While I am not the "typical" Internet user, I am also not alone. A Pew Internet Research study in August found that 49 percent of Internet users report that they use a search engine on a typical day. And with more than 60 percent of searches being conducted on Google, it makes sense that public relations professionals should think of Google as the homepage of the organizations that they represent.
Google also knows that some people want more power to personalize their searches, which is why they have branched into category searches (see image below) and it is why they have introduced Google SearchWiki.
This new function allows people to make comments on search results, rearrange their own search results and look at the comments that other have made on on a particular search results.
PUBLIC RELATIONS OPPORTUNITY
The new Google SearchWiki feature is obviously a good opportunity for public relations professionals.
First of all, I you should conduct key Google searches on your company and the issues that are important to you and add your comments to the sites that pop up on those pages. Since people can choose to see other people's comments on particular searches, it only makes sense that you get in your thoughts into the mix.
Caution: But just like Wikipedia, I would be careful to not be too promotional, be helpful instead and you will get more mileage.
PUBLIC RELATIONS DRAWBACKS
Detractors: Certainly I would add this to your monitoring of your brand since anyone, including detractors and competitors can leave comments about your brand.
Spam: One of the big problems I see with this new feature is the spam that is bound to occur. While you have to have to be logged into your Gmail account to use the functionality, it is pretty easy to get a throwaway Gmail account and then deface the Shared wiki results at will.
As I mentioned, you must have a GMail account to use this new tool, and I am not convinced that a mass of people (besides SEO types, marketers and spammers) will use this new tool.
Perhaps the "Critics" and "Collectors" that the Forrester Research Technographics surveys Groundswell tool say account for 37 and 19 percent of US Internet users, respectively, would be good candidates for using this tool.
You might not be able to see this new feature yet. According to PC World, the feature is still being rolled out and isn't available to everyone.
Take a look at the video about Google SearchWiki below and let me know what you think.