How to Research SERP Feature Opportunities for Conversational SERPs
Conversations begin on the SERP. Your next customer is there.
You can research actual-time search results from any location to uncover the most suitable form of content that will add value to your audience. Today optimizing content demands an intelligent approach gained by reading the SERPs. By optimizing your content to win rich results and SERP features through a SERP analysis, your business benefits by growing your influence and visibility.
Research that produces marketing intelligence about how your audience interacts with SERP features means winning more site visitors, and ultimately, sales. It’s real-time and conversational. This article will help you switch to investing in content marketing for engagement on the SERPs over primarily focusing on your website.
An understanding of foundational terms will help you gain actionable insights from reading this article.
Table of Contents
- How to Research SERP Feature Opportunities
- What is a SERP Analysis?
- What is a SERP feature?
- What is SERP Volatility?
- Why Does Visibility on Google SERPs Matter?
- How to Conduct a SERP Analysis
- How do Search Engines Select Which SERPs to Display?
- Next Steps After SERP Research Informs your Content Strategy
- August 2022 SERP News
What is a SERP Analysis?
A SERP analysis is a marketing research process to understand how search engines read essential SEO data and which elements influence how web pages are chosen to display on search results pages. It offers real-time insights on how to rank your content. It assists in improving your topical content hubs, and discover opportunities to rank above your competitors.
Online success starts with good observations. It’s about triggering meaningful conversations. Here are some sample questions to ask when performing a SERP analysis:
- Which SERP featured snippets are you currently visible in?
- Which question answer features snippet types do you lack and need?
- If People Also Ask boxes are displaying multiple images when clicked?
- Which search queries trigger map packs, knowledge panels, answer cards, product image carousels?
- Are you showing up in the Google Business Profile review carousel feature?
- Do you have branded and non-branded sitelinks displayed for organic listings and ads on the SERP?
- Is your Merchant Center feed information displaying in organic results?
- Are your competitors showing up in “Things to know”, “More Recommendations”, “Related searches”, or “From the web” and you’re not?
- Do you show up with the Explore section of the SERP is triggered?
- What information is provided (or missing) about you in “About this result”?
- Have you noticed if longer meta-descriptions are displayed towards the top of the SERP?
- Do you show up in Right/Top/Bottom paid blocks?
- Does your business show up in Google Ads, Shopping Ads or Product Listing Ads on the SERP?
- Do you have a personal and business knowledge graph? Can you improve it?
There are so many other insights to learn from the SERPs. The ways to reach your audience on the SERP is rapidly expanding; content on your entity home lets your help influence what shows up about you.
What is a SERP feature?
A SERP feature is any immediate result on a Search Engine Results Page that people see immediately and that is not a traditional organic result. It entails query results displaying on the page you see after conducting a query into Google, Yahoo, Baidu, DuckDuckGo, Ahrefs, or any other search engine. SERP features are an integral part of how Google and other search engines work. They are rapidly improving at helping users refine and find what they are search for.
There are even multi-source SERP Featured Snippets (FS). Undeniably, these can be very powerful for site owners. Any time a search engines provides a special SERP treatment that visualizes your listing above the others, you may end up gaining a ton of valuable clicks.
SERP features are a big opportunity. Why? As Google and other search engines evolve, they are displaying and adding SERP features. They use SERP features as both a way to bring immediate answers to queries in addition to helping users explore a topic. Here is Google’s definition of a FS:
“Featured snippets are special boxes where the format of a regular search result is reversed, showing the descriptive snippet first. – Google
What are Conversational SERPs?
Conversational SERPs make information retrieval interfaces feel more natural and convenient for their users. SERP answers are becoming clearer and have a straightforward conversational format. It is a form of artificial intelligence specifically designed to deliver faster, more natural and engaging touchpoints between brands and their customers.
Conversational SERPs are heterogeneous SERPs.
In relation to the Knowledge Graph, Google Research Fellow Jeff Dean shared insights into conversational search development, the Knowledge Graph, and what to expect in the future. The tech giant uses conversational search to answer bigger and more complex queries. Google moved from simply adding words to previous queries to create new, relevant ones, to understanding the context better and can answer as though holding a conversation with a person on its SERPs.
