Google Search Visibility: 4 Insights on How People View & Click Results

When peo­ple have a need, they often turn to search engines first. While peo­ple con­tin­ue to click on the top search result more often than not, they are also look­ing at more search result list­ings, but for less time than in past years. So how can brands quick­ly gain more atten­tion...

Danny Goodwin By Danny Goodwin from Momentology. Join the discussion » 0 comments

When peo­ple have a need, they often turn to search engines first. While peo­ple con­tin­ue to click on the top search result more often than not, they are also look­ing at more search result list­ings, but for less time than in past years. So how can brands quick­ly gain more atten­tion from users?

Google’s search results pages are con­stant­ly evolv­ing, espe­cial­ly over the past few years. The intro­duc­tion of new ele­ments such as the Knowl­edge Graph, quick answers, the local carousel, and an abun­dance of oth­er search fea­tures, as well huge growth in search­es con­duct­ed on smart­phones and tablets, have changed the way searchers view and click on organ­ic search results.

How have Google’s numer­ous changes impact­ed user behav­ior? To find out, Media­tive con­duct­ed an eye-track­ing study, Deep Dive Into the Ele­ments of Google’s SERP: Organ­ic List­ings to test a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent ele­ments. The dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing com­pa­ny watched how 53 par­tic­i­pants con­duct­ed a vari­ety of search tasks and mea­sured how peo­ple viewed and clicked.

While the study size is on the small side, it offers some inter­est­ing insights about how peo­ple view and click results that you should keep in mind as you’re plan­ning search strate­gies.

1. You Have Just Over 1 Second To Entice Users To Click

Good news: Peo­ple scan more of the search results page now in a sin­gle ses­sion than they did a few years ago – and they click more often on results in posi­tions two through four more than they did in years past.

Bad news: Peo­ple are spend­ing less time view­ing those list­ings – 1.17 sec­onds, where­as in a pri­or 2005 study users spent just under 2 sec­onds, Media­tive report­ed.

Take­away: Rebec­ca Maynes, mar­ket­ing strate­gist at Media­tive, put it best in the report:

Google search is used at some point in almost every pur­chase deci­sion process. … You have just over 1 sec­ond to cap­ture your cus­tomer’s atten­tion, so your con­tent bet­ter be rel­e­vant.”

2. A #1 Google Ranking Isn’t Essential For Brands

Sev­er­al stud­ies agree that a top organ­ic result in Google means more peo­ple will click on your list­ing and dri­ve the most traf­fic to your web­site, though those stud­ies don’t agree on the exact per­cent­age. Those stud­ies have report­ed the fig­ure is 53 per­cent, 36 per­cent, 33 per­cent, and 18 per­cent of clicks.

Media­tive found that 32.8 per­cent of users clicked on the first list­ing (and 62.6 per­cent of clicks went to the top four organ­ic list­ings).

While the exact per­cent­age of peo­ple who click on the top result is up for debate, the point is the more vis­i­bil­i­ty your brand is to Google searchers, the more traf­fic you’re like­ly to get.

Although, it seems brands have a bit of an unfair advan­tage. Even well-rec­og­nized brands that don’t rank num­ber one can still cap­ture clicks from Google searchers.

Eye Tracking on eBay Google Search

Media­tive found that near­ly 60 per­cent of users clicked on the search results for eBay (ranked third), Ama­zon (ranked fifth), and Sta­ples (ranked sixth), and users spent near­ly 20 per­cent of their time look­ing at those three list­ings.

Take­away: Use brand aware­ness to your advan­tage. Rel­e­vant key­words, com­bined with opti­mized titles and meta descrip­tions and schema markup will draw more eyes to your list­ing and dri­ve more traf­fic to your web­site.

3. Results With Ratings & Reviews Entice More Users To Click

When par­tic­i­pants in Media­tive’s study were instruct­ed to search for a new restau­rant, peo­ple over­whelm­ing­ly chose to click on sites fea­tur­ing reviews and rat­ings. Nine­ty-one per­cent of peo­ple clicked on links to pop­u­lar review sites.

Eye Tracking on Restaurants Around Eaton Centre Google Search

Addi­tion­al­ly, peo­ple more often clicked on sites that used schema markup to include elments like star rat­ings and thumb­nail images.

Take­away: Incor­po­rate ele­ments like star rat­ings and reviews if it’s appro­pri­ate for your brand and indus­try. Also, con­sid­er­ing how many peo­ple are click­ing on review sites, you bet­ter make sure your brand is reviewed well. Do you have a plan in place to opti­mize feed­back on third-par­ty sites?

4. Paid Search Ads That Meet Searcher Intent Work

If your brand does­n’t rank num­ber one in the organ­ic results, paid search results can give you addi­tion­al real estate in the search results and increase brand aware­ness. The top ad attract­ed 9.9 per­cent of clicks, while the sec­ond ad attract­ed 4.8 per­cent of clicks.

Media­tive found that the best per­form­ing paid ads were for:

  • Brand­ed search­es: Cap­tured 16 per­cent of time spent on the page; 38.5 per­cent of clicks.
  • Non-brand­ed search­es that exact­ly matched the searcher’s intent: 2x more time spent on the page and 8x the num­ber of clicks.
  • Paid ads com­bined with an organ­ic list­ing for non-brand­ed search: A paid and organ­ic result work­ing in com­bi­na­tion cap­tured 35 per­cent of time spent on the page and 68 per­cent of clicks.

Take­away: There is val­ue in adver­tis­ing on your own brand terms, even if you rank num­ber one for them already. Media­tive says that brands with a top organ­ic list­ing com­bined with a paid search ad will improve brand asso­ci­a­tion, brand recall, and pur­chase con­sid­er­a­tion.

As the behav­ior of Google users evolves, so too must your search strate­gies. Will you rethink your organ­ic or paid strate­gies in light of the find­ings from this study?

Danny Goodwin

Written by Danny Goodwin

Managing Editor, Momentology

Danny Goodwin is the former Managing Editor of Momentology. Previously, he was the editor of Search Engine Watch, where he was in charge of editing, content strategy, and writing about search industry news.

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