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Study: what do people click in search results?

A new study about the click behavior of web searchers has been released this month. The study shows that searchers click specialized content within general search results more than they do within the results of specialized searches.

Blended results and specialized searches

Within the last year, all major search engines have begun returning blended results for some searches. For these searches, specialized search result types such as news, images and videos appear along the regular web pages on the search result page.

Before search engines introduced blended results, these result types were only available by performing specialized searches in the news, image or video sections of the search engines.

Blended results

Which results are clicked by web searchers?

The study shows which results are clicked most often:

  • 36% of searchers click news results within blended search results, while only 17% click a news result after conducting a news-specific search.
  • 31% of search engine users click image results within blended search results, while 26% click an image result after conducting an image-specific search.
  • 17% of search engine users click video results within blended search results, while only 10% click a video result after conducting a video-specific search.
  • Images are the most clicked result type after a specialized search.
  • News items are the most clicked result type within blended search results.

The first result page is getting more important

The study also revealed some trends that show that the first page of the search results is getting more important:

  • 68% of search engine users click results on the first page of search results, compared to 62% in 2006, and 60% in 2004.
  • Only 8% of search engine users review more than the first three pages prior to clicking on a result.
  • 49% of search engine users who continue their search when not finding what they are looking for, change and/or re-launch their search after reviewing just the first page of search results, up from 40% in 2006, and 42% in 2004.
  • 37% of online users associate appearance at the top of search results with a company's leadership within its industry or category, up slightly from 35% in 2006 and 33% in 2002.

What does this mean for your website rankings?

The study clearly shows that it is very important to be listed on the first page of the search results.

  1. If your website cannot be found in the top 10 results for your keywords, then you should optimize your web pages right now.

  2. In addition to getting top 10 rankings, it is also important that your web pages attract clicks. Write compelling web page titles. The more attractive the headline of your web page in the search results, the more people will click.

Your website must be found in the top 10 results and it must also be attractive enough so that people click on it. If your website is not listed on the first result page then you'll lose a lot of potential customers.

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April 2008 search engine articles