A recent post from SEOmoz' blog showcased how an eye-tracking data system works. They chose 5 different Google SERPs which represents Google's diversity in searches. Mirametrix together with Dr. Pete of SEOmoz tried 5 searches containing the keyword “pizza”. Mirametrix, a company that provides affordable and portable eye-tracking system for researchers was at the helm using the S2 Eye Tracker (which they say resemble a Xbox Kinect console) in order to collect and use data to generate a heat map.
Each SERP shot was viewed by 8 subjects between the ages of 18 to 30 for half a minute. The search term or keyword “pizza” was mentioned to the subjects then they can freely view the SERP's entire screen. By aggregating the subject data, they were able to generate heat maps. These heat maps shouldn't be confused with heat maps created by mouse clicks or movements. The heat maps showed the patterns that came from the subjects' direct visual interaction with the SERPs.
SEOmoz showed 5 SERP heat maps, I'd like to emphasize on numbers 1 and 5:
Image via SEOmoz
Dr. Pete typed a query for “best pizza in Chicago”, with the query containing the location, it's a no-brainer that it strongly adheres and integrated to the Places listings and local results. Notice the map below, the eye activity was all over the Places listings while glancing on the map at the right.
The fifth heat map showed the query “Pizza Hut” and decided to give the new site-links a try. The query results gave 6 expanded site-links. While the Pizza Hut listings were packed with expanded site-links, Pizza Hut's local results were viewed more over the corporate site. This heat map and the first heat map had a common denominator – Local Results. It's notable that while it's a must to optimize your site on the top of the SERP, Google Places listings and local results have a direct impact to a user even if they land in the middle of the page.