What Makes People Click on a Search Result? 

Nov 17, 2022 | Clear Messaging

This post explores the reasons that people click on a search result.  Getting the click is the first step to getting results from SEO and digital marketing.

Google Search Results are Not Easily Explained

Google search results are often a source of mystery and intrigue. We must look at how Google ranks websites as part of our analysis of the reasons that people click on a search result.

How does Google know which websites to show when you search for something? Why do some websites rank higher than others in the exact searches? What makes someone click on one result over another?

Explaining how Google works is like trying to explain the science behind Netflix recommendations. It’s complex, but some simple principles go a long way.

Search engines use algorithms to measure everything from quality and relevancy to the popularity of keywords on web pages to give users quality search results. We’ll dive into specific examples of how Google works by breaking down these concepts.

How Google Determines Relevance

Google’s core metric for determining relevance is the value of content on a website. Yes, content is the most critical factor when it comes to ranking a search result higher.

People often think that the essential factor is backlinks.  In fact, the algorithm itself gives backlinks considerable weight but not as much as content value.

Several other factors come into play when the algorithm determines relevance, and those are important too when researching the reasons that people click on a search result.

When I’m prioritizing the SEO tactics that I use to get a website top ranking, I always give the content marketing strategy top priority.  I focus on the quality of the content first, and the frequency of content updates second.

What is Quality Content?

When Google started, it generally ranked websites with “high quality” content at the top. Then, for a while, Google gave backlinks top priority. A lot has changed since then, but there’s still a lot of confusion around what high quality means.

Google has thousands of engineers and scientists working on their algorithms—people who are much more intelligent than most of us. They too are always looking at the reasons that people click on a search result.

So, when we try to explain how the search engine works, we have to base it on what the algorithm measures.

Most people think that Google looks at a website’s design, hosting, or the number of backlinks when ranking it. Those are important factors, but the most important single factor is the value of the content and SEO copywriting on the website.

Here is my simple definition of “quality content” in terms of content that will help with SEO:

Quality content is valuable information that engages with visitors in such a way that the visitor’s behavior indicates to Google that they are pleased with the content.

Here is a list of characteristics of quality content:

  • Web pages and blog articles are focused on a single topic.
  • Sentences and paragraphs are short and use simple grammar structures and active voice.
  • Words and phrases express a positive sentiment.
  • Blog pages have a title, introduction, middle with 3-5 supporting topics, and a conclusion.
  • Every paragraph is relevant to the single topic.

Pay-Per-Click vs Organic: Reasons That People Click on a Search Result

You can pay for your website to appear at the top of Google. This is called pay-per-click and is expensive.

Organic search results are the search results that show up below the PPC results. Google’s algorithm determines which websites to show in the organic search results based on their relevance to the search term.

Organic and PPC vary on the reasons that people click on a search result.  In this article, we are only going to look at organic search and the reasons people click on a search result

Google’s Organic Search Results

Google’s algorithm is constantly changing, but there are some general rules of thumb about what can help your website rank well.

  • Optimize for your target keyword – You’ll want to ensure that your website is optimized for one or two keywords. You can do this by adding that keyword or phrase to your title tags, headlines, and body text.
  • Create relevant content – Ensure that the content you publish on your website is relevant to your target keyword. This means that the article discusses your keyword throughout the article.
  • Post fresh content on a regular schedule – Google definitely favor’s websites that post quality content regularly and frequently.  This is why monthly and weekly blogging are one of the best SEO tactics.

How Users Decide Which Result to Click On

By this point, you might be wondering why users would click on certain websites when they’re searching for something. After all, they’re just a list of URLs with the same type of information.

There are a few reasons why users click on certain websites. Some of them are logical, while others are a bit more subtle.

  • Articulate the problem – The reason your prospects go to Google and enter a search term is because they have a problem.  If you talk about that problem, and articulate it CLEARLY then you are motivating action, i.e. they click to your website.
  • High ranking in search results- When people search for something, they usually want to see the top websites most relevant to the search terms.
  • Positive sentiment – Users subconsciously judge a search results authority and relevance based on its wording. A title with positive wording can improve the click through rate by 4%.
  • Short and sweet – Studies show that titles between 40-60 characters have the highest click through rate. Keeping your title short will help you focus you message, which is one of the characteristics of quality content.

Importance of Keywords

One of the most important factors that Google uses to determine relevance is the number of searches a given keyword has. This may seem counterintuitive, but if a lot of people are searching for a term, they’re likely looking for information.

The more people who are searching for information on a particular topic, the more likely they are to click on a result that gives them the information they’re looking for. This means that you may not get a lot of clicks if you’re trying to rank for a term with a low volume of searches.

User Behavior

One of the factors that Google considers when determining relevance is how users are searching for information online.

If a lot of people are clicking on one type of result, it’s likely that relevancy is what they’re looking for. If you click on one type of result often, you probably want to click on that kind of result again. This means that if lots of people are clicking on informational results, it’s likely that they’re looking for information.

If you click on ads often, you’re more likely to click on ads in the future. This means that if lots of people are clicking on advertisements, they may want to click on them again.

Sentiment Analysis

Google also uses machine learning to determine some aspects of relevance. This means that the algorithm looks at the overall content of a website to determine how relevant it is.

This is often called sentiment analysis or emotional analysis—and it’s what powers the “this article is bad” articles. If the algorithm finds a website to be generally positive, it’s more likely to rank it higher.

Why Are Some Websites Ranked Higher Than Others?

Some websites are ranked higher than others because they have more authority on the subject than others. Other websites are ranked higher because they’re more popular than others.

Among the most popular reasons that people click on a search result is that the website is ranked the highest. This doesn’t mean that they’re more relevant than others, but they have more readers.

People often assume that the websites that rank at the top of Google are the most relevant. This is not always the case.

Conclusion – What Makes People Click on a Search Result?

When it comes down to it, the most important thing that you can do to rank well in Google is to create high-quality content. If you can do this, Google will naturally rank you higher in its search results.  Ranking near the top of the organic search results is one of the primary reasons that people click on a search result.

Allan Todd

Allan Todd is CEO of Pagecafe Digital Marketing. In 2022, Allan teamed up with Infront Webworks to provide digital marketing, website design, content marketing, SEO and strategy and solutions to local businesses. Allan lives in Colorado Springs. More articles by Allan Todd