Search Engine Study : Titles Determine Links as Not Relevant
Over at Search Engine Watch, Gary Price points out a paper about consumer bias against paid listings. Expectedly, researchers found that consumers exhibit a bias for organic listings over sponsored listings. Eye tracking studies and user experience research have said the same thing before, so this is nothing new.
Search users are in the mindset of fulfilling a task. Naturally they will look at organic listings first (due to the way listings are presented), so if they are able to fulfill their task with the organic listings, there is less of a drive to investigate sponsored listings.
This study, however, does provide some very vital insight on how consumers judge the relevancy of sponsored links. Researchers discovered that consumers believed sponsored links were less relevant to their queries than organic links. But after viewing the content of a sponsored link, consumers felt that the sponsored link’s content was as relevant as content from an organic link.
Data showed “that Summary (67%) is the primary basis that searchers use to determine if a sponsored link is relevant. Title (56%) is the primary basis for determining that a sponsored result is not relevant…Summary (42%) and Title (41%) are the primary basis that searchers use to determine if an organic link is relevant. Title (60%) is the primary basis for determining that an organic result is not relevant.”
Interestingly, only ~11% of the sponsored links marked as non relevant were determined by location or the “sponsored” label. That means out of all the determining factors for relevancy, location and sponsorship play the smallest part.
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