Chris Pinkerton , the vice president of business development at Mediative, has been tracking the ways viewers look at the Google search engine results page (SERP) since 2003. In that time, Mediative’s eye-tracking studies have revealed major shifts in the way users consume the SERP.
At SMX East 2016 , he explored the ways the proliferation of mobile devices have deeply impacted user search behavior on both mobile and desktop searches.
Pinkerton asserts that search activity, psychologically speaking, is mindless activity. It’s mindless because of the habits that form with the devices we use.
Habits are a very powerful thing to start to understand. Developing a habit of consuming information on a desktop in a certain way changes the way you consume content.
Looking back at 2003, Google became the dominant search engine because it drove people to find information faster than its competitors. That created habitual behavior — people found content the fastest on Google and kept coming back.
(As an aside, Bing has implemented programs to pay people for their search behavior in an attempt to break these deeply ingrained habits and introduce a new behavior.)
In 2005, there was a Golden Triangle pattern when it came to eyeballs on the Google SERP. But in 2016, this pattern is vastly different (see below), due in large part to mobile. It’s changed the way people consume the SERP and the speed at which they consume it. Users spot-scan and find what is contextually relevant for them.