Payment for increasing website exposure in search engine results - technical and ethical issues.

Weideman, M.

Proceedings of the 5th Annual Conference on WWW Applications. Durban, South Africa. 10-12 September.

Weideman, M. 2003. Payment for increasing website exposure in search engine results - technical and ethical issues. Proceedings of the 5th Annual Conference on WWW Applications. Durban, South Africa. 10-12 September.

ABSTRACT
The objective of this research project was to survey the technical and ethical issues regarding payment for increased search engine rankings. The large number of Internet users created a potential for financial gain through marketing. It was clear that there is strong commercial motivation for ensuring that web pages appear high up in search engine results. A number of systems were put into place to enable web site owners to increase their ranking in exchange for payment. These are paid inclusion, paid listings and the selling of advertising space. It was found that a number of unethical methods exist to increase ranking, including spamming, cloaking, doorway pages and link farms. Confusion also appeared to be common amongst users regarding the difference between paid an unpaid content. In conclusion, it is believed that the level of commercial competition for web site ranking will only increase. Payment for casual information searching is also a development which will decrease user frustration by increasing information quality of Internet web sites.
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