In a recent article by Search Insider Gord Hotchkiss, he talks about the “eye tracking” of SERP’s. Gord says,”studies show people moving from the standard “F” pattern of reading results top-down to more of an “E” shape, with the eye being drawn to graphics in the middle of the page first and then scanning around from there”. I find this to be a very interesting and trendy observation. I would venture to say that this can be attributed to the recent surge in “universal search”. Ahh… the new frontier, social media/networks have provided a complete database of files from pictures (Flickr) to videos (YouTube) and especially bookmark networks (Digg).
We, the end user have spent time and money learning the in’s ad out’s of these venues,to better serve our own needs. Now that big business (Google,Yahoo) has stepped up to the social media plate, we are going to endure a trial period of re-indexing and ranking. This is where it gets good, I have spent enormous amounts of time learning how to tag and label both pix and video for placement in their respected venues, and now I am back at square one, or am I. Yahoo has recenlty anounced the use of Flickr in it’s search results (but pix will not be ranked the same as they were posted in Flickr by itself). And the same holds true for the mini revolution Google has created with it’s “Universal Search” and it’s use of You Tube. Both mediums can be ranked natural and organincally in each search engine, but how? Will they show respect to the previous rankings in their original venues or will a new search algorithm be to blame for new placement?
All roads lead to my initial presentation, “eye tracking”. It’s kinda the chicken or the egg theory. Which came first search engines realizing that the user’s search patterns have changed (to focus on graphs and pix) or did search patterns change after the addition of graphs and pix? We may never truly know. But one thing is for certain, if you are not a well read advertiser or have at least enlisted the help of a pro, then you are so 5 minutes ago!
In conclusion, time will tell if “universal search” is the way of the future or if it’s the next tele-tubby. I think we may see the big businesses make their money while they can, and wait for the next rainbow (self created or natural) to show them where the pot of gold is.