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What the F? Eyetrack Studies Prove the Power of Organic Rankings

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 9 years and 199 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

The Big F - Eyetrack StudiesYes, I’m a bit late on the commentary on this one, but after seeing it first hand I thought it was still very worthwhile. These studies are pretty cool, and offer insight and validation on working search marketing theories. I think this was my favorite session that I attended from SES in Toronto – the “Understanding and Influencing Searcher Behavior” session by Gord Hotchkiss of Enquiro, Debbie Jaffe a product marketing manager for Google, and Bonny Brown Director of Research with Keynote. It is really fascinating to see empirical evidence of all the claims I constantly make :) While 72% of statistics are made up on the spot, this session had scientific data backing up the statistics from experiments conducted using eyetracking studies and other sophisticated testing methods. Before I get started with the methodolgy and a bunch of resources to read for more information, I’d like to list the takeaways:

  • If you really want visibility in paid search you better get in the top two “golden” spots above organic search (rumor has it they are testing a third listing there)
  • If your ranked below #5 your visibility is about half of that of those listed in the top 3 for that phrase
  • At least 75% of clickthroughs occur through the organic results
  • People lie about not clicking on paid search ads
  • People still don’t look at PPC a lot…the top right listing only gets 50% visibility (equivalent to the #5 spot in organic search)

Homepage Eye TrackingThese studies really fascinate me despite mainly validating intuition. The data gathered backs up the rationale for being apart of the SEO industry nicely (it’s fun to compete for prime real estate). It also helps with usability and understanding and catering to the needs of your website visitors. It’s pretty simple to figure out that you should put the most important stuff where users tend to look most. It’s a bit harder to understand just how precious few seconds you have to catch the users attention and captivate them with something important.

From the Enquiro whitepaper:

Organic Ranking Visibility
(shown in a percentage of participants looking at a listing in this location)
Rank 1 – 100%
Rank 2 – 100%
Rank 3 – 100%
Rank 4 – 85%
Rank 5 – 60%
Rank 6 – 50%
Rank 7 – 50%
Rank 8 – 30%
Rank 9 – 30%
Rank 10 – 20%


Side sponsored ad visibility
(shown is percentage of participants looking at an ad in this location)
1 – 50%
2 – 40%
3 – 30%
4 – 20%
5 – 10%
6 – 10%
7 – 10%
8 – 10%

Resources and commentary on Eyetrack studies

It’s interesting to consider how these types of studies effect adsense or other advertising. It is also reinforcement to writing “scan-able” content, and good titles that will get clickthroughs. There were several other fairly inspirational ideas that I derived from this session, but if you look through the studies most of the same headslapping ideas will dawn upon you.

Tags: , , , , Search Marketing Research

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