Friday, November 28, 2008

Google Search Wiki Move Your Results on Search Results

Google released new feature called Search Wiki, which lets users move search results, delete search results, comment, and rate. The feature is now default for all users with Google account and currently there is no way to opt out.

Where Did Search Wiki Come From?

The original project goes back to Google Labs, where Google experimented with “Digg” style search results.The project was at least 5 months in testing when Wikipedia’s “Wikia search” rolled out, with all the features Google is offering with their upgrade. Wikia Search did not get any real market share, but their idea of editable search results was apparently something that Google saw as a form of threat.

Though there’s no way to prove that Google was motivated by Wikipedia to roll out its own version of Search Wiki, I believe it had some influence, along with social media . The Diggs, Reddits, Sphinns and alike have been quite successful, so it makes sense to try this on the massive scale in search. Plus the benefits of success are worth the try.

SEO Impacts

- As you move pages up and down, Google shows how many people deleted the page, moved it up, moved it down, and commented on results. Over months, assuming percentage of people vote, Google can use this data in relevancy computation and partially rearrange default search results.

- Personalized search + vote = more power? Google knows our interests very well, especially if you use more than Google search (reader, gmail, etc). If it possible for Google to count votes for pages related to their interested more than those of user who does not have any search history on the topic?

- Reviews - according to “local search ranking factors” article, reviews play a big role in local rankings for local queries like hotels, restaurants and travel. Is it possible for a site with more reviews to be valued more than those without?

- If the feature is to stick, and actually find wide spread usage (we can’t guess), user experience will play bigger role in search engine optimization. Sites with killer content (tech crunch, search engine land) high usability and with optimized user flow will win, because they will be able to retain users, solve their problem, inform, teach and help them accomplish their task.

The Negatives

- The big downside is that many people unfamiliar with this feature will simply play around deleting results, moving them up/down, creating some noise. Google most likely considered this and may not count 10 first votes from a new user (wild guess, but makes sense to me)

- SPAM - how long before auto bots start creating Google accounts (capcha can be easily passed), and moving results, commenting, adding pages and just spamming search results? Spammers are very innovative, so expect to see some fun technologies develop in the next few months that take advantage of Search Wiki.

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