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Watch Those Search Results

While comparing Better Business Bureau ratings to search engine results, a group of researchers found that online merchants who display a dollar sign in the titles of their Google search results may be less reliable than others and had markedly lower scores from the BBB.

To conduct the study, Gautam Pant, a professor at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, Zhongming Ma of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Olivia R. Liu Sheng of the University of Utah, and Alicia Iriberri of the University of Illinois, Springfield performed 243 Internet searches using Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft search
engines for digital cameras made by major manufacturers and sold by online merchants.

They looked at the arrangement of the results and compared them to the BBB ratings to see if their search engine placement provided clues to the merchant’s reliability. The paper, "Can visible cues in search results indicate vendors' reliability?" was published in a recent issue of Decision Support Systems.

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