The core of Google is its search product. The success of it has fuelled the company’s AdWords and AdSense business which is where Google makes most of its money. Google has always understood this, and it has continued to stay focused on innovating its core search product to fend off competition and remain the market share leader in search.
To date, Google has focused on using technology to dictate its search results. Google has used a complex algorithm to rank web pages in its massive index for a given keyword. When a bug was found in the search results, Google tried to address the issue technically by fixing the algorithm as opposed to having a human fix the issue manually.
However, as social networking has allowed internet users to take over the web, Google is starting to rely more heavily on user feedback when ranking a given webpage.
Last month, Google launched “plus 1” to let users recommend a given search result to the their social circle. If this product were to get mainstream adoption, the data Google compiles could be factored into its search engine results. While “plus 1” initially allows users to tell their friends which search results are the best, eventually “plus 1” could help to notify Google which search results are most favoured.
Another example of user input being factored in came directly from something Google mentioned. Google has recently said that they used outside testers to help it determine which websites users determined to be low quality. The testers were asked questions like “Would you be comfortable giving this site your credit card?” and “Would you be comfortable giving medicine prescribed by this site to your kids?” This data compiled by third party testers could help Google to figure out which websites it should devalue in its algorithm.
A third example of Google valuing user feedback has came from its new extension in Google chrome. The extension allows Chrome users to easily block sites from Google’s search results. If a user doesn’t want a given site showing up when they search Google – Google Chrome makes it easy for the user to control this. This Chrome extension also allows Google to see which sites are being blocked the most by users and Google can then bake this data into its algorithm. When many users block a given site in Chrome, the blocked sites are at risk for having their Google rankings decline.
In terms of the Chrome extension, one thing Google should consider is how it plans on controlling “site blocking” spam. Meaning, if a webmaster figures out a way to have hundreds or even thousands of people block a competitors site in Chrome, how is Google going to recognise this so that the impacted site is not unfairly devalued in the Google algorithm.
At the end of the day, each of these examples demonstrate that Google is looking to internet users to help it improve and clean up its search results. Historically, Google always looked to its pagerank technology which scored sites based on how many other high quality sites were linking to them. And while pagerank will continue to play a major roll in Google’s search engine results algorithm, Google will be innovating and improving its core product and the users will help Google to do this.