The Curious SEO: Nice to Knol You

By Catherine Potts | Jul 25, 2008
More Articles by Catherine

My prediction on Knols: not trustworthy for use in educational assignments. Also, I think it’s Google going overboard.

While Google is attempting to perhaps dominate yet another aspect of the internet, I’m not so convinced it’ll be anymore useful than what we already have: Blogs by self-proclaimed experts. I realize that we as an online community have to self-police, I’m not sure this new creation of Knols is going to improve upon what we’ve already got. Maybe because it’s from Google, some will see some success as far as visibility. But tools are only as good as the people using them. Sure, it’ll collect supposed world-wide knowledge all in one area perhaps. I’m not sure that matters. For if the content is sucky… so will be the Knol.

What is a Knol?

Here this will clear it up:

A knol is a single unit of knowledge

By the way, this has been written about endlessly at this point. I figured… what’s one more time? Mine is different of course!

Garett Rogers over at Zdnet has the opinion that this will spell disaster for Wikipedia. Not now and maybe not tomorrow but it will. There are aspects of Wikipedia that are different from Knol.

Garett says:

If you don’t like an article that someone has created, give it a low rank and start your own on the same topic. That’s right, Knol doesn’t enforce a “one Knol per topic” rule — another significant difference between the two services.

*whisper* kinda sounds like those other sites that allow other users to rank them. Except with Knol, the authors can have ads and Google will share the income. A lot of feedback comes in the form of comments. Same thing?

Is Knol going to be like a mole and dig it’s way into our yards and never leave?

Is it here to stay? Who knows. Google is behind it so the assumption is “yes.” But will it work? I’m not so sure. Depends on the crowd using it. I’ll probably be one of them and perhaps it’ll grow on me. I think, like anything, incorporating it into the routine will be annoying at first but, just maybe, it’ll do alright. It’s just that it’s yet another place where people are trying to sell themselves (which is OK) except that we have SO many sites to read it’s almost getting ridiculous to wade through. I guess the more reading we have to do the better? Shop that knowledge around people! Maybe that’s why Google is trying to build the, according to them, most authoritative place on the internet. This is where the smart peeps will congregate.

On Google’s own site this is what they said about Knol:

The key principle behind Knol is authorship. Every knol will have an author (or group of authors) who put their name behind their content. It’s their knol, their voice, their opinion. We expect that there will be multiple knols on the same subject, and we think that is good.

Really? Wow. That is totally original.

Why Knol Could Be Good

I agree with Tad Miller in that it could very well be a great place to submit a customer’s whitepaper or article:

My first thoughts on how to benefit my clients is that it could potentially be the worlds best online White Paper publishing destination. Placement in Google search results will automatically garner more traffic than any White Paper directory. From a pure visibility standpoint this could be beneficial. All Knol links are “nofollow” and will not pass on any SEO benefits, but will obviously deliver traffic. The same applies to Article Marketing. It will likely be a great place to distribute your content and give your articles a lot of visibility, but will not pass value for links in Search Results.

Why Knol Could Be Bad

Will it essentially downgrade other article sites? I would hope that Google wouldn’t value it’s own Knol site over another, more focused and relevant article site.

I’m not sure it’s really worth discussing that Google will always have an advantage over just about everyone else online. For that reason I have a problem with them diving too deeply into competing with the world of Google users in the content area. If you’re providing an advantage, that’s not fair. The jury is still out on what kind of an advantage they’ll have. Preliminary inquires show that some things on Knol are getting ranked pretty quickly. Is this fair?

Jeff Jarvis says:

“Stop before it’s too late. Competing with those you serve — from a position of unbeatable advantage — isn’t just bad business. It’s evil.”


The thing that makes this like Wikipedia is what Google is calling “moderation collaberation.” Whereas anyone can suggest edits and apply (or not apply) those suggestions. True, this makes it different from a regular blog but what makes it different from a journal article found on Google Scholar? Perhaps that the suggestions can be from people all across the world whether they know the author or not. This is a unique feature for sure.

What makes this unlike Wikipedia is that Google and the authors will be making money on it through Adsense. Based on that, I’m not sure I’m a fan. With the discussion on how evil paid links are, doesn’t the incorporation of the money part make this a less trustworthy source?

On the Lighter Side

I like guaca-knol-e.

Austin Powers’ish “Nice to mole you… err I mean, knol you.”

“Hi, my name is Noel and I like to Knol.”

How do you even pronounce it? Is it pronounced “nawl” or “noh-l?” I vote for “noh-l” as in “knowl·edge.”

Share this article

Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter

Receive Daily Digital Marketing Tips

Subscribe to daily updates from the Marketing Mojo Blog to get the latest digital marketing tips, best practices and insights - hot off the presses and straight to your inbox!


Blog Search