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SERP Research: Where Users Click (and Look)

Posted on 10.06.2014

Just how important is it that your website appear atop the search results? Digital marketing and integrated advertising company Mediative recently published a new eye-tracking study which shows the new areas of the Google SERPs which are attracting the attention of users.

Researchers at Mediative, who conducted a similar study back in 2005, identified how the "scanning" behavior of users has changed in the past decade as Google's own search results pages have changed. The current study explores where on the SERP users look and click the most, providing insight into the importance of a listing's location on the SERP and what digital businesses can do to ensure they are found by users.

"At some point in a consumer's buying process, a search is done to investigate, compare or validate a purchase using Google, which is currently the predominant search engine. As a business, you have just over a second to capture a customer's attention, so maximum visibility in search results on Google is crucial to ensure that you can reach your prospects," said Darby Sieben, President of Mediative.

Mediative's resarch lab, known as the TiveTank, found that users spend less time viewing individual search results than they did a decade ago and tend to scan pages vertically rather than horizontally (likely due to the increased use in mobile devices). One of the more interesting highlights of the study was that a user's propensity to click the top sponsored listings and the first organic listing have changed very little since the initial study 10 years ago - the top organic spot still captures the most clicks on average.

There have been some suggestions that the Google Golden Triangle research from 10 years ago is no longer relevant, but a quick look at the 2005 eye-tracking heatmap and the eye-tracking study from this year reveals there are far more similarities than differences (see images below). The report does provide some interesting eye-tracking research around the knowledge graph, the carousel, and local listings in general (for the most part, however, users still click what they see - which means being in the top spot is as important as it was one decade ago).






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