”Many of these advanced models are focused on the single but important modality of written language and have shown state-of-the-art results in language understanding benchmarks and open-ended conversational abilities, even across multiple tasks in a domain. They have also shown exciting capabilities to generalize to new language tasks with relatively little training data, in some cases, with few to no training examples for a new task. A couple of examples include improved long-form question answering, and our LaMDA model, which demonstrates a sophisticated ability to carry on open-ended conversations that maintain significant context across multiple turns of dialog.” – Jeff Dean, Senior Fellow and SVP of Google Research
Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines provide an invaluable look into how Google judges what goes on its SERP. It prioritizes quality content and E-A-T. Google’s policies prioritize quality content and demote content of little value. Since search engines comprehend more complicated and abstract sentence queries, emphasis content relevance and quality. Go for concise, correct, and consistent content publication that is useful for real conversations.
Search has become fully functional virtual assistants that have surprising skills in language and syntax comprehension. Voice Search has changed the SERPs and makes them more conversational and natural than searches started by typing keywords into a search box.
The article SERP-Based Conversations by Maarten de Rijke talks about Conversational topic shifting. It is different from web search; its user inputs are conversational, support exploration, and serendipity. “As we surround ourselves with a range of mobile devices, e.g., smartphones, smartwatches, which only have small screens or even no screen at all, search is increasingly performed in a conversational manner”, according to Rijke.
What is SERP Volatility?
SERP volatility, or search engine results page volatility, monitors and assess the overall levels of change occurring to search engine result pages . SEOs professionals with a agile approach to marketing find volatility less synonymous with stress and losses and can often claim better results faster. It is vastly unpredictable as algorithms, opportunities and other factors continually SERP testing and updates occur.
Gain a solid understanding of how Google is updating to satisfy the user at all touchpoints of a query. It goes well beyond content on your website. Google knowledge panel displays, It is image search. Google is maps. Google is voice answers; Google is video and podcast consumption. It’s Merchant Feed search feature is a shoppers’ assistant.
Why Does Visibility on Google SERPs Matter?
Visibility on Google SERPs matters because the tech giant is translating user conversations right on the SERPs. Businesses are given more opportunity to gain more relevant web traffic – however, getting it is more complex.
- The average click-through-rate (CTR) for Google SERPs first position is almost 30%.
- People have the right to consume content the way they want to. Rather than fight it, be where people are looking for answers.
- Search visibility on the SERP means ranking as high as possible on search engines. This often lets you out rank your competitors and connects you to more potential customers, in principle leading to additional sales. With increased SERP visibility, your business can target your ideal audience and source qualified leads.
SERP Watch reports that “More than two-thirds of all clicks on SERPs go to the top five results.”The January 1, 2022 SEO Statistics All Marketers Should Know in 2022“ article by Darko Radić also provides the following statics:
- Upon updating and republishing old posts, organic traffic can grow up to 106%.
- In 2021, Google covers 86.6% of the search engine market.
- Typically, Google’s algorithm will process around 3.5 billion searches per day.
- Nine out of ten published blog pages never see any search traffic.
- More than half of all global traffic originates from mobile devices.
How to Conduct a SERP Analysis?
1. Conduct entity query research.
2. Identify your audiences’ search intents.
3. Analyze the competition.
4. List and prioritize SERP opportunities.
5. Optimize web content.
6. Continuously track the SERPs.
Next, let’s summarize how to do each step. If you remain stuck in former approaches to content creation, you’ll miss a basic understanding of how search engines work today. Rather, research SERP feature opportunities and show up where you audience is looking for what they want.
1. Conduct Entity Query Research
Start with the ontology of the SERP entity. This is better than starting with the keyword (search phrase). “Search as a journey” has both a historical and filter refining aspect. Attribution modeling is the journey in reverse. Voice search is foundational to multi-modal search. The journey extends past the conversion.
Ensure rich support after the sale, like assembly instructions, where to order repair parts, or accessories that go with this product. This is your fertile opportunity to trigger another sale.
