Search Engine Lisitngs Update
The days of the 10 blue links are numbered. Search engine companies were once more or less content to spit out a list of Web sites ranked by a computer algorithm, and send off users to navigate the Internet wilderness on their own. Increasingly, however, they’re offering more of a guiding hand.
Companies like Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are dedicating the top of their search engine results pages to panels that allow users to refine queries by category; to information that attempts to directly answer questions; and to quick links to businesses where they can buy tickets, songs, meals or products.
In the process, the companies are working harder to understand user intentions, exercising greater judgment about the credibility of online sources and, in some cases, pointing consumers to their own services.
“The layout of the search engine results page has gotten a lot more diverse and lively than it’s ever been in the past,” said Kevin Lee, chief executive of New York search marketing agency Didit. “There’s a drive toward relevance and trusted information sources, but also toward potentially being the information source yourself, so you can make more money off of it.”
The trend will often make it easier and safer for people to quickly accomplish tasks online, by delivering users information directly and steering them clear of untrustworthy or malicious sites, he said. But it can also make it more difficult for reputable sites to get noticed, especially when the search company offers a competing service, Lee said.
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