Not in top 3 in Google? Using Google Ads? Ruh roh

Mulley Communications had a survey carried out on how people react to Google search results and Google ads.

The survey results are here.

In summary:
If you’re not in the top 3 results, hardly anybody is going to pay attention to you.
Google Ads? What are they? Seems they get little attention.
People are not using the address bar to type in website addresses, they just ask Google.
Women are a little bit better than men at considering the data presented to them.

I can see a future where Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” will be the default. Type in your query, get a single result.

There are videos of the heat maps generated based on the movement of eyes around a webpage:

Irish Times article on this (not shown on Times website oddly)
Silicon Republic Article on this.

Big thanks to National College of Ireland for doing the research and Enterprise Ireland for their Innovation Voucher scheme.

15 Responses to “Not in top 3 in Google? Using Google Ads? Ruh roh”

  1. Come on…
    “The study.. focused on 27 users ranging in age, gender and usage experience”

    27 users is not enough people for a study like this. You’d need to be tracking the behavior of about a couple of hundred people at least to get solid results. The results though are in line with what I would assume user behaviour generally would be so are useful in a broader conversation of user search engine behaviour.

  2. Common wisdom is “ask 5 people” and you’ll have a good distribution 😉

    I wasn’t part of the survey but it holds true for me. If I don’t see the result I want in the first three I modify my search, I don’t keep on scanning. I ignore the yellow-shaded “results” most of the time and the right-hand side ads all of the time.

    I disagree with the I’m Feeling Lucky prediction though. Google won’t get paid if that happens and industry will kick up a huge fuss.

  3. John Braine says:

    “People are not using the address bar to type in website addresses, they just ask Google.”

    I did a site for my brother once. And on the phone he kept saying to me, “Yes I’m typing the exact address is in but it’s just not coming up!” Eventually figured out he was typing into the search box. I’ve since found out that this is very common for non-techies. People think google, yahoo, or whatever start page they have IS the internet.

    Someone needs to make a default browser home page with two BIG boxes, one for the web address, and one for searches. And as you type in the BIG address box, it’s duplicated in the regular address box. Cue *lightbulb*

  4. The ads up top (the expensive ones) seem to be getting a little bit of attention, though…

    John: Google’s Chrome thingy sort of does that; it only has one bar, which is search or web address depending on what you type in.

  5. MJ says:

    Wow John – “People think google, yahoo, or whatever start page they have IS the internet” – that’s hilarious, and I’m a non-techie! Oh so funny.

    Damien thank you for putting this up – even just as an example of the potential of innovation vouchers. I think more businesses should be taking advantage of them wherever possible!

  6. Joe Scanlon says:

    It’s only since I started to think about running my own business that I’ve bothered looking anywhere other than the organic results, and yes the top 3 (to 5) is where i’d be looking for the most part.
    Now i am constantly looking at the paid results as well, trying to fool myself into thinking everyone else is doing the same.

    Good content will always be the best way to get clicked into I believe.

    Would it make more sense for google to just place the paid ads in above the organic results but leave them to look like the organic results? This would be a huge change tho I guess?

    I dread the idea of ” I feel lucky” becoming the default – especially when i’m in the sticks on dial up – i need to know that the result is exactly what i need before i waste valueable time downloading the page.

    Thanks for this info Damien, great info to have.

  7. This is why Ste (above) is mistaken

  8. Noel Rock says:

    The disagreements with the ‘I feel lucky’ prediction are already surely somewhat incorrect to a degree? Firefox, these days, seems to be guessing what I want if I type, say ‘umbrella’ into the search bar and press enter – it sends me to the Rihanna video – so it’s already there to some degree.

  9. @John Handelaar – I guess my point was that 27 people is not a good enough sample size to get exact results but I do agree with what Damien presents. It’s almost common sense really that users click the first few links in google, after all they are the most relevant to what they are searching. Also the link that you point to is about usability testing which is very different. That survey is highlighting that you only need to do a usability test with a few people to find the majority of problems. That is very true. There is a great book, if interested, about web usability called “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. He discusses how and when usability testing should take place in order to make the most out of it. You’ll never really need more than a few usability tests and a few people to find 99% of the problems. Thats an interesting article about usability that you’ve posted though.

  10. Tom Doyle says:

    It’s good to see the Innovation Vouchers are being put to good use.

    I however don’t think this is an accurate reflection of the majority of web users. 30 students took part in this, obviously computer literate, which not everyone is on that uses the web.

    The numbers were quite low and I know John Handelaar thinks his link explains why the numbers were enough, but he failed to read the part on “When to Test More Users”.

    I don’t see “I’m feeling lucky” feature being the future – certainly not in this fashion. Maybe if presented in a different way.

    Good job though – it at least gives us some insight into the next generations searching habits. I don’t think it’s surprising to anyone who has been working in this business long enough that people are becoming immune to Google adverts – (

    I’m sure Google are already planning their next plan of action to increase their already bulging bottom line!

  11. I’ve watched people write the url of a website they want into the Google search box, hit search, and then hit the sponsored ad above the search results pointing at that site. Repeatedly.

    These weren’t technically able people, but they weren’t idiots either.

  12. Oddly enough when I type “umbrella” into my Firefox location bar it takes me to a search for umbrella on Google, not to the first I’m Feeling Lucky result.

  13. I watched most of those ‘heat maps’… another interesting thing jumps out at me which I don’t see in the report. People only tend to scan the page title and url… they don’t read the page synopsis that goes with them.

    Does this suggest that if users don’t know/recognise your url they won’t trust your content?

  14. John says:

    Top three results are important, however, I would not say adwords get little attention. The fact that there are repeat users of adwords- beg to differ.

    People who are not tech minded seem to click like nutters, often reminds me of an 8 year old in a Waterford glass shop swinging a Hurley around the place.

    I would say Firefox needs to watch themselves they seem to have a great deal going on with Google. Non tech minded folks end up on Google without meaning to. Making people thing Google is the internet. Firefox means if the site does not exist or people just type something into the URL bar they will end up on Google. I mean many people have three search bars in reality the Google toolbar, the Firefox search bar and the URL (search) bar.

    I very much doubt Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” will ever be more that it is, there is little revenue from driving people away from the search results directly to one website.

  15. Google has commented that ‘I’m feeling lucky’ represents a significant loss of possible ad revenue to the company.