Study confirms value of Google ranking and content

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Top Maps results draw the eye

New research has confirmed that appearing first in Google's local results attracts more attention from web users - but also that lower-ranked results can gain success through the way they are presented.

Performance marketing solutions company Mediative undertook an eye-tracking and click-tracking study to measure the way that people respond to search results when using Google Maps.

It revealed that the 'golden triangle' style of viewing, whereby the user looks at the top results and then their locations on the map, is still a common pattern.

However, if lower results feature more content, such as images or related reviews, they will also draw a searcher's eye.

Mediative used 12 people to test eye-tracking and 90 people for click-tracking, asking each of them to look for places to get tattoos in four stops across Canada.

Cover all your bases with good content

Matt McGee, editor of online publication Search Engine Land, felt that a group of only 12 people was a limited testing pool. However, he did feel it was enough to show that relevant, dynamic content is vital.

"The top-ranked business always garnered attention and clicks, but listings further down the page did well when they had additional social content like star ratings, reviews and text snippets," said McGee.

He added: "If your website is listed in any position other than the top, and your listing does not include any social signals, it will be relatively ignored - especially if there are other listings that do have social signals."

Daniel Nolan, general manager of theEword, concurred. "Of course, everyone wants to be top in Google, and time and time again we've seen how that achieves great results for our clients," he said.

"But you must not underestimate the importance of optimising your listing's appearance in other ways. It's common sense - if a search result is visually stimulating and encourages further reading, more users are likely to click on it."