Deep dive into the elements of Google’s SERP: Local listings

These results are taken from Mediative’s latest research “The Evolution of Google’s Results Pages and Their 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.

In our 2014 Google SERP research, we did not see as much interaction with the local listings as we would have expected. This could partly be attributed to the fact that these searches were being conducted on a desktop computer. Even though we told participants to “imagine” they needed to find a local home store, the reality is, we cannot replicate the exact behaviour. It is more likely that a local search such as this would be conducted on a mobile device, in which case the mindset and environment of the searcher is very different. Either way, the results are still noteworthy.

The ability of the local listings packs to attract and hold attention, and win clicks, is very dependent on:

a)      its location on the search results page, and

b)      the nature of the search query.

When the local listings box is above the organic listings, it garners significantly more attention and clicks than when it is below the organic listings:

Local listing box above organic listings

  • 18.5% of time spent on the pages was looking inside the Local Listings box.
  • 76% of participants look at the Local Listing box.
  • 11.5% of page clicks were to the local listings.
  • The top organic listing (below the local listings) garnered 30.5% of page clicks.
  • The top two organic listings garnered 45% of page clicks.
Google SERP local listings above organic listings

Local listing box below organic listings

  • 13% of time spent on the pages was looking inside the Local Listings box.
  • 38% of participants look at the Local Listing box.
  • 6% of page clicks were to the local listings.
  • The top organic listing garnered 41% of page clicks
  • The top two organic listings garnered 53% of page clicks.
Google SERP local listings box below organic listings

The nature of the search query affects the attention and clicks that the local listings box gets

  • Organic listings for big name classified sites, or comparison or review sites captured more attention and clicks than the individual websites located in the local listing box in searches for hotels, apartments and accountants. This shows the desire of searchers to choose a website that is going to give them lots of choice (craigslist, kijiji, yellow pages, and reviews (tripadvisor, hotel comparison sites etc.).
  • In a previous study by Mediative we learned that convenience is a key factor in making a decision to solve an immediate-gratification need, and distance plays an important role in people’s decision to choose a business.
  • Local listings, and the corresponding right rail map, captured significantly more attention when the physical location of the business was more important to searchers than choice, comparison and reviews such as in the search for a home store.
  • Star ratings had some impact on whether or not people clicked on a local listing (local listings with stars only captured 6.74% of the clicks to these pages), but position within the local listings box seems to have more impact than star ratings. On average, within the local listings box, the top 2 local listings got 45% of the clicks and 51% of the total visit duration.
  1. Google + Local pages are directly tied to the appearance and position in a local search query. Correct business name, address, phone number (consistent across all web properties), star ratings, and reviews will help to ensure your business is listed.
  2. Having an off-site link strategy is just as critical for local SEO, as you cannot be sure if the local listings box is going to be listed above, or below the organic listings. Be listed indirectories, ratings and review sites, blogs, local listings etc., and link back to your website.

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
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 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.