Eye tracking is a type of analysis that shows the most viewed areas on a page and the path sight made across the page. Of course, some of the most interesting and useful eye tracking studies are those that focus on Google search results. By studying them, we realise why it is so important to be in the top results.
There are many ways to study eye tracking. Some of the techniques involve filming the user’s eyes during the browsing.
The heat map
An eye tracking heat map shows which are the “hot areas” of the webpage, those where the user’s sight tends to focus more frequently. It is interesting to note that the Google AdWords ads located on the right sidebar get little attention compared to those located next to the organic results.
The favourite area is, as shown below, the main two search results. The rest of the links get a much lower attention span.
Something to consider about eye tracking maps
Although these heat maps are very useful to understand users’ behaviour towards Google search results, it should be kept in mind that attention could vary considerably depending on the type of search and the nature of the shown contents. It is not the same when facing multimedia content like videos or images.
Why is the first page so important?
Internet users are impatient. When a user does not find what he is looking for on the first results page, he usually makes another search instead of moving forward to the second page. In fact, it is estimated that the first page gets 90% of searches.
Google itself provides general eye tracking information in this article: “Eye-tracking studies: more than meets the eye“. On the following video, we can see real-time tracking of the user’s sight. The first results are not only the most viewed ones, but also the ones getting more attention and reading time.
Another important tip is that titles completely in bold, that means, those which match the exact search query, and that happen to be also very brief, call the user’s attention much more.
This is not only about web traffic
Getting into the first search results is not only good for getting more traffic. The reason why there is a big difference between the first two search results and the rest of them is because the first websites that appear tend to be perceived as the leaders and the most trustworthy ones. Being at the top involves an additional symbolic benefit.