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Don't like your Google results? Rank your own*

November 20, 2008 |  3:33 pm

SearchWiki resultsGoogle is letting you get personal with your search results.

The Internet company today introduced a new feature, called SearchWiki, that allows users to change their results from Google searches. You can move items up and down in the rankings, remove them entirely, leave notes about whether you found a particular site useful and add sites that either don't show up in the search results or are buried. Then it remembers those changes the next time you log in.

And that is a catch, with privacy implications: You must be logged in to use the service so Google can remember you. Once you are, you can check the bottom of a Google search results page to "see all notes for this SearchWiki." By clicking on the link, you will see how other users ranked results and what comments they left.

The new feature should come in handy for searches that people do on a regular basis. About 40% of searches are repeats of ones the users have done before, research shows.

The way people modify their search results, at least at first, will not influence how Google ranks sites or returns results, Google Product Manager Cedric Dupont said. But Dupont did not rule out the possibility that the new data could influence results in the future.

A small fraction of Google users have been testing the service for about a year.

"It's a way to make search a more participatory medium," Dupont said. "The Web is becoming more participatory, and search should take part in that movement."

This is the first time Google has given its users the ability to customize search results. Other websites have experimented with personalized search results. There is Wikia Search. And Santa Monica start-up Mahalo is a "people-powered" search engine.

-- Jessica Guynn

* UPDATED at 4:45 p.m. with a link to Google blog post about SearchWiki.

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