Google Sidewiki: Have No Fear…Yet
This past week, Google introduced something called Google Sidewiki. Google Sidewiki is a new feature added to the Google Toolbar that allows anyone to leave comments about pages as they surf the web. To use Sidewiki, you have to get the latest version of the Google Toolbar for either Internet Explorer or Firefox (Google Chrome isn’t yet supported). Search Engine Land has a great tutorial on the in and outs on using the tool. The real question from marketers/web site owners is is should they worry? The short answer is no. Here are the reasons why:
1- This is a gadget for the web nerd. The average user will not install or care to install it, as it is no pushed to the toolbar, people need to upgrade themselves.
2- It’s a new gadget, so people are playing right now, but will it continue? Remember SearchWiki, Google Knol, Google Friend Connect, etc. They are basically another project that will have mediocre acceptance.
3- Assuming it does take off, Google is using algorithm to decide the trustworthiness of comments based on how long a profile has been active and how “authoritative” the source is. In that likeness, a drive by smaer is unlikely to get much credence.
4- As a verified owner of a site (through Google Webmaster tools) the first comment displayed–ahead of all others in the Sidewiki will be yours.
So as you see, there is no reason to fear Google Sidewiki. Truthfully, I think Google keeps missing the mark. It’s a new toy, that will fade into obscurity. To me, what would make Google successful in this sphere is for them to combine Sidewiki with the mothballed Google Notebook, and take the best of Delicious/ Evernote. If you can create comments for yourself about a page, choose to share them, and keep it in Google Toolbar to be accessed anywhere, that would be killer. Right now as Sidewiki stands, its a cute tool, but nothing to fear…yet.
So what is our advice? We recommend you stay clam. This is not a major crisis for you or your SEO/SEM goals. We think it makes sense to add Sidewiki to your Google Toolbar and keep an eye on the comments for your website. We recommend you use Google Webmaster tools, so you have the opportunity to respond to or place official comments on your web page. But for now, we feel you should wait. We don’t feel there will be a long term adoption of this tool that will affect small to medium websites.
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