Today Google added a new star feature to its search engine that allows users to mark their favorite sites, so they’ll show up right at the top even if they’re not the most popular.
Stars are essentially replacing SearchWiki, a tool that pretty much nobody liked–it also let you personalize search results by reordering, removing, or adding links, but it actually replaced Google’s usual search results with your altered ones. That system would sometimes result in lousy search results, because the user had screwed with Google’s natural (or as they say, “organic”) algorithms.
Instead, starred results will simply show up in a separate bar at the top of Google’s organic results–a much better system. Basically, you can star certain resources, and Google will remember that you like that specific site, and will pop it up at the top. Say you’re looking for an album review, but you really want to hear what your local alt-weekly newspaper has to say about it. That newspaper’s site might be on the fifth page of Google’s organic results, but if you star it, it’ll show up right there at the top. It basically lets you decide what sources you like, even if they’re not as popular (and thus, not ranked as high) as others. Pretty cool!
Stars will sync with both Google Bookmarks and the Google Toolbar, so you can go in and manage them all in one place if you want. A star icon will also be packaged into the Toolbar, so you can star items right from there. It seems like a great idea from Google–let’s see if people use it.