A new eye-tracking study suggests that people searching with the intention of buying and those looking for information view search engine results in different ways.
The study, released by Dutch market research firm De Vos & Jansen in conjunction with Checkit, revealed that people searching to buy viewed more search results and were more concerned with brands than information searchers.
The report used 50 consumers as guinea pigs, all aged between 17 and 24, who use the internet on average six days a week. All of them had made at least one online purchase before.
The respondents searched five popular products across five search engines, Google, MSN, Ilse, Lycos and Kobala. They searched for loans, a second-hand car, car insurance, airline tickets, and an mp3-player.
This produced some interesting results:
Another interesting point raised by the research was the difference in searching patterns between those merely looking for information, and those searching with a view to buying:
The report emphasised the importance of a high search ranking, preferably organic, the presence of keywords in the search results, the familiarity with the website or brand, and the importance of avoiding aggressive advertising with too many capital letters or exclamation marks.
An interesting read and one that questions some fairly common beliefs regarding how users interact with search engines.