Google’s Favoritism Makes Knoll SEO Magnet

New Google site Knol questioned on rankings

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Author and search optimization expert Aaron Wall headed to Google’s Knol, as did many SEO professionals, to create a page. He doesn’t sound happy about what he found.

We have already seen how Knol grabbed great Google rankings for a significant percentage of pages listed on Knol’s home page. Knol isn’t supposed to have a high PageRank yet, but Google may be giving its house resource a little algorithmic love behind the scenes.

Wall suggested this as he reached out to see how a page on the site might fare for him. He created an SEO Basics Knol that "was essentially a duplicate of my Work.com Guide to Learning SEO (that was also syndicated to Business.com)," he said.

Google cited the new Knol as being similar to work already on the web at Work.com and Business.com. Wall searched for a string of text from the article and found it ranking on Google; searching for it with duplicate content filters negated found the Knol piece ranking above its syndicated and much older placement on Business.com.

"Some may call this the Query Deserves Freshness algorithm, but one might equally decide to call it the copyright work deserves to be stolen algorithm," said Wall.

"Google knows the content is duplicate, and yet they prefer to rank their own house content over the originally published source."

Whether Google changes this behavior or not, which could happen given all the algorithm tweaking they regularly do, probably won’t change the flood of SEOs churning out pages at Knol. Considering Google’s treatment of such content with favorable rankings, SEOs may have to do this out of a need to compete.

And we’ve all seen how well competitors fare against Google. Ask.com seems moribund, and depends on Google advertising; Yahoo took an ad deal with Google to avoid being taken over by Microsoft; and even Microsoft sees Google as a major competitor.

By ranking Knol articles highly, Google, by design or accident, made Knol a go-to destination for anyone seeking traffic for a website. Knol became something SEOs must consider in their work for their sites and clients because of this, and that may not be a great thing.

Google’s Favoritism Makes Knoll SEO Magnet
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  • Alfi

    If Google want to see if the ‘Knol’ has any real value, it should be evaluated in it’s own right first, like a directory powered by Google search, a seperate entity from the rest of the index. Then rolled over to Universal Search when it’s proved it’s salt.

    YouTube didn’t suddenly invade the index, nor did Froogle or Google maps, they were proven applications in their own right before integration.

    Rolling over a large amount of unqualified user content to sit at the highest points whiff’s of SEO. Where Google playing by their own rules, a stunt like this would see them banned…

    • Lefty

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I really don’t recall Youtube having as huge a presence in the search results as it did AFTER Google bought it.

  • http://www.SuncoastMP.com Ed Woods

    "Google knows the content is duplicate, and yet they prefer to rank their own house content over the originally published source."

    It’s the Golden Rule boys and girls.  He who owns the gold makes the rules. 

    As marketers we need to both know this and capitalize on it.

    Ed Woods

  • http://www.jumbocdinvestments.com CD Interest Rates

    I went and looked at a few articles and didn’t see anything spectular.  Also, there wasn’t a resource box like an article directory may have, but of course they aren’t trying to be an article directory.

    I see where you can add some references and at least in the body you can have external links, but not really clear how it will help.  It seems like the article would look really spammy if you stuffed it full of deep links to your site’s internal pages. 

    The author section didn’t appear to allow for external links.


  • http://www.niagaraseo.com Russell Rockefeller

    Aaron is a really talented SEO who takes the time to test everything. David is an excellent journalist that seems to always get the scoop.

    Great article!


  • http://www.searchwizmarketing.com Frank Okun

    I wrote an article also, just to see if there was any benefit to rankings. I don’t see any. With all us SEO people, we may have flooded Knol and confused Google’s mission.

  • Lefty

    …except its own.



    "Some may call this the Query Deserves Freshness algorithm, but one might equally decide to call it the copyright work deserves to be stolen algorithm," said Wall.

    "Google knows the content is duplicate, and yet they prefer to rank their own house content over the originally published source."



    I have been b&tch&ng about this for 2 years now.  They can post whatever BS that they want on their webmaster blog, but Google can’t figure out what is the original and what is the duplicate.  Google is absolutely horrible at it.  This is a prime example, and the smaller the site, the easier it is to get royally screwed by copied content. 

    The conspiracy theorist in me thinks this is just a way to drive up advertising profits.  Small to mid-size sