Thursday, July 19, 2012

60% of Google visitors need to scroll to see high value natural search results


Let’s firstly look at the breakdown of the page estate. The following screenshot (click to see a full size version) represents a fully expanded browser window on a 1,280 X 1,024 monitor.
Click to see the full version
As you can see, more than 51% of the page is devoted to ads
The top and the left side is devoted to navigation and functionality, representing about 31% of the page. 
And what remains, the natural search results, account for just 17% of the page. 
But that’s if you can see them at all. It turns out that most people can’t see these results without scrolling down.
By pushing this screenshot through Google’s Browser Size tool (perhaps tellingly, it won’t allow me to paste the actual Google URL for this page into the tool!) we can see how many people will – or won’t – see certain parts of the page, based on what kind of device they’re using.
Click to see full version 
What you can see in the above screenshot (click on it to expand to full size) is a bunch of contoured areas, which represent different screen resolutions. The percentages are the number of people who can see these parts of the page.
It transpires that only 40% of Google’s visitors will see the title of the very first natural search result for this particular search term. 90% of visitors won't see the third result without scrolling.  
The majority of visitors will only see ads, and navigation… unless they scroll down, which was the thing Google’s page layout algorithm was seeking to banish from the third party sites it indexes.
This isn’t a new trend though, as far as Google is concerned, even though it is something that the firm’s search engineers are trying to dissuade other sites from doing. Universal Search and new product search tools (such as the ‘Compare credit cards’ unit in the above screenshots) have gradually eaten into the page, to the point where six out of ten people need to scroll just to see the number one search result.
Nevertheless, it is a bit of a concern. I’d love to know how this has impacted on CTR for both organic and paid search.

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