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Unlocking the Power of Google’s New SERP Features

One of Google’s key goals is to satisfy their searchers as quickly as possible. If someone is shopping for a toaster, Google’s ranking systems analyze hundreds of billions of webpages from its search index to present the most relevant results to searchers and rank the ideal results to the searcher – all in milliseconds. 

You may be thinking, how can your ecommerce site compete with all of those other websites? Can you even compete against the big, powerful brands? How can you get on page 1 in Google for super-competitive keywords? The best way is to make sure you’re taking advantage of ALL of the opportunities Google has to offer.

In this article, we’ll cover changes to Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) that increase opportunities to get your products featured organically versus through paid ads. After reading, you’ll be able to make informed improvements to your digital marketing strategies to increase organic impressions, traffic, and clicks to your website and elevate your brand’s visibility to a multitude of customers and prospects daily. 

Google Ecommerce SERP Changes in 2023 

Google search result pages have come a long way since they first appeared online in 1998, especially when it comes to ecommerce. With the rise of online shopping, Google has the task of keeping searchers on Google when looking for products instead of going directly to sites like Amazon, eBay, or Walmart.com. Google has tried to adapt to visitor behaviors and preferences, making their search result pages more visual and informational to help online shoppers with every part of their shopping journey.

In addition to the traditional blue links, Google also features content on results pages in many other forms. These are called SERP features and can be found on nearly every Google SERP. 

For searches with shopping intent (when the search term indicates the searcher has the intent to buy something), the most commonly shown SERP features are:

    • People also ask

    • Buying guides

    • Images

    • Videos

    • Product listings

    • Product carousels

    • Local listings

SERP features offer the opportunity to feature your product and brand multiple times on the same SERP. While some SERP features come with a straightforward path to ranking, others require a bit more setup and strategy. 

Strategies for SERP Domination

Image and Video Packs
One of the most prominent changes in the past few years is the amount of visual elements on the SERP. High quality images are crucial for many SERP features in addition to the Images SERP Feature. High-quality imagery is extremely important for your brand on Google as these appear everywhere on shopping SERPs, and can make or break a buying decision based on appearance. 

Increased imagery on Google ecommerce SERPs 

4 Top Tips for Website Images 

    1. Feature high-definition, professional images whenever possible

    1. Avoid stock images and manufacturer-provided images. Images that are found elsewhere online send low-quality signals to Google and generally will not rank above the image originator.

    1. Use descriptive file names including relevant keywords and alt text to further describe the image

    1. Use Nextgen image formats, like webP, providing better compression and improved quality compared to traditional image formats, like JPEG and PNG. Nextgen formats reduce image file sizes and speed up website loading times, which helps your SEO.

Video assets are becoming increasingly more important as part of your SEO strategy. Videos (on your website or on YouTube) are often being featured directly in Search Results. Working with your social media team to develop a video content strategy can be quite beneficial to your SEO performance.

An example of a YouTube video featured directly in the search results

“People Also Ask” and Buying Guides
People Also Ask (PAA) and Buying Guides are very common on SERPs with shopping intent, and both help educate shoppers further about the product they’re searching for. Both of these SERP features provide answers to specific questions that can be answered by websites. For the search term “record player,” we can see “People Also Ask” questions about differences in terminology, popular brands, and recommendations on the “best record player.” The answers to these questions all include a link to the website that Google considers to have the best answer. 

Examples of “People Also Ask” and Buying Guide SERP features appearing for the search term “record player”

Getting featured in PAA or Buying Guide SERP features all comes down to solid research and great optimized content. The first step is knowing the most commonly asked questions in your industry. Tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and seoClarity can help you with this analysis, or you can simply spend time on Google documenting all of the questions you see. After you know the questions, you’ll want to craft content that directly answers each question and provides a substantial amount of supporting content. Your answers will need to be better and unique from competitive content or you’re not likely to get featured. 

Consider using structured data markup in the code of your webpage. Q&A Schema is special code that tells search engines that you have an answer to a specific question. Using this code will increase the likelihood of being featured in PAA or Organic Buying Guides in the SERPs.

Free Product Listings and Product Carousels
Product listings and product carousels have been on Google SERPs for a while, but have only recently surged to the top of results. Product carousels are not as common as product listings, but can be desirable since there are only 3 spots initially available on mobile devices (and 4 on desktop). Product listings can have 8 or more products all featured in a single result.

Example of a Product Carousel appearing for the search term “tools” 

Example of a Product Listing appearing for the search term “tools” 

The best way to ensure your products are eligible for product listings and carousels is to set up your Google Merchant Center account. Once you’ve set up an account, you’ll need to organize all of your products into categories, and provide all of the detailed information that Google requires like the brand, descriptions, GTIN, tax and shipping information, and more. This step can be streamlined when you’re using product feed management tools, such as StoreAutomator. 

Optimizing your products for product listings and carousels often requires significant visual and message testing. It is recommended that you continually test new images, titles, and descriptions to see which combination performs the best.

Quick Tips for Optimizing Your Free Product Listings

    • Titles
        • Align the words you use in the title with the terms people are searching 

        • Use consumer-friendly terminology rather than expert terms that searchers may not know or use 

        • Try to feature the most important keywords earlier in your title

        • Consider featuring the brand name first when your brand is well-known

        • Use all 150 characters, even though all the words may not appear on the SERP. Google references them to match search terms.

    • Descriptions
        • Use descriptions with over 350 characters since these often see an increase in impressions and clicks 

        • Optimize for commonly searched keywords while avoiding jargon and fluff 

        • Highlight color, size, brand, category, style, and other features  

        • Be specific and product focused

        • Avoid content such as “you may also like our…” or “this pairs great with our other product…”

    • Images
        • Ensure your images have professional lighting with no shadows 

        • Include additional images whenever possible – searchers can hover over a listing to view enticing images that slide back and forth 

        • Use product-specific images (not staged with other products) with clean, white backgrounds

Local Shopping Listings
Google Local Shopping listings are SERP features that show products and services to nearby customers. They look similar to Local Map Packs but have products that are labeled “in-stock” that searchers can look through and ultimately drive to your store to purchase. 

Example of local shopping listings appearing for the search term “bluetooth speakers”   

Of course, the only way to be featured for local product listings is if you actually have a physical brick-and-mortar location with products in stock. If you do, you’ll need to set up and integrate your Google Business Profile with your Google Merchant Center. Once these two are connected, you can opt into Local Product Listings in the Merchant Center and the rest will be done for you.

3 Key Takeaways
Google has adapted its search result page over the years to help online shoppers with every aspect of their shopping journey. To keep searchers on Google when looking for products, they have made their search result pages more visual and informational.

    1. Google SERP features, such as People Also Ask, Buying Guides, Images, Videos, Product Listings, Product Carousels, and Local Listings, can offer opportunities to feature products and brands multiple times on the same SERP. 
    2. All of the SERP features have different strategies, such as including high-quality images and videos on your website, answering common questions with optimized content, and setting up a Google Merchant Center account to optimize products for product listings and carousels. 
    3. The more SERP features you can optimize, the greater visibility for your brand(s) and increased conversion for your products! 

About the Author

About the Author

Clark Taylor is the Chief Digital Officer at Atigro, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO and content development. Clark has 25+ years of experience in search engine optimization and has worked with some of the world’s most visible brands. He has worked in most industries with extensive ecommerce experience – from startups to Fortune 500.