A colleague sent me an impressive white paper on domains’ role in guiding search engine users. Samuel Ieong et. al. show that domains convey trust: When users are presented bits of information in a search result list, they tend to click on links to well-known domains even if more relevant results are presented very close by. They claim: “Viewing content on the Internet as products, domains have emerged as brands.”
Quick Dutch summary: “Wat de boer niet kent, dat clicked hij niet”.
The paper can be downloaded here: http://ilpubs.stanford.edu:8090/1021/1/wsdm12-domain-bias.pdf