You can determine whether or not a particular query phrase that you want to rank for is relevant and how its usage by your audience. Entity search in semantic knowledge graphs helps identify how search engines catalog knowledge. It tells us what information they believe is most important to people. A marketing researcher’s efforts can provide a client with an entity search query summary for a specific entity as currently displaying in response to the query.
You need much more than “difficulty, volume, and CTR” data insights. The Associating an Entity with a Search Query Patent assigned to Google on October 2, 2017, tells us more about entity search queries. They may be associated with the entity and the option may be to perform additional searching for the entity.
“Some implementations are directed to methods and apparatus for identifying multiple queries associated with an entity and identifying one or more of the queries as an entity search query that provides desired search results for the entity. Also, for example, some implementations are directed to methods and apparatus for identifying a particular entity (e.g., via a search request for the particular entity) and, in response to identifying the search request, identifying an entity search query corresponding to the particular entity.” – Google Patent US9336211B1 
Adjust to calling it a query and not a keyword because this better relates to an actual person searching to discover something. “Keyword” implies that your focus is on a string of words and characters. Search has become more conversational with actual people; you can engage with them right on the SERP. This change will help you better align with how Google Search actually works.
2. Identify your Audience’s Search Intents
Research and test SERP features to ensure that your content is relevant to searchers intent.
Put your efforts more into how to rank for intents versus keywords. SERP analysis is a part of keyword research. It’s the study of the top-ranking pages in the SERP that leads to understanding the search intent behind keywords you desire to rank for.
Is it Transactional intent? Informational intent? Navigational Intent? Commercial Intent? This is important to establish before creating content pieces intended to satisfy the user intent. This premise assists in content ranking success because it is more customer-centric than traditional keyword research. You can more precisely understand and satisfy the user experience. Optimize for the searcher experience across all SERP features, directories, marketplaces, and associations.
View search engines as an intelligent, global library. This adds the context that they do more than just house content. They bring relevant content to real people. They answer their questions. They do so by drawing from trusted sources that they can quickly understand and match to query intents. Let’s look at it simplistically.
All search engines need to understand two basic things:
- Published content.
- The searcher’s query
Google semantic search entity organization and machine learning patents empower it to comprehend both. Meaning, to rank your content on the SERPs, analyzing both informs your content strategy so that you can provide the best content for the searcher’s intent.
Local Intent SERP Features
Increasingly, Google often shows multiple user intents. It serves a single content type less often on the same SERP – and more often when the query term is broad and undefined. For example, if you are needing an immediate healthcare service provider, like an emergency room, that’s local. The searcher doesn’t need how-to informational content or basic question answer content. They need to know where to drive for help. Note if your research tells you that a local pack owns the top results. This signals that query has local business intent.
Now that you’ve identified the user intent of any given query, let’s cover the next step of your SERP analysis process.
3. Analyze the Competition
It’s worthwhile to sort out how other businesses are winning SERP visibility and how you can level up your search marketing strategy. You also need to determine whether the expected amount of traffic from your targeted SERP win is worth the cost and effort. Your research data to the start of how to optimize your website for better chances of ranking in key SERP positions.
This SEO tactic of assessing your chances of outranking the competition includes reviewing the top-ranking web pages on the SERP for a particular query or topic. SERP Analysis is effective to uncover how another entity may have achieved a specific SERP position.
Once you ensure you can get meaningful traffic from a given term, find creative content ideas from these insights. It is less about a target word count range for each content piece; you need long-form content when your audience gains value by covering your topic comprehensively. Take note if your competitor’s content that is outranking you is covering aspects that you are missing. SERP featured snippets often product massive amounts of traffic when the page, article, or post covers a topic in detail.
Avoid the approach of rewriting your competitors top-performing content. Out-performing them them means creating better content.
4. List and Prioritize SERP Opportunities
Focus on SERPs that you are capable to rank for.
Your featured snippets worth gaining will depend on your business and/or personal goals. Some niches have unique opportunities. An expert’s SERP analysis will identify them for you. For example, the first one listed below is for retailers. The second one applies more broadly but is essential for healthcare content marketing.
