Eye-tracking Google Search Results

Eye-tracking Google Search Results
4 July 2014 | | Internet

imagesIs first position in the search results everything? Not necessarily…since the introduction of the integrated search results (the map listings that are triggered when a user types in keyword + location) I have had a few clients ask me whether ranking well organically or in the maps listings will drive more traffic. In less competitive areas for for less competitive keywords, a business can be listed in both of the results however usually it is either one or the other.

Have a look at this study from Moz.com which should answer this question….

A while back, we got an offer we couldn’t refuse. The good folks at Mirametrix asked if we were interested in custom eye-tracking data (which traditionally costs a small fortune) for any Google searches. Um, does Matt Cutts like cats?

Since I once worked down the hall from an eye-tracking lab, I was the obvious choice to lead this shopping spree at the nerd candy store. So, we picked 5 different Google SERPs, representing the diversity Google has created in the past couple of years, including the newly expanded site-links. This is the story of those SERPs. They’re all about pizza, because I’m from Chicago and was apparently hungry when I made the list.

The Equipment & Methodology

Mirametrix S2 eye trackerFirst, a little bit of background. Mirametrix produces affordable, portable eye-tracking systems for researchers. Our data was collected using an S2 Eye Tracker(shown to the right), which looks a little bit like an Xbox Kinect. Each SERP was shown to 8 subjects between the ages of 18 and 30 for 30 seconds. Subjects were told the search term of interest and then were allowed to view the full-screen SERP freely. All SERPs were de-personalized and localized to Chicago, IL.

Heat maps were created by aggregating the subject data. Subjects saw the full-screen SERP, but I’ve cropped each image below the point that activity trails off. I should note that this is actual eye-tracking data, which should not be confused with “click maps” or heat maps created from mouse movements. These patterns come from people’s direct visual interaction with the SERPs.

Results:

See the heatmap below which replicates the ‘dental + location’ keyword results:

Eye-tracking data for "pizza"

The impact of the integrated listings appears to be very powerful, drawing attention from the top 3 organic listings. Even map fixations appear to be toned down from the first SERP. Whether this is because people are familiar with Google’s local results format or are attracted to the distinct formatting, it’s clear that they were biased toward this part of the page.

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