Ranking on Google: The anatomy of a perfectly constructed SERP

Ranking on Google: The anatomy of a perfectly constructed SERP
July 3, 2024
5 min read

For the longest time, SEO, for many—including myself—meant securing and relentlessly holding the coveted #1 organic ranking spot on Google’s SERP. This top position has often been considered the gold standard for online visibility. However, as 2024 continues to roll on, the potential of a SERP and its impact are shifting in significant ways.

We have seen ‘search’ evolve from a list of 10 blue links to dynamic, democratised streams,  libraries of different content formats. These evolving spaces include rich results, social-search integrations, news article listings, AI developments, and even more. This democratisation of the search landscape is affording brands a new approach to SEO, one that we believe will shape the future of search marketing.

Instead of seeking a single #1 ranking piece of content, the focus now is on establishing and prioritising overall SERP dominance and visibility. Achieving this can develop brand visibility, drive brand searches, and facilitate an improved share of search - AKA the holy grails of SEO activity in 2024 and beyond!

From a top-level analysis, brands have the opportunity to appear in multiple areas of a SERP. Featured snippets, video carousels, knowledge panels, and local packs are just a few of the ways to establish visibility. Additionally, the rise of social search platforms and their integration into Google’s results offer even more avenues for visibility. As a result, the goal for brands should be to maximise their presence across these diverse elements, capturing as much real estate as possible and ensuring their brand is omnipresent whenever and wherever potential audiences are searching.

After all, if not our brand, then we risk affording this opportunity to our competitors, ultimately leading to a decrease in visibility, brand searches, and overall competitive share of search.

Here, we will explore what constitutes ‘the anatomy of a perfectly constructed SERP.’ Let’s delve deeper into why establishing SERP dominance should be a crucial element of developing a brand and a community. We will also discuss the strategic importance of leveraging various SERP features, the benefits of a comprehensive visibility strategy, and how brands can adapt to the latest trends and developments in search marketing.

Let’s deviate (Yep, I love this word now) from the norms that have hindered us and reframe the concepts behind ‘search marketing’ success, outlining the path to achieving unparalleled brand visibility on Google.

An example of a "Featured Snippets" feature, taken from a Google SERP.

The Evolution of the SERP:

Rich Results & SERP Features

Google’s SERPs have evolved dramatically from simple lists of blue links to rich, interactive environments, and this is without considering AI Overviews too. Today’s SERPs include a variety of features that offer valuable real estate for brands aiming to demand attention.

These features include:

Featured Snippets: These concise answer boxes appear at the top of SERPs and provide direct answers to user queries, making them highly visible and often the first exploration by users.

Local Packs: Displaying local businesses related to the search query, these packs are essential for local SEO and help businesses attract nearby customers.

Image and Video Carousels: These visual elements showcase images and videos relevant to the search query, engaging users with media content from platforms like YouTube.

Knowledge Panels: Providing detailed information about a topic, these panels pull data from various sources and prominently display it on the right side of the SERP.

People Also Ask: These expandable question-and-answer boxes appear throughout the SERP, offering additional opportunities for visibility and user deep diving and discovery.

Each of these features occupies prominent positions on the SERP, drawing significant attention away from traditional organic listings. Brands that optimise their content to appear in these features can achieve higher visibility and demand attention more effectively. Do this repeatedly across the various elements of a single SERP, and you begin to demonstrate your expertise, authoritativeness and experience, all of which will develop trustworthiness.

An example of TikTok results appearing in a Google SERP for "ASOS Haul" (UK)

Social Search Emergence

When we focus our attention onto the Gen Z and Millennial audiences that our work (At Deviation) tends to focus on, the emergence of platforms like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, along with a few others, is transforming search behaviour.

The friction that can often be a by-product of attempting to rank on a Google SERP in the traditional way, partnered with the continued emergence of Influencers and Content Creators has facilitated these platforms in becoming go-to sources for discovering information, trends, and recommendations.

For instance, many users now turn to TikTok for how-to content, product reviews and brand discovery, while Instagram serves as a hub for visual inspiration and brand interactions.

