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Monday, November 08, 2004
Consumer Report On Paid Search Disclosure
Consumer Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, has released an 82-page paper (available in PDF format) on search engine's disclosure of paid rankings. The report, titled "In Search of Disclosure: How Search Engines Alert Consumers to the Presence of Advertising in Search Results", takes a look at which engines make sure to distinguish between paid listings and regular results. The key findings in the report: The article distinguishes between paid placement, where companies pay for certain rankings, and paid inclusion, where companies pay to be indexed. However:
These results are typically presented as the so-called "main" results, making it all too easy for consumers to mistake them for "pure" results, when, in fact, they are not.
The study continuously gives Google a lot of credit for being the only company not to "be evil" and muddy up their search results with paid (and by definition inaccurate) listings. I think paid inclusion and placement have always been terrible ideas, and it's good to see it finally dying, thanks to Google's unprecedented success with honest search results.
(via Search Engine Watch Blog and John Battelle's Searchblog)

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