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Google SERP Survey: Younger Users Rely on Snippets, Rich Answers More

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A new survey from Path Interactive, (n=1,400 mostly US adults), published on the Moz blog, explored how users interact today with various features of the Google SERP. The TL;DR version is: most user attention and clicks still focus on organic results, but features such as snippets and the Knowledge Panel are causing more zero-click results, especially among younger users.

There are various data points in the market concerning the distribution of organic and paid clicks. In the past, roughly 5 to 7 years ago, it could be confidently stated that organic results received 80% to 90% of the clicks. That has been eroding over time, partly because of a shift to mobile search and more ads at the top of the page, though organic results still receive a majority of clicks.

Path Interactive consumer survey

Source: Path Interactive survey (2019)

The survey found that younger users were more discriminating about ads vs. organic results but that older users were more likely to browse beyond the top results and even to subsequent pages on Google.

Regarding featured snippets, younger users were more likely than older searchers to accept the information in the snippet without clicking on other results. Overall, 72% of survey respondents at least partly trusted the content in featured snippets, with 28% saying that the information “answered my questions well.”

In terms of the Knowledge Panel, 92% paid attention to it and a striking 37% said that it usually provided sufficient information to answer their query. Again, this phenomenon was more pronounced among younger users, while older searchers tended to continue looking.

Path Interactive Consumer survey data about SERP

Source: Path Interactive survey (2019)

Other “answer box” or “rich results” questions yielded similar results: younger users tended to rely on them more, while older searchers considered them but continued looking.

The published version of the survey didn’t distinguish between behaviors on the PC and mobile devices. This seems to me to be a flaw (at least in the discussion). I would expect a much higher consumer bias toward ads, rich results and content at the top of the page on mobile devices.

You can review the findings in more detail here.

There are two stories the survey data tell: one “half-empty” and one “half-full” for publishers and marketers. On the one hand, there’s still lots of engagement with links. But on the other, there’s a substantial percentage of the audience (roughly a third) and younger users in general that are less inclined to look beyond the top of the page or the Google-featured content.

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