Posted November 21, 2008 8:08 am by with 19 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

In a report from, of all places, Yahoo! News, Google’s new Search Wiki is out and it gets personal. No not like that but it actually sounds like 2 years of yammering about personalization of search may finally be more reality than hype.

The new service unveiled on Thursday by Google allows users to remove ‘bad’ results from future search queries.

For now, Google simply wants to make specific sets of results more useful to each individual that comes to its search engine, said Marissa Mayer, who oversees the company’s search products. Users will have to have a personal login to take advantage of the editing feature.

“It should make the search results more dynamic,” she said.

Sounds like an understatement to me. The idea of being able to ‘vote a bad result’ off a SERP is pretty interesting especially to search marketing types. For years and years the pundits of search marketing have hammered the ‘content is king’ mantra into our heads. This year’s PubCon audience heard much the same from panel after panel. Well, now with the start of a program that can allow searchers to say that a site doesn’t meet their needs, which will be almost solely content driven due to user experience (not necessarily on how many links a site has garnered) then this could be a bit of a game changer. The idea for the users of this service is to get their attention then keep it when they insure your page shows up for that search each time. Traditional search is more of a ‘catch and release’ mentality while this means that searchers can hold on to their results.

The system allows users who are logged in (that is obviously a huge factor in how deep the adoption rate of this service goes) to in effect vote whether a result should show up higher or not at all next time the same search is done. Now, my big question is that if someone is saying ‘I want the same results set for each SERP for a particular key phrase’ are they truly searching or just bookmarking the site? One of the things that makes search so important for any user is the ability for Google or any other engine to introduce new ideas to its users. This type of service can either be viewed as a great result for a searcher or a limitation on introducing new and better options to the user.

So what’s your take? Is this change something that falls into the good, bad or indifferent category? What could its impact be for search engine optimizers?

  • Although I’ve yet to test the program, I see a tremendous amount of abuse here, especially with the competitiveness of getting a better position in the top 10.

  • Google been using Social bookmarking for years to influence search results. But its value is only a very small percentage of the search algorithm.

    Another bookmarking site? How many users will actually spend time to vote a site up or down. Voting a site up or down is not new for Google. If I remember correctly you can do it in your Google tool bar already!

    So besides this being a personal search experience, there is nothing else to it. a user does not like site X for a certain search phrase, they will exclude it from their Google search result for that phrase. Will the personal algorithm be a self learning – intelligent? For example if a user vote a site down for term Z will related terms will also apply?

    Is this truly the beginning of semantic search?

    Looking forward to seeing how this works. Please tell us more!

  • You make an interesting observation Frank. We call it “Search” for a reason and it’s mostly about discovery. What value does this add if users start customizing all their search results and are no longer introduced to new web content?

  • Joh Fleischmann

    This holds out promise, I imagine it as part of blended results, perhaps under a ‘popular’ section of the serps.

  • BB

    Fantastic !!! Now I can vote off all of my clients’ competitors leaving my guys as No.1 on Google (I’m an SEO geek).

    Sadly, I have now realised that I can only vote them off on my PC and not worldwide. The question I must ask is – “how many times a day. month or even a year does anyone perform the exact same search”

  • Great point Frank and Andy. If they anywhere near an avid searcher their results can quickly get crammed with “searching bookmarks” so to speak.

    Talk about making the space for new textual content smaller in addition to the space being taken up by Universal search.

    Jaan Kanellis’s last blog post..Google Publicly Attacking Paid Links Again?Stop Already

  • Yeah I agree with Andy, search is all about discovery, customisation may occasionally be useful but I’d rather it didn’t take over

  • I really don’t see this as being that big of a deal. How much time are we willing to spend voting up or down sites as it is? Honestly, I’m usually in a hurry and don’t have too much time for that.

  • I am not sure that I have the time or the inclination to search in this way. It really is just another form of bookmarking. Haven’t tested it yet, though. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

  • OK, if as a user I like to filter few sites & want google to give me same set of sites next time when I search, but what if mean while some other set of sites offer something better than what I selected?
    I think this feature is Webmaster friendly with 50-50 ratio.

  • GPS

    What they call “personalization” is starting to get scary/weird (maybe just scary weird). The first time I voted for a website, I felt weird and quickly signed out of my account.

    5 minutes later, I signed back in and ‘removed’ Google from the “google” search listings. Sorry if you guys/gals don’t find google tomorrow……

    Wait, they only shoved it to the bottom of the first page! Dang, I’ll take the final listing on the first page for all my websites!

  • Does this really matter? How many users have, will or ever know what a Google account is? I can ask all my friends and family what it is and they will all say…huh?

    Jaan Kanellis’s last blog post..Google Publicly Attacking Paid Links Again?Stop Already

  • Pingback: WebMetricsGuru » I’m liking the Google Search Wiki though some others, don’t()

  • Hmmm, seems a lot like bookmarking to me. If Google however tracks this data more surreptitiously, without you needing to lift a finger to click or tick any boxes, tailoring your search results to your individual online behaviour, they are on to a good thing. I believe this is going to ultimately be the case, as they are already masters at tracking one’s online behaviour.

  • I was really excited when I realized I could move things up, and delete entries. I was feeling so powerful, and then (my own ignorance), I went over to my other computer and realized entries were just the same there. I hadn’t changed the world’s view…just my own.
    I write a lot of articles and books, so at first I thought it would really help me to find items in my searches easier. Then Voila! I realized that I have happened across hundreds of great tidbits when I wasn’t looking for them.
    So goodby power. I’m sure this is good for something, but haven’t figured out what…yet!

  • In what way is it different from the Bookmarks facility on any decent browser?

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..The Best Recipe Sites

  • PS3

    The consensus here, which I totally agree with, is that this wont actually add a great deal more to what we already have in the from of bookmarks and favourites.

  • Pingback: Google Search Wiki: Digg Type Feature That Promotes Stories You Like()

  • Pingback: I’m liking the Google Search Wiki though some others, don’t | Web Analytics Blog | Web analytics()