One thing that I have recently read about is the Golden triangle of Google when it comes to search engine placement for SEO and SEM. This phenominon is called the Golden triangle because people who use Google do so in a fashion that if you track their eye movements it makes a triangle around the top search results.

As you can see from the diagram above the Golden Triangle of Google is a real thing. It doesnt just pay to be the number one listing, it prints money!

More Information about the Golden Triangle of Google

The key location on Google for visibility as determined by the eye activity in the study is a triangle that extends from the top of the results over to the top of the first result, then down to a point on the left side at the bottom of the “above the fold” visible results. This key area was looked at by 100 percent of the participants. In the study, this was referred to as the “Golden Triangle”. Generally, this area appears to include top sponsored, top organic results and Google’s alternative results, including shopping, news or local suggestions.

Visibility dropped quickly with organic rankings, starting at a high of 100% for the top listing, dropping to 85% at the bottom of the “above the fold” listings, and then dropping dramatically below the fold from 50% at the top to 20% at the bottom.

Organic Ranking Visibility

(shown in a percentage of participants looking at a listing in this location)

Rank 1 – 100%
Rank 2 – 100%
Rank 3 – 100%
Rank 4 – 85%
Rank 5 – 60%
Rank 6 – 50%
Rank 7 – 50%
Rank 8 – 30%
Rank 9 – 30%
Rank 10 – 20%

Eye scan and click through behavior changes dramatically as users moved “below the fold” to the section of results that required scrolling down. At the top of the page, the amount of eye movement declined rapidly through the top 4 or 5 results, and then at the bottom of the screen, tends to become more consistent through to the end of the page.

In searches where top sponsored results are returned in addition to right sponsored ads, the top ads received much higher visibility, being seen by 80 to 100% of participants, as opposed to 10 to 50% of participants who looked at the side sponsored ads.

On side sponsored ads, the top ranked results received much more in the way of both eye activity and click through. About 50% of participants looked at the top ad, compared to only 10% who looked at ads in the 6, 7 or 8th location on the page.

Side sponsored ad visibility

(shown in percentage of participants looking at an ad in this location)

1 – 50%
2 – 40%
3 – 30%
4 – 20%
5 – 10%
6 – 10%
7 – 10%
8 – 10%

There seems to be a “F” shaped scan pattern, where the eye tends to travel vertically along the far left side of the results looking for visual cues (relevant words, brands, etc) and then scanning to the right if something caught the participant’s attention.

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