Customization May Be the
Answer"> For advertisers themselves, better labeling and disclosure of sponsored listings would not necessarily hurt them. Fewer consumers might click on the sponsored links if they were more clearly labeled, but those that did click likely would be better leads for the advertisers, Thies said. "As an advertiser myself, I would much prefer that people clicking on my ad know its an advertisement," he said.One reason paid inclusion programs exist is because search-engine crawlers are unable to index every Web page and to do so as soon as new sites come online or changes are made, Moran said. "Disclosure isnt something thats pain-free," he said. "Whats the capacity of people to understand [paid inclusion] and make a good judgment?" Click here to read about a new Google program for letting Webmasters submit site information for free. As search evolves, though, the influence of ads, paid inclusion and gaming techniques could shift dramatically. Already, some sites are beginning to give individual users more control over the search results they see. Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch, demonstrated a newer feature in Yahoos search results that lets users block specific sites from future results. The blocking feature is part of Yahoos My Web personalized search service. Other engines, including Google and Ask Jeeves, are moving toward personalization. Eventually, search results will become more and more unique to individuals, Moran said. "In the next few years, there will be no such thing as a No. 1 result," Moran said. "If you think its complicated now, you aint seen nothing yet." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on enterprise search technology.
The labeling of paid inclusion listings, though, could have a different effect because of the negative perception consumers may have about listings, said Mike Moran, a distinguished engineer at IBM who has authored a book on search engines. Consumer advocates favor the labeling of each search result coming from paid inclusion.