News and insights • Posted on 24 May 2024

How Google’s new SERP layout affects user behaviour

When it comes to digital marketing, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. One significant aspect that often goes under the radar is how changes in Google's ever-evolving layout affect user behaviour. Understanding these changes is not just about keeping up with trends, but also about leveraging this knowledge to enhance digital marketing strategies. 

Here, we delve into the impact of Google's search results layout on user behaviour, providing useful insights and tips to capitalise on this knowledge. 

The impact of Google SERP layout on key metrics

Google's search results page (SERP) layout has undergone several transformations over the years. These kaleidoscopic changes aren’t merely aesthetic; they significantly influence how users interact with search results, affecting metrics.

One of the most critical metrics influenced by the Google Search results layout is the click-through-rate (CTR). The average CTR can vary widely depending on several factors, including the position of the link, the presence of rich snippets, and other elements introduced in the current Google Search layout.

For instance, the introduction of featured snippets, knowledge panels, and other SERP features often pushes organic results further down the page. This shift impacts the Google click-through-rate from the SERP, as users are more likely to click on the prominently displayed information at the top of the page.

Recent changes to Google SERPs

From a user perspective, the changes Google is continually making to SERPs are incredibly useful – allowing users to find summarised information and see related questions without needing to leave the SERPs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the significant changes from over the years:

Focus on visual elements 

First up, SERPs are becoming more visually engaging with the inclusion of images, videos, and knowledge panels.

Featured snippets

Second, search engines are getting smarter and providing more direct answers to search queries on the SERP itself through featured snippets. First appearing in 2014 but undergoing constant refinement, featured snippets enable users to find what they need quickly, without needing to actually click through to a website.

People also ask (PAA)

Third, PAA (launched in 2015) displays additional questions related to the original search query, along with concise answers. This allows users to dive deeper, finding answers to questions that may not have even initially crossed their mind. Although not a recent implementation, the efficacy and use of PAAs is reaching a new stage of evolution as part of the brand-new AI overview.

AI overview

Last but certainly not least: Generative AI in Google Search. In a nutshell, this technological shift will enable searchers to have more descriptive, complex, and conversational interactions within Google Search.

Users will see an AI-powered snapshot (officially called an AI overview) in response to their search query, providing an overview of related content. This will include links to resources that support the information in the snapshot, so searchers can check the information themselves and explore further.

Searchers will also be able to 'ask a follow up' or see suggested 'next steps' to discover relevant information, or answers to questions they may not have thought to ask. However, although generative AI in Search is currently being rolled out in several other countries, it currently isn't available in the UK. Watch this space…

Adapting to the Google Search new layout

Understanding how Google’s new Search results layout affects user behaviour is crucial for digital marketers. By analysing changes in Google SERP layout, marketers can adapt their strategies to improve visibility and click-through-rate. This involves optimising content to appear in featured snippets and other prominent SERP features, which can significantly enhance the average CTR Google search results achieve.

Moreover, staying updated with the latest Google search layout changes helps marketers anticipate shifts in user behaviour. For example, the recent Google search results page layout change has led to more dynamic and visually engaging search results. This means that traditional SEO strategies need to evolve to include elements like structured data and schema markup, which help search engines understand and display content more effectively.

The impact of Google's SERP layout on user behaviour is profound and multifaceted. As Google continues to refine its search results layout, staying informed and adaptable is key. For TBB, this means continuously updating our strategies to ensure we are at the forefront of digital marketing trends, providing our clients with the expertise needed to navigate the complexities of the ever-changing digital landscape.

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