Catalyst Group in New York had released another interesting eye tracking study yesterday where they compare Microsoft’s new search engine Bing and Google. Catalyst included 12 users in the study, all using Google as their main search engine. Users performed a hotel and shopping search task on both search engines. An RTA interview with eye tracking was also included.
So what did their study reveal? The users liked the Bing visual design more but said the search results were equally relevant on both. In one of the search tasks (shopping search) Bing attracted 150% more viewing time on the ad space at the top of the search result page. This was probably due to the refinement options offered by Bing in this area. In this task the attention on the top ad space on Bing was on average 4.9 seconds vs. 2.0 seconds on Google. The amount of time spent on the right hand side ad space was similar on both search engines. In the other task (hotel search) Google received a slightly higher attention on the top ad pace (2.7 vs. 1.7). Another interesting difference found was that the time on page was shorter for Bing in both tasks – users found a viable link or option more easily on Bing. There was also more attention below the fold on Google than on Bing indicating that users had to search more on Google.
This study found some differences in the behavior between the two search engines but the differences don’t seem to be that conclusive. I’m looking forward to see more studies comparing Bing and Google. Let me know if you know of any similar studies.
You can read the report from Catalys here: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/7723136/Catalyst-Group-Bing-V-Google-Usability-Study