In SEO, much of the effort is on getting into those top spots on page one of a search result page. Sure, there’s lots of esoteric effort that gets put into other strategies, but no matter what the brand is, at some point someone says “I want to be number one for my most important keywords.”
But because Google and Bing have been changing their page layouts so much in recent years -- adding 7-packs or 10-packs or product thumbnails or video thumbnails -- the top two spots in search results pages are not necessarily best any more.
SEOmoz published the results of a Mirametrix eye-tracking study last week that showed fascinating results. In summary, by heat-mapping where the eye roams when presented with a new results page, the company’s research was able to show just where a searcher’s interest lands when scanning the page.
The big winner? Eye candy.
Search results that include a thumbnail photo -- such as shopping results -- did well. Results that included a video thumbnail did really well, too. And the 7-pack listing with pins correlating to an adjacent map also did fantastically well.
There are the important caveats: the sample size was small, and the search terms were very consumer-y (all focused on Chicago pizza -- what is best, where to get it, how to make it, etc.) Still, the heat maps were, well, illuminating.
They clearly show that the eye almost immediately goes to the parts of the page that have something visually arresting, whether a piece of artwork or an icon of some kind, and will instantly move to the visual corollary on the page.
Because this wasn’t a click-tracking study, you can’t really draw any sort of ROI conclusions. But just understanding where the eye goes, and that it moves based on visual attractors, is important.
It may be your holy grail should be somewhere in the middle of the 7-pack for your keyword term, which will be somewhere in the middle of page one. Also, it seems clear that video -- easier to produce and distribute than ever before -- is key for practically any industry, whether B2B or B2C. Photos, too. For consumer brands, shopping and Places results are also no-brainers.
When focusing on SEO, make sure the content marketing mix has a healthy dose of eye candy. It’s where all the heat is.