Success of Local Mobile SEO Influenced by Images and Reviews

New study shows that images and reviews on mobile Google Places results drive clicks

I was browsing the web today for any new interesting SEO news and found this article on SEJ. I thought it was facinating so I decided to write an overview of it here!

Last year a digital agency group called Mediative conducted a study in which they tracked the eye and click behavior of users when searching through Google Places results, the results of which were fascinating and impactful on the actual implementation of many local mobile SEO strategies. They have now concluded a more specific study which focused on the Google Places app for the iPhone. In this study, the group observed both eye and click tracking for a group of 12 Canadians ranging in age from 21 all the way to 45. Each of the participants was instructed to search for places where they could get a tattoo in several different cities in Canada. The task was specifically laid out as such:

Every participant in the study was given the same scenario as in the previous Google Places study – an imaginary road trip with stops in Hamilton, London, Winnipeg and Edmonton, with the task of choosing a place for a friend to get a tattoo in each of those cities based on the Google Places search results. From the participants in the eye tracking part of our study, we recorded each individual session, and then compiled the sessions to create heat maps that represent aggregate gaze data and supplement the qualitative findings.

The Study

As the first study was targeted at PC users, the major difference in this study was the size of the screen that the participants were viewing, and which the researchers where tracking eye moment upon.  Using heat maps, the group highlights the users viewing areas, as shown below:

Local Mobile SEO 300x212 Success of Local Mobile SEO Influenced by Images and ReviewsThe larger bubbles in the image on the left indicated screen areas where the eyes where focused for the longest period of time. The image on the right displays red and green shading; the red indicating more time spent on that area and the green indicating less time. In this case, the second image down recieved the most attention. As the research group explains: “It’s the only image on this screen of a tattoo; both the other images are of storefronts.” This indicates the importance not only the presence of images but also the relevance of those images! This finding in and of itself has enormous implications on local mobile SEO strategy.


Mediative found that when their searchers were confronted with top listings that lacked reviews, the would search deeper down the SERP in order to locate a business with at least 3 stars. Talk about actionable data! The group also concluded:

  • More Positive Reviews = More Clicks
  • More Total Reviews = More Clicks
  • Images Matter: not just the fact that you have them, but also that they are relevant to the user’s query

+Matthew Green

About the Author

Matt Green

+Matt is the Lead SEO Strategist at Ethical SEO Consulting. Connect with him on Twitter, G+, or drop by his blog.

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