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How SearchWiki Affects Your Site’s Relevance

What is Google thinking with its new SearchWiki product?

Google launched SearchWiki on November 11th, stirring considerable controversy.   There have been complaints over the inability to opt out of SearchWiki and the appearance of the product and concerns over privacy and what influence random strangers may have over search results.

With SearchWiki, Google has delivered a perplexing user experience. How do you know whether a search result was relevant or not before visiting the site? While the ability to remove search results makes sense when a user is looking for information, what incentive do users have to go back to their search results and vote up or comment on a search result after they’ve found the site they want?
SearchWiki seems to be meant for people that, instead of bookmarking pages, search for websites that they have previously visited. When they recognize the relevant search result that they previously found, they can vote it up in the search results and comment on it.

Search Results with SearchWikiWhat is the purpose of showing how other people have voted on a search result and their comments after you have voted and commented? By setting it up this way, Google doesn’t bias your own decision, but does Google provide the information after you have voted simply as a point of interest? Or to get you to possibly reconsider your decision?

The best answer I can think of is that this simply isn’t done yet. Google’s SearchWiki must be on the path to something else. Perhaps the features of this product will grow. Perhaps they’re collecting data to fine tune their algorithms.

This does reinforce my thought that actually making a useful site is the long term strategy for success at SEO. I don’t doubt that Google wants to learn as much as it can about the way people determine relevance and incorporate that information into its own techniques. Even though what you do with SearchWiki doesn’t affect the results of others, Google would not just waste these data it is gathering.

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