Testing SERP Feature Impact on 5 Websites

Posted on in Blog, Resources

Search engine results pages (SERPs) are always changing. Google is constantly testing new SERP features to provide users with information more efficiently and often without clicking through a result to a domain. The no-click SERP has changed the way we search the internet, but how big of an impact do SERP features have on important metrics like organic sessions and click-through rate?

Our SEO team anonymized 10 months of data from a selection of 5 diverse clients to compare SERP feature data across industries and determine whether winning more SERP features is an intelligent digital strategy.

SERP Science – Why It Matters

SERP features are any page element on the search results page that isn’t a standard organic result or paid search ad. In other words, if it isn’t a blue link, it’s probably a SERP feature. There are several types of SERP features (we have an excellent explainer) but we typically track, target and report on two.

  1. People Also Ask – These features pose alternative ways to ask the user’s original query. These are served in the third or fourth spot on the SERP, typically just barely above the fold, which may entice the user to scroll past the first 2 results.
  2. Featured Snippets – These features answer a question or present a concise summary of the user’s query. Featured snippets claim “position zero,” or the area above the first organic search result.

Analyzing the impact of winning these SERP features, and constantly monitoring their performance, is a key component to our SEO strategy for several clients. We’re always checking in to see:

  • How does the number of SERP features won impact organic site sessions?
  • How does the number of SERP features won impact click-through rate (CTR)?
  • Does one SERP feature offer more sessions or CTR than another?

Oneupweb’s SERP Feature Test Setup

We selected 5 clients from different industries and with varying monthly site traffic. Our test clients included:

  • 1 plumbing franchise
  • 1 residential cleaning franchise
  • 1 national construction firm
  • 1 large ecommerce site
  • 1 small ecommerce site

Our SERP Feature Hypothesis

After working with dozens of clients and targeting SERP features on almost every piece of content for two years, we shaped this test on a simple, clear hypothesis.

As the number of SERP features held by a domain increases, SERP impressions, organic site sessions and click-through rate will also increase.

The Method

We gathered 10 months of SERP feature and site data from January 1, 2022, through October 31, 2022. This data included a monthly total for:

  • Featured Snippets
  • People Also Ask
  • Featured snippets + People Also Ask
  • Total SERP Impressions
  • Total Site Sessions

We aggregated data across all five clients and created a mix of visuals to illustrate the relationships between specific SERP features and site metrics. We then examined month-over-month changes and challenged our hypothesis:

When total SERP features increase, do SERP impressions, site sessions and CTR also increase?

The Results

In the chart above, a green cell denotes a month-over-month increase in that specific metric. A red cell indicates a month-over-month decrease in that metric. If all the cells in a row match, there is a perfect correlation between data points, or a 100% correlation.

The easiest way to examine our findings is to compare total SERP features with a specific metric.

Total SERP Features and Sessions

SERP features positively correlate with site sessions in 7 of 9 months, or 77.7% of the time. Interestingly, this relationship is identical between People Also Ask and Featured Snippets, with a 66.6% correlation.

Verdict: Increasing total SERP feature count will increase site sessions.

Total SERP Features and SERP Impressions

In 6 of 9 months, SERP features have a positive correlation with SERP Impressions, a 66.6% correlation. People Also Ask had higher correlation than Featured Snippets (66.6% vs. 44.4%).

Verdict: Increasing total SERP feature count will increase SERP Impressions.

Total SERP Features and SERP CTR

In 5 of 9 months, SERP feature counts have a positive correlation with CTR, a 55.5% correlation. People Also Ask had a 66.6% correlation compared to Featured Snippets at 33.3%.

Verdict: Increasing total SERP feature count will improve CTR.

Summary

SEOs, unlike the Sith, rarely deal in absolutes. We’re always aware that we’re sampling data from a small period of time and a tiny slice of the internet. This test does allow us to confirm our hypothesis that, in most cases, brands that increase their total SERP feature count will see an increase in site sessions, SERP impressions and click-through rate.

In the future, we might re-run a similar experiment that only looks at a specific set of pages before and after they won SERP features. This would reduce confounding variables, such as the influence of other SEO strategies and paid media campaigns.

Love Data? Yeah, Us, Too

Numbers don’t lie. At Oneupweb, we shape digital marketing strategy based on real-world metrics and the key performance indicators that matter to you. From content creation to market research to detailed analytics, take the guesswork out of running your business. Let’s dive into the data – contact us online or call 231-922-9977 to get started.

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