Add this into the mix as you continue to think about the impact of Google’s new local search results display: A heatmap study shows how some searchers interact with local SERPs, and suggests that the map itself doesn’t draw a lot of attention.
The maps below are from a local search marketing company in Austin, TX, called ionadas local. With help from a marketing research company called Sentient Services, they studied the behavior of 19 searchers who were asked to conduct a handful of different local searches — “Austin Bars,” “Austin Eye Doctors,” and so forth. Here’s what ionadas notes in their report:
“…eye-tracking analysis revealed that the map did not draw significant attention or a “first click” response from users. The map had a better chance of receiving users’ attention if it had more businesses listed to the right of it, creating a larger map area with more potentially interesting links. Higher page placement also drew more attention to the maps by preventing a portion of the map from falling “below the fold,” out of the user’s visual range.”
Here are a couple of the heatmaps; red shows the area that received the most user attention and green shows the least.
Even though the local SERPs display is different now, it makes you wonder how much less attention is being given to the map with it showing up on the far right of the search results page. Probably a lot less.
You can read more about the heatmap study and download bigger images along with the company’s report. And cross your fingers that maybe ionadas (or someone else) will do a new study that uses the new Google display.
(thx to @davidmihm for the Twitter tip on this)