A new eye-tracking study has showed that optimizing your business Google Places campaign can boost your local results. According to the Yellow Pages Group company, Mediative, GP optimization creates value for local merchants and small businesses. Location marketing has been gaining popularity with the increasing usage of social platforms like Foursquare and Gowalla, but it seems that optimizing a Google Places listing is a practical approach for local merchants to increase their online presence. Mediative's eye tracking study aims to answer these questions:

  • Where do searchers look on the page?
  • Does it make a dif­fer­ence if a list­ing has reviews?
  • Do peo­ple really look at the map?
  • Is Google’s Golden Tri­an­gle still applicable?

Mediative used Tobii eye tracking technology to conduct the the Google Places listings experiment. Mediative conducted mapped visitor click tracking on 90 people and 12 subjects for eye-tracking. Subjects were asked to scan a particular Google local search result as shown on Google Maps. Mediative made the group simulate a four-stop trip across Canada looking to get tattoos in every city. The study aims to analyze the importance of social signals in a Google Places listing and the effect of thumb-nail images among others.

Image via Search Engine Land

The top-ranked business received most of the attention and clicks but the interesting thing about the test was that lower listings also did well due to social content like reviews, text comments, and ratings. It only shows that the social aspect is getting into the mix of local SEO and suggests that the more your business is talked about online then it increases your SEO as well. You can download the entire whole paper here. Below are two observations that surfaced from the study.

1. When the top results have fewer social signals such as reviews (e.g. London), lower results get more visual attention.

2. If your website is listed in any position other than the top, and your listing does not include any social signals, it will be relatively ignored, especially if there are other listings that do have social signals.