Why You Should Be Worried About Google Search Wiki

I’ve been beating the drum about why personaized search and google’s search wiki are bad since their rollout. Even though I understand why google does it, and get that why they push it’s adoption. But I still think it’s a bad idea, and late last week I saw an example of why it’s bad and dangerous, and why it’s something all marketers need to understand.In early January Google pushed out a fairly significant change that seems to have favored big brands, and Aaron Wall spoke about it. While some people tried to derail the conversation into another pointless blackhat, whitehat, hacking debate, the search community luckily found it’s way out of the rabbit hole and discussions got back on track. Danny Sullivan tweeted he was looking at the SERP for [cars] which activated an old test I had done when search wiki first launched, making Matt Cutts #1 for the keyword cars. (screen shot below)

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I’ll highlight the important parts (click to enlarge)

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When search wiki first launched I wanted to find a website that I knew was going to get lots of up-votes, so Matt was a perfect test subject. I wanted to tag him for something he wasn’t relevant for so anything automotive was a good choice. I wanted a nice big fat “head term” to see how much influence search wiki would have, a few months later we have the answer.

Now before you fly off the handle, the only person who is seeing Matt #1 for cars is me, so it’s a bit like playing with the color on your TV and then blaming the network cause everyone looks a little green. However we need to understand the larger implications of this and a few key points:

  • The programming exists to inject search wiki into the algorithm, right now it may only exist on a per user level, but I bet the programming stubs exist to take it to everyone.
  • Google is ignoring the PWS=0 parameter for search wiki, there is no way to turn it off.
  • While greasemonkey, and stylish scripts emerged to not display search wiki, and SE reps suggested using them if we wanted to “turn it off”, that’s really not an effective solution, at best we are hiding from reality.
  • As was discovered at SMX West Google is willing to change your SERPS sometimes in SIGNIFICANT WAYS and not tell you about it.

As a marketer it really has become an imperative that you understand and start to interact with search wiki. If you think this is never going to have some input into the algo and rankings, you’re not looking at the handwriting on the wall. It’s coming whether you like it or not.

Lastly Google can you just give us an off switch that WORKS already … really is it that freakin hard?

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