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Eye tracking shows the power of social content for SEO

Eye tracking shows the power of social content for SEOOnline reviews are becoming an increasingly more powerful tool for attracting (or repelling) new business. A study conducted by the digital marketing company Mediative, confirmed this notion through eye tracking and click tracking user behavior on Google Places search results. The findings suggest that social content and perceived quality indicators can be even more powerful than landing the coveted top spots of a Google search.

The study used eye tracking on 12 subjects and tracked the click behavior of 90 subjects as they interacted with local search results. The subjects were told to search for tattoo parlors in four Canadian cities using Google Places. As we’ve talked about before on Eye Tracking Update, the F pattern or golden triangle was present on the eye tracking heatmap, indicating that users’ gaze patterns start heavily at the upper left of the results and taper off as they go down the list. What was unexpected, however, was the amount of attention businesses lower on the list received when they had social content like star ratings and review snippets compared to higher results without them.

One of the trials presented a list of places in which the first and second result had no social content and the third had star ratings and a review snippet. The eye tracking results showed that the social content helped the third result attract more visual attention than in the previous trial where it did not have social content. In addition, the click tracking showed that the third result received significantly more clicks that the top two results.
The key take-aways from this study were that:

  1. Unless you are in the spot in search results, you’re business will get overlooked if you do not have social content and your competitors do.
  2. Having the highest ranking on search results may not be so important if you have social content and the businesses above you do not.
  3. Consumers are looking at this social content, so make sure you have it and make sure it reflects you positively.

You can download the whitepaper from Mediative here. (Note: they ask you provide your personal details before you can download.)