SERPs Warning: If you are Below #4, You Are Invisible

By Jeff Kamikow

Do you think SEO is dead? On mobile it certainly isn’t. A new eye-tracking study just released by Mediative shows where people’s eyes go on mobile SERPs, and the results don’t look good if you’re not ranked well.

The study sought to answer four questions:

  1.    Where do mobile users search and click the most and how do they differ from desktop users?
  2.    How do SERP position relate to views and clicks on mobile devices?
  3.    How does the need for scrolling affect views and clicks?
  4.    From this data, what do advertisers need to do to ensure visibility and clicks on mobile SERPs?

Google’s alteration of search page layouts over the years has trained people to search in different ways. Now that there are knowledge panels, more ads at the top of results, people are willing to scroll a bit to get to the first real organic listing. On mobile devices, only 7.4% of clicks happened on a result below the fourth organic result regardless of how many ads and extra Google features appeared above it. This is compared to 16% on desktop.

The effect of ads and knowledge panels is huge on mobile. In many searches the first thing that fills the screen is the knowledge panel, then a certain number of ads before the organic results are reached. People still scroll down for that #1 position, but that spot has a lot of competition. Another finding was that 11% more people are clicking on the knowledge panel compared to desktop, and that almost 22% fewer clicks went to the #1 organic spot.

This is huge. Businesses that can integrate themselves into Google’s system so they appear on knowledge panels have a strong advantage. But that doesn’t mean that being in the top organic spot isn’t important. In mobile SERPs that only had organic listings, 99% of people looked at that top spot and 40% clicked on it. Compare this to 83% of views and 34% of clicks on a desktop. Also, 75% of the clicks fell on the first four results compared to 60% on a desktop.

What about PPC ads? Unlike a desktop where the eye usually has enough room to skip down, ads are much more visible on mobile. 91% of the people tracked saw the top sponsored ad. For the top two ads, clicks on average rose by 4.7% compared to desktop. However, placements in maps and local searches receive far more clicks regardless of whether they appear above or below organic search results.

The results are crystal clear. You must optimize very well for mobile if you are going to make any headway with mobile marketing. Fortunately, many businesses are still focused almost entirely on desktop SEO. Start applying mobile SEO techniques now so you’ll be ahead of the game.