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Google SERP features occupy more above-fold screen real estate, reduce organic clicks

29 January 2019 (Edited 29 January 2019)

Analysis by SparkToro of 2018 Jumpshot data finds that proliferating Google paid- and no-click SERP features like Featured Snippets, the Knowledge Panel, Local Pack, Google Ads, News Box and others have caused a decline in clickthroughs on organic search returns in both the USA and Europe, on desktop and - especially - on mobile.

Google Featured Snippets are a particularly intrusive SERP feature, in that they appear at the top of the page, above the normal search results - affectively at "position 0".

Here's an example of a Featured Snippet:

You can go here for Google's very simplified explation of Featured Snippets.

And for more information on all the Google SERP features, see What is a SERP feature on MOZ.com.

Now, in regard to the impact on clickthroughs of shrinking available screen real estate, here are Jumpshot's desktop click data for 2018 vs. 2016:

For USA:

  • Share of searches resulting in clicks on organic returns down from 62.7% to 60.4%
  • Share of searches resulting in paid clicks up from 4.6% to 6.0%
  • Share of searches resulting in no clicks (i.e., user was satisfied with the information Google provided on the SERP) up from 32.7% to 33.6%

For European Union:

  • Organic click share down from 66.9% to 63.6%
  • Paid click share up from 4.5% to 6.4%
  • No-click share up from 28.5% to 30.0%

Clearly there's a trend toward fewer organic clicks there - but nowhere near the reduction the data show for mobile devices:

For USA:

  • Organic click share down from 40.1% to 29.7% (minus 10.3 percentage points)
  • Paid click share up from 3.9% to 8.9%
  • No-click share up from 56.1% to 61.4%

For European Union:

  • Organic click share down from 45.0% to 36.7% (minus 8.3 percentage points)
  • Paid click share up from 4.0% to 8.8%
  • No-click share up from 51.0% to 54.4%

Obviously the smaller screens of mobile devices aggravate the situation.

And this trend is going to lead marketers to put more time, effort and money into Google Ads and Google My Business, at the expense of SEO.

My recommendation:

Before allocating your online marketing and advertising budgets, study the search keyword phrases on which you need to be found, to see what you're up against.

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And if you have questions or comments, you can easily send them to me with the Quick Reply form, below, or send me an e-mail.

David Boggs    - David
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