Google introduces SearchWiki; SEO heads explode
If you’re signed in to Google this morning and have performed a search, you’ve no doubt noticed that they’ve introduced interaction elements that allow you to move results up or down or suppress them from your display. Google is calling this feature SearchWiki. According to the Google Help Center article on SearchWiki, your modified results persist whenever you are signed in to Google and search for those same terms.
Naturally, this feature has implications for both search engine optimization and user experience. Having been on both sides of search: designing the search itself, and optimizing content for display in result sets, I can certainly see user advantages to this feature. Plenty of users have adopted the behavior of using Google as a launcher of sorts, so allowing those users to customize their search results for individual effectiveness entrenches Google even more firmly within those users’ web workflow. This is smart.
What I’ve always struggled with on the search design side, though, is that the more freedom users have to tailor their search experiences, the harder it becomes to present fresh relevant content to them. How Google will integrate new content into the personalized result set remains to be seen, but there must be allowance for it.
On the SEO side, optimizing content for display in search engine results has tended to be thought of in terms of anticipating the behavior of the algorithm first, and then trying to anticipate the behavior of the user. With this change, the user experience becomes more prominent, and the SEO must think harder about motivating the user not only to determine content relevant enough to click, but now the goal is to motivate the user to rank the content higher in a given result set. Ultimately, this bodes well for the user.
What are your thoughts on SearchWiki? Share them in the comments.