Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox for today, The Power of Defaults, reveals users’ annoying habit of clicking the first item of a list, in research conducted by Cornell University. This something we all suspected (a la “AAA Auto Repair” yellow page listings) and this research proves: user default is to click the top item.
In the research study, users clicked the top search result 42% of the time, and the second result 8% of the time. The same listings were then put in reverse order. Users continued to prefer the top listing, clicking on it 34% of the time, and the second result 12% of the time.
The hypothesis is that users are both lazy and think the search engine will provide the best results. However, selection is influenced by the asbtract provided for the resulting link.
The lesson for marketers is to provide good, short summaries for articles and pages that can be picked up and displayed in search results. I’m rewriting the one for this article now…