The way that search results are structured may be helping webpages listed lower on the first page of rankings to get views and clicks, a new study by Nielson Norman Group has found.
The report analysed the unpredictability of search in 2019, which is mainly due to how users interact with Google’s results pages based on the visual and written word design cues such as Featured Snippets and Sponsored Links.
Back in 2013, six in 10 people scanned SERPs sequentially from the first result downwards without skipping a result or looking at different areas of the page.
Viewing behaviour has changed drastically in 2019 as there is now a myriad of links, images, embedded text, video and interactive features vying for people’s attention.
Also, every search is different, so some users will be seeing different visual elements when making a query.
This means that it is no longer a winner-takes-all environment as users are scanning more of the page to find relevant information and content.
Nielson Norman Group noted that the results are “encouraging for site teams”.
The firm added that it is not ideal if your site is not ranking first, but as long as it is appearing near the top (within the first five results), then you may have about a 10% to 20% chance of getting a click and anywhere from a 40% to 80% chance of getting a look.
However, it did note that ranking beyond the first page is a problem as just 2% click onto the second page of results.
While more brands can benefit from the new structure to SERPs, the unpredictability can also make it more difficult for brands to optimise and manage SEO.