The Economic Impact of Search

There are businesses with a rock solid presence and value that won't have to worry about search and its meaning at all. Take the depanneur here at the corner of the street, your typical corner store with milk, bread, and other assorted useful stuff. I know it's there. You don't – and the reason you don't is because you don't need this one.

When we're in need of a corner store there's no reason to pick up the Yellow Pages or get Google buzzing; you know.

But obviously we also have business that should worry about search and its meaning.

A perfect example is pizza delivery.

Unlike the corner store, which location you'll remember years after leaving it or it leaving you, the telephone number of the pizza delivery service we used last time is apt forgotten. I know you give out those cashier slips with the phone number printed in Blue Ink (Faded #18) or hand out those full colour menu fliers but dude… I'm eating pizza. By the time I recover from my calorie induced coma, pizza, pizza box and all accompanying paper work are long gone.

So, what's a hungry man to do?

If you're my age, which means your first mouse was a live one back in the days when you could and own a calculator with red Light Emitting Diodes as a display and be cool not in spite of it but because of it, then you're going to flip open a Yellow Pages and be done with it.

If on the other hand you're born more recently, you might just go to Google and ask for "pizza your location"

What I find interesting then are the differences between these two models: differences that have had and continue to have a real economical impact.

Search & How It Limits

The majority of searchers won't go farther than 3 pages deep into their search results. That's 30 entries. Most of these searchers will see only the first page and on the first page they'll mainly see results 1-3.

That's an impressive break with our former information digestion when searching for economical transaction partners. Flip open a Yellow Pages, I just did, and you're pretty soon counting 30-40 telephone numbers there. That's on a page with several large ads. If you let your eye fall on the accompanying page you've scanned 60-80 entries.

Let's put this another way: a side effect of using modern search engines is information reduction.

That the information is ranked creates a perception of relevance which lowers our exposure to and engagement with the additional results even further.

For a business this means that you can be listed but not ranked: the first search results page is the equivalent of letter A listing in the past only this time nobody is looking further. You're on one of the pages but nobody cares.

Economy through obscurity is as bad as security through obscurity. Unfortunately it's precisely what a search engine, or rather our way of using it, has to offer to the majority of businesses listed .

Just Between You & Me

The photo of the corner store is by s o d a p o p. She has a great love for New York city and takes some wonderful photos of it.

I'd thought to go with corner store in B&W, subtitled Exploit the poor and call it art. Nice one to check out, if you have time.

The empty library, used to convey the idea of information reduction, is by stu_spivack. He's doing New York City too but is mainly into food

I snacked on muntdrop, black licorice from the Dutch Klene; they have deliciously quaint, search engine unfriendly, un-deep-linkable web sites.

Oh, and I had coffee, of course, out of one of my beloved mugs, a 16oz Starbucks City Collection Amsterdam mug.

I listened to's smooth jazz stream.
PS: you're free to friend me on, too, of course.

Posted in SEO

About the Author: Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

Additional Posts

SEO Fortune Telling

Match and Game! Google Automatic Keyword Match

SEO Articles: Why They Are the Best Free Marketing on the Web Today

Read previous post:
SEO Fortune Telling

I just tweeted the quote below, but I thought I should probably make this prediction here as well, just to...Read...