Searchwiki: Google's solution to getting more social?

Mon 24 November 2008 10:49, Roy Huiskes

Last week the SearchWiki functionality from Google officially launched.

The SearchWiki enables people to vote a single search result up or down on the search result page, or actually remove it within your personalized results. It also gives you the possibility to add a personal, public note in which you say something about the result of website. Google states that this data won’t be used in the ranking algorithm. Since we all know Google is able to do very smart things with data, this eventually will be used in their ranking algorithm of course.

But there's more!

Hold your horses promoting your websites up to the top and demoting your competition. This will actually raise a giant red flag for al the people at Google and it will be clear that people are gaming and closely watching Google. Besides, always test first and check out the results, because you only want first mover advantage unless you know it actually it is advantage.

A lot of rumors are floating around, about this being an SEO killer, or this being the end of SEO as we know it. Internet is changing, Google is changing, and society in general is changing. This is happening rapidly and the result of it is a more social, a more semantic and better user experience. Shift happens! And this is a good thing. Why? this is Google making more social, in a search market in which they didn't had anything to tell yet. Facebook, FriendFeed and Twitter are way better sources for 'social search' then Google will is and with the SearchWiki they hope to turn that in their advantage. Google is known to try to take shortcuts to prevent other 'competitors' to get leverage for a land grab.

I actually see this as a great opportunity for Google to weed out even more ‘bad’ websites and improve the user experience with search. This will also enlarges the role which we as SEO's have for our clients, by taking care of even better content and advising them how to think, work and actually do the job for best user experience. We know it’s not the easiest route to take, but by being critical and user focused you will be prepared for the future.

By only using technical tricks like ‘landing pages’ your website probably shouldn’t rank that high. On site optimization is still getting more important everyday. Al your pages should have a purpose and this purpose should be measured and optimized.


Not everything is instantly turning into gold though. Micheal Arrington states that there already is a lot of porn spam in the top traffic keywords area's and ChrisG actually tweeted that now it's time for him to remove Google from the white list for his children to surf porn free. Yoast states that Google was talking about the algorithm for ages and cynically states that they should still trust the algorithm. Also the very user unfriendly way of turning it off (adding a parameter to the url: "hl=all") isn't really prize winning (how about really let the user be in control). Yoast provided a firefox searchwiki free searchbox. It also messes up the clean page, so there are lots of bad execution points to be made.

There's a lot to be said about the motivations of Google and why they took a decision like this, but it sure has something to do with protectionism, land grab, the battle they've lost about paid links and PageRank. All these reasons are actually also good for the user experience, so I really hope they are able to fix some of the issues (how to turn the darn thing off for example) and it will add some value, because the Searchwiki option from Google brings our clients, their customers and us SEO's closer together and therefore we should fully embrace the SearchWiki functionality Google officially launched as of this week.


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