Search Behavior Eye Tracking Studies


User Centric

17% of Google searchers looked at the left-hand navigation links and they spent an average of 1.2 seconds vewiing those.

28% of Google searchers looked at the right-hand advertisements and they spent an average of .16 seconds vewiing those.

91% viewed the sponsored ads on top of the natural search results and spent an average of .9 seconds viewing those.

100% viewed the natural search results and they spent an average of 14.7 seconds viewing those results.

THOUGHT: These data confirm earlier eye-tracking studies which revealed essentially the same thing: People pay the most attention to the natural, non-advertising search results.

It’s also not surprising that the sponsored ads that got the most exposure are those that sit directly on top of the natural search results. The 91% who saw those ads, saw them due to proximity; their eyes naturally rested near that portion of the page as they were examining their search results.

In order to see the ads along the right-hand side of the page, the eye has to deliberately dart to that section in order to focus.

This is why I tend to place a much greater emphasis on search engine optimzation as opposed to search engine advertising. People automatically focus on the natural search results and because they are not advertising, the links contained therein are considered much more credible.

With search engine optimization, you have an upfront investment in keyword research, analysis, and implementation but over the long run, you’ll get much more bang for your buck than paying per click for search engine advertising to which the vast majority of people will pay no attention.

That’s not to say that search advertising isn’t worth the investment. Done properly, it can be extremely effective.

I tend to favor a heavy emphasis on search engine optimization combined with search advertising to fill in the gaps and as a flexible, ad-hoc tool to take advantage of surges in search traffic for which you may not already have visibiltiy, for example.


KEYWORD WEDNESDAY: The word “Xenophobic” is the sixth most popular search term at Google today, presumably because people are searching for it to learn its meaning after news broke of the outgoing NPR executive who was surreptitiously recorded saying the Tea Party is racist and xenophobic.

TIP: Google has become my default dictionary. When I want to look up the definition of a word, I type “defne” followed by the word I want to look up, e.g. define xenophobic.


Thank you for animation.



The e-Strategy Academy covers all aspects of digital marketing including search optimization & marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, video marketing, mobile marketing & public relations.