore it can be great to gain even more exposure on page one.

It is not very clear on which criteria the Twitter profiles are chosen for the carousel as the featured tweets seem to come from both verified and unverified accounts but also from profiles with thousands of followers or just a few.

Since it appears that it is not mandatory to have a verified (blue checkmark) Twitter account to end up on Google Search, small brands and individuals alike might earn the carousels if regularly updating their Twitter feed. Popular Twitter profiles enjoy the carousels more frequently as they have high amounts of followers, post multiple times a day, and tend to get more engagement, but the verification process is not necessary.

In the end, it’s up to Google to show your latest tweets in a pack, but regularly updating your Twitter feed with information that encourages engagement (likes, retweets, or comments). Also, interacting with other Twitter accounts will certainly increase the chances to earn a carousel of tweets in Google Search results.

How Can I Track SERP Tweets?

You can track the ranking position of a carousel of tweets from Google Search for Mobile or Desktop queries with the Universal version of this search engine, which is available in Advanced Web Ranking.

Advanced Web Ranking's Universal search engine for monitoring Twitter Pack results from Google

10. Recipe Cards

Recipes are individual rich cards that usually appear in Google Search listed as part of the same search result element (e.g., a host carousel).

Each card links to the landing page the recipe is sourced from and may include rich information, such as:

  • A thumbnail image or video.
  • The name of the blog hosting the recipe.
  • A rating score.
  • The total cooking and preparation time.
  • The number of calories per serving.
  • A snippet of text with the ingredients.

On Desktop devices, Google displays only three cards initially but with each click on the Show more button, it loads another nine recipes.

In Mobile searches, four cards are immediately visible. Upon clicking on the More recipes button, it lists around 30 more recipes.

Each website included in the Recipes block, regardless of whether it is immediately visible in SERP or “revealed” using the dedicated button, is found lower on the same SERP as a standalone Organic search result.

How Can I Get My Content Featured As A Recipe Card?

To enable your recipes to appear as rich results in a host carousel or grid, you must mark up your content using valid Recipe properties and follow the general structured data guidelines.

Adding Recipe structured data does not guarantee that your pages will appear in Google Search results for this particular feature, of course. That also depends on many other ranking factors, like the quality of the recipe content provided, its potential to rank on the first page, location, or the device type the search is performed from.

How Can I Track Recipes Results From SERP?

The ranking positions of Recipe results that originate either from Desktop or Mobile searches can be tracked with the help of Advanced Web Ranking when choosing the Google Universal search engine.

Advanced Web Ranking's Universal search engine for monitoring Twitter Pack results from Google

11. Knowledge Panel

This SERP Feature provides basic information about the query’s main subject while pointing towards additional related content.

It usually pops up when looking for an entity like a brand, a place, a famous person, a book, a movie or a show, an event, a song, etc.

The Knowledge Panel is a highly dynamic feature in that its content changes depending on the entity. It can host anything from text, images, ratings, reviews, factual information, social profiles, similar search topics, and any other relevant information to the search query.

The information within Knowledge Panels comes from Google’s Knowledge Graph, described by Danny Sullivan as:

“A system that understands facts and information about entities from materials shared across the web, as well as from open source and licensed databases. It has amassed over 500 billion facts about five billion entities.

Wikipedia is a commonly-cited source, but it’s not the only one. We draw from hundreds of sources from across the web, including licensing data that appears in knowledge panels for music, sports and TV. We work with medical providers to create carefully vetted content for knowledge panels for health issues. We also draw from special coding that content owners can use, such as to indicate upcoming events.”

A Knowledge Panel is easy to spot due to its prominent format and position in SERP. For desktop searches, it usually appears to the right of the other search results, but you can also find it at the top. On mobile devices, it appears near the top of the SERP.

Except for links to specific information sources (such as Wikipedia or a social profile), most of the elements you see in a Knowledge Panel are query refinement links, which will bring you to a new SERP.

1) According to Advanced Web Ranking’s SERP Features tool, on average across all the industries monitored, the Knowledge Panel feature appeared in about 7.5 percent of all desktop searches performed in the US in June 2020.

The incidence of Knowledge Panel feature in the US market for searches performed on desktop devices

2) The occurrence of Knowledge Panel in SERPs varies upon both country and industry.

In the US, with roughly 30 percent, the Automotive industry enjoys way more often this SERP feature than all the other industries.

The occurrence of Knowledge Panel results in SERPs varies upon both country and industry
How Can I Own A Knowledge Panel Result?

The Knowledge Panels act as an interactive hub of information that relies on Google’s Knowledge Graph. Since Google automatically generates them, there are no guaranteed ways to get featured in this infobox.

However, if you want a Knowledge Panel to show up for your brand, a good starting point is to fill out your Google My Business profile with relevant information, if you own a local business.

You should use appropriate schema markup (e.g., Organization, Person, Place, etc), expand your social media presence across many channels, and, if possible, have these accounts verified.

It's also necessary to get coverage from multiple reliable sources. While most people look for the quick route to get a page on Wikipedia (the most commonly-cited source in Knowledge Panels), corroboration for the Knowledge Graph has always required more than Wikipedia.

When a Knowledge Panel shows up in SERP, the entity this infobox is about, such as a person, can “claim” it.  The claiming process implies getting verified and allows entities to update their Knowledge Panel by suggesting edits directly to Google.

For local businesses, the process of claiming takes place through Google My Business profile. It enables businesses to manage the elements displayed in their Knowledge Panels, such as operating hours or phone numbers.

How Can I Track Knowledge Panel Results?

The Knowledge Panels showing up in searches performed on both Desktop and Mobile devices can be tracked with the help of Advanced Web Ranking when setting Google to Universal search.

Advanced Web Ranking's Universal search engine for monitoring Knowledge Panel results from Google

Larisa Rosu

Larisa Rosu

Larisa Rosu is a Customer Support Engineer at Advanced Web Ranking. With strong background knowledge in CRO, UX, and SEO technologies, she is truly passionate about her work and thinks that top-notch support is a key differentiator that separates a business from its competition.