Deep dive into the elements of Google’s SERP: Organic Listings

These results are taken from Mediative’s latest research “The Evolution of Google’s Results Pages and Effects on User Behaviour”.  For more background as to the purpose behind the study and methodology, download the full study, or read the first blog post in this series.

When Mediative (formerly Enquiro) released the original Google SERP Eye-Tracking Research in 2005, the ‘Golden Triangle’ area of intense scanning activity was visible on pages on the SERPwhen only organic listings were present. In our latest research, when only organic listings were present on the SERP, the search pattern is still similar to the traditional Golden Triangle behaviour, however, page scanning is quicker, and less horizontal. Searchers are conditioned by mobile to scan vertically. 

Google SERP organic listing

However, when new elements are introduced to the SERP, it takes longer for people to see the top organic listing and it is not viewed for as long, or by as many participants. Searchers are still looking for the top organic listing; they are distracted on their path to this listing, but not enough to affect clicks.

Google SERP organic results

So should you strive for a listing in the #1 organic position, or will a first page ranking suffice?

Across the entire study:

Evolution clicks to organic results
Evolution clicks to organic results

*Most people use a search engine to gather alternatives/research options (an “Informational” search) or to go directly to a site that best matches the particular need at the time (“Navigational” searches).

Earning a first place organic ranking can be extremely difficult without an endless budget. Over half of the page clicks were won by areas of the SERP above the 4th organic listing – it is worth considering other areas to appear in if you’re looking to improve website traffic, rather than focusing all efforts on ranking #1. Knowing the searcher’s intent can help determine your investment in trying to appear higher in the SERP.  E.g. If searchers come to your site via an ‘informational’ search, you can afford to be lower on the page as it took longer for people to make a selection for these searches, and they tended to scroll much further down the page than with navigational searches

The effect of review sites and star ratings on search

In searching out a new experience, peer reviews are most important. People will focus more attention on a review listing regardless of position on the page.

We asked participants to “Imagine that you’re getting ready for Valentine’s Day and you want to find a restaurant for dinner before your movie. Use Google to find a restaurant near the Eaton Centre.”

91% of clicks were to popular review/rating sites

In a previous study by Mediative we learned that reviews and ratings are more important that price in the categories of health and medicine, and financial and legal.

In another task, we asked participants to “Imagine that you’re hosting a party for the Oscars. Use Google to find a recipe for crab dip.”

Star ratings, combined with thumbnail images, have the potential to capture 74.5% of page clicks

According to Searchmetrics.com, only 0.3% of websites use schema markup, yet over 33% of Google’s results contain rich snippets (additional text, images and links below the individual search results). BruceClay.com states that rich snippets can increase CTRs of listings between 15-50% and websites using schema markup tend to rank higher in search results. Use schema markup to include star ratings, number of reviews, and more which will increase your chances of being noticed and clicked on by searchers.

To learn more about Google’s new SERP, and the effects of the new listings elements on searcher behaviour, get our latest research: “The Evolution of Google Search Results Pages and Their Effects on User Behaviour”

Rebecca Maynes on linkedin
Rebecca Maynes
Rebecca Maynes is Mediative’s Manager, Content Marketing and Research. Her expertise lies in the creation of engaging thought leadership for Mediative. From compiling eBooks and case studies, to conducting research, analyzing data and writing white papers and reports, Rebecca is an integral part of Mediative’s Marketing and Research team. Rebecca began her career with Yell.com in England, and, after emigrating to Canada in 2005, she has gone full circle, joining Mediative, a Yellow Pages Group Company, in 2009. Prior positions include Marketing for a B2B Software company. Rebecca graduated from Cardiff University in Wales, UK, with a First Class Honours BSc in Business Administration.