How does the behavior of Google search users differ on mobile devices vs. desktop computers? Are people more likely to focus on certain elements of search engine results pages (SERPs) when using smaller screens?
To find out, Mediative conducted an eye-tracking study in 2015 with 49 people of various ages. Participants were given 41 search tasks to complete using the Google search engine on an iPhone 5.
The researchers tracked where users looked, how long it took them to look, when they clicked, and how long it took them to click. Both organic and paid listings were examined.
Google search users on smartphones tend to scan vertically, with focus starting at the top of the screen and quickly moving down rather than horizontal, the researchers found. That behavior is especially pronounced when SERPs include both paid and organic listings.
Below, additional key findings from the report.
As with desktop pages, the top organic listing on a mobile SERP captures the most activity; however, it takes users 87% longer, on average, to see the first organic listing on a smartphone than on a desktop because other content often takes up most of the top part of the page.
Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.
LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji