The goal of the research is to access the impact that SERP layouts and design have on user searching behavior and information retrieval in Google.
To simulate natural searching behavior, Simran IT Services, best SEO Company Australia carried out a small user testing experiment. Users were asked to perform a number of Google searches with the purpose of researching and buying a new mobile phone. One of the goals was to capture data from every point of a customer journey.
A number of participants were given tasks with specific search terms at various stages of purchasing intent. While prescribing search terms limited natural searching behavior, it was a sacrifice made to ensure the study had the best chance of achieving consistency in the SERPs presented, and so aggregated results could be gained.
The tests were run on desktop, although in the future we have plans to expand the study on mobile. Users began each task on the Google homepage. From there, they informed the moderator when they found the information they were looking for. At that point they proceeded to the next task.
Facial expression analysis
Galvanic skin response (GSR)
Understand gaze’s behavior on SERPs (where people take a look when searching)
Understand engagement behavior on SERPs (where people just click at the time of searching)
Identify any emotional responses to SERPs (what happens when users are presented with ads?)
Interaction analysis with different types of results (e.g. ads, shopping results, map packs, Knowledge Graph, rich snippets, PAAs, etc.)
Research scenario and tasks
We told participants they were looking to buy a new phone and were particularly interested in an iPhone XS. They were then provided with a list of tasks to complete, each focused on searches someone might make when buying a new phone. Using the suggested search terms for each task was a stipulation of participation.
- Find out the screen size and resolution of the iPhone XS
Search term: iPhone XS size and resolution
- Find out the talk time battery life of the iPhone XS
Search term: iPhone XS talk time
- Find reviews for the iPhone XS that give a quick list of pros and cons
Search term: iPhone XS reviews
- Find the address and phone number of a phone shop in the town center that may be able to sell you an iPhone XS
Search term: Phone shops near me
- Find what you feel is the cheapest price for a new iPhone XS (handset only)
Search term: Cheapest iPhone XS deals
- Find and go on to buy a used iPhone XS online (stop at point of data entry)
Search term: Buy used iPhone XS
This was the finding that our in-house SEOs were most interested in. According to a study by Simran IT Services, featured snippets get 8.6% of clicks while 19.6% go to the first natural search below it, but when no featured snippet is present, then 26% of clicks go to the first result. At the time, this meant that having a featured snippet wasn’t terrible, especially if you could gain a featured snippet but weren’t ranking first for a term.