How does Google Search user behavior differ on mobile devices compared to desktop computers? Are people more likely to focus on certain elements of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) when using smaller screens?
Discover, Mediative conducted an eye-tracking study in 2015 with 49 people of various ages. Participants were given 41 search tasks to complete using the Google search engine on an iPhone 5.
The researchers followed where users looked, how long it took them to watch, when they clicked, and how long it took them to click. Both organic and paid registrations have been reviewed.
Google search users on smartphones tend to scan vertically, with the focus starting at the top of the screen and quickly moving down rather than horizontally, the researchers found. This behavior is especially pronounced when the SERPs include both paid and organic ads.
Below are other key findings from The report.
As with desktop pages, the best organic listing on a mobile SERP captures the most activity; However, it takes an average of 87% longer for users to see the first organic listing on a smartphone than on a desktop, as other content often takes up most of the top portion of the page.
As a result, ranking in Google’s top few organic listings is especially important on mobile, according to Mediative; only 8% of mobile clicks go to lists after the first four results.
Since the most sponsored ads take up the majority of smartphone screen space, they are seen by nearly all Google researchers using mobile devices, according to the analysis.
Mobile users see the first sponsored ad in just 0.36 seconds on average; However, it takes an average of 5.95 seconds to click on an ad, as most people scroll up and down a page before taking action.
Google’s paid ads with extensions, such as those that let you call a business or see its location on a map, have a 30% higher click-through rate on mobile than those that don’t.
Click-through rates for paid and organic ads are highest when two sponsored ads are displayed on a mobile SERP; when three ads are shown, engagement levels decrease:
When a knowledge graph is visible on a mobile SERP, it typically fills all of the visible space on the screen and requires the user to scroll down to view the listings below; this drastically reduces engagement with organic listings, according to the analysis.
A highly relevant knowledge graph results in a decrease in clicks to the first organic list by 12.6% on average.
About the research: The report was based on data from a 2015 eye-tracking study of 49 people of different ages. Participants were given 41 search tasks to complete using the Google search engine on an iPhone 5.