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Google Personalizes Search with SearchWiki




November 20, 2008

By Brad Stone

 

Google is set on Thursday to significantly change the way some people use its search engine.

The company is introducing a new feature called Search Wiki that will allow people to modify and save their results for specific Google searches. They can move the sites that appear in rankings up or down, take them out altogether, leave notes next to specific sites and suggest new sites that are not already in the results (or are buried too far down in the results to see). Users must be logged in to Google to use Search Wiki and can revisit their annotations when they perform the same search later.

Screen shot of Google’s new Search Wiki feature.

The company is also making these annotations public, in a move that may either deter Google users from writing anything too personal on Search Wiki or encourage spammers to exploit the tool.

At the bottom of every Google search results page, logged-in Google users will see a link that says, “See all notes for this Search Wiki.” Clicking on it allow users to see how other people have re-ranked results or commented on sites. At least at first, there will not be any way to make these notes private, Google says, but users can change or delete their notes at any time.

Search Wiki may essentially allow users to rank and review the top sites for common searches— like “Indian restaurants in San Francisco,” for example. That could spur users to evaluate businesses and push Google into direct competition with review sites such as Yelp.com and CitySearch. Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search product and user experience, says that in internal tests, people’s notes in Search Wiki have tended to be more about the relevancy of the Web site to that particular search term.


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