AI and the Evolution of SERP Features in 2024

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Head of SEO

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming search results and causing everyone to constantly reevaluate the way we approach search engine optimisation (SEO). As search engines like Google innovate, AI technologies are changing how results are generated, displayed, and interacted with by users.

We’ll take a look at what has changed so far, and what tactics you can employ to maximise your SEO impact.

AI's Impact on Search Results

AI's integration into search algorithms is creating more personalised, relevant, and intuitive search experiences. By leveraging machine learning and natural language processing, search engines can better understand user intent, provide more accurate results, and offer enhanced features beyond traditional blue links. Google has been constantly updating its search engine to better understand user intent before AI really took off anyway. 

For instance, AI-driven features like voice search, image recognition, and contextual understanding are becoming increasingly common. These advancements require optimising content and ensuring it is easily understood by AI systems.

The Evolution of SERP Features in 2024

The whitepaper "The Evolution of SERP Features: Prominence & Prevalence in 2024" offers some great analysis of how SERP features have evolved over the past year.

Here are some key takeaways along with some actionable insights:

1. Local SEO Priority

We’ve talked extensively about Local SEO before, and it has become increasingly critical as more users rely on search engines to find local businesses and services. Local packs, which feature prominently in SERPs, provide users with quick access to essential information about nearby businesses, including their address, phone number, and operating hours.

In 2024, the dominance of local packs on mobile devices is even more pronounced, driven by the growing number of on-the-go searches. As a result, businesses that optimise their local SEO are more likely to attract foot traffic and local clientele. Local SEO is not just about visibility; it's about making a business accessible and appealing to potential customers in their vicinity.

Action: Optimise for local search by ensuring your Google My Business listings are complete and accurate.

Encourage customer reviews and maintain consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information across all platforms.

2. Make The Most of Images

The importance of images in SERPs has grown significantly. Visual content is not only more engaging but also helps convey information quickly and effectively. In 2024, images are appearing in a variety of SERP features, including image packs, featured snippets, and knowledge panels.

High-quality, relevant images can capture user attention and increase click-through rates. Moreover, Google's AI can now better understand the context of images, making it crucial for websites to use descriptive, keyword-rich alt text.

Properly optimised images can enhance a site's visibility across different search features, making it an integral part of any SEO strategy.

Action: Use high-quality visuals with descriptive, keyword-rich alt text. Incorporate images into your content strategy to enhance engagement and ensure they are properly indexed by search engines. Don’t leave your alt text blank, you’ll be missing out on an easy ranking factor win.

3. Mobile Optimisation

With mobile searches continuing to surpass desktop searches, mobile optimisation remains a critical focus for SEO in 2024.

Mobile SERPs display different feature prevalences and visibilities compared to desktop SERPs, with elements like local packs and "People Also Ask" boxes being more prominent on mobile.

This shift highlights the need for a mobile-first approach in website design and SEO. 

Websites that load quickly and offer a seamless user experience on mobile devices are more likely to rank higher in mobile search results. Additionally, Google's mobile-first indexing means that the mobile version of your site is considered the primary version, making mobile optimisation indispensable for maintaining search visibility.

Action: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly with responsive design. Optimise for mobile-first indexing by improving page speed, usability, and mobile-specific features.

4. Adapting to SERP Feature Dynamics

Newer SERP elements like carousels, knowledge graphs, and "People Also Ask" boxes are becoming more prevalent. These features provide users with more immediate answers and interactive content, often reducing the need for users to click through to a website.

It’s crucial for SEO strategies to adapt by targeting these dynamic features and not rely solely on the traditional organic listing. Understanding which SERP features appear for your target keywords allows you to tailor your content to capture these positions, thereby enhancing your visibility and relevance in search results.

Action: Track the SERP features that appear for your target keywords and tailor your content strategy to target these features. For instance, create FAQ pages to target "People Also Ask" boxes and use structured data to appear in knowledge graphs.

Implementing schema data is an easy way to serve more data to search engines and increase the chances of your content being featured in these unique ways.

5. Content and Keyword Strategy

In 2024, the distinction between traditional search results and SERP features is more nuanced than ever. Different keywords trigger different SERP features, and understanding this relationship is key to a successful SEO strategy. By analysing which keywords are associated with specific SERP features, you can optimise your content to target these features effectively.

This might involve creating in-depth articles to capture featured snippets or developing rich media content to appear in image or video carousels. A well-rounded content and keyword strategy that considers this will help increase the chances of your content appearing in the most relevant and visible positions in search results.

Action: Analyse which keywords trigger specific SERP features and adjust your content strategy accordingly.

Use tools like Search Console to track keyword performance to refine and target your SEO efforts.

6. Focus on High-Quality Content

The quality of content remains a cornerstone of SEO success. SERP features like knowledge graphs and "People Also Ask" boxes tend to draw from authoritative and well-structured content.

In 2024, the emphasis on high-quality content is even greater as search engines strive to provide users with the most accurate and useful information. Creating content that is comprehensive, well-researched, and answers common user queries can help establish your site as a trusted source.

Furthermore, as previously mentioned, implementing schema markup can enhance how search engines interpret and display your content, improving its chances of appearing in prominent SERP features.

Action: Invest in creating high-quality, authoritative content that addresses common queries and establishes your brand as a trusted source. Implement schema markup to help search engines better understand your content.


Implementing the Strategy

To ensure these insights lead to actionable changes, here's a practical approach for implementation:

Audit and Optimise Local Listings:

A thorough audit ensures your local listings are accurate and up-to-date.

  • Conduct a thorough audit of your local listings.
  • Update and optimise Google My Business profiles and utilise every facet available
  • Encourage and manage customer reviews.

Enhance Image Optimisation:

Optimising images enhances visibility and engagement on SERPs.

  • Audit website images for quality and relevance.
  • Add or update alt text to be descriptive and keyword-rich.
  • Use structured data to mark up images.

Focus on Mobile SEO:

Improving mobile SEO ensures your site performs well on mobile devices.

  • Conduct a mobile usability test and implement improvements.
  • Optimise page load times and ensure fast mobile performance.
  • Adapt content layout to be mobile-friendly.

Adapt Content to Target SERP Features:

Aligning content with SERP features can boost your visibility in search results.

  • Identify target keywords and the SERP features they trigger.
  • Create or update content to align with these features.
  • Use structured data and schema markup to enhance content visibility.

By focusing on these areas, you can enhance your SEO efforts and improve your online visibility. As AI continues to influence search results, staying adaptive and proactive will be key to maintaining a competitive edge.

If you need any help with any of the above, please get in touch with us today.