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Google’s New SearchWiki and How It Affects SEO

November 24th, 2008 | | Nuts & Bolts of Optimization, SEO Management

On Friday, Google rolled out new features to their ever popular search engine and they’re being dubbed as the biggest change to Google search in a year.  The new features, which allow user’s to personalize their search results, are called, SearchWiki, and are available only to people who have a Google account.

From a user’s perspective, the cool features are the ability to change, rearrange and comment on search results.  Never before have users been able to rearrange the order of search results.  So, if there’s a site you visit regularly, and you search for it rather than accessing it via a bookmark or its URL, but it appears 4th in search results, you can now move it to the top of that list!  You can also completely delete websites from appearing in search results, kind of a scary thought for all of us doing SEO on a daily basis, isn’t it?

SearchWiki users will see two icons beside each search result that can move the site up or down in results or remove it all together.  If the user wants a different website to appear in search results, just scroll to the bottom of the search results page, click the “Add A Result” link and type in the URL of the site you want to add.

There are 2 additional links at the bottom of the search results page, one labeled “See All Notes for this SearchWiki” and the other, “See All My SearchWiki Notes.”  The first will show users how other people have customized their search results and the second, See All My SearchWiki Notes,” displays all of the changes and comments you’ve made for that search and allows you to delete what you want or revert back to the original Google search results.

It’s important to note, the changes you make to your search results are customized to you and don’t affect the overall search results Google normally returns.  At least for now.

These changes are very exciting for users, but for those of us in SEO, we have to wonder, how will SearchWiki affect our work?

For websites to be affected at all, they must appear in results, right?  So you’ll still need to get your website ranking for a user to determine whether they want it in their results.  Traditional SEO tactics, as we know them today, will still apply.  Your title and meta descriptions will need to be as focused and keyword driven as ever before. For a user to decide whether he likes your site, surely he’ll visit it before he arbitrarily chooses to delete it from his search results.

SearchWiki could actually help website traffic and sales because you’ll see a more qualified lead coming into your site as they fine-tune their results and “allow” you to still appear in them!

Here’s something that we all are probably wondering:  If a site is moved through SearchWiki to the top of the page consistently by users over a specific period of time, will Google weigh the customizable results more heavily and move the website in up organically in rankings?   I guess only time will tell!

So tell me what you think?  Is SearchWiki a cool thing for users but not so cool for SEO firms?  Or will it end up actually helping us if Google creates specialized reporting specific to SearchWiki standings, comments, etc.?

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