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.
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.