Google SearchWiki allows you to customize search results
Have you ever typed a simple search query and then ended in a webpage whose short description seemed pretty relevant in the top of the search engine results, but which was in fact full of useless content? We have all gone through this. And now, this is coming to an end.
Wouldn't be great to have a search engine which adapted itself to your preferences? This is what Google has finally launched as Google Search Wiki: a major update of their search engine that allows users to select their favourite search results and take a look at how other users are customizing their searches.
2 innocent Google buttons that will change search forever
Starting to use Google SearchWiki is as simple as logging to an existing Google Account. The next time you perform a search in Google, you will see 2 new buttons near each specific search result:
- Promote button: moves the search result to the top of the 1st page.
- Delete button: removes the search result from the list.
A single click gives you the power to customize your search engine results, so Google will work better for you.
Do you hate these websites that seem to have the answer to your question and then lead you to a payment details page? Now you can remove such useless results forever.
On the other hand, this is the way to keep those useful but hard-to-find webpages with tons of interesting contents. Once you found something useful, you can promote it to make it easier to find again (without cluttering your browser dependent favourites list).
Will the SearchWiki Google update have some real impact?
It isn't the first time that someone tries to create customized and user community based search results. But it's the first time that the #1 search engine of the world starts doing this. So this time we are taking the largest user community and the most advanced search algorithms as an starting point.
Trust me: this searching wiki is going to be something serious. We are going to see a strong modification of the click through rate of most websites very soon with Google SearchWiki.
Nevertheless, it will take some time till this first version of the custom search results is fully established. Google will need to gather and process tons of new data from SearchWiki users. And the end users will have to get used to log into their Google accounts, reward the interesting search results, and remove the useless ones.
But, weren't many users already logged in while they checked their e-mails through Gmail, their documents through Google docs and so on? The array of free services provided by Google is so big that most users will start customizing their search results without even noticing.
Still we don't know if Google will use the data provided by millions of users who rewarded interesting search results to raise these popular websites to the top positions in Google's global search results.
SearchWiki algorithms cannot be directly applied to either unregistered users or completely new search queries. And I'm pretty sure that these two kind of searches are more than the 80% of current Google searches. That's why optimizing these general search results would still be very important for Google.
Chances are that Google will likely take into account the automated SearchWiki user's feedback to optimize and improve its search algorithms.
The main hint pointing in this direction is that Google Search Wiki displays meaningful messages such as "You are the first person to pick this result". SearchWiki even shows you global counts of "picks" and "deletions" registered for earch single search result.
All these ideas remind a lot of some kind of search results popularity system, as social bookmarking sites like Digg are using to promote the most interesting news.
On the other hand, pages deleted by many users could be penalized and sunk to the bottom positions of the overall Google search results.
So this Google update could lead to a nice way to estimate the content quality of a random webpage, much more accurate that Microsoft's proposal of using bounce rate statistics to punish webpages in Windows Live Search results.
How can you measure the effects of this Google update?
You cannot measure the impact of this recent Google update by browsing search results, because you can only check your search engine results. Remember that each user will only see her own custom search result positions (SERPs) in SearchWiki as long as she is logged into her Google account.
Let's try to estimate what could happen to your current website statistics. Since we aren't sure about how Google may use gathered customization data to tweak global search results, we cannot predict whether your number of new visitors may decrease or increase. If you were capturing traffic without relevant content, your bounce rate would be high, and probably your new visitor traffic could decrease.
Now let's check those web metrics about user satisfaction and content quality. I bet that you will have more returning visitors and even higher conversion rates. Now your satisfied customers have an easier way to return to their favourite websites without being lost in the middle of a chaos of uninteresting search engine results.
Finally, take into account that many users won't return to the search engine results page to delete irrelevant results (unless they are opening many browser tabs). So the first pages that would be removed and filtered out are those ones with a description that seems unrelated to the search query from the user's point of view. You see? The importance of writing good titles and descriptions has just become even more critical.
Is Google Search Wiki the end of SEO?
You have to understand that SEO business shouldn't rely on either repeating the same keywords one hundred times or purchasing thousands of low quality inbound links. It has never worked this way, and now this is becoming an even bigger truth. If this was your idea of SEO, then you weren't a very good SEO at all, and your optimization skills won't be useful in this new search engine scenario.
It's a somehow funny fact that the one who is actually optimizing how the search engine works is not an SEO, but the end user. Maybe we should stop talking about SEO, and start talking of content optimization or even of developing effective communication solutions.
SEO is no longer a matter of cheating with technical details. Creating useful quality content that fulfills your user's needs is the key. Give your users what they need, so they will keep coming, they will trust you, and they will tell good things about you to the rest of the world.
At the end, only you can decide what is relevant for you. This change of Google algorithms through SearchWiki will benefit all users, as the final goal is to achieve relevant pages that meet each specific user's needs.