Social Search at Scale? – Wikipedia Joins the Fray

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It’s a pleasure to straddle the marketing and industry circles – I’ve spoken at length to creators of social search engines as well as search marketers adjusting to the new social influence on where traffic comes from.

That’s why news of Wikipedia’s new social search engine is so exciting to me – I recognize on one hand that Wikipedia has the userbase to make their human-edited SERPs grow to scale and give the burgeoning social search field some more much-needed education. On the other hand it’s gotten a decent stir amongst search marketers and – I hope – has gotten them thinking about how they can use social search in their marketing efforts.

So here’s the news:

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced the creation of Wikiasari – the name of the wiki/search software – for Q1. He did not indicate what search engine they’ll be building on top of, but in essence it sounds like he’s enabling users to augment search results and say whether given results are or are not relevant to a given search term.

It’s pretty straight forward social search, and coming from anyone else I wouldn’t be impressed at all (side note – I have a strong sense that we’ll see some social search from Ask before long…). It lacks the elaborate software of PreFound and has no identifiable niche. Because Wikipedia already attracts people willing to create great content we should see it fairly rapidly grow to viable scale.

Calling it a Google killer is ridiculous of course, but it’s certainly an exciting direction. Schwartz points to a Tabke discussion that’s on point and indicates the ongoing struggle social search will face as it grows and offers an all new platform to spammers:

If you have 1000 people making editorial decisions at the rate of 3-4 pages a minute for 400 minutes a day = 1600 pages per person per day – or about 1.5 million pages per day. If you have 5000 people doing that – you have about 7.5million pages per day, or about 150million pages per month.Strangely enough, I have heard the figure 150 million pages used in reference to the bulk of the long tail in the top two search engines. Meaning that the top 150million pages on the web comprise 95-98% of the search engine listings popping up in search engines on any given day.

That said, I would rather have machine based results. Humans are easy to manipulate (Ever hear of Dmoz? lol).

If you’re a Search Marketing Standard subscriber you know my thoughts on marketing in social search engines. None of them involve outright spamming of course – all of my tactics there involve the strategic encouragement of participation.

If you’d like to learn more about Wikiasari visit Wikiasari Mania – The Facts, The Myths & Hysteria! which catalogs all the major stories. For a refreshing dose of cynicism (or reality depending on your tendencies ;) check out Greg Boser’s Google Killer. Finally, check out SER’s post which includes thoughts from Brett Tabke.

And if you’d like a gauge of the quality of some question and answer engines – which I include in the social search category – I suggest you read Question & Answer Search Engines Ranked.

About the Author

Garrett French educates SEO and PR teams on content and engagement-based link building strategies that drive targeted referral traffic and deliver SERP domination. Learn more about him and his services at CitationLabs.com.

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