Google launched its SearchWiki this week amid, as ever, a plethora of differing opinions. To see the SearchWiki, log in to your Google account and try a search. You will see two new icons next to the results – an up arrow to promote a result higher in the SERPS, and a cross to remove a listing from the results. There is also a comment bubble for each search result, as well as options to see all of your SearchWiki comments and those by others for that particular search.
The SearchWiki has been designed to allow Google users who are logged in to re-rank the results for a particular search to suit them, and also to add public comments to any search result. Whether the re-ranking of the SERPS will then affect the overall search results at some future date seems to be a moot point, although at present Google are saying that the customised search results will only be visible to that user. Adding comments to the SERPs in this way, with no option to make them private, is not particularly popular either, it seems.
Neither is the fact that you are automatically opted in (which never goes down well with Internet users) and that there is no opt out provided by Google. However, a script has already been developed to disable the SearchWiki which seems to be so popular that perhaps Google will take note…
Undoubtedly, as this is a typical Google Beta, more changes will follow. In the meantime, I think many are failing to see the actual use beyond the move towards customising and personalising searches for each user. This may well drive SEOs into a new era of thinking out of the standard SEO toolbox, as ranking may well be dead after all.
Meanwhile, those with privacy issues close to heart may be disheartened to read the theory that it is now possible to use the SearchWiki as a method to send coded messages, publicly. From a promotional point of view, rather than the conspiracy angle, we may yet see exciting new online treasure hunts and codebreaking competitions starting to promote brands and products using this feature!