Google Personalizes Search With SearchWiki
Google is set on Thursday to significantly change the way some people use its search engine.
The company is introducing a new feature called SearchWiki that will allow people to modify and save their results for specific Google searches. They can move the sites that appear in rankings up or down, take them out altogether, leave notes next to specific sites and suggest new sites that are not already in the results (or are buried too far down in the results to see). Users must be logged in to Google to use
Screen shot of Google’s new SearchWiki feature.
The company is also making these annotations public, in a move that may either deter Google users from writing anything too personal on SearchWiki or encourage spammers to exploit the tool.
At the bottom of every Google search results page, logged-in Google users will see a link that says, “See all notes for this SearchWiki.” Clicking on it allow users to see how other people have re-ranked results or commented on sites. At least at first, there will not be any way to make these notes private, Google says, but users can change or delete their notes at any time.
SearchWiki may essentially allow users to rank and review the top sites for common searches— like “Indian restaurants in San Francisco,” for example. That could spur users to evaluate businesses and push Google into direct competition with review sites such as Yelp.com and CitySearch. Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search product and user experience, says that in internal tests, people’s notes in SearchWiki have tended to be more about the relevancy of the Web site to that particular search term.
Search engine optimizers, or SEOs, who help companies improve their search engine rankings, should not rush to start manipulating SearchWiki—at least not yet. Ms. Mayer said that SearchWiki comments and re-rankings will have no affect on the Google algorithm and how it ranks sites for the general Google audience. “At this time we aren’t using SearchWiki to influence ranking but it is easy to see how that could happen in the future” she said.
She noted that the real goal of the feature was to allow people to personalize their common queries so they remember what they found useful. Research has shown that about 40 percent of the searches people make on the Internet are duplicate queries they have made at least once before.
“This lets people save their personal experience and lets them keep their thoughts on a particular search.” Ms. Mayer said.
SearchWiki will begin a gradual rollout to all users Thursday.
Bits readers — will you use it and how will you exploit it?
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