Google SERP Product Carousels
Leverage the SERP Image carousel as a way to bypass competitive SERPs.
This is a row of interactive visual search results. A Google carousel result includes a series of images with captions related to the search query. These images are clickable, and selecting one takes the searcher to the relevant page for more details.
They include the product name, retailer, price, product image, and may include key information like “free shipping” or “minimum order”. Initially they were a list-like rich result for users to swipe through on mobile devices; today they work much the same on desktop. If you hover over a card, it expands and you can see a small icon in the upper right-hand corner that will take you to the items shopping cart. The product name in the SERP carousel is also clickable.
On the pictured SERP here, we see how Product schema helps improve SERP visibility but is not a requirement.
- 2 without schema
- 10/12 with schema
- All of them had tacking code
Product images are the SERP are actual products, typically driven by schema and/or the Google Merchant feed. They bring bring users directly from Search to retail stores. This underscores the importance of creating your best feature product images and adhering to image guidelines.
Author Knowledge Graphs
This SERP feature provides key reference points that add context around an authors’ topical focus. They also convey their level of topic coverage on the SERP. They often include links and/or citations which additional provides overlapping knowledge graph indicators of the author’s ‘authority’ in the tradition ‘links = votes’ concept.
During our SERP author analysis, we find that most search results’ author recognition have Author schema implemented or are widely recognized topic experts.
5. Optimize Web Content
Algorithms are smarter every day. This means optimizing content to gain SERP clicks needs an intelligent approach.
Now you want to use the data that you gained. After you’ve researched a SERP entity, you’ve’ learned what search are expecting; an answer, a book, editorial piece, video content, a product, consumer reviews, a tutorial? What you learn informs your SERP feature strategy. Are there no traditional blue links? Only traditional blue links?
You learn how people consume content for the SERP entity. You learn how to gain traffic from a targeted SERP by optimizing your content for it. Then you’ll either create content designed to be featured in the featured snippet, target the video carousel, use FAQ content format, or whatever. This is an essential first step in planning out your general content strategy.
How SERP Analysis Informs Zero-Click Content Writers
The best content writers are currently creating Zero-Click content. Content marketing managers must be sufficiently agility to let go of what they know and to embrace new search engine result page (SERP) opportunities. Former search marketing strategies on how to bait and trigger clicks, track how people reach that insight by using lead generation forms, etc., is now seen as keeping users waiting. Everyday is rich with ways to build on foundational marketing teachings and do something that embraces the modern web better.
Searchers prefer not to have to click to “learn more”, or wait for a follow-up email, or join a group to get the answer. Whether its been for reporting, building our own case studies, or securing future paychecks or job positions, tracking ROI is of huge importance. First, effectively reaching that consumer drives all those following successes.
In this world of “I want an answer now”, former marketing strategies comes up short. Searchers can now gain inherent value right on search result pages. If your business isn’t there, likely a competitor is. This article is teaching you how to inspire the searcher to click through to your site – because they want additional value.
How SERP Analysis Informs Paid Marketing
When you analysis reveals few organic results on the page and most are search ads, know it will be difficult to win organically on this SERP. If it has financial or healthcare intent, expect it to be more challenging. When companies perceive that they can make money on specific SERP, if this is your target SERP, either additionally invest in ads or find a different organic SERP to compete on.
Understanding current SERP trends can inform your content writing strategy, paid marketing, and improve rankings.
6. Continuously Track the SERPs
Many people focus on a basic Google SERP analysis; go more in-depth by extending your research to additional browsers.
Tracking all the important information and SERP fluxuations helps you carry out the analysis efficiently. It should make a difference not only today but help met your future business goals. eyeballing the SERPs. Rank tracking software assists in easily uncovering big insights by keeping an eye on the SERPs.
Tracking tools are helpful because they:
- Reveal insights you are likely to miss otherwise.
- Confirm your previous SERP analysis findings.
- Reduce the time your on-going SERP analysis needs.
