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Web sites invest significant resources in trying to influence their visibility among online search results. In addition to paying for sponsored links, they invest in methods known as search engine optimization (SEO). The authors study the economic incentives of Web sites to invest in SEO and its implications on visitor satisfaction and welfare. The main focus is on methods that improve rankings of sites among search results without improving their quality. The authors find that the process is equivalent to an all-pay auction with noise and headstarts.
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