How People View Search Results Pages is Changing

The facts are in: people are scanning search results pages in a different pattern than they did a decade ago.

Back then, Google served up a simple list of blue links and called it a day.

Nowadays, there are many different features that might display on a search results page, like images and video content, quick facts, and featured snippets – making it a much more engaging and interactive environment.

People are still searching George Brett, but the way they viewed him in search results changed over a decade’s time. (Source)

Of course, this new format is a lot more interesting to look at than the old layout, so people are viewing results pages in a new way. Rather than moving linearly through a list, users are navigating through information less predictably – in what some are calling a “pinball pattern” of scanning search results.

Kate Moran, Senior UX Specialist at Nielsen Norman Group, talks about this new gaze pattern in her video. She explains that in a pinball pattern, a user scans the results page in a non-linear path, jumping from one feature to the next, much like a ball in a pinball machine.

New Looks, New Opportunities

What’s interesting about this new gaze pattern is it gives brands more opportunities to get clicks from search results pages, or at least get noticed. According to Moran, within the first five positions in a SERP, there’s a 10 to 20 percent chance of getting a click, and a 40 to 80 percent chance of getting a look.

That’s more advantage than brands had in 2009, when the lion’s share of attention went to the number one ranked page, and hardly any users went on to the second page of results.

It’s also a clear signal that search engines like Google and Bing are more interested than ever in displaying results that are easy to scan and digest.

Get More Visibility in Search

Now that you see how differently users are viewing search results pages, you might be wondering how you can tap into these opportunities. Here’s a look at the value of SEO services in helping you get there.

Reach out with any questions you might have regarding how RSO can help you with your digital marketing.

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