- Some give SERP data insights over a 30 day span so you can easily note fluxuations.
- You can identify SERP stability. This signals volatility where you content can benefit from improvements. It helps surface content quality issues. Start with a free SERP checker and as you advance, consider some of the better paid options.
Best SERP Analysis Tools
There are both free and paid tools that make researchers efficient. Many activities and tactics can get client’s pages to rank better. Avoid what has become less effective content and time-consuming to create; rather, content with the potential to populate SERPs is often out-performing other types.
There are many. Below are several that we use on a daily basis.
1. Google Search Console
Because it is free and valuable, we recommend you start by using your Google Search Console. It provides continually update data insights and directly correlates to ways to improve Google rankings. Observe your rankings on Google using the page filter and drill down to the Queries tab. Here the Search Console reveals the top keywords your pages rank for. Identify potential SERP feature opportunities by listing which pages your rank high on Google that have high-volume keywords but lack clicks.
2. Analyze SERPs on the SERP
The SERP itself is you best analysis tool. Conduct the same searches that you want your customers to see; then track and record various SERP displays. This human process of looking at the top-ranking web pages in the SERP helps you evaluate existing opportunities and what search engines chose to display to searchers.
It helps you establish how challenging it will be if you want SERP prominence for it and to outrank your competitors. By using incognito mode on your browser. It will help eliminate any history or browser extensions that could influence your research.
Read headers and note whatever is visible. Skim the content in general. This helps to understand what search engines believes is the best content they can display for the query.
Note all the URLs that display for a specific SERP feature. You can identify the first four SERP feature spots. The reality is that this is highly valuable to those entities and they want to keep them. If you can get your desired URL there, be prepared to not only earn it but keep it. Otherwise, your win may be only temporally. Then we use Google sheets to extract the information we want from the search results.
3. Conduct a SERP Analysis Using Ahrefs
Go to Site Explorer.
Go to the Organic Keywords 2.0 Report.
Select “SERP Features” and select the date you want.
Select a keyword to study and Click on right “SERP” drop down menu to reveal the SERP Overview.
You can also use Ahref’s SERP Checker to see “SERP position history”. I like having historical rankings of the current top pages to learn their historical ranking patterns. Your research indicates whether search engines seem satisfied with the SERP and current positions are stable, or if it’ll be more likely to promote other relevant pages to the top.
3. Check for SERP Feature Ideas Using SEMrush
SEMrush’s Featured Snippet report in Position Tracking gives quick SERP insights. Based on the target keywords you’ve added to your campaign, it reports on how many featured snippets your website already has (if any), how many opportunities you might go after, and how challenging they are. Next, by adding your landing page and target keyword(s) into their On Page SEO Checker you can see “Est. Traffic potential” for possible daily traffic if your site wins the featured snippet position. We also like the platform’s Keyword Overview: SERP Analysis.
4. Use Rank Ranger Rank Insights
It provides a group of SERP icons that inform you of which SERP features that your URLs are not currently featured in. It’s lets you see which SERP features that your site’s URLs are featured in. This expands your pool of SEP opportunities. We like how rankranger.com helps you establish Period Visibility. This means how long a given URL was visible for of the 30 day period. A high Period Visibility Score means this URL is stable.
5. DataForSEO Bing SERP API
It’s good to expand your research beyond the walls of Google. We recommend using the DataForSEO Bing SERP API to track ‘organic’, ‘paid’, and ‘related searches’ results found on Bing. There are good documentations written for demanding digital marketing experts. Check out the Local Pack endpoint of Bing SERP API which gives data from the Bing’s Local Results feature. Remember: for maximum reach on search engine result pages, you need to conquer organic and paid results.
6. Moz Pro SERP Analysis tool
Many prefer keyword output and SERP visibility using the Moz Pro SERP Analysis Tool. It eases the efficacy of your efforts called “SEO SERPs”. Moz Pro gives subscribers a track keyword position to gage how volatile the keyword phrases you’re targeting are. You can gain detailed summaries of your keyword rankings over specified time periods. This helps to base SEO SERP decisions on accurate data.
