When Search Engines Become Answer Engines: This is depressing, but no-doubt true.
A major change over the years has been a declining emphasis on using search to identify good sites as such. Rather than hunt for sites to explore and use in depth, users now hunt for specific answers. The Web as a whole has thus become one agglomerated resource for people who use search engines to dredge up specific pages related to specific needs, without caring which sites supply the pages.
I hit and run — I look for answer in Google, visit the page to get the answer, and never even take stock of where I am in the Web. I think Nielsen has good advice for converting users:
Embellish the answer with rich “see also” links to related content and services. Global navigation won’t do the trick; answer-seekers will ignore it. Remember, they are not interested in your site. But contextual links will make the most eager users dig deeper — and the eager ones are the people you’ll want to keep as prospects for your for-pay services. See-also links can be embedded (as I’ve done here) or you can place them at the end of the article, where they serve as a follow-up call to action. The latter gives you the opportunity to let people know that you’re actually selling something, and not just handing out free information.