With the democratisation of search marketing, Google has recognized this shift and increasingly integrates content from these social platforms into its SERPs. For brands, this means that optimising for social search is no longer optional but essential. By maintaining an active and engaging presence on these platforms, not just with social goals in mind but through the creation of a social-search approach, brands can increase their chances of appearing in Google’s search results, alongside enjoying the benefits that come from embracing a ‘search everywhere’ approach more broadly (For example driving increased brand searches on the back of brand discovery on social platforms).This effort is likely to assist strategists in expanding their brand’s reach and visibility.

Media Moments around "Bridgerton" offer opportunities to be covered within "Top Stories" for brands and publishers alike.

News, Updates… Digital PR

As important to search as social and beyond, timely information is crucial.

Google’s SERPs often feature the latest news and updates through integrations with Google News. This is particularly relevant for brands involved in current events or those that regularly produce newsworthy content (AKA Digital PR Activations).

Appearing in these news sections can significantly boost a brand’s visibility, as these stories are frequently placed at the top of the SERP or in dedicated news carousels.

For brands, this underscores the importance of content marketing and public relations working together. By consistently creating high-quality, relevant, and timely content, brands can secure spots in these news features, keeping their audience informed and engaged while enhancing their online presence, do this around conversations surrounding important pages/queries/clusters… and we start to develop a strategic approach for SERP dominance.

TOP TIP: Understand which queries you have established favourable SERP dominance and look to leverage these clusters/terms within your Digital PR efforts. If a trend emerges, a story breaks or a media moment occurs, REACT quickly! This is arguably the most volatile element of the strategy we are exploring as news stories tend to change quickly. That being said, the SERP dominance that they can afford, especially at the time a term/query is trending IS ESSENTIAL.

Hone in on DOMINATION - A strategy:

Search Everywhere Approach

At Deviation, we discuss the importance of embracing the democratisation of search marketing, a hell of a lot. In 2024 and beyond, having a strong presence across multiple platforms is crucial for comprehensive SERP visibility and delivering an effective search journey for your audiences - we call this crafting a ‘Search Universe’.

A brand’s visibility should no longer be confined to its website.

Instead, visibility extends to various digital assets that can appear in SERPs. These assets include:

Social-First, Creator-led content:

Creating social-first content, that can be repurposed across platforms and meet users across multiple touchpoints at varying stages of the user journey is vital to effective search strategy - especially on platforms that Google have indicated they WILL rank on their SERPs (YouTube, Tiktok, Pinterest, Reddit)

This doesn’t have to ALWAYS be owned content, as long as it puts your brand at the centre of the conversation, it can contribute to your brand’s SERP dominance.

Forum Contributions:

Your brand community cannot be understated, they have a VITAL role to play in delivering on the needs of your search strategy. This can be achieved through UGC on social platforms BUT can also see your users contributing to forum threads.

As users continue to turn to platforms like Reddit / Discord and Quora, platforms that are typically user-led platforms over brand platforms, having brand fans, advocates,  champions, establishing your brand WILL become essential.

YouTube Efforts:

Supporting our Informational efforts with content on YouTube (which still reigns as the second largest search platform) is vital. Video content created for our search queries can be leveraged within our website, enhancing user experience and assisting our users whilst also vying for SERP visibility throughout the various areas of an organic SERP. 

Digital PR & Proactive Reactivity:

We touched on it above, supporting your SEO strategy, key content pillars and business focus areas with a reactive approach to digital PR that sees you immerse your brand at the heart of vital conversations. You will achieve visibility within the news carousel and will assist users when they are searching for information on a trend/news story that they are interested in, continuing to develop visibility and awareness.

Overall, ensuring consistency and quality across these platforms is key.

Each platform should reflect your brand’s identity and provide valuable, engaging content to users in a platform-native and holistic way.

This multi-platform presence not only boosts your chances of appearing across the search universe, but as established previously, sets you up to attain various appearances on a SERP or achieve specific SERP features visibility. 