7. Study SERPS with Chrome Developer Tools
The Topics API proposes a way to provide topics that a user might currently be interested in, based on their recent browsing activity. These topics can supplement contextual information to help select appropriate advertisements. You can conduct research by experimenting with the Topics API for a single user running Chrome 101 or higher.
Tracking your work lets you learn if you are being effective or not. It helps refine your high-impact SEO strategies. Conversational SERP topic tracking involves semantic coherence measuring as a binary classification task.
How do Search Engines Select Which SERPs to Display?
SERP presentations continually update to determine and align with what drives user clicks and in which context.
For every search query, there are multiple similar searches that are triggered by different words. Google often displays these SERP alternatives under the heading, “People also ask”, “People also search for”, “Questions related to [search term]”, “Relates searches”, and more. In recent years, the number of clicks directly on the SERP is rising.
It’s both challenging and exciting to update our vision of future SERPs. Weekly, or daily, search engines are providing more SERP filters and becoming more visual. Meaning, SERP analysis is an on-going process. It let’s you respond quickly to new consumer demands, preferences and marketing opportunities. It let’s you identify and take advantage of top opportunities. For example, PLAs are tons more engaging since they feature product pictures, offers, shipping details and reviews.
Next Steps After SERP Research Informs your Content Strategy
* Provide a great user experience
Expect a lot of testing and revisions as Google seeks to continually improve the user experience. Consider, what is mobile first indexing doing? It is now around entities, which enables the tech giant’s testing and adaptability. This may make it harder for people to re-engineer its search algorithm. Perhaps the continually volatility is like a chaos factor, making it harder to game.
* Create, test, and implement schema markup
To increase your chances of winning SERP features, at least implement essential schema markup. Like French, or Spanish, consider it a search engine language that search engines use; a semantic vocabulary. It’s added code that provides information to search engines explaining what your content is about. It specifies the type of content you have published, by whom, it’s featured image and other helpful entities.
Basic schema is foundational. Extended and customized schema on your content will further improve your chances of increasing your SERP visibility. Since there are many structured data options, someone with years of experience makes the best decisions. Google’s schema search gallery demonstrates what rich results look like, and help you embrace more advanced and optimized content.
* Get involved in multi-faceted search
This is about being in all spaces where you can engage your audience. If you get it Google Discover, Google Play or Google Podcasts you can enjoy less of a line to the top. Think past your website and social platforms; be conversant where people are. There is lots to gain from knowing the SERP middle. This is where searchers make many decisions. SERP research will uncover multi-channel conversions and which device participants come from.
Consider which channels help you can become more visible. Investigate more you can promote from scratch. Fewer marketing strategies are effective that don’t take SERP opportunities into consideration. Content writing that only gets traffic if backlinks point to it, is becoming more stagnate. Google looks for validation in real conversations where you are engaged.
August 2022 SERP News
You can increase organic traffic, generate more leads, and increase sales due to finding ways to optimize for featured snippets. Here are the latest emerging opportunities being talking about the first half of this month.
- Google announced the power of MUM to improve featured snippets and promote content from reliable sources that aligns with general “consensus”. 
- Reviews with photos tend to last longer on the SERP. 
- Bing Shopping adds Coupons and “Ethical” 
- Google Ads Panel now being displayed in Search and Maps for GBP. 
- Perspectives label Featured Snippets are now showing multiple answers under a ‘Perspectives’ label. 
- YouTube product reviews YouTube product reviews from organic product results are showing up in the mobile SERP. 
SUMMARY: Research to Discover New and Important SERP Features
The Google SERPs are more complex than ever and offer more opportunities than ever.
That means you have exciting opportunities to increase your search visibility; it also could mean you can lose visibility to stronger Google-owned entities. Once you grasp the current state of the SERPs you also identify and implement areas of improvement. Hill Web Marketing can help you use your SERP analysis data to your advantage. We welcome the opportunity to partner and help you research SERP feature opportunities.
In order to know just what to do to improve your SERP presence and engage your customers in conversational search, call 651-206-2410 for SEO Website Audit Today