Where do searchers look and click on Google? – Desktop vs. Mobile

In 2014, Mediative released an eye-tracking research, studying where searchers look and click on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) on desktop, and how the different elements of the SERP (sponsored listings, local listings, map, carousel etc.) can impact the propensity of a listing to be seen and clicked on.

We’ve recently replicated the same study on mobile, which will be released soon. Stay tuned! In the new study, we wanted to learn how the way people look and click on Google’s SERPs differs between a desktop search and a mobile search.

In this blog post, we will look back at the results of our previous study, and give you a sneak peek at the new one.

The evolution of Google’s SERPs on desktop and the effects on user behavior – what we learned and what this means to you

Google’s Algorithm and Search Results Page Eye Tracking

Key takeaways

  • It’s not always about getting to the #1 listing in Google. Whether your listing will get clicks depends on the intent of the searcher and the elements present on the page.
  • Businesses that are lower on the SERP will see more click activity than they used to. Understanding the intent of the searcher will help you determine how much you should invest in trying to appear higher up in the SERP.
  • SEO is not a one-size fits all approach. Don’t try to chase the algorithm. Instead, have a solid content strategy focused on users.
  • People are viewing more results during a single session and spend less time viewing each listing. It is therefore important to frontload text of relevant content in both organic and sponsored listings, as well as taking advantage of meta data and schema mark up.
  • The way people look at, and click on, Google’s search results has changed significantly in the past decade. People are looking more vertically than horizontally, conditioned by mobile devices.

A few stats:

  • 84% of clicks are on listings located above the 4th organic listing
  • 14.5% of clicks are on the top sponsored ads
  • 32.8% of clicks are on the first organic listing
  • 83% of people looked at the top organic listing
  • Local listings get 50% of the clicks
  • Only 1% of clicks are to “next page”
  • Popular review/ratings sites can get up to 90% of the clicks
  • The right rail sponsored listings only get 0.7% of the clicks
  • Paid ads that exactly meet searcher intent have 2x more chances to be seen and 8x more chances to be clicked on compared to other paid ads on the same page.

What about mobile? How does a searcher’s interaction with a mobile SERP differ?

As Google has evolved the presentation of its results over the year, so too have the devices on which searchers access the search engine. This year, Google reported that mobile searches surpassed desktop searches. Google also reports that 77% of mobile searches lead to action, and that 75% of mobile conversions in Canada take place within one hour of the search, making it important for businesses to be found in mobile search.

Mediative therefore conducted an eye-tracking research on mobile, to provide businesses with more information on how people conduct searches, and how tactics to get views and clicks might differ to those used for desktop Google SERPs.

The full study will be released soon. But while you impatiently wait for it to be available, here is a sneak peek at what we found:

  • When there is a knowledge graph on the page, 11% more clicks went to the knowledge graph on mobile compared to a desktop, and 22% less clicks went to the top #1 organic listing on mobile.
  • The #1 organic listing still captures the most click activity but it takes longer for it to be seen on mobile compared to a desktop.
  • Being above the 4th organic listing is critical. More than 90% of all clicks were above the 4th organic listing on average.
  • Relevancy to the intent of the searcher is as important on mobile as it is on desktop.
  • Paid ads get more views and clicks on mobile compared to a desktop.

Much of the findings from the study come as a direct result of the fact that on a mobile, the available screen real estate for search engine results listings is much much smaller. There is no impact from peripheral vision, where the eye is drawn to other listings on the page, and only 3-4 listings are visible at any one time, (and in some cases it is only 1). What does this mean for advertisers? It means competition is fierce, and capturing clicks to your Google listing on a mobile will be more challenging – but not impossible.

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Adriano De Luca
Adriano is an integral part of Mediative’s Marketing team, focused on generating demand and engagement from new and existing leads through the marketing funnel. Passionate about everything marketing related, Adriano developed a wide array of expertise with Mediative, from compiling eBooks, to managing Mediative’s social media and website, and nurturing leads via email communications.