He suspects Google wants to use SearchWiki, in which users edit, reorder, remove and comment on search results, to gather more data from our searches in the long run. I suspect he is right; we all believe Google is keen on harvesting data about us. But after using the service for a few hours, I have another suspicion.
Consider Google’s publicly stated mission with SearchWiki: “With just a single click you can move the results you like to the top or add a new site. You can also write notes attached to a particular site and remove results that you don’t feel belong.”
Why would we want to do this? Well, ideally it will make it easier for us to find the results that best suit our needs. It is an exercise that lets us tailor the search results, but to what end?
To keep us in Google more, of course, so that when we want to find info on that pizza shop in New York we stumbled upon on Google previously, we can move it to the top of the list for the “pizza in New York query” we did two weeks before to find it. Google Operating System’s Alex Chitu sums it up nicely:
“SearchWiki’s main idea is to give users the opportunity to manually customize the search results and make them more predictable. Since many people repeat common searches like [mail], [weather], [news] and Google’s results are constantly changing, it’s nice to pick your favorite results and display them at the top.“
In essence, Google is letting us create bookmarks within Google, so that instead of going to bookmarks in our Web browsers to find Web sites and other destinations, we can just go to Google and find what we need with some consistency. SearchWiki, simply, helps us filter out the noise rampant in Google and other search engines.
This will be quite self-empowering to some people, who will no doubt love the fact that they can control what they need to find on search results pages, and comment on results to help other people.
That’s Google’s genius stroke; we believe SearchWiki is letting us control our search destiny, but Google gets to keep putting up more search ads in front of us. Google wants us to find what we’re looking for, and now it has provided a way to keep us in Google.com to do so.
Unless the mass majority of users feel trapped like Arrington does and rebel, SearchWiki is a great tactic by a great search strategist. Advertisers will grow to love it and keep signing up for AdWords and AdSense. Theoretically, we all win, but Google profits above all.