I’m not sure how many people have seen those two new icons next to Google search results, and . Apparently its a new way to say, “Yeah, this result was useful to me or No, its not.”. I’m guessing Google wants to see what actual human beings think of the results that they’re displaying. Obviously the Google engine is only an engine, based on a machine and code, so it’s not 100% perfect. Grabbing the human factor of a useful or not so useful search result is something they’d definitely want to know.
But that got me to thinking, how useful is it to them? I’d think eventually people are going to try and abuse this in order to put down results for their competitors and promote their own. Granted, that will all depend on how much Google weighs the information they get and what they do with it. Perhaps they just want to gather it and do nothing with it to affect how results are actually displayed. Or maybe they do. Who knows. I haven’t seen much information on it other than people discussing what they’re seeing in different forums, etc.
Whatever the reason is and what it means for SEO down the road will be interesting to see. I for one will be keeping a close eye on anything I see about this.
Update: So apparently this is all part of Google’s SearchWiki. When you’re logged into Google Accounts, you’ll see these nifty buttons. It allows you to customize your own search results. This doesn’t mean the index itself gets affected. However, I’d still bet my lunch on the fact that Google eventually uses these human “modded” search results in weighing its own search results. Hopefully though this keeps abuse to a minimum.