Recently Google has introduced a new feature in search: SearchWiki. This allows searchers to modify the search results they obtain and even add comments for future reference. This is how Google describes SearchWiki:
SearchWiki lets you customize your Google Web Search results by ranking, removing, and adding notes to them. You’ll see your changes whenever you do the same searches while signed in to your Google Account, or until you decide to undo them. You can also see how other users have tailored any given search results page with their own notes and changes.
Since as usual this feature is in Beta version, perhaps one should not be too critical. However I and others find the usability of this approach somewhat lacking, and the comments of other searchers are rarely useful. Allowing people to vote seems quite often to bring problems. Whether this is an approach that has a future would seem to be very questionable.
On the other hand an e-book that came out today seems to offer much more potential. Watching what people do rather than what they say can be much more instructive. We all leave electronic footprints wherever we go on the Internet. Google has all of this data from which it can better sense which web pages individuals find more relevant.
That is the basis of the e-book that David Leonhardt has brought out today. It is called Sticky-SEO and it is free. It does not take long to read and it is certainly very thought-provoking.
The book suggests that Google will be incorporating much more intensively the data it has on how people move through websites. If you immediately use the back button to get back to the search results, that presumably means the web page is not relevant to your needs. On the other hand if you stayed on that web page for quite a time then moved to other web pages within the website, the web page was probably highly relevant. The argument is certainly very persuasive.
Google is certainly capable of following this mechanism and it would be much more foolproof than the now discredited PageRank approach. Creating sticky websites seems to be a laudable aim for us all. Go read the book if you need more convincing.