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Google Search Page Enhancements Are Improving UX But Pushing Mobile CTRs Down

February 8, 2019 Kathy Bryan

Last month, SparkToro reported a drop in Google’s organic click-through rates (CTRs) when comparing 2018 to 2016. Clicks on paid listings and searches that finish without a click increased during the same period.

The Organic CTR Drop For Google Mobile Searches Was Stunning

Google made a number of mobile-focused user experience (UX) changes throughout the last two years, and it appears the impact on user behavior has been tremendous. From 2016 to 2018, the share of U.S.-based organic clicks from Google searches dropped by 26% while the share of paid clicks increased by 128%.

The share of mobile no-click searches climbed 9% from 2016 to 2018. This growth is, at least in part, due to the continued expansion of featured snippets and Google Knowledge Panel search results, which help users get everything they need directly from the search engine results page (SERP). For example, Google is now showing job listings and Tweets directly within their search results. And YouTube videos sometimes appear in the answer box on the SERP. “Google consistently figures out ways to enhance the types of information they furnish directly in search results,” noted Rachel Lowe, SEO Director at Digital Media Solutions. “Many of these changes encourage people to interact directly with search results to receive information rather than scroll to traditional links.” 

The Organic CTR Decline For Google Desktop Searches Was Minor

In the U.S., the number of Google searches that ended with a click on organic content declined by almost 4% from 2016 to 2018. Unlike mobile searchers, who are likely to be seeking quick answers, people who search on desktop “are more likely prepared to do purpose-driven research or take action,” according to Lowe.

Google has frequently stated their desire to enhance user experience for mobile searchers. Unfortunately, their recent SERP enhancements, which were designed with the mobile searcher in mind, decreased organic performance for many marketers. If organic traffic drives your brand’s performance, considering user experience should help boost your efforts. Google appears to prioritize content that is easy to access from mobile devices and provides real value to searchers. When you keep your end user in mind, you’re likely to reap the rewards.

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About the Author

Kathy Bryan

Kathy Bryan is the EVP, Head of Corporate Marketing at Digital Media Solutions (DMS). In this role, Kathy is responsible for all aspects of marketing and communications for DMS, the largest single entry point for marketers seeking scalable and reliable, martech-enabled digital media distribution.

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