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Google turns on the SearchWiki

By Barry Collins

Posted on 21 Nov 2008 at 08:20

Google has launched a new service that allows users to tailor their own search results.

Dubbed SearchWiki, the feature allows anyone searching whilst signed into their Google account to modify the search results page.

Search results can be bumped up the rankings, so that when you next search for the exact same term, your chosen page appears at the top of the page. Sites can also be added to the top of the rankings, if you find a site that best suits your search terms.

Similarly, results can be extinguished from the list if users feel they are worthless or irrelevant.

Google claims that any changes a user makes will only affect their results, and not those of fellow surfers. Although it's difficult to believe that some of the feedback generated from the SearchWiki won't be used to fine tune the Google search algorithm.

The one SearchWiki service that is shared with other Google users is comments. Users can click the little speech bubble that appears alongside search results to make a comment about a website, which could be shown to other people searching for the same terms.

"We've always said that the best search engine is the one that understands what the individual user wants," claims Juergen Galler, director of product management at Google.

"SearchWiki really puts that in action: this is an even deeper level of customisation than we've offered before, because people know best what search results they're looking for."

Google has been testing the SearchWiki in a closed beta since the summer, but the service is now available to all Google account holders.

Cynics might suggest it's another way to encourage people to log-in whilst performing searches, providing Google with a richer set of data that can be mapped to specific user accounts.

Google isn't the first company to bring a Wiki-style approach to search. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales launched his Wikia Search service earlier this year which, unlike Google, allows users to have a direct influence on the search results other visitors see.

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