From Jakob Nielsen’s Alterbox:
I worry that search engines are sucking out too much of the Web’s value, acting as leeches on companies that create the very source materials the search engines index.
There’s no doubt that search engines provide a valuable service to users. The issue here is what search engines do to the companies they feed on — the companies that fund the creation of original information. Search engines mainly build their business on other websites’ content. The traditional analysis has been that search engines amply return the favor by directing traffic to these sites. While there’s still some truth to that, the scenario is changing.
I predict that liberation from search engines will be one of the biggest strategic issues for websites in the coming years.
In the dot-com bubble days, it was fashionable to discuss website stickiness. Now, stickiness must be reconceptualized for the real world rather than the bubble. It’s not a goal to make users spend hours on your site. Let them go about their business.
The real goal is to make users come back, and to have them come directly to your site instead of clicking on expensive ads.
Neilsen suggests that email newsletters, RSS, affiliate programs and mobile communications will increasingly be called upon to drive traffic, that search drives today.