Over the last ten years, the design of Google's search engine results page (SERP) has changed significantly, thanks to the influence of mobile devices. According to a recently released study on Google and mobile-influenced user search behavior, the search giant has adapted its SERP layout to accommodate the new search habits of mobile device users.
Mobile-influenced Search Habits
With the vast proliferation of mobile devices, searchers encounter and digest search results very differently than they did in the days of desktop search's dominance. Mobile device layout encourages a vertically oriented search style in which users selectively "scan" for relevant information. Essentially, we now consume more content, much faster: while users once took 2.6 seconds to consume a SERP, that time has now been reduced to a mere 1.3 seconds.
Google's SERP Design Changes
Since most searches are now conducted on mobile devices, Google has accommodated users' mobile-influenced search habits in its page layout. The company has re-designed their SERP from a more horizontally oriented, triangular pattern appropriate for desktop viewing to a vertical pattern that suits the vertical design of mobile device screens.
This mobile-influenced design also remains consistent in Google's desktop SERP, which goes to show how much our mobile search habits have changed the way we consume content more generally.
Implications for Your Business's Search Listings
These new habits, along with the corresponding changes to Google's SERP, affect the way businesses should approach search engine optimization. Here are a few key takeaways:
Have a Clear and Visible Main Message
Since users spend less time perusing search results, businesses need to capture their attention by articulating their message clearly and up front. Be sure to include an appropriate title that accurately describes your business.
Work to Achieve a Google Knowledge Graph
Google's knowledge graphs synthesize links and information relevant to certain search terms. These boxes are located on the side of desktop SERPs and at the top of mobile SERPs.
This placement means that mobile searchers see the Knowledge Graph before any organic listings. When a knowledge graph turns up in a Google SERP, the top organic listing receives 22% fewer clicks, while an overwhelming 93% of searchers view the Knowledge Graph and 49% click the graph.
Although you cannot directly create a knowledge graph, there are measures you can take to gain a knowledge graph result for your business. These include typical organic SEO strategies such as adding structured markup to your site. Once your business has a knowledge graph, you or a representative can edit the graph and suggest changes.
Get Local Listings in Order
When a map and local listings appear above the organic listings on a SERP, the map and listings receive more clicks and views. This means it remains important to add or claim your name, address, contact information, and business hours on Google My Business.
Registering your business will also help you to gain star ratings. Since listings with star ratings capture an average of 24% of page clicks, you should encourage your customers to provide reviews. As always, having more positive reviews will help your business to appear at the top of search listings.
Increase Organic Search Ranking
Some things remain the same: today, the top four organic listings capture the most search activity, regardless of any changes to Google's page design and added features. Listings below the top four receive only 16% of clicks on desktop searches, and this number drops to 7.4% on mobile searches. This means that it is more important than ever to continue to use organic SEO strategies to get your business's page in the top spot.