Google’s User Experience Research team has done some research using eye-tracking equipment about how people evaluate the search results page. The eye-tracking studies reveals that people tend to scan the search results in order. They start from the first result and continue down the list until they find a result they consider helpful and click it — or until they decide to refine their query. The heatmap (screenshot) shows the activity of 34 usability study participants scanning a typical Google results page. The darker the pattern, the more time they spent looking at that part of the page. This pattern suggests that the order in which Google returned the results was successful; most users found what they were looking for among the first two results and they never needed to go further down the page, reveals Anne Aula and Kerry Rodden.
The following video clip shows in real time how a participant in the study scanned the page: