The changes allowed searchers to move search results up in rankings that they see when searching for specific queries, suggest new pages for searches for queries, leave notes on pages that show up in search results, remove results from search result listings, and see notes on search results that others have left.
If you regularly log into Google to search or access Google’s Gmail and you stay logged in to your Google Account while you search and select pages and browse other pages on the Web, chances are that you’ll see search results personalized for you by Google based upon those pages that you’ve selected from search results, pages that you’ve browsed, and pages that you’ve bookmarked.
Using Searchwiki means that you can personalize your search results even more, for specific queries, making it easier for you to refind pages that you’ve found before, or include pages in a specific search result that you want to return to on a regular basis. You can also remove pages that you don’t want to see in those search results.
If you leave notes on specific pages, others may be able to see those and take advantage of them as well. According to one Google Help page which explains the features of Searchwiki, other searchers shouldn’t be able to see your page that summarizes the all of the rankings, deletions, and notes that you’ve made.
A patent application from Google was published last week which appears to describe one aspect of Google’s Searchwiki, the ability to add additional search results to the results that you see in response to a particular query, though it adds a collaborative aspect that isn’t presently part of Google’s Searchwiki (and may never be), that allows you to let others see the pages you add:
US Patent Application 20090094224
Published April 9, 2009
Collaborative Search Results
Invented by Douglas J. Ricket, Evan H. Parker, Marcin K. Wichary, and Kenson W. Yee
Assigned to Google
Filed October 5, 2007
Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer program products, for providing alternative search results for a query.
In one aspect, a method includes transmitting a set of one or more search results for a query to a client device for presentation to a user, where each search result refers to a respective resource, receiving from the client device an alternative search result submitted by the user for the query, associating the alternative search result with the query, and storing in a repository the query and the alternative search result, where the alternative search result is transmitted with the set of one or more search results for a new search of the query.
Under this system, people could see notes or comments on search results that others have added or commented upon, and vote for or against those comments.
This patent filing doesn’t fully describe all aspects of the Searchwiki system, but it may describe some future possibilities under the searchwiki system.
The announcement about Google’s Searchwiki on the Official Google Blog tells us that when we make changes in our search results, those changes won’t be seen by other searchers.
It’s possible that Google might never add the ability to share share results that were added by other searchers within Searchwiki, but the patent filing provides some examples of how they might be shared, such as allowing sharing of search results amongst people who work together within the same intranet system, where people who do share the same network might be able to see results that were added by others within that local network. Search results might also be visible to other groupings of searchers. Here’s one from a number of sections within the patent on how pages that one user adds to their search results might be presented to other searchers”
In some implementations, the set of alternative search results for a query returned for a particular user may depend on one or more parameters, e.g., the language of the search system interface used by the user, the location of the user, or the membership of the user in a particular group.
In some implementations, a user submitting an alternative search result can specify the subpopulation of users for which the alternative search result will be available.
For example, if the user is providing an alternative search result that refers to a resource that is of interest to a particular department (e.g., engineering, marketing, or legal) or user group, the user can specify that the alternative search result will only be returned for users in the particular group, e.g., by selecting a checkbox included in the user interface 4050 for the particular group.
In other implementations, the subpopulation of users for which an alternative search result will be available can be automatically limited. For example, alternative search results submitted in German could be available only to users located in Germany or only to users who use a search system interface presented in German.
In some implementations, a user submitting a query can specify one or more parameters that affect the set of alternative search results returned for the query. For example, if the user is submitting the query in French but is fluent in German, the user can specify or request that the user receives alternative search results for German users.
Some requests can be rejected by a system administrator or automatically denied by the search system, for example, if the user is not authorized to receive the requested alternative search results (e.g., alternative search results restricted to managers only).
It also tells us that pages that are added to search results for a particular query might also be added to results for synonyms for that query, or to other queries which share one or more search terms with the original query.
Another aspect of the Searchwiki system is the ability for searchers to remove specific results from the search results that they see for specific queries. I described a patent filing from Google that describes how that might be done in February, 2007, in the post Google on Letting Searchers Remove Pages from the Web.
I can see using Searchwiki to help me research specific topics, and collect helpful resources, leave notes on them, and remove results that I don’t find useful or interesting or helpful for queries related to those topics.
It’s possible that Google might explore data about how people use Searchwiki to learn more about searchers, and more about the pages that show up for specific search queries. Again, Google told us in the Searchwiki announcement and help page that adding pages, or moving them up or removing won’t affect the search results that other searchers see.
It is possible that Google might someday add a feature like Searchwiki to their enterprise search system at some point in the future, to allow searchers to share search results and notes about those amongst users of their enterprise search.
If you haven’t explored Google’s Searchwiki, you might find it worth a look. You may find that it helps make your personal search experience a better one.