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Part 3: Where people are looking to find a local business

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This time we look at where on the SERP (search result page) commands the most attention

One of my favorite sources for SEO information, SEOmoz, recently posted their results of an eye-tracking study they did to show how consumers are trying to find local businesses. I could just point a link to their post, which I’ll do here anyway, but I wanted to bring over their study and images because I have some additional points I wanted to make. Here’s their post. And here’s the Kat & Mouse take.

Keyword query 1: “best pizza in Chicago”

It’s clear in this screenshot, that the eyes follow the typical “F” path when viewing the page, i.e., start at the top, move to right, then go down the page, and move to the right less each time.

eye tracking google local results 1

Note that the #1 position is a purely organic listing.  It has no red pin and no associated Google Place page.  It commanded the most attention, and the red pins below were not strong enough magnets to upset the norm.

The results you see with the pin showing are there because they were favored by Google for both their on and off-site SEO of their website AND the optimization of their Google Place page in what’s called “blended” and not “pure” local results. You can read more about blended and pure local results here.

Takeaway 1: Do exceptional SEO on your website to get as close to the top as you can. In addition, optimize your Google Place page so you can be included on the first page in either pure or blended results.

Keyword query 2: “pizza”

Here’s where we see the “pure” results, or 7 pack. These come up for purely Google Place page optimization only – at least at this moment in time.

Note what happens to the eye here. It’s being pulled down from the top.

eye tracking google local results 2

It’s unclear why there is such a pull. Is it that visitors are familiar enough with the pins and they recognize them as local businesses, or is it the graphics that are drawing the eye there? Having studied graphic design, I know without a shadow of a doubt that graphics will do that, but it may be the other as well.

Takeaway 2: Whatever the reason the eye is attracted to the 7 pack, optimize your Google Place page so you come up on the first page. (Did I say that already?)

Keyword query 3: “pizza hut”

What you see here are “site links.” I wrote about site links in a recent post as well. These come up for branded searches like “Pizza Hut,” a well-known pizza franchise.

Take a look at what captures the eye here.

eye tracking google local results 3

The 3 pack (again “pure” results) is the draw here. Note that these are all Pizza Hut locations in the area where the query was made, i.e., Chicago. Clearly if someone is searching on “Pizza Hut,” they want pizza and want to find the closest Pizza Hut.

Here is where familiarity with those pins is helpful. I believe this example demonstrates that searchers know what the pins mean, and it may also prove why they chose to look at them in the Query 2 example.

Takeaway 3: Optimize your Google Place page so you come up on the first page. (Yeah, I know. I said that already.)

Keyword query 4: “how to make a pizza”

This is not a local search with a geo-modifier, but I’m throwing it in here just the same because it has some valuable insight for you. Take a look.

eye tracking google local results video

Where does the eye go?

The answer is, to the images. SEOmoz gave a second example with product images, and the effect was the same. Clearly searchers are attracted to images.

Takeaway 4: If you can’t get to the first page with your Place page or the SEO on your website, try videos or images.

Going for the videos, check out this first page result we got in just 3 hours!

A couple of days ago a client came in for my Jumpstart consultation. I told him how to optimize his site, which he’s working on now, and recommended he put up a Youtube video with a title that included his keywords.

I knew that Google loves videos and will often bring them up on the first page within hours if they are well optimized. I also knew about the strong visual pull videos have on the eye.

Look at the results we achieved in just a few hours.

value of videos in Google SERPs

That video listing is #1 for other search queries not shown here, but I wanted to show you this one in position 3. Does it have to be number 1 to get attention and clicks? According to the eye tracking studies, no.

Do you think that Shodo teacher is getting calls now?

If someone is looking for a Shodo class in San Jose, you bet she is.

Final question – Why  is chicagos-pizza.com #9?

Take a look…

videos capture attention in Google SERPs

Are you wondering why Chicagos Pizza is #9? I did.

  • It has almost the exact name and url of the search query, both of which Google favors.
  • It’s located close to city center, another thing that Google loves.
  • It has a few Google Place pages that don’t appear to be breaking any rules, and they appear to be nicely optimized.
  • Each of their locations has reviews.

Then why does the Google god not bless it with a pin and why isn’t it listed higher on the page?

Well, you’re just going to have to stay tuned to this blog or to Kat & Mouse’s Facebook page where I’ll post the answer.

(And if you like what you see on our Facebook page, be sure to LIKE it so you’ll be sure to get notifications of future posts with helpful tips on what your local business needs to do to  climb to the top and to get customers.)


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Kathy (aka Kat) is one of the internet's original Digital Divas and freely shares her expertise in the fields of web design, SEO, Local SEO, social media marketing, content development, PPC, and conversion optimization to help businesses succeed online. Sadly, she's allergic to cats.

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