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Google Eye-tracking Study

Posted on 10.27.2006 has released a new study about Google results pages. The study reveals areas where users are scanning the pages and subsequently clicking on results. The study was completed using Cornell University students who were instructed to search for 397 queries on various topics. Among the findings:

  • The first two positions on the SERP garner more than half of time spent on the page, divided almost equally amongst the two.
  • The first position nets nearly four times the amount of clicks as the second position.
  • Results 6-10 receive roughly equal amount of attention.
  • Result 7 gets less attention than 8 - presumably because the user skips that listing as the page is scrolled past the page fold.
  • The top ranking of the second page of results gets nearly 2.5 times less attention than the lowest ranked position on page one.

One interesting side note is that for the results that were clicked, scanning of those listings above that result grow as you move down the line and those results below the clicked result shrinks. In other words, as a user moves down the page the likelihood of them scanning results after they decide which link to click diminishes. But an interesting twist to that is when the last result of the page is clicked, every result above it is scanned. It seems the user does his/her homework before resorting to clicking on the very last result.

One aspect that is not discussed in the study is the variation of results per page. For instance, depending on the search query, the #7 listing is sometimes above the fold, and sometimes below the fold. 

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