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No-Click Phenomenon: A Search Behaviour Prevalent Among Younger Users

By Christine Hazel 26 Apr 2019
No-Click Phenomenon: A Search Behaviour Prevalent Among Younger Users

Path Interactive recently conducted a new user survey about Google SERP engagement. In their finding, organic search results remained superior. Most users prefer organic searches but younger user tend to engage with content in Rich Text Snippets and the Knowledge Panel without bothering to click on third-party websites. Now popularly dubbed as “no-click” search results, many publishers expressed their concern about this phenomenon.

The survey polled searchers from different countries (but most respondents hail from the United States). Its goal was to identify how web users at present interact with various Google SERP components. All in all, the findings revealed vague results. Depending on how you look at it, they could be positive or negative. Respondents were from the 13 to 70 years old age bracket. Majority claimed to be “somewhat tech savvy” or have sufficient knowledge of current web technology.

Many Still Favour Organic Results

72 per cent said they preferred organic results when asked whether they clicked on ads or organic search results. 47 per cent of respondents said they do not or are less likely to click on ads. 19 per cent said they sometimes clicked on ads or organic links at equal intervals.

Older users tend to look further than the top-ranked websites on Google search results. However, according to the survey, they cannot tell ads and organic links apart.

Most younger users are susceptible to the “no-click” behavior when encountering Featured Snippets or Rich Text. Older users are likely to ignore Snippets because they would rather extract more information from organic links. On a positive note, 72.5 per cent (an overwhelming majority) of all respondents believed Snippets are trustworthy for the most part.

Content Snippets and the Knowledge Panel

Questions about Knowledge Panel content had similar responses. Majority (approximately 92.1 per cent) of users do view Knowledge Panel results. Within this 92.1 per cent, 55 per cent also viewed other links, while the remaining 37 per cent the Knowledge Panel alone completed their search without clicks to other links.

Responses rich results or snippets were consistently similar. However, only a handful (approximately 14 per cent) made queries without investigating further. Another 43 per cent said they were likely to view rich results together with other data on the page. Finally, the rest of the 33 per cent said they focused instead on traditional organic links and were not likely to click on rich text answers.

What Critics Say About Google

25 per cent said they had no complaints about Google when asked about their sentiments. However, the rest of the 75 per cent had all sorts of complaints, which appeared in multiple choice responses:

  • 24.1 per cent said Google has an excessive number of ads

  • 20.8 per cent believed Google prioritises information from popular multinational corporations (thereby narrowing the playing field for small medium enterprises)

  • 17.3 per cent said Google self-advertises all the time

  • 7.5 per cent did not like implications related to user interaction with Google content

  • 5.5 per cent believed search results are not high quality, often inaccurate or biased

Why This Is An Important Concern

How people respond to surveys about Google SERP and its different elements exposes their personal views and behaviours, which often have a correlation with age. Younger users are not likely to interact with ads but have a high probability of reading content at or near the top pages all the while ignoring links. Older users are most likely to click on ads but may need further information before doing so. They are also prone to clicking ads on websites that are not on page 1 of the Google SERP.

The aforementioned survey results appear to support critics who believe that clicks to third party web sites are hampered by Google Snippets, Knowledge Panels and other types of structured content. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. User behavior grows more diverse and more personalised to some extent alongside the constantly evolving Google SERP.