Der Effekt der Suchmaschinenoptimierung auf die Suchergebnisse von Web-Suchmaschinen: Modellentwicklung, empirische Überprüfung und Triangulation mit Nutzer/innen- und Expert/inneneinschätzungen (SEO-Effekt)

The overall goal of the project is to describe and explain the role of search engine optimization from the perspective of the participating stakeholder groups by analysing search results/search result pages for optimized content as well as quantitative and qualitative surveys of search engine users, search engine optimizers and content providers. Thus the external influence on the results of commercial search engines can be described and quantified for the first time. The project contributes to theory building in information science by extending existing information-seeking models by a component of external influence on the search results.

The project focuses on informative content; it examines how documents that play a role in answering information-oriented search queries can be influenced externally. This sets the project apart from pure questions of online marketing, where the focus is on the optimization itself and not on the consequences for the compilation of result sets.

To measure the effect of search engine optimization, a software will be developed that can automatically query search engines and analyze the returned results. The results of the search result analyses carried out using it are combined with findings from the survey and further investigations of search engine users, search engine optimisers and content providers in order to obtain a comprehensive picture of the influence of search engine optimisation. Methodologically, the project is characterized by a triangulation of methods of data analysis from computer science and social science methods. The interdisciplinary basis of the analysis is unique and will significantly advance the understanding of search engines in general and the influence search engine optimization has in particular.

With search engine optimization, the project addresses a highly relevant topic for information seeking in society, which to a considerable extent takes place via commercial search engines. The expected empirical and theoretical results contribute to a better understanding of information seeking in the context of modern web infrastructures. At the level of transfer into practice, the results will be relevant to issues like consumer protection.

Funding period: 05/2019 bis 07/2021

Funded by: German Research Foundation (DFG – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), grant number 417552432.

Contacts:  Prof. Dr. Dirk Lewandowski, Sebastian Sünkler, M.A., Sebastian Schultheiß, M.A.

Publications

Schultheiß, S., & Lewandowski, D. (2021). (Un)bekannte Akteure auf der Suchergebnisseite? Ein Vergleich zwischen selbst eingeschätzter und tatsächlich vorhandener Suchmaschinenkompetenz deutscher InternetnutzerInnen. In T. Schmidt & C. Wolff (Eds.), Information between Data and Knowledge. Information Science and Its Neighbors from Data Science to Digital Humanities. Proceedings of the 16th International Symposium of Information Science (ISI 2021), Regensburg, Germany, 8th—10th March 2021, 218–246.

Sünkler, S., & Lewandowski, D. (2021a). Den Einfluss der Suchmaschinenoptimierung messbar machen: Ein halb-automatisierter Ansatz zur Bestimmung von optimierten Ergebnissen auf Googles Suchergebnisseiten. In T. Schmidt & C. Wolff (Eds.), Information between Data and Knowledge. Information Science and Its Neighbors from Data Science to Digital Humanities. Proceedings of the 16th International Symposium of Information Science (ISI 2021), Regensburg, Germany, 8th—10th March 2021, 273–298.

Sünkler, S., & Lewandowski, D. (2021b). Ist die Webseite suchmaschinenoptimiert? Vorstellung eines Online-Tools zur Analyse der Wahrscheinlichkeit der Suchmaschinenoptimierung auf einer Webseite. In T. Schmidt & C. Wolff (Eds.), Information between Data and Knowledge. Information Science and Its Neighbors from Data Science to Digital Humanities. Proceedings of the 16th International Symposium of Information Science (ISI 2021), Regensburg, Germany, 8th—10th March 2021, 299–306.

Schultheiß, S., & Lewandowski, D. (2020). ‘Outside the industry, nobody knows what we do’ SEO as seen by search engine optimizers and content providers. Journal of Documentation. [Preprint]

Working Papers

Schultheiß, S., Häußler, H., & Lewandowski, D. (2021). User evaluation and perception of optimized websites for health-related queries: a user study within the SEO Effect project. Working Paper.

Sünkler, S., Yagci, N., & Lewandowski, D. (2021): Development and software implementation of a preliminary model to identify the probability of search engine optimization on webpages. Working Paper.

Schultheiß, S., & Lewandowski, D. (2020a). A representative online survey among German search engine users with a focus on questions regarding search engine optimization (SEO): a study within the SEO Effect project. Working Paper.

Schultheiß, S., & Lewandowski, D. (2020b). Expert interviews with stakeholder groups in the context of commercial search engines within the SEO Effect project. Working Paper.

Research data

The research data of all project parts is available from the OSF database via DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/JYV9R