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BizReport : Search Marketing : March 05, 2010

Eyetracking test shows consumer indifference to real-time search results

It turns out that Google's real-time search may not be as useful to search engine optimization as previously thought, according to a new study from OneUpWeb.

by Helen Leggatt

The online marketing firm found out, with the help of some nifty eye-tracking software, that real-time search results aren't all they've been cracked up to be.

They probably realized they were off to a bad start when almost three-quarters of the study participants declared before the exercise they'd never heard of real-time search results.

Once educated, the group of 44 participants was divided into two groups - "consumers" who were told to go off and search for a product they might be interested in buying and "information foragers" who were told to simply search for product information.

The results indicated that real-time results were of less interest to the "consumer" group than they were to the "information foragers". The consumer group averaged 9 seconds to the first fixation on real-time results. The information foragers took 14.

In fact, finding the real-time results proved hard for many as only 55% claimed they were easy to find. Even then, only a quarter of the "consumers" liked the real-time results. Slightly more (47%) of the "information foragers" liked them.

"The study seems to assert that real-time results so far have limited impact or appeal," writes Search Engine Land's Greg Stirling. "While there's enormous hype and coverage among tech-insiders about "real-time search," the public doesn't really understand (or perhaps care) what the fuss is all about."

Tags: real-time search results, search engine optimization, search engines, search marketing, SERP

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