SERP Dominance Visibility Vs Ranking Position Visibility:

Let’s talk about CTR (Click-Through Rates)

It’s not complicated maths to establish that appearing in multiple places on a SERP can significantly enhance your brand’s overall click-through rate (CTR).
Whilst securing the top spot on the SERP is valuable, dominating multiple features can lead to a higher aggregate CTR.

Here’s why:

Multiple Touchpoints
When users see your brand appearing in various SERP features such as featured snippets, local packs, video carousels, forums, social search, etc, it creates multiple touchpoints. This repetition increases the likelihood that users will click on one of your links.

Enhanced Recall
Repeated exposure to a brand across different SERP elements boosts brand recall. Users are more likely to remember and trust a brand they encounter frequently, which can drive them to click on your content over competitors.

This is especially true in this ‘democratisation of search’ era we are entering. If users see your content on a Google SERP, a TikTok feed, within their favourite content-creator’s feed, on Pinterest and then also being discussed on their preferred forum platform… you can be sure that a user is going to remember you!

Credibility and Relevance
A strong presence across the SERP signals to users that your brand is credible and relevant to their search query. This perception can enhance user trust and encourage clicks, even if your brand is not in the top organic position.

That brings us nicely to EEAT and specifically “trustworthiness”

A pervasive presence on SERPs not only increases visibility but also builds brand authority and trust. For example, When users consistently see your brand providing answers in featured snippets, appearing in knowledge panels, and being listed in top videos, it positions your brand as an authority in your field. This perceived expertise can build trust and encourage users to engage with your content. If we can support this by creating a search everywhere presence, creating consistency in search activations, no matter the platform, we begin to Maintain a consistent presence across various search platforms, this element would once again reinforce our brand’s reliability. For us, users trust brands that are consistently visible and active in providing valuable information - social search provides this opportunity.

And finally, delivering high-quality, relevant content across multiple activations contributes to a positive user experience. When users find useful and trustworthy information from your brand in different contexts, it strengthens their overall trust and loyalty to your brand - facilitating community growth.

And then there is the ‘Intent’ conversation

Different touchpoints, different platforms, different queries… they all cater to various user intentions.

By occupying multiple positions on a variety of SERP, it allows you to address a broader range of search queries and needs.

Here’s why this is important:

Diverse Search Behaviours: Users search for information in different ways. Some may prefer quick answers from featured snippets, while others might look for in-depth videos or local business listings. By optimising for various SERP features, you can capture users with different search behaviours and preferences - vital for brands who have a wide array of target demos.

Comprehensive Coverage: Different SERP features can satisfy different stages of the user journey. For instance, a user might start with a general question answered by a featured snippet, move on to a detailed video for more information, and finally check Pinterest for final product inspiration. By appearing in all these features, your brand can guide users through their entire journey and be front of mind at the point a user is ready to convert.

Increased Engagement: Addressing multiple user intentions through diverse SERP features leads to higher engagement. Users find the specific type of content they desire from your brand, within their preferred search platform. This is HUGE in reducing the friction users have come to expect from search marketing.

This can lead to longer interactions, higher satisfaction, and a greater likelihood of conversions.

Let’s wrap this up!

In 2024 search marketing is increasingly becoming about understanding the democratisation of search and exploring how your brand can be achieving brand visibility across multiple SERPs and features. SERP dominance, either within a single SERP or across a crafted search universe, is crucial. By taking a comprehensive approach, embracing ‘search everywhere’, brands can enjoy SERP advantages that include increased CTR, building authority and trust, and capturing different user intentions. This not only enhances your brand’s presence but also drives more meaningful interactions with potential customers, facilitating your brand community and developing brand fanatics. By striving for SERP dominance, brands can establish themselves as leaders in their fields, ultimately fostering greater user loyalty and business success.


Deviation? We’re the guys pioneering this approach… the anatomy of the perfectly constructed SERP. Ready to create your search universe and achieve SERP dominance. We’re taking on partners and exploring relationships to work with brands to achieve ALL what we have set out above! Because, in this digital world, attention is everything, we demand it! Sound a plan? Get in touch with ash to discuss your brand’s needs and objectives at ashley@wearedeviation.co.uk or fire over a DM on LinkedIn.

Ashley Liddell
Creative Strategy Director


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