Google is regularly testing new features on their Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). A Canadian company, Mediative, recently published an article on “The Evolution of Google’s Search Results Pages & Effects on User Behaviour.” It includes studies dating from 2005 on the topic: search engine result page and how searchers view it.

Mediative explains the theory through the use of two maps. The first theory is explained by looking at the way searchers look at SERPs.

Shown below is the SERP heat map in 2005.

SERP1

 

(Source: The Evolution of Google Search Results Pages and Their Effect on User Behaviour)

Marketers named this the “Golden Triangle.” If your website does not appear in a position within the yellow-orange triangle in the map, your chances of being clicked by a user will be very less.

 

 

In 2014, after new data was measured, the map looked totally different.

SERP2

 

(Source: The Evolution of Google Search Results Pages and Their Effect on User Behaviour)

Just like the previous heat map, if your website does not appear in a position within the yellow-orange in the map, the probability of being clicked by a user will be very less.

According to this report, this new change is due to the increase in mobile searches. Users are now much more likely to look vertically rather than horizontally for the information they need. Also, the top organic results are not always at the top anymore.

Nowadays, people view more search listings than before; however, they spend less time viewing each listing. Rather they are looking for the best match to their search, and fast.

In this situation, a mix of paid search and organic SEO will provide the best results. Having your listing show up at the top along with a good organic search position (1st or 2nd) increases your chance of increasing your click-through rate.

Also, using keywords in the front of the listing is also a good strategy as users tend to look at the first few words to determine if the content is right for them. So make sure you put relevant keywords in your page titles and listings.

How Do Local Listings Affect Clicks?

The study also explained the other important aspects of SERPs such as local listings. So lets take a look at the study results.

SERP3

 

(Source: The Evolution of Google Search Results Pages and Their Effect on User Behaviour)

Even though the organic listings took the greater part of the clicks, the time spent by users to look at the local listings was almost the same as the time spent looking at organic listings. This means that local listings receives a good deal of attention, even though they got fewer clicks.

Almost 76% of users look at the local listings. Having both a local listing and a high position on organic results will maximize your chances of a click, especially in the case where the local listings are located below the organic results.

Local listings and knowledge graphs may have given you an overall idea, but in the end, understand that, users always look for relevant results. Relevancy is and has always been one of the most important ranking factors for search engines. In order to be successful with your SEO strategy, make sure to apply this view point to your strategy.

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