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Google SearchWiki Kills SEO

Written by Chad Bean

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

In October of 2008, Google announced a new feature known as SearchWiki. SearchWiki allows anyone with a Google account to change the order of search results and make notes about each result in Google.

Once logged into a Google account, you’ll notice that the search results have two small icons next to the listings that can be used to promote or remove a result. By promoting a result, you can bring the site above other results on the page.

Google SearchWiki Results

You can learn more about the SearchWiki by watching the Google SearchWiki team’s video.

Now, this is hardly news to many of you out there. We covered Google’s Promote Feature in early December.

What is interesting though, is the idea that Google’s index of results will be swayed by user input on the SearchWiki. On Google’s Official Blog announcement for SearchWiki,it mentions that: “The changes you make only affect your own searches.” While this is true directly, it’s not hard to imagine that Google will collectively use user input to influence search results and page ranking.

Currently websites are listed in order on Google’s web page according to their super-duper secretive algorithm. Those in the search engine optimization industry have been trying to figure out this algorithm for very obvious reasons. If you can cheat the search engines and get a website listed on the front page for certain keywords, than you are able to get more traffic to your site, which generally equates to more revenue for web site owners and businesses.

Microsoft’s search engine, although behind both Google and Yahoo, has something similar setup known as U Rank. Microsoft is also researching a system known as BrowseRank – which measures page importance by the number of visits made to a page and the time spent on each page by a user.

I predict that Google will, in fact, use information gained by SearchWiki to calculate how web sites are ranked in the future. It’s easy to see how showing users web sites listed in order ranked by other users, with similar browsing habits and interests, would be beneficial. Overall, by taking in user feedback, Google should be able to provide more relevant information to its users.

It will be interesting to see how this affects the search engine optimization industry, who has built itself around tricks and techniques to rank websites higher in the search engines.

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22 Responses to Google SearchWiki Kills SEO

  1. Gerald Weber says:

    I have heard there is some concern among SEO professionals about the search wiki and how it may affect natural search results in the future. I have a couple of thoughts on this subject.

    First of all I really think the average Google user is not aware of the search wiki atm. I mean even when you are logged in, the promote button is not very obvious. So in other words I don’t really think the average user will use search wiki that much, initially at least. People that are a bit more knowledgeable or “tech savvy” will be the ones using it initially at least. However that being said I find the evolution of the internet and search very interesting and exciting. This is what makes SEO such a fun profession. Remember when meta-keywords used to be the key to natural search and now Google pays no attention to meta-keywords so we have to learn new methods of ranking. While this may lead to some changes down the line and when and if it does I will simply embrace and adapt to the changes as they come along.

  2. Ben says:

    This is going to hurt smaller web sites, and start ups.

  3. I have been wondering for a while why people are that stupid – Google SearchWiki is only a way to decrease search engine spam.
    The obvious point behind SearchWiki is that everybody will be voting up their own results (almost all of my friends did it immediately) and thus it will Google a better knowledge about who owns which sites.
    If a person votes up more than 2 pages from a website it could be said that he or she benefits from this site ranking high and so in the future whatever the person does to rank higher in Google will be ignored.
    This is exactly what Digg did. They have an inbuilt function to send news to your Digg buddies but Digg actually uses this information to understand who are friends, so that it can disregard the votes given by friends. The idea behind this is to get more objective results.
    The same is obviously true with Google. Google is not as stupid to think that people will only be voting up relevant results. They have built the function to find the would-be spammers!

  4. GaryP says:

    Probably will be a lot more difficult to ‘game’ this system. Lets face it, there is nothing ‘natural’ in the current ‘natural search results’

  5. @Roman,

    This is a very interesting take.I’ll note that I did almost “promote” my site when I first found out about search wiki but then though nah I want to see my SERPs the same way the rest of the world sees them.

    Your perspective makes a lot of sense, I bet most people immediately “promote” their site when they first discover Google SearchWiki.

  6. Irfan says:

    The changes must affect global searches……….

  7. Chad Bean says:

    @rob

    My intention for writing this post is to look at how Google may use SearchWiki, or perhaps other feedback, to determine page ranking. It’s not to say that “SEO is dead”. Google’s
    SearchWiki or Microsoft’s new ideas, could affect many strategies and techniques that are employed today for site ranking.

  8. gm says:

    For the most part, this will mean nothing for most sites or SEO. Most searches are 1 time searches or what I call a transient search as in a one time need. This serves no purpose in those cases. A user finds what they need and they move on..If it’s more of a long term need or interest, then maybe. In either case, users are never going to get much beyond the first 1-2 pages anyway. I suspect this is a good tool for Google to eliminate spam pages. I can see all the spammers promoting from page 100 to page 1 by..

  9. Pinny Cohen says:

    Let’s see how widely adopted this thing is first, and then we’ll know the impact on SEO.

  10. Ed says:

    Does HG have any recommendations for us to attract more customers? It looks like HG is still holding strong but many of us have a lost a lot of customers in this economic downturn. Does anyone at HG have any good marketing advice to pick up new customers either through organic searches or other paid means?

    thanks for all the kickass services you provide!

    Ed

  11. Stella says:

    This is the same feature that AVG internet security provides. I guess, Google should have changed the design of the up and down button. Its looks just the same.

  12. Then it seems, social networking would be a real smart move. The more friends and people loving you the better you will be able to influence the search results and if Google may take this into consideration then SEO will change completely.

    It maybe somewhat more difficult than it is now if Google take this approach.

    Luis

  13. Most of my website customers don’t even know how to find their own website on Google, so I don’t think many regular folks will be interested in this. So it’ll just be another toy for webmasters to promote their own sites.

  14. Now I start with it was familiar.

  15. Ive used this a few times. Also searchwkik spiders seem to be all over the sites ive created, seems to be the busiest spider after googles main bots

  16. SEO says:

    And now there is another similar tool called Sidewiki added in the Google tool bar. Haven’t used it yet though…

  17. Hi Chad,

    I hardly noticed this thing before as I previously was just one of the ‘average Google users’. Anyways, I just wanted to know why I can’t seem to find the searchwiki thingy now? Could it be that google removed/changed it? The only thing I can find is the sidewiki on the Google toolbar. Any clarifications would help…

  18. Josh says:

    Thanks for such a great article about SEO. One thing most people always miss is that there are two major branches in SEO, Traditional SEO and Social SEO. It’s not a question of whether or not social networking is better than keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing and social networking differ greatly but they both help boost your rank on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). The end result of your website ranking depends on how well you utilize the social networking tools to boost your standing on the search engines.

  19. Rachael says:

    I think SearchWiki should not be allowed. Google is a premium search engine and the search results should work on their own. In this way people will get access to change their search engine results.

  20. Excelent article, I see it in 2009 but is still valid

  21. Anonymous says:

    Let’s see how widely adopted this thing is first, and then we’ll know the impact on SEO.
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  22. Informative post! Thanks for sharing.

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