For the longest time, about the only useful feature of the Google toolbar that I could find was its PageRank feature. I’d check the PageRank of every page I encountered on the web. Then I decided that, because so many people learned to game and it was not that important for search engine optimziation anymore I stopped caring about it and did not use the toolbar anymore. Google toolbar became pretty useless too. Now, just yesterday in fact, Google has introduced a new tool that is a part of the Google toolbar. It’s called Google Sidewiki.
Watch the video below about Google Sidewiki To Learn More:
So what is it? It’s a tool apparently somewhat like SearchWiki except that comments made by Google Sidewiki commentators appear next to a web page rather than a search result. Seems harmless, right?
Well, one webmaster appears a bit afraid of it. Should you be?
The reputation management concerns are very real. I don’t mean to downplay them. But if given a choice between someone leaving negative comments on Sidewiki or using their blog to trash my good name, I’ll take Google Sidewiki any day. Why? Because search listings have a certain kind of permanence to them. I can’t affect too much what someone else writes on their blog nor can I affect how the search engines treat that blog in the search results. I’m pretty much at the mercy of shenanigans.
But with Sidewiki, I know that only a small number of people are going to view the comments compared to the number of people who could potentially view that blog in the search results. MSN searchers won’t see it. Yahoo! searchers won’t see it. Twitter users won’t see it. The only way anyone can see those comments in Sidewiki is if they have the Google toolbar (or Google Chrome) and have that feature turned on – oh, and if they visit my website. Plus, I could comment on the page as well so I do have a chance to respond to negative comments whereas on someone else’s blog those comments will be moderated.
Is the threat to reputation management real? Yes, it’s real. It’s real in so many ways even beyond Sidewiki. And it’s possible that Google will expand Sidewiki to more than just its toolbar and web browser. But I’m not ready to throw in the towel. The best defense against negative reputation scars is how you handle yourself in public. Run an honest business, do what you say you’ll do, and treat people well. You’ll still make enemies, but don’t let them sidetrack you with small threats like Google Sidewiki.