Todd beat me to the punch a bit on this topic on his post Publishers! Don’t Give Up The Second Click!
I have spent the past couple of days thinking about search from a publisher’s perspective. I have had some interesting discussions with folks like Ryan Sholin, who spends a lot of time thinking about the journalist community within the publishing space, and Chris Brogan, who thinks about bloggers and journalists. I had lunch with Chris Sherman of Search Engine Land where among many things, we discussed the state of the search engine marketing world.
And, finally, there was this post, “The Fight for the Second Click” which referenced John Battelle’s post “Google Takes Aim at Wikipedia, Is Now Officially a Media Company” about Google’s KNOL project.
So, if this is true:
“A higher percentage of Internet users reported negative views about the reliability and accuracy of information provided by search engines, such as Google. Slightly over half of Internet users — 51 percent — said that most or all of the information produced by search engines is reliable and accurate — down from the 62 percent who reported the same response in 2006.”
“When asked to name their #1 complaint about the process (of search), 25 percent cited a deluge of results, 24 percent cited a predominance of commercial (paid) listings, 18.8 percent blamed the search engine’s inability to understand their keywords (forcing them to try again), and 18.6 percent were most frustrated by disorganized/random results.”
Then, in some ways, the search engines have become their own worst nightmare. In their attempt to index “all the world’s information,” Google has collect too much information. Perhaps by becoming so good at collecting information, Google specifically (and search engines generally) have surpassed the technical ability of their ranking algorithms to return highly relevant results.
Take this search as an example:
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The search for “nda” returns a varied amount of results. Yes, the first result is a wikipedia article on “non disclosure agreements,” but the rest are pretty varied. What does this lead to? A lack of trust, since the results are not exactly what I want (which makes me think that it behooves a search engine to lower the accuracy of the organic results to drive more clicks on the paid search). To the search engines’ credit, there is no way they can contextually determine what I am looking for when I type in “nda.”
Back, to that first result, Wikipedia. That is the exact reason that Google is working on KNOL. Because if their products are on the top of the search results, they own the first AND second click.
Todd’s post, Publishers! Don’t Give Up The Second Click!, certainly covers Lijit‘s place in the battle for the second click, so I wont expound on it. After all, the re-search functionality of Lijit does absolutely capture a user, help them discover more content within your site or network, and drives pages views that a publisher can monetize, rather than a search engine.
But, there is an added benefit, that even the social search / human powered engines dont necessarily enjoy: Increased context, and therefore increased trust. Because I trust the publisher/journalist/blogger prior to searching, I am already in a mindset that I want to receive content created or linked to, by the trusted writer. Context and trust are inherent.
Mahalo search for “nda”:
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Notice that Mahalo has not written a page on “nda” yet. Thats fine, I imagine that they will write one soon, and not having a page isnt really an indication of a lack of trust, etc. I actually think for many things, Mahalo is great. Their added social components are great. But, I also know that if I am going to do certain searches, Mahalo is not the place for me.
In addition, what really concerns me, is that the line about no page on “nda” being written was hard to see. I would have love to see it bold or red. Also, look at the two first results being returned: the first was a link to a Mahalo page on LibiGel (“LibiGel is a testosterone-laden ointment that is meant to increase a female’s libido”) and the second was a link to a Mahalo page on Birth Control Pills. I suppose the first page will lead to the need for the second?
But, now I am not sure if Mahalo, like Google, understand what I am asking for. But, they have done a great job of owning the Second Click.
The same search on nda with Lijit. Now, Lijit is not a destination site, nor really a search engine in the traditional sense. But, I know Brad Feld, and I know he has written a good amount about nda’s. So, doing a search on his blog returns:
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Now, not only do I trust the publisher, but I will stay on his site for a bit longer to read through his content, and potentially, the content of his network. Is Lijit search perfect? Of course not. But, it is a more trusted solution than either automated or human powered search engines by definition. (Of course, imagine if human powered engines, like Mahalo, were to integrate the inherent trust that Lijit embodes. That might be a really unique experience).
So, who owns trust? At the end of the day, its the First and Second Click. I need to know the place I am searching on is trusted, and the results returned will continue that expectation.
At, the end of the day, that is how publishers will win. They will be bring back that level of trust newspapers and journalists used to own offline, and people will begin to read your publication more, and, more importantly, interact with the content and the publisher.
Welcome to Web 3.0. An online world that is the intersection of trust relationships, content discovery, social interaction and real people.