Eye Tracking Emphasizes Significance of Search Snippets
A recent study used eye tracking to demonstrate how important the meta description of a website is for searchers. They call these brief tidbits “search snippets” and as it turns out, they strongly contribute to the attraction of a searcher to a particular site. The original study, though written in Spanish by Mari-Carmen Marcos and Cristina Gonzales-Caro at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, is available in PDF format through the link below.
The study was comprised of 58 individuals, both male and female, from a wide range of ages. Participants were tested on 4 different types of searches: informational, navigational, transactional and multimedia, using Google, Google Images, Yahoo, and Yahoo Images. Each person was assigned 22 tasks to complete.
As it turns out, the search snippet was fixated on far longer than the URL or the title of the page itself. This could imply that a good snippet, one pulled from the meta description, is pretty important when it comes to increasing the likelihood that a searcher will choose to click your search listing over the others on the page.
The results showed a large difference of gaze time between title, URL, image, and snippets. For the informational task, participants spent 53% of the time focusing on the snippet, which was a reflection of 51% of their total fixations. They only spent 34%, 13%, and 0% of their time on title, URL, and image, respectively.
Results were similar for the navigational task – 31% of participant’s time on title, 15% on URL, 5% on images, and 49% on the search snippet. Transactional and multimedia tasks were also low, with participants spending only 28% and 4% of their time, respectively, on title. They spent 56% on the snippet for the transactional test. The only instance in which search snippets were outnumbered was during the multimedia search task, and, as expected, study participants spent more time (71% as compared to 18%) looking at an image.
Go to the original article to see a graph of the study outcome – it’s quite interesting and goes to show that it’s important what you put into your meta data and search snippets.
Eye Tracking Study Shows Importance Of Search Snippets