According to a recent study from Canadian digital agency Mediative, Google Places results with images are more likely to be noticed and clicked by users on a mobile device.
This is the second study Mediative has done using eye-tracking and click-tracking analysis. Late last year, researchers discovered that while higher-ranked results tended to get more views on desktops, lower results that had images also drew the searcher's eye,
The company performed a similar study using an iPhone, utilizing the free Google Places app. Twelve participants ranging from ages 21 to 45 were used for the study, with each respondent provided with the same scenario: You are on an imaginary road trip with stops in certain Canadian cities, and you must choose a place for a friend to get a tattoo in each city based on Google Places results.
To perform the local search, most respondents simply typed in, for example, "Edmonton tatoos" or "tatoos in Edmonton."
Researchers found that because of the considerable size difference of a mobile device, respondents scrolled down farther than they did on desktops, as only the top three listings could be seen above the fold on the iPhone.
Participants typically began by looking at the upper left portion of the screen, scanned from left to right and then moved down to the next result and repeated. However, when an image was present, people had their attention pulled to the right, staying there to see the next image before resuming the regular left-to-right routine.
Locations with images tended to be viewed as more trustworthy, with increased credit given to those that chose a picture that was properly optimized for the reduced size of the phone screen.
"We all know that images draw the eye, but their enhanced effect when displayed on a smartphone means that businesses should think carefully about how they design and optimize their mobile websites," said Mark Baker, online marketing manager at U.K.-based digital marketing agency theEword.
Positive reviews were also seen as a significant factor for clicks, as respondents tended to scroll down to find places with at least three stars.
"People are more likely to place faith in your business if your Google Places listing features a good number of positive reviews from previous users," Baker added.
Does your company utilize an image next to its Google Places page result? If so, does it look the same on both a desktop and mobile screen? Findings conclude that these issues should be considered.