In a recent discussion about what it takes to “win” at SEO and digital marketing, my colleague Alex Belanger, an account manager with seoplus+, hit on the notion of “Google real estate.”
In this instance, we weren’t talking about Google/Alphabet’s property holdings in Mountain View, CA, nor about how to rank #1 for real estate keywords.
Instead, he was referring to the notion of the search engine results page (SERP) and how much a given entity or business could occupy.
On desktop, the SERP has an area of 5 million pixels of available real estate. If you own just a single organic listing with no snippets, you take up 61,812 pixels – or just 1% of the available real estate.
If you optimize your website and invest in ads, you can start to buy up city blocks.
Additionally, SERP visibility is a zero-sum game: if you don’t take up the real estate that’s available to you, your competitors will.
Today, I’d like to explore the property types in the neighbourhood of a typical Google search engine results page.
As with any community, you won’t necessarily have all property or building types in one area.
Just as you’re unlikely to find a manufacturing plant next to a mansion, you probably won’t find a Google flights feature next to a Google Business Profile (GBP) feature.
Depending on whether you’re on a navigational, informational, or transactional quest, you’ll see different features highlighted.
Anatomy of a results page
Let’s take a sample search, “Robert Munsch books.” This could be taken as either an implied informational search (ie: “learn more about Robert Munsch books”) or transactional (ie: “buy Robert Munsch books”).
Here, we get a general sampling of the different features and panels available in a typical Google search.
First, we see a couple variations on the knowledge panel. This is information found within Google’s Knowledge Graph about notable entities. You’ll see knowledge graph elements if you search for 2022 Oscar winners, the latest NBA scores, or cities in Canada. Depending on the search and implied intent, Google will show supporting information.
You can help Google better understand what your website and brand are about using Schema, a form of structured markup.
For notable entities and brands, Google will automatically create a knowledge panel. You can claim the panel and suggest changes.
For this particular search, Google Shopping ads are displayed. There are no Google search ads.
Google Shopping, managed between Google Merchant Center and Google Ads, allows users to browse and purchase products online or view in-store inventory.
It includes key information about products like variant (in this case, book title, but it could also be t-shirt colour and size), price, and vendor.
Next, we have a pretty typical organic search listing.
The title indicates what the page is about—it is effectively your “headline.”
The meta description provides more information about the page and ideally includes a call-to-action (CTA).
Sitelinks are one of many elements that Google may optional display to help a user understand your site better and navigate to a specific page. While you cannot control if these are displayed, or which sitelinks are selected, you can influence this with structured markup.
Other such optional features include review markup, author markup, event markup, and much more.
People also ask
Next, we see a “People also ask” panel. These questions are pulled from various websites and include rich snippets attempting to answer the question.
You can add Question schema to your website to be eligible for a “People also ask” feature?
PS: The “People also ask” panel can be a great source of ideas for blog posts or for frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages.
Google will also include related videos, images, or other multimedia if available.
Google usually wraps up each page with related searches, to guide you to a more specific query.
For content strategists, this can be another great source of ideas.
Here are some additional rich snippets and panels found in other searches.
This knowledge panel, found in sports-related searches, shows things like rosters and times for upcoming games.
This news knowledge panel shows top stories related to the search result.
This rich snippet shows a feed of relevant tweets.
This flights feature allows you to view upcoming flights and compare the best rates. There are similar features for hotels.
This local maps feature allows you to compare nearby services. This is managed via Google Business Profile (GBP).
This is a typical Google Search ad, in this case with the sitelink extension.
If the search seems to be geared toward an image (think: “Microsoft logo,” “Eiffel tower,”) then Google will prioritize an image panel.
And finally, this is an example of a featured snippet. In this case, Google has automatically set the video to play at the 1:38 mark and include a transcript of this section of the video, in hopes of serving the user the most relevant resolution to their query possible.
This list is by no means exhaustive; Google is always looking to satisfy the user’s search and making improvements to do so. In some instances these “improvements” can be a double-edged sword to the chagrin of business owners as Google attempts to satisfy the query within the results page itself rather than leading to a third-party website.
How can I claim more SERP real estate?
- Claim and maintain your Google Business Profile. Add rich media (videos, images), respond to reviews and questions, and write regular Google posts.
- Include detailed and up-to-date schema markup on your website in all relevant categories to maximize your chances of appearing in rich snippet panels.
- Write compelling, accurate, and optimized page titles/meta descriptions for all priority pages on your website.
- If you are a notable entity or brand, claim and make suggestions on your Google Knowledge Panel.
- Run Google search and/or shopping ads, targeting both brand and product/service keywords as appropriate for your business.
Interested in maximizing your SERP visibility and becoming a real estate tycoon on Google? Connect with us today and receive 3 SEO free tips for your website.