Thursday, April 17, 2008

Distribution of Clicks by Google Search Result Position


Eye-Tracking Analysis of SE Users’ Behavior

One of the most recent eye tracking studies was performed at Cornell University by Laura A. Granka, Thorsten Joachims and Geri Cay. They used a sample of undergraduate students instructed to perform search in Google for 397 queries o topics covering movies, travel, music, politics, local and trivia. This study has produced the following results.

Fig 1. Google SEPR Click and Attention distribution ‘heat-map’

Study Results: Clicks and Attention Distribution

As you can see from the graph below and a SERP ‘heat-map’ based on it, the first two listings capture over a half of the user’s attention in terms of time of the eye fixation. Whereas the attention is shared almost equally, the difference in number of click between the first two listings is much more surprising: over four times! After the second listing the eye fixation drops sharply. Search results number 6 to 10 receive roughly equal attention. Here an interesting thing is that the 7th listing gets less attention than the succeeding 8th – apparently here we can observe the effect of the page fold. The 7th listing is just below the screen edge and is often skipped as users scroll the page down to the bottom (during the study the 7th listing was clicked only once). On the graph you can also see the 11th listing from the second page of the search results. It gets only about 1 percent of clicks and user attention – 2.5 times less than the lowest ranked result on the page one.

Fig 2. Time spent on viewing each results compared to the number of clicks.

Often people consider getting to the ‘top-ten’ of Google as a measurement of the SEO success. Evidently this is a rather rough approximation. The ‘top-ten’ itself is a very diverse group with the number of clicks increasing almost logarithmically as your rank grows. For instance, the first five positions get over 88% of the traffic, and the first three – 79%.

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Mukul Singhal