Eye Tracking with Google

Fahrenheit Marketing
Fahrenheit Marketing in Design

Recently SEOmoz.org conducted a research experiment in which they used Mirametrix eye-tracking equipment to gauge consumer engagement on the different aspects of Google Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERP). Eight different participants between the ages of 18-30 were shown SERPs for a total of 30 seconds.

We’ll begin with SERP experiment number one titled “Local #1 – ‘Best pizza in Chicago'”. When the inquiry “best pizza in Chicago” was searched, there was a varied “F-Shape” pattern in the subject’s eye movements. Most of the activity within this SERP seemed to be focused on the top results, as well as some movement toward the map on the right.

Next up was a local search for the keyword “pizza”. These results showed a different pattern. Some attention was given to organic results, but the core focus was on the local/places results. This data was interesting because the power of the local 7-pack seemed to clearly divert attention from the first 3 organic listings.

In the third experiment, when “how to make a pizza” was searched, 2 video thumbnails appeared. The data showed that that the subject’s eye movements were strongly attracted toward the first video result, perhaps eating away at the focus of the #1 organic result. This shows that video results have huge potential for increasing click-through rates.

The next search that took place was for the keyword “pizza cutters”. This search yielded multiple stores and brand name “Related searches” towards the top of the page, as well as shopping result images after the first few organic listings. The top organic searches did relatively well, but the main focus appeared to be on the product image results. Even though the “Related Searches” appeared at the top, they did not do as well and received a smaller amount of attention.

The final step of the search experiment was to test out the relatively new site-links. The keyword “Pizza Hut” was searched, and brought up 6 expanded site-links. The Pizza Hut listing got some attention, but there was much more focus on local listings once again.

Google continues to move away from its basic 10 listings, and it is clear that this is having a drastic effect on user behavior. This new data shows that ranking #1 may not prove to be as advantageous as having a well-ranked video, or a good local search placement. This new research shows that putting an emphasis on local search can be an extremely effective strategy.