A popular use of first-click testing is to optimize search engine results page listings. This typically involves gathering feedback on where users would click on a search page and why. This information is important as it can allow you to enhance your own page listing for maximum clicks, and because it offers insight into why people click on particular headlines or in particular places.
As a website owner, the search engine results page is largely out of your control, making experimentation of different headlines and description text difficult or impossible to perform. A click test allows you to emulate this scenario in a controlled environment and see how real people would interact with your listing.
First, prepare an image of a search results page featuring your listing. With some technical know-how, this can be done by manipulating a live results page with your browser's inspector and capturing a screenshot. If you're more artistic than technical, simply mocking up the page in Photoshop may be easier.
Then enter the instructions for participants, setting the scene and telling them what they are looking for when making their click. In this case, we gave the following instructions to participants:
“Imagine you are moving house and you run a Google search to make sure everything goes smoothly. Which result would you click and please explain why.”
Participants then view the image of the search page and make their choice. They are then asked the follow-up question: “Why did you click there?”
- Position your listing among other real listings for the search phrase.
- Try testing titles and descriptions separately.
- Try varying the placement of your listing to control for biases due to ranking.
It's not surprising that the top listed result received the highest number of clicks. Highlighting this area shows that 37/50 participants clicked there.
The feedback on why people clicked there contains a few key themes, namely:
- the first result is viewed as the bestm
- the word “Ultimate” stood out, and
- the title was comprehensive.
The seven participants who picked the second result were largely focused on the word “DIY,” which resonated with how people felt when moving house.
The single participant who clicked the third result noted it was “less like clickbait.”
The five participants who chose the fourth result were all drawn to the word “printable” in the title.
Taken together, this feedback shows not only the value of having the first result, but important wording tips and insight into what people look for when deciding where to click. In particular, ensuring your title has all the keywords mentioned would assist in producing a higher click-through rate for your search listing.
- Asking follow-up questions helps you identify the phrasing that best resonates with your audience.