Ok, so I know this study is a few years old now, but for some reason, I’m seeing it for the first time this week and the graphic is a powerful one that I wanted to share.
A few years back, Cornell University ran an eye tracking study using undergraduate students to determine how people interact with Google SERPs. They instructed the students to perform searches in Google for 400 different queries, covering a diverse range of topics including movies, travel, music, politics, local and trivia.
Here’s the meat:
The study concluded that eye fixation on the first two listings took up half of the user’s attention span. After the second listing, the eye fixation dropped sharply. Search results 6 to 10 received roughly equal attention.
In terms of click through, nearly 80% of web searchers clicked on the top 3 search results, with the top 5 spots receiving 88% of traffic. Most fascinating was that the difference in the number of clicks between position #1 and position #2 was over four times!
While the advent of Google personalized search, real time search and social search since the study has likely impacted these results somewhat, it still proves the power of holding a Top 5 position on Google, particularly a #1 if you can swing it.
Having recently attained a #1 position for a highly competitive search term where I’ve sat at position #2 for many months, I can personally vouch for the turbo boost impact of the top slot.
What about you? Have you noticed any trends that would verify the results of this study even today? Please share your observations in the comments.
Without questioning the obvious value of the top 3 or top 5 positions, I wonder how much the following issues will skew the results:
– the presence of sponsored links
– the use of disinterested students (compared to intentioned purchasers)
– irrelevant results in 1 to 10 (e.g. accidental keyword hit, result clearly out of region) and the real results found in positions 11 to 20
– monitor size / browser configuration changing the number of results above the fold
– the presence of a map and / or video in the listing amongst the text results and their potential to draw the eye.
I suspect some or all of the these issues (and maybe some others) will change these results. Despite that I sure my clients are much happier being found in positions 1 to 5 than anywhere else.
@Chris – Yes, there doesn’t appear to be any mention of sponsored links at all. Perhaps they had those switched off for the experiment? As for student attitude, you might find this study of university students’ searching behavior interesting: http://www.webology.ir/2009/v6n2/a70.html.
We’ve just started SEO work on a 1000+ page online shop and although not #1 for anything useful yet we’ve made it to #3 and 4 for a couple of good terms which is having a noticeable affect with higher conversions from organic visitors. Overall traffic is only up slightly but conversion rate is much better.
Can you imagine being in the #1 slot for some 1M searches per month KW?
That would be so sweet. You would have a whole new set of (better) problems to solve on your hands.
I’ve been looking for these stats for a presentation. I knew position one was somewhere around the 55 to 65 % range, but I couldn’t remember the others. Of course, different sources will state different #’s, but it proves the point that you need to be up high on page 1.
Great post! Very informative. Well, we better start to use keywords for your site that have less competitor and promote it through any SEO techniques. I guess that’s one of the better things to do.