Few consumer behaviors have been studied and debated as extensively as what people do on Google. Analysts have spent years combing over untold amounts of data to find the answers to questions like:
Where do consumers click? Why do they click? Why don’t they click? What can a company do to increase consumer interest amidst the clutter? Some of those answers have become simplified, while others still elude online behaviorists.
The results on the very top of a search page are paid advertising. The results in the list below are organic (non-paid), and studies have shown that it is the top four organic rankings that get the best results in terms of click-through rates. It is estimated that this placement gets almost two-thirds of all clicks on Google.
Early eye tracking studies confirm that most consumer eye movement focuses on the top of the page. Users read from the top down, just like we do on other media. Additionally, the top-ranked search page results contain the greatest number of relevant keywords, which appear in bold text.
Furthermore, these rankings can be seen without the need to scroll down on the page if the consumer is using a desktop computer. If, however, the consumer is using a tablet or their smartphone to search Google, only the top two results will appear on the smaller screen.
Companies also need to consider the value of the auto-complete function that fills in search terms without consumers having to input every letter or phrase. It is important to understand what your most important keywords will return when auto completed.
In addition to studies surrounding paid and organic search, Google’s Ad network has also been the subject of much scrutiny. One major finding reported by Google itself is that there are four banner ad sizes that are the most successful in achieving revenue for companies that sell ad space on their websites.
The most popular sizes that advertisers want are 728×90, 160×600, 336×280 and 300×250. The more a company can accommodate these sizes, the more advertisers will bid to secure that space. The banner ads that you are seeing on this page right now are not mere coincidence. They are the result of complex algorithms designed to deliver click throughs.
As mobile usage becomes the norm for many consumers, Google has been integrating new technology to help make banner ads more responsive on touch screens. Findings from their AdSense service indicate that mobile-specific ads have the potential to deliver as well as, or better than, their desktop equivalent.
Google Analytics can tell advertisers everything they need to know about how many times their ad was served, how many clicks it received, and more. What the numbers can’t tell – at least not yet – is how many consumers viewed the ad without clicking and how long they looked at it. That’s why many advertisers are interested in new technologies that will actually measure “eyeovers” and gazing time.
Samsung Mobile has been one of the first to introduce eye tracking technology in their S4 series phones and tablets, including the wildly popular Galaxy models. The technology can tell if the user looks away from the screen, and also respond to head and/or device movements.
There is still a ways to go before devices will truly be able to provide in-depth tracking data on eye movements, eye positioning and gazing time. Once this leap occurs, the criteria for assessing consumer behavior will change completely. Industry watchers suggest that when this technology is perfected it will soon carry forward to all of the other multiple screens that consumers view – television, laptop and tablet – creating a true convergence of media measurement that we have never seen before.
Joshua Turner is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to business. In this article, he describes consumer behaviors on search engines and aims to encourage further study with a Masters Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis.