Google SearchWiki – Less About Your Own Results, More About the Wiki

Google has rolled out probably one of its boldest initiatives since launching the sparse Google  homepage – the Google SearchWiki. They are putting a lot on the line with this move. To read the details, go check out the announcement.

At first glance, the Google SearchWiki leaves you scratching your head. Why bother promoting search results, Google? That’s called bookmarking. I don’t need to promote a result for “bike trails” if I know the best site for it. I simply bookmark that in my browser, Delicious, etc. and use that bookmark to visit the site later .

Well, then the argument might go that people are lazy and that they don’t bookmark their sites. Only geeks bookmark. Everyone else simply googles the same sites all the time. But if people are too lazy to bookmark, why would they bother promoting or demoting a site? And would they ever comment on one from the search results page?

I don’t think that Google is banking on the majority of their users running with the promotion/demotion part of this innovation. And the innovation really isn’t even the creation of your own search results – although most observers are focusing on that (e.g., see these headlines on Techmeme).

The true power of Google SearchWiki is going to be on what is now a very hidden link at the bottom of the page – “See all notes for this SearchWiki.” **It’s the “wiki” part of the “SearchWiki.” **

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Click on that link and you’ll be brought to a world (note – you must be signed into a Google account to see this page) of Google that has only existed on the “Reviews” sections of Google Maps.

SearchWiki Notes

As you can see by these zealous commenters, they are excited to be showing on Google pages but also concerned. K. Lewis writes, “I give this 24 hours before this gets abused.” True.

Other Initial Thoughts and Observations

SEO Implications

Google SearchWiki, if widely adopted, could have major implications on the world of SEO. In theory, promoting a site has no impact on other’s rankings. But that doesn’t matter. If even a relatively small percentage of users start creating their own results, traditional SEO tactics will begin to be undercut — people simply won’t be using the top SEO results as much.

Let’s not forget the massive data driven company that Google is. Will they mine this data to somehow alter their PageRank algorithms? They wouldn’t be Google if they left that data untapped.

SWO?

SearchWiki optimization (SWO) could become a whole new frontier. While never truly figuring out search algorithms and PageRank methodology, many have understood what influences SERPs.

We’ve seen the evolution on sites like Digg, where top diggers could easily help get links to the homepage. These sites have been gamed. And Wikipedia entries have also been corrupted.

So, why not hire a SWO expert to put a hit on your competitor’s SearchWiki entry? Why not get a top commenter to defame the SearchWiki of the person you are running against for office?

It’s not clear how the top comments are selected yet – but things could get embarrassing.

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SearchWiki “notes”

At the top of a SearchWiki page, Google indicates the number of “notes.” You would think, at first glance, that this might just be the comments or perhaps the number of entries. But it is in fact the following formula –

Total Notes = Total Promotions + Total Demotions + Total Comments

“Notes” appear to be all those elements.

Conclusion

Google continues to define and redefine the way we use and understand the Internet. The introduction of SearchWiki has opened a can of worms that I’m not sure the Web is ready for – but that’s just Google being Google.