Much has been written about eye tracking studies and the importance position in the organic results plays, but with the advent of the smartphone how readers view and react with organic results is drastically changing.
In 2005 an eye tracking study was published and widely shared on the web. The pattern the test candidates repeated over and over as they scanned Google.com’s organic results became known as Google’s “Golden Triangle”. Named for the triangular shape repeated over and over with the test candidate’s eyes typically starting at the top left in the first position of organic results, then moving down to the second position of the organic results and then to the far right to the top paid search results, this pattern shaped how SEO’s tried to position client websites in the SERPs.
Much has changed and the Golden Triangle has now been replaced by a Vertical Slash in a report recently done by the MOZ blog. The MOZ article writer, Rebecca Maynes, states that with the strong use of smartphones eye tracking moved to a more vertical line and started to encompass a wider set of listings in a rapid scanning fashion.
However, with a vertical scan of the Google results page as the preferred method of viewing, the actual length of time the typical person takes reviewing the Google search results is now even shorter than previously recorded in 2005. Google has done much in the last year to counteract that trend!
So we’ve moved from a Golden Triangle to a Vertical Slash that actually is more like a slash and grab as your eye travels the page rapidly scanning for the information you want.
You’ll want to click in and read Rebecca’s excellent article that is complete with images to get a better view of how eyes now travel Google in the search for the best search result.
The key takeaways are that with Google adding more information to the search results page like local listings, the carousel and the knowledge graph, readers are having to search further down the results page to find what they want in a strong vertical fashion that encompasses much more than three site listings. And in some cases readers are never even leaving the search page, but rather interacting with content in the form of the Google knowledge graph (info box that appears on the right with more details, questions and info on a topic) or using the carousel (a black strip of images typically shown for restaurants or hotels that point to Google+ local pages) to find out more about on their information search.
Although this action of trying to keep a reader longer on the search results page is a boon for Google (as it will be able to serve more advertising), it is a bane for business owners who are hoping to use Google organic search results to drive traffic to their website. This means that your meta description tag and title tag have to now work even harder to try to grab attention quickly to get a click in to your website.