Eye-Tracking Study Provides Insights To The Value Of Top Ranking & Social Content In Google Maps!

Nov 14, 2011 | 2,789 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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The value of scoring the top spot in Google local results was brought to light by a new eye tracking and click tracking study from Mediative. The study also revealed that social content can be instrumental in boosting the rankings further down the page. Also, the “Google's Golden Triangle” exists in the way searchers use and scan Google’s local results. The Golden triangle formula is not applicable in the case when lower ranked sites have more content that the higher ranked ones!

The Purpose Of The Study: Google's Golden Triangle still applicable?

Internet marketers are engaging in location based marketing as a part of their digital marketing strategy. This study was an attempt to answer these questions:

  1. What do the users see on a Places page?
  2. Reviews make a difference?
  3. Are the maps really studied by the people?

These queries could be answered in one way, by knowing how people interacted with search results from Google Places listings.

The process of the study involved eye tracking on 12 participants and online click tracking was studied on 90 people. The click behavior was tracked on the way they interacted with Google’s local search results as shown on Google Maps. The things to search involved 4 cities and places to get a tattoo done in those places.

When the Golden Triangle Showed up in Google Maps Results:

When the study participants searched for a tattoo parlor in Hamilton, Ontario, the results were seen by the users in a classic F-shaped, golden triangle. The number one result had one review, and was sans image. The second listing had one review and an image, and the fourth result had a review with text snippets.

Golden triangle e1321260668572 Eye Tracking Study Provides Insights To The Value Of Top Ranking & Social Content In Google Maps!

The click tracking results of the same query showed that users preferred the first listing. The 4th listing with review and text snippets was shown to get more clicks than the 2nd or 3rd listings.

User Behavior is Influenced By Social Content:

In the second phase of the test, the participants searched for tattoo parlors in London, Ontario. While the first listing came up with a website URL and contact info, the third one had additional information like a ratings indicator showing three red stars, another indicator to show Google's eight reviews for this business, and a text snippet from one of those reviews. This additional information drew a lot of attention to the listing than other results.

As for the click tracking study, the third result got a lot of clicks. Even substantial in number as compared to the first result. See the image below, how the third listing with social inputs got more clicks that the second listing.

Golden triangle 1 e1321261525441 Eye Tracking Study Provides Insights To The Value Of Top Ranking & Social Content In Google Maps!

The conclusion: Top ranked listings get more attention and clicks, but the results using social content like reviews are also able to draw attention.

Takeaway Tips For SEOs:

This study, tells you these important things regarding local search-

  1. Even lowers listings with social content can get more clicks than top results sans social signals.
  2. If your results are not on top, and being lowers, do not have any social content, then they may be ignored by the users.
  3. Reviews are an important factor affecting local search.
  4. Text snippets of the reviews are effective in gaining users' attention.

For further details of the study, you can download it here.

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Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
4.thumbnail Eye Tracking Study Provides Insights To The Value Of Top Ranking & Social Content In Google Maps!
4.thumbnail Eye Tracking Study Provides Insights To The Value Of Top Ranking & Social Content In Google Maps!