We analyzed 1,801 Google user behavioral sessions to better understand how people interact with modern Google SERPs.
In particular, we examined:
- How many people click on ads compared to organic results?
- Percentage of clicks on Local, Video and Google Shopping
- Average length of the search session
- Number of users who made it to the end of the first page
- Much more
And now it's time to share what we've discovered.
Here are some of our key findings:
1. Google Searchers use one of Google's auto-complete suggestions 23% of the time. People searching for informative and local searches are more likely to click an autocomplete suggestion than people searching with commercial queries.
2. 50% of Google users click on their result within 9 seconds of searching. The average time it takes for a Google searcher to click on something is 14.6 seconds.
3. Only 9% of Google searchers make it to the end of the first page of search results.
4th Only 15% of users change their original search term. This suggests that Google tends to deliver highly relevant results. Or that Google users can choose the right keyword on the first try.
5. Only 17% of users returned to search results after clicking a result. Only 5% of users jump multiple times for the same query.
6th The majority (59%) of Google users visit a single page during their search session. Only 6% need to visit four or more pages to get a response to their query.
7th 65% of searchers click on a traditional search result with 10 blue links during their search session.
8. Although this was very different depending on the query, 19% of searchers click on a Google ad during their search.
9. For local queries 42% of searchers click results in the Google Maps Pack.
10. 19% of people who search for a product click on a Google Shopping result.
11. On average Only 3% of searchers interact with a "People also ask" field. Although this behavior is very different depending on the query. For example, 13.6% of people who searched for nutritional supplements clicked on a PAA box.
12. Only 0.44% of searchers go to the second page of Google search results.
13. The average search session lasts 76 seconds. Half of all searches are completed within 53 seconds.
Methodology: How we conducted this study
For this research, we asked 454 US residents to perform a series of tasks using Google search.
To get a wide range of different queries, we asked our subjects to perform the following search tasks:
Commercial (physical product): Find a car phone holder for a Ford F-150 under $ 20.
Commercial Service): Find an airline credit card that gives new cardholders at least 20,000 miles in the first year.
Advertisement No. 2 (service): Find a small business credit card with no annual fee and an interest rate of less than 25%.
Local: Find a car accident lawyer near you.
Information: Find The Best Video That Shows You How To Cut Your Own Hair.
Information: Find the best way to buy groceries online near you with no additional delivery fee.
Transaction: Find supplements that can help with back pain.
We then recorded each subject's screen during their session.
Here is an example of one of those recordings.
After checking each video individually to make sure the survey instructions were followed. We had a total of 259 users (1,801 search sessions). With a total length of video recording of 2,226 minutes (38 hours).
Finally, we commented on the video data. Enter each data point in a table. And analyzed the results.
With that, let's break down the results.
Searchers use Google auto-complete suggestions 23% of the time
Google's autocomplete will suggest a series of keywords during your search based on search history, geography, and data entered so far.
According to our research, quite a few Google searchers use this feature. In particular, we found that about a quarter of all searches resulted in a user selecting one of Google's auto-complete suggestions.
However, the number of times someone used google autocomplete was somewhat dependent on the query.
In particular, people searching for commercial and transactional keywords were most likely to use auto-complete suggestions.
Key takeaway: It seems that Google's auto-complete has a significant impact on search behavior. Especially for transaction and trade inquiries.
Half of Google users click within 9 seconds of their search
Next, we wanted to examine the time to the first click. In other words, how much time a user spent scanning the results before deciding to click something.
We hypothesized that while many people instinctively click the first result, user behavior might change due to the large number of SERP features Google now uses, including video carousels, question boxes, and top stories.
Not to mention that SERP layouts can vary significantly between different searches.
This combination makes it difficult for users to quickly pick the first organic result on the page. Depending on the query, the first result may be above the fold. Or at the bottom of the page. And sometimes between Google Shopping and Google Ad Results.
We found that 50% of people who search for something on Google click within 9 seconds. We also found that 25% of users click within 5 seconds.
The average time to the first click is 14.6 seconds.
It's also worth noting that the time to first click was slightly different depending on the query type.
Key takeaway: Google searchers spend a lot of time tweaking the results before they click for the first time. The average first click time for a search is 14.6 seconds.
9% of users scroll to the bottom of the first page
Next, we wanted to see how many Google searchers actually scrolled to the end of the first page results.
We found that only 9% of people ended up at the bottom of the results.
However, this user behavior depended on the type of query. Individuals who searched for "find back pain supplements" using our transaction query saw significantly more SERPs than those who searched for the commercial "Find a Car Phone Holder".
This is likely due to differences in the SERP functions.
Commercial keywords usually drive Google Shopping results. Which almost always appear above the fold.
On the other hand, transaction and information terms tend to have a more traditional “10 blue links” layout. This may cause you to keep scrolling and clicking further down the page.
Key takeaway: Relatively few (9%) of Google users make it to the end of the SERPs. Many will find an answer to their question either at the top of the page. If you can't find what you need above the fold, change your query instead.
Only 15% of Google users change their original search term
We found that 85% of Google users find an answer to their query with their original search term.
This may be due to the fact that Google (through updates like Hummingbird and RankBrain) has improved its ability to understand the true intent of a query.
Or that the search results from Google are simply better than in the past. This leads to someone finding a relevant result at the top of the page.
Google users may also understand the search better. In other words, they've been trained through thousands of searches to get their queries right.
In either case, Google searchers will generally find what they need on their first query. Because of this, very few change their query after the first search.
Key takeaway: Only 15% of searchers end up changing the keyword they originally searched for.
17% of Google searchers return to the SERPs
While this is controversial, there is evidence that the Google algorithm examines "behavioral signals" to see if the users are happy with the results.
Regardless, we wanted to see how many people bounced (or, more precisely, “pogo stuck”) after clicking a Google result.
And we found that 83% of users didn't bounce off the result they clicked on. And that only 5% of users bounced multiple times during a single search session.
However, this again varied depending on the query.
Our research also found that the majority (59%) of searchers clicked on a single result. And that a small percentage of users (6%) visited more than 4 pages to find an answer to their question.
This again shows that Google is generally doing well with a user's request.
Combined with the fact that, as explained above, Google searchers spend quite a bit of time deciding on the most relevant result they want to click on.
Key takeaway: 17% of people who click on a Google result return to the SERPs to choose a different result.
65% of Google searchers click The Organic Results
Google has rolled out a number of SERP features over the past few years, including featured snippets, knowledge panels, Twitter maps, and more.
Even so, we found that 65% of searchers clicked on at least one organic result with “10 blue links” during their search session.
This does not mean that these users did not also click on an ad. We noticed that many users clicked on both organic results and ads during their search session.
However, it is noteworthy that the vast majority of searchers clicked on the organic results at least once during their session. And a fair number (10%) click multiple organic offers.
Key takeaway: 65% of Google users click on an organic result during their search session.
19% of users click on a Google ad during their search
Google Ad Listings are occupying more SERP properties than ever before.
Today's Google ad placements are also more important and are now largely similar to organic results.
We found that 19% of Google users click on a Google ad. And that only 4% click on multiple ads during the same search session.
This number can be slightly higher than expected because many of the queries in this study were commercial or transactional.
In fact, we found that this behavior was highly dependent on the type of search someone was doing.
In particular, commercial and transactional searches resulted in significantly more Google ad clicks compared to information queries.
This is likely due to the fact that these searches generate more ad placements. And that the search intent is more focused on product and service pages. This can lead to users finding ads that are highly relevant to their search.
Key takeaway: 19% of Google users click on a Google ad. However, this number varies widely depending on the type of search someone is doing.
42% of local searchers click on the google map pack
For local queries (“Sushi New York”) and even queries that Google may consider local depending on the context, a “Map Pack” is displayed to the users.
A map package consists of three results from Google Maps mixed with the "normal" organic results.
We found that 42% of people who search for local terms ultimately click on a result in the Google Map Pack.
Given its importance in most local SERPs, it is not surprising that a large number of users are looking for a local business using the Map Pack.
Key takeaway: 42% of people searching for a local business click a Google Map Pack result.
19% of product searches result in a Google Shopping Click
The Google Shopping results are displayed above the fold of many product-specific searches.
So it's no wonder that 19% of the users of a product click on a Google Shopping result.
Key takeaway: 19% of people searching for a product click on Google Shopping results at least once during their search session.
Only 3% of Google users interact with a person ask box
According to data from SEMrush, 43.21% of all Google search results have a People Also Ask box.
This makes it one of the most standout features of any SERP.
We wanted to know how many users were actually interacting with PAA boxes.
And we've found that very few (only 3%) of searches on Google result in a click on the "People ask too" box.
However, we found that certain transactional and navigation searches result in much higher PAA box interaction (13.6%).
Key takeaway: While a large number of SERPs also show person fields, most queries do not interact with them very often. In fact, only 3% of the searches in our sample resulted in someone interacting with a PAA box.
0.44% of users visit Google's second page results
Unsurprisingly, very few users (0.44%) get to Google's second page.
This is in line with the organic CTR research we did over the past year using data from the Google Search Console.
In this study, we found that 0.78% of users visited the second page of the results.
Key takeaway: Only 0.44% of Google users visit the second page to find an answer to their query.
The average Google search session lasts 76 seconds
How long does it take when someone searches for something on Google to find what they're looking for?
According to our data, the average person ends their search session after 76 seconds.
We also found that 25% of the search sessions were very fast (<31 seconds).
As with many of our results, the timeframe here varied depending on the type of search our topic was conducting.
This again shows that Google packs the first page relatively well with relevant, useful results. And provision of SERP features that can direct users to relevant content faster.
Key takeaway: Although somewhat query-dependent, our data shows that most Google searches completed successfully in a relatively short period of time (76 seconds average).
I hope you enjoyed this research.
The Google SERPs change quickly. More ads. Other SERP functions. And even completely new search experiences like Google Discover.
Because of this, we wanted to get some insight into how users interact with modern search results.
If you're interested, here are our methods and the full results. And a link to a GitHub repository with the raw data.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below.