Mediative has published results of their recent eye-tracking and click through research performed last spring that included local pack and carousel results: The Evolution of Google Search Results Pages and Their Effects on User Behaviour”. They discuss the local implications in a blog post today.
While the study has some methodological issues the results are interesting and worth exploring.
Local Listing Below the Pack:
- 13% of time spent on the pages was looking inside the Local Listings box.
- 38% of participants look at the Local Listing box.
- 6% of page clicks were to the local listings.
- The top organic listing garnered 41% of page clicks
- The top two organic listings garnered 53% of page clicks.
Listings Above the Pack:
- 18.5% of time spent on the pages was looking inside the Local Listings box.
- 76% of participants look at the Local Listing box.
- 11.5% of page clicks were to the local listings.
- The top organic listing (below the local listings) garnered 30.5% of page clicks.
- The top two organic listings garnered 45% of page clicks.
Power of Organic: While most users clicked on the organic results, it is not clear whether that was the brand affect of having major brands there or the placement. Most likely both. In previous limited research that I have done people often scan the page and frequently will stop on a well known site that they know does a good job curating, like Yelp or Tripadvisor. Regardless, if you are blocked out of the pack due to Pigeon, there are still clearly organic opportunities.
Visual Distractors: Even though Google has removed many visual distractors from the results those that remain are highly attractive to users. Thus rich snippet reviews for example, even if lower on the page, can attract views.
Chunking. One of the things that Ian Everdell of Mediative pointed out was the existence of visual chunking. People look at the top results in any subset of results. They effectively create visual groupings of results of which they do a quick scan and look for relevancy in the given sub group. In any of these groupings (ie Local or organic or ads), the top two results get the most attention. Thus being 1or 2 in the Pack is significantly more valuable than lower.
Limits of the research. While the eye-tracking sample size is more than adequate to give an idea of where searchers were looking that is not the case with the click through study. On many of these results the click through study was based on a sample size of between 50 and 150 clicks. In addition the cohort was not randomized in any way. All were from the Toronto area with no knowledge of income or other behaviors.
The study, in an effort to provide a consistent result to users, was forced to present searchers with a static image and to focus solely on clicks. Thus there is no data on whether or how frequently users cursored over local results to explore the Knowledge Panel. Nor whether users would have stopped and called some of the local results.
Here are some additional heat and click maps from Mediative:
Three Pack at Top:
Local Heat Maps - Lots of Attention, Not So Much Clicking by Mike Blumenthal