Users Confuse Natural and Paid Search Engine Results

    January 24, 2005

So information from a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, suggests that only 18% of search engine users can tell the difference between paid and natural search engine results.

So what does that tell us? Well, to me it suggests that the search engines have everything finely tuned and doing a great job.

If the average user cannot tell the difference, it likely means that they are finding the most relevant results in both paid and natural listings. I bet the same can be said for those “infomercials” or the “advertorials” you often see.

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell that they are paid placements, but it doesn’t matter, if I find the stuff interesting and useful, who cares if someone paid to put it there.

Andy Beal is an internet marketing consultant and considered one of the world’s most respected and interactive search engine marketing experts. Andy has worked with many Fortune 1000 companies such as Motorola, CitiFinancial, Lowes, Alaska Air, DeWALT, NBC and Experian.

You can read his internet marketing blog at Marketing Pilgrim and reach him at