Owning the SERP: These Three Trends Dominate Google Search Results in 2020

Foto Kevin Näf @ Webrepublic AG)

Kevin Näf

Knowledge Panels, Instant Answers, or Carousel Results: Google's search results page will continue to develop in 2020. We show which changes will dominate Google searches in 2020.

Until a few years ago, Google searches were a fairly static affair. If you searched for a term, the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) mainly provided links to the search results pages. Today, SERP is more colorful, versatile, and informative. The results evolved because of things like Knowledge Panels, Instant Answers, and Carousel Results. Instead of directing users to web pages, Google extracts the information from the web pages themselves and serves it up in the search results.

In June 2019, for the first time, more than half of all Google searches in the USA no longer resulted in a click on external links due to that change. Such so-called zero-click searches may sound like major traffic losses at first, but they do not necessarily have negative consequences for website operators: anyone who understands "the new SERP" and optimizes their website accordingly will certainly benefit from the new format of search results. Here is an overview of which developments will dominate SERP in 2020.


1. Local Search is Here to Stay

Google has shown localized search results (Local Search) for a long time. In the future, Local Search will continue to be a prevalent part of Google search results. Google not only recognizes in which city we are looking for "restaurants", it also increasingly "hyperlocalizes" the search results to the current position of the searcher. Even within the same city, search results can vary greatly. A generally high ranking is therefore no longer sufficient to perform well locally everywhere.

The impact of hyperlocalized search results is so great that the focus on them will play an even more important role in the future. According to Rob Bucci at MozCon 2019, 73% of search results in the USA today already contain at least one element of localized results. Internationally active companies with little or no physical presence must consider this development in order to avoid losing local market access.

These must be considered to perform for Local Search:

  • Competitors who only operate locally and have therefore been of little relevance up to now will be significant competitors in the corresponding area due to Local Search.
  • Ratings and reviews correlate strongly with the position of Local Search results. Poor ratings obtained wrongly can be proposed to Google for deletion via a complete application.
  • In the future, the "Knowledge Graph" will increasingly assume the role of a company's homepage. A reservation via the telephone number on Google can be just as valuable as a lead via your own website. It is therefore worthwhile to optimize the data via Google MyBusiness.


2. There is No Way around Featured Snippets

Although the topic of Featured Snippets is no longer a hot topic, this year, there will probably be no way around it. Featured Snippets can direct a lot of traffic to websites. Featured Snippets have even more potential when it comes to strengthening the brand awareness of a company by conveying special competence through a snippet.

Featured Snippets get a lot of attention, especially on the first page of search results. To be considered for placement as a Featured Snippet on the first page of search results, the site must already be performing there. A short summary at the beginning of the text has proven to be an effective way to recommend pages that already perform well for Featured Snippets.

If a page is already played out as a snippet, it is also necessary to monitor the content to secure the placement in the long term. Various tools help with this, such as those from Searchmetrics and STAT.

Britney Muller from Moz suggests these seven steps to perform for featured snippets:

  1. Know the keywords for which you want to rank as a Featured Snippet.
  2. Know the search intention of the user.
  3. Give concise answers.
  4. Add summaries to long postings.
  5. Find the most frequently asked questions.
  6. Use Google's NLP API.
  7. Monitor performance continuously.


3. Those Who Google Want Answers

In the recent past, anyone who entered questions in Google's search mask often received the answer directly via SERP. Google understands the intention of a search query and its context better and better. The "people may also ask" element, for example, already shows answers to related questions. According to Pete Meyer's presentation at MozCon 2019, these "PAAs" already appear in 90% of all search results. Even though the click-through rate of the PAA box is rather low, it is an excellent way for you to influence answers to certain topics and mark yourself as competent.

To place your own content in PAA boxes, identify relevant questions in which your own site is already considered credible and informative. According to Meyer's pyramid model, the core question should be answered first, then the topic should be explained with details and data, and finally, the topic should be placed in a larger context.


SERP will continue to change in 2020. Some elements of the search results will become established, others will be further developed after a test phase, and still others will be discontinued. Companies that engage in modern search engine optimization must not close themselves off to these changes, but must constantly adapt to them and know how to use the developments to their benefit or the benefit of their clients.