For a while now Google users with accounts have been able to
see personalised search results which can be commented on, promoted or removed
from the search results, now Sidewiki allows those users to make comments
alongside web pages, which can then be viewed by others even if they do not
have a Google account.
The tool is available to users via a toolbar download which
can be installed on IE or Firefox browsers.
To view the comments made by users view the webpage in your browser and
click the sidewiki button in the toolbar and hey presto the comments appear on
the left hand side of your browser.
Commenting facilities are not a new idea, a few other
services are out there but with the massive user base Google has, it could
become a very popular tool in making the web a more collaborative collective of
users without the need for those users to join a multitude of forums or
register on sites at all.
Immediate concerns include the lack of moderation of
comments, the opportunities for abuse & spamming and the legality of
comments made, particularly as the display of comments is not restricted to
those signed into Google accounts. The official blog has a “do no evil” tone
but we all know that not every web surfer out there lives by Google morals.
Google claim the comment results will not display the most
recent comment but the most relevant, high quality comments. The algorithm for this takes into account
feedback from users, an authors previous entries and a few more signals which
are yet to be disclosed, which makes us question how they are monitoring an
individuals activity across the web.
I can see this is necessary as we would not want to see
defamatory or spammy comments displayed alongside your site but how do they
judge a good quality commenter? Feedback
from users (positive and negative votes
for your comment) will be a key part of how the Google algorithm makes these
decisions. Your profile rank (or personal Pagerank score) will help get your
comments listed along with how long you have had a Google profile and how long
you have been commenting.
Why is this development of interest to those specialising in
SEO? New tools like this give us hints about the signals being used in new
search algorithms, which may currently be in use or rolled out in future
updates. One of these signals being the
language sophistication signal, which can determine poor quality comments by
the language used within it.
Another point of
interest is the way in which a variety of content from different sources can
all be linked with a web page due to the content on page and the comments being
left in Sidewiki, and if a page has no comments then blogs associated with the url
will be displayed instead.
This will no doubt be something to keep an eye on over the
next few months, particularly if you’re interested in SEO and reputation
management, how popular it will prove to be among the general public remains to