Google’s efforts to introduce social elements into its search results seem to be gathering steam, and their latest test is “voting buttons” in their organic web results (SERPs).
According to the Google Experimental page for the new vote functionality:
“This experiment lets you influence your search experience by adding, moving, and removing search results. When you search for the same keywords again, you’ll continue to see those changes. If you later want to revert your changes, you can undo any modifications you’ve made. Note that this is an experimental feature and may be available for only a few weeks.”
Users are provided with three key functions under this latest social search experiment by Google:
1. Positive Votes
By giving a search result a positive vote, the listing will be moved to the top of the results for that particular keyword search and will be denoted with an orange marker for future reference.
2. Negative Votes
By giving a search result a negative vote, the listing will be removed from the results page and won’t be displayed again should you repeat the search in the future.
3. Web Page Recommendations
At the bottom of the results page, Google allows you to recommend a web page that you think is relevant for that particular search term. Should you repeat the search again, that listing will appear at the top of the results.
It’s important to note that at this stage the impact of the voting is purely for a users personalized experience, so one user’s votes wont impact another searcher’s experience.
It does set out more of a challenge for website owners, as with users controlling their search results, it’s more important than ever to balance your SEO strategy with search usability. This means that site owners need to ensure their listings appeal the searchers as well as the search engine spiders.
While Google has made no claims that this vote based system will impact its ranking algorithm, it is the sort of social mechanism that could provide a valuable user element to the rank process – assuming they can prevent it from falling victim to spammers and black hat SEO’ers.
To test out this latest Google Search experiment, visit the Google Experimental section of Google Labs.