What is On-SERP SEO and why is it important?

On-SERP (Search Engine Results Page) SEO is an umbrella term that encompasses every chance you have to increase your search presence, brand awareness, and click-through rate on search engine pages. Think about how a Google search results page looks now – it’s so much more than 10 results. On any given search, you could see featured snippets, map listings, ads, images, shopping listings, and more – the experience is so much richer than it used to be, as are the opportunities to appear on the SERP. 

All search engine optimization is done to secure better positioning on a SERP, but on-SERP SEO is also taking into account actions that don’t involve a click-through to your website. In fact, just recently, zero-click searches became the majority. People can now get some of their questions answered from featured snippets, map listings, and other elements on the SERP without an additional click over to another site. 

This article will detail the different elements of On-SERP SEO and what you can do to leverage and interact with these parts to improve your presence on SERPs. 

Parts of On-SERP SEO

Here is an example of a SERP we were featured in that contains several on-SERP optimizations:

on-SERP SEO Example for benefits of schema markup

Featured snippets, also known as answer boxes, appear in position zero of Google, which is the top of the page above the #1 search listing. Because of the trend towards zero-click searches, winning a featured snippet is a great way to increase awareness and defeat your competition for impressions.

In general, the best way to win a featured snippet is to organize your content in a way that is logical and indicates to Google that you have a useful, succinct answer to the question being asked.  For more information on featured snippets and detailed instructions on winning them, see our blog on how to win featured snippets on Google.

Meta Descriptions & Title Tags 

Oftentimes, the title and meta description associated with your SERP listing will serve as a first impression to potential visitors. The title of your page (denoted by <title> tags), which becomes the headline in search results, is the biggest clue to the overarching topic being addressed on your page, and should be unique to the rest of your pages. 

The meta description is the default blurb under the title in search results (although sometimes Google overrides it), and provides additional clues to searchers scanning search results about what to expect if they click through to your site. If either the title tag or the meta description is misleading or inaccurate, eventually your position will drop. 

Make sure you add dates to your meta descriptions, especially for content that isn’t evergreen. If people searching know your content is fresh and/or equally updated, you are more likely to get higher click-through rates

When optimizing titles and meta descriptions: 

  • Include the keywords you want to rank for whenever possible
  • Do not write duplicate descriptions or titles for other pages 
  • Make clear what people should expect when they click over to your website. If this is, in fact, your first impression with a new audience, make it count. 
  • Write compelling text to entice searchers to click through – it’s almost like a mini-ad for your ranking content

Image & Video Carousels

Video and image results do not appear for every search, but Google tries to serve them up for queries that seem to be best answered by photos and videos. These image and video carousels might appear in different positions in the search results, so they’re not as fixed as featured snippets. 

Optimizing images and videos is just as important as optimizing page content because of how Google presents certain search results: While your article may not be awarded a front-page ranking, perhaps a video or image you have that addresses the same topic has a better chance to appear on the front page via the image or video carousel.

Schema markup and optimization are important with video and image SEO, especially because there are brands that won’t take the extra step to work on it. For videos, make sure you have video schema markup (more on schema markup next).  Images need to be optimized for search

Schema Markup 

Schema can help search engines understand the topics of your content better via structured data. For example, if you manage a site for physicians, your schema markup can indicate specialties, available services, and hospital affiliation. 

There are hundreds of schema types, so it can be hard to know where to get started. That’s why we’ve created an article on getting started with schema markup to make the process a little bit easier. 

A discussion on schema markup is also not complete without mentioning how markup enables rich results, which is detailed next. 

Rich Results 

Think of rich results as visual elements that enhance search results. Rich results can include star ratings, image carousels, and additional information on a listing like the price of a product or service, availability, and other attributes that provide additional details. To get inspired, see our article that includes 30 examples of rich results powered by schema markup

Map Pack

Google’s Map Pack and other On-SERP map listings can be a great way to get in front of potential customers and clients locally. The local map pack is a listing available on some searches that includes a scrolling list of businesses within a category. You can also have your business listed on the sidebar of the SERP. 

Google My Business

Create and maintain a Google My Business listing. A GMB listing is important for appearing in both places on the SERP. You can create and optimize your listing following our guide for building and maintaining a Google My Business presence

Then, on whatever other web presence you have, make sure the listings are identical. Keep things consistent between your website and Google My Business listing, as well as Yelp or any other places your business information is listed.  

People Also Ask 

People Also Ask on Google is just what it sounds like – a listing of similar questions people ask that are related to the query you have just entered. The PAA box serves as a prime opportunity to find out other related searches based on what you are trying to rank for. Perhaps one of the queries provides a better opportunity for you to rank than another, or is another topic you want to address in your article to make it more comprehensive. If People Also Ask answers are totally irrelevant, that’s your hint that you might want to go in a different direction with your content strategy. 

Google Ads and On-SERP SEO 

Another opportunity to surpass a #1 spot, even if your content isn’t making it to the first page yet, is to leverage ads. While Google Ads are paid so not technically SEO, they are definitely a way to boost your presence in SERPs. On Google, you could run text, image, app-promotion, or shopping ads. Ads can affect organic click-through rate greatly, and because they can show up so high on the page, and you can essentially buy, or bid, your way into a front-page spot, they’re a great supplement to organic content strategy. 

What about Stacking the SERP? 

If you have more than one listing on the first page of a SERP for a query, you are SERP stacking. This can put you in a great position, because someone searching has more than one shot to click on your content. However, it might be harder in the future to secure multiple listings for the same query, because Google announced this summer that it was trying to phase out too much repetition in the future. However, this announcement makes thinking about on-SERP SEO and how you can secure different pieces on the SERP with your content even more important. Another way to stack the SERP is to get included in other site’s pages that are ranking like a directory or round-up article.

Want to learn about all the on-SERP SEO options your business can take advantage of? Contact us today!

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