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Google Sidewiki: If You Have a Web Site Read This

A new tool from Google just made controlling your brand online a little bit more challenging. Released on September 23,1 this toolbar-based plug-in allows you to add your own notes to any Web page – yours – mine – and anyone elses. In other words, “every page on your site now comes with a publicly accessible discussion board that cannot be moderated.”

I just tried it out for the first time and it’s simple to use. Basically, once you’ve added the plug-in, you go to a webpage and click on the Sidewiki icon; a sidebar will pop up alongside the webpage and you’ll see all the comments people have made. This means, every webpage is now social. So, even if you’ve been resisting the social marketing revolution, you’re in it now anyway. The question is – is that good or bad? Well, you’ll have to decide for yourself…

Is Google Sidewiki good or bad?

1. Sidewiki and Brand Management

From what I can tell the important thing right now is to be aware of this little gadget as far as managing your brand’s reputation. Of course, if you’re great and you always get glowing comments then this could work to your benefit. At the very least you could add this plug-in to your repertoire and keep track of what people are saying on your pages. The good news is that very few consumers are aware of this, so most pages have no comments yet – you can keep track from the ground up. Supposedly, Google has built in some controls – an algorithm that “determines which comments are more relevant and move them to the top of the sidebar.”1 “Sidewiki — and other social networking platforms and, indeed, social media in general — makes it clear that brands are now collaborations.”1

2. Sidewiki and SEO

It doesn’t seem that Sidewiki is likely to affect the rankings of the page that it’s associated with,3 however “Individual Google Sidewiki comment ‘pages’ can gain search engine rankings of their very own.”1 Holy Tamale, Batman! This means that it is possible for a sidewiki page attached to your homepage to eventually outrank your home page.

3. Sidewiki Social Features

You can vote on a comments usefulness and conversely, report abuse such as spam.1 The official Google learn more page suggests using Sidewiki for things such as “Helpful tips,” “Background Information,” and “Added perspective on new technology.” At its best I can see how this could be incredibly helpful – reviews and Wikipedia-like information right alongside the page. So, Google’s “help and learn from others”4 sounds good on “paper” but like many things Web-wise, the potential for abuse exists.

Take a look at it, try it out and let us know what you think – and please post useful resources as this is new to all of us.

Resources

  1. What Google’s Sidewiki Means to Marketers
  2. Google sidewiki
  3. Google Sidewiki and SEO — Relevant to Each Other?
  4. Help and Learn from others as you Browse the Web
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21 thoughts on “Google Sidewiki: If You Have a Web Site Read This

  1. I just tried it out and re-posted a comment to my website from an email I got from a customer however i don’t see the comment anywhere.
    I wonder where it will show up?
    Thanks

  2. This seems like I’m being violated, I’ve spent money creating a site and now your telling me any yankey doodle dandy can post on my site….that’s has to illegal…

  3. This idea is rude, imposing on carefully designed website, and must be eliminated. Any nut with time on their hands can create havoc on legitimate websites. It is like turning Rush Limbaugh loose with a paint brush. If Google doesn’t remove it, it is time to remove Google.

  4. Wow. What an absurd idea. Letting people post comments on anybody’s site? I may not have all the information about this new feature but it seems to me that if I have a blog where people can post comments which I can moderate I most certainly should be able to moderate any comments directed towards my site. My site is mine NOT Googles. There are a lot of nice people with constructive comments out there but again there are a just as many nasty spiteful ones which could do serous damage to a company. This option should be voluntary like the google analytics code you paste into the html. Talk about Big Brother. I don’t want google messing around in my business without the definitive say. You want to post comments? Add a guest book, or a chat page…

  5. This is horrible! Can it even be legal? If you can’t even moderate the comments then the website is at the mercy to spammers, pranksters, malcontents, as well as satisfied users. This is tantamount to letting anyone modify your website and the owner can’t correct it… INTERNET GRAFFITI! Don’t be surprised if a lawsuit arises from this. Hopefully Google, or someone, will devise a method to “opt out” of this and prevent pages from being commented on.

  6. We have been attacked on Yelp by another BBQ joint in our community. It was ovious on Yelp because we get so many great reviews, but on my website? Thant is no place for gossip.

  7. Mr. Puggle, LOL on the bathroom wall analogy.

    A social web is a great place. A negative and vindictive web will kill the experience for all. If you try and pull that in Twitter, society pulls away from you. If Google thinks this will be their social entry in the Web 2.0 world, they don’t have the “authority” concept covered (E.g. followers) and their web pages could quickly turn to trash. If you think about their favoritism of sites like The RipOff Report, one could argue Google’s home page has already ventured down the trash route.

    I’ll stick with Twitter for my social feedback as I really respect those whom I’ve chosen to follow.

  8. I can’t say I disagree with any of your comments. My first response was exactly the same. My second was as a marketer, how can we use sidewiki to our advantage? My understanding is google has a ranking system on which comments are more “valid” and as a sidewiki user you get to rank comments.

    If you want a lot more details here are some more great articles :
    From search engine land:
    “Google Sidewiki Allows Anyone to Comment About Any Site”
    by Danny Sullivan
    http://searchengineland.com/google-sidewiki-allows-anyone-to-comment-about-any-site-26420

    From TechCrunch “Google Steps Where Many Have Stumbled:Sidewiki
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/09/23/google-steps-where-many-have-stumbled-sidewiki/

  9. I placed what I believed to be a sensitive, yet pointed comment on a particular website last week using Sidewiki, but found my comment eliminated a few days later. (Good news for you who fear Sidewiki)

    I presume it was eliminated either by website re-publishing –that should do it– or by Google receiving a complaint as to content relevance, eventhough it was, I assure you, softly written and non-offensive in nature.

    Although eliminated, my objective was accomplished in that I was able to communicate accurate information to the false publishings of the particular site whether they choose to heed them or not. Of course, I could have also done this privately through email, I guess.

    This Sidewiki-instrument, like a gun, can be a good or bad thing depending on whose hands it is put into. And, evidently, it can also be neutralized with ease… maybe simply by hitting a site’s re-publish button.

    Rev. Dr. Richard Russell

  10. I think some people may be misunderstanding the effect of this plugin. It won’t allow anyone to modify content on a web site itself, it will only allow users of Sidewiki to make comments that will be visible to other users within that interface. I can see how there’s potential for abuse by vindictive or dishonest individuals; but I think that as Sidewiki grows, its usefulness and popularity will become apparent, and irrelevant or unhelpful content will determine how much weight comments will carry to its users.

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