Search and Social

Five Google Sidewiki Examples in the Pharma, Retail, Insurance, and Electronics Categories

by Ian Orekondy on October 3, 2009

Google’s launch of Sidewiki is a significant event for digital marketers, because Sidewiki potentially allows anyone to publicly comment on any site or page that is not SSL encrypted, and those comments will appear alongside a brand’s own website. You could think about it as a comments section on every site, whether you want them or not. This has everyone trying to figure out the implications on SEO strategy and perhaps more importantly on how a company can control its online assets.

There is a lot yet to be learned and bugs to be worked out, and consumer pentration is certainly still low, but Sidewiki comments are now a reality, and there is much we can learn already.

Here are five examples of Google Sidewiki comments on brand sites in the retail, pharma, electronics, and auto insurance categories. These examples offer an early glimpse into how both brands and customers could use Sidewiki:

Auto Insurance Sidewiki Example – Nationwide Insurance
Nationwide Insurance has “claimed” their Sidewiki, which allows them to own the top listing within the Sidewiki on their page. They’ve used it to highlight Nationwide’s service offerings and costs savings.



Google Sidewiki Example

Interestingly, Google has not formally “claimed” their Sidewiki comments, but their VP of Search Marissa Mayer, has still managed to get the top listing; though the content of her comment is mostly superfluous information about Google’s holiday-inspired logos. (Maybe this is Google’s way of promoting an image of good-natured benevolence in the face of the wide-spread fear associated with Sidewiki.)




Consumer Electronics Sidewiki Example: Apple

The top-comment on Apple’s Sidewiki is from a student who offers a fairly basic company/site description. What’s interesting here is that the second-ranked comment is less than flattering to the company and is actually voted as not useful by more people than voted it as being useful, raising questions around the algorithm that Google is using to determine the quality of comments.




Pharma Sidewiki Example – Viagra

Viagra’s first comment was posted by John Mack of Pharma Marketing blog, where he wrote “Viagra is bogus”. Since then, however, additional comments have been posted and voted higher in the comments listing than his original comment. John has since countered back with another post, again not flattering, criticizing Pfizer’s use of branded reminder ads on Candadian TV; and this is now the top-ranked comment. Viagra has yet to claim it’s Sidewiki.





(Note : the above screenshot shows the second page of Viagra’s Sidewiki comments.)

Online Retailer Sidewiki Example – Amazon

Amazon’s Sidewiki offers an interesting peak into how Sidewiki comments can be used for good: the top-ranked comment is actually a tip from a user informing visitors that wishlists and shopping list information can be found by clicking on “personalized recommendations”, which isn’t very intuitive.

This will be a hot topic for sure in the coming weeks and months as brands, especially those in the heavily-regulated pharmaceutical industry, grapple with how Google Sidewiki impacts their control over their brands online assets.

For more interesting discussions on the impact of Google Sidewiki, check out these blog posts and discussion threads:

Google Webmaster Central Discussion on Sidewiki

Danny Sullivan’s: Google Sidewiki Allows Anyone To Comment About Any Site

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

seanhecking October 15, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Nice profile of Sidewiki across different industries. I will be interesting to see if/how Google intends on including user generated content in their algorithm.


Ian Orekondy October 17, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Thanks Sean! I agree it will be interesting to see if/how Sidewiki UGC (user generated content) affects Google rankings. Since Sidewiki entries get indexed, some sites are reporting that they've seen traffic coming to their sites as a result, but haven't seen any evidence of Sidewiki entries impacting the rankings for the site itself.

Some sites are now seeing that Sidewiki entries are causing less comments within the official commenting sections (such as this one).

So it will also be interesting to see how blog ranking services (e.g. PostRank ) will incorporate Sidewiki entries into their algorithms.



Ian Orekondy March 9, 2010 at 10:11 pm

This site now has a “page owner entry” on every page of the domain. You can do the same via Google webmaster tools. They just updated the functionality on March 7th, 2010, to allow you to create a page owner entry on every page automatically with just one post. Nice tool.



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