01 November 2006

AOL Search

I was with someone the other day and he showed me the results of a search that he had done on AOL. He pointed to a site listed towards the top of the page and said "that's a good position". It was a paid advertisement and I wonder how many other searchers on AOL are unaware that a number of the search results in the 'Golden Triangle' are pay per click ads and not organic search results.

At one level it may not matter, providing that the advertisers are being honest about their relevance to a particular keyword search, at another it's relevant since searchers should probably be able to spot the difference between a search and an organic result fairly easily. Has AOL blurred the boundaries here?

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Edwin Aoki said...

On the recently released AOL Search (and even before, I think), all of the paid ads are listed in a light blue banner labeled "Sponsored Links".

I believe this is similar to how all of the major search engines distinguish paid placement versus organic results. Is there something in particular that you think AOL is doing that's more confusing?

5:12 pm  
Blogger John Diffenthal said...

Edwin,

My point was that it was an AOL user who was confused. The question has to be posed - are other users confused as well. If that is the case then the search engines might need to rethink the layout of the results.

AOL isn't the only search engine that puts pay per click advertisements at the head of its search results but the layout is potentially more confusing than Google where most advertisements appear in the right-hand column rather than in the Golden Triangle at the top of the page where everyone looks first.

7:39 pm  

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