Last week, Google announced the launch of Google Sidewiki, a tool that allows visitors to post comments in a sidebar on any website.
That’s right, even your site – a private site, a blog, or a public page from a government site – will display visitor comments in a side bar, provided users download and install the Google Toolbar with Sidewiki. (Also important to note, the tool is currently only available on Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers.
I have been a big fan of the Google toolbar for a few years now. It allows you to highlight your search terms, save bookmarks, search histories, browsing history, translate page languages, autofill forms and fields… and with the advent of the Sidewiki, will allow for commenting on every page on the web. Whether it will make things better or not remains to be seen.
Take a look at this video and get a feel for what Sidewiki can do.
I downloaded Sidewiki today and wasn’t really impressed with the results I found. There as many comments that added little or no value as there were valuable ones. It made me wonder – who is going to moderate these comments once spammers took of the tool and spread their garbage across the web?
The answer? The users. There is a rating system, that allows other Sidewiki users to see the full comment, then click whether “This post was useful or not”, which, ironically, I did find useful. With enough contribution from the public at large, this feature should help weed out the useful comments from spam.
There has been speculation that the Sidewiki was only introduced to help the Google bots with page ranking. There could be serious implications for search engine optimization through the use of the Sidewiki – or maybe not.
Regardless, there are a few implications for your company. You’re probably aware that you should be doing monitoring of your brand online, but now you’ll also to have to be mindful that there could be comments on your site at any given time.
So how can you best use this tool?
Be proactive. Be the first to comment on your own site. This may be a good opportunity to capitalize on the SEO of your site. Add tips and key phrases so that your page is more relevant and searchable. Most importantly, be aware of the comments that could be on your website. Not everyone will see them, but if your brand reputation is at stake, Google’s new Sidewiki is worth the download.