Most search marketers have become quite familiar with the concept of the "golden triangle" over the past couple of years. They recognize it as that magical area in the search results that users tend to concentrate their focus. It's long played a role in helping marketers decide how and where to focus their search optimization efforts. But what if it's wrong?
Ok now that I have your attention (because I don't REALLY think it's wrong) it does differ from the results of a new Microsoft eye-tracking study. Danny Sullivan exams the new data in a post over at Search Engine Land.
...on average, participants reviewed at least eight results. That's good news for search marketers who worry that if they aren't number one, they aren't visible. You are. Get in the top eight, and you've got a decent chance of being seen.
Well, on average. The other bars tell an interesting story. Let's say the number one listing is the "perfect" listing. For example, if I look for us patent office on Google and have the intention of going to the official site, the top result is precisely what I need. Do I click immediately? The study says no.
See the bar in the #1 column? The dot shows that the first result was clicked on. But the long blue bar shows that up to four results were reviewed before the person went back up and clicked on the first result. You see a roughly similar pattern for when they click on the second, third and fourth results.
In other words, get into the top four or five results, and you greatly increase the odds that you're going to be seen and then perhaps clicked. After that -- positions six through 10, it's really going to depend on whether the top results simply aren't satisfactory. Notice how the bar gets longer as the clicks occur further down the page. That shows the first results aren't satisfying, so people will review more before clicking.
To summarize, we've long known being on the first page of ten results is crucial. But this study suggests it's about being in the top five for success.
The article has a ton of great information and insight into how users are navigating search results.
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