Meta descriptions, followed by brand name and page title, have the largest influence over whether users click through on a search result, according to a study conducted by Ignite Visibility. Two-thirds of survey respondents also said that more ads would make them want to use Google less, and the majority agreed that Google is improving its search results by including featured snippets and other SERP features.
The survey polled over 500 participants aged 25–60.
The biggest influence on clickthrough. When asked which factor most influenced their decision to click on a result, 62.9% of respondents said it was the description, 24.2% said it was the brand name and 13% said it was the title. However, as a somewhat contradictory finding, 55.1% of participants said that they only click on a brand they know within the search results.
Users said the search results have improved. The majority (58.5%) of participants said they prefer the present state (December 2019, when the survey was conducted) of Google search results over how they were in January 2019. A similar proportion (55.5%) also said that the inclusion of featured snippets and other SERP features improves Google’s search results.
Will more ads turn users away? Two-thirds (66.7%) of participants said that Google inserting more ads into the search results would make them want to use Google less. This finding seems to contradict findings from a study published in December 2018 in which 75% of respondents said that ads make it easier to find the information they’re looking for.
Nearly 67% of Ignite Visibility’s survey participants disagreed with companies being able to run ads based on other companies’ branded searches. This finding aligns well with the study’s other finding that the majority of users only click on results from brands they’re familiar with.
Why we care. According to the survey, brand recognition was the second largest influence on clickthroughs, and it’s a make-or-break factor for some users. Building brand awareness should supplement your SEO efforts, and vice versa, to gain and capitalize on organic visibility.
The survey also highlighted the importance of writing compelling descriptions. Site owners and SEOs should ensure that their descriptions align with search intent, as Google won’t use your description if it thinks a more accurate one can be taken directly from your page’s content.
If consumers do prefer the modern search results page and its many features, brands will have to adapt. One way to regain visibility is by designing content with rich results in mind.
Users may be opposed to more paid listings within the search results, but Google’s ecosystem is a pull factor and even the addition of more ads may not be enough of a push factor for users to alter their behavior.