Google’s “Edit Search results” experiment

I Googled something a minute ago and noticed that my SERP looked a little different:

Google Edit search result links

In particular, check out those three grey icons. They appear next to every result on the page, but there isn’t any noticeable indication why they’re there. So I clicked one :)

Google search result edited

The link turned green, which was fun. But the most exciting thing was that it moved to the top of the page – with a nice, slick animation. Apparently Google is letting me customize the results of my search.

Edited Google SERP

So this icon moves the search result (and any indented results beneath it) to the top of the list.

The second icon has two modes: on an unedited result, it is an X. Clicking the X removes this link from my SERP.

Google Edit SERP - X marks the spot

On a modified result, it turns into a down arrow. Clicking this returns the result to its normal position in the page.

Google Edit SERP - demote post

The third button, at the bottom of each result, is a comment link. Clicking it opens a small comment box, lets me leave a comment.

Google Edit SERP

After poking around a bit I found a FAQ page about the feature. It’s mostly vague and a bit evasive, but it does have some solid information.

This feature allows you influence your search experience by adding, moving, and removing search results. When you search for the same keywords again while you are logged in to your Google account, you’ll continue to see those changes. If you later want to revert your changes, you can undo any modifications you’ve made.

Note: This is an experimental feature served to a random selection of participants and may be available for only a few weeks.

The FAQ page mentions a couple of settings links that I don’t see at this point: a way to opt out, and a way to revert all my changes. I imagine these will show up eventually…

There are, however, links to see my edits and edits made by anyone else for this particular SERP.

everyones edits

everyones edits page

Apparently I’m the only one messing with search results for “Justin Hileman” at this point.

There are two more interesting features. First, there’s a link at the bottom of every page where I can suggest additional results.

better result link

SERP edit preview

Additional results appear at the top of the SERP, just as if I had manually promoted the link from wherever it landed in the normal result pages.

Then, there’s a “profile”-like page that displays all of my edits, and apparently everyone else’s edits are searchable.

justin's edits

search everyone's edits

The commenting system is a bit simplistic at this point, but it does have interesting implications. According to the FAQ page, I might be the only one who ever sees my comments.

How will Google use my contributions?

We’ll use input from this experiment to provide websearch features such as the personalized results you see, and to decide whether features like this would be useful for other users in the future…. we may also show the comments and changes that you provided to other users…

This whole thing looks like an experiment into crowdsourced search results. The FAQ page says little, implying that changing my SERPs will tweak only my results, that this whole thing is most likely temporary, and possibly nobody else will know that I did it… But it also invokes the Google Privacy Policy, and says that changes I submit can be used by Google. Perhaps they’re working on a human supplemented PageRank of sorts? Digg style voting for search engine results?

Google claims that this is a limited test. They claim that it may only be around for a few weeks. But it would be interesting to see it stay for good, and to see how it evolves from here.

Spreading the 'Edit search results' love