A Heatmap Of Sponsored Results on Google SERP’s – Second Ad Beats the First?

When it comes to organic or paid listings on search result pages, the order of rankings play a critical factor on the success or failure of any website or business.

It’s common sense that results shown on top of the page gets the maximum attention and largest number of click through’s. Web users are more inclined towards the top listings and only a small percentage of users go to the second or third page on search results or scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the most relevant result matching with their query.

In some instances, I have also observed users never read the description snippet on search result pages and carelessly hit the links from top, navigate to the target site, hit the “Back” button, check out the next link and so on.

Furthermore, users follow an “F” pattern and the following heatmap shows the attention graph of users on a normal search result page at Google.com. The areas shown in red get the maximum attention and click through’s, followed by the areas in yellow, green, violet and blue.


However, the above theory might fail when you’re advertising your website, product or service using Google Adwords – Google’s paid advertising campaign for webmasters.

The Human Attention Graph of Sponsored Listings On SERP’s

A new eye tracking study by Miratech shows that when it comes to sponsored advertisements on search result pages, the number 2 listing gets more attention than the first one. Of course the attention span for both the “paid search listings” are outranked by the number one organic search result but the overall gaze duration of the second advertisement is way higher than the first one. Here is the report from the eye tracking study:


The data from the report is actually very very surprising.

Adwords advertisers spend higher amounts to gain the first position on sponsored listings but users behavior suggests that the second ad on search results gets more attention and higher click through rates. The proof is backed up by the video that follows:

When the sponsored results are three, the first and third listing gets the same amount of attention and gaze duration while the second one still tops the chart.


The report puts some light on user behavior of click through ratios of sponsored links at Google serp’s but one should not take this as a proven resource. Instead, you should test your campaigns and perform split testing to check which campaign brings the maximum conversions, sales or meets the goals of your campaign.

It is very much possible that the 3rd listing brings less number of customers but results in more sales or conversions; when compared to other sponsored positions at search result pages. The secret is to keep testing at regular intervals and track the goals of your campaign.

[ h/t The Next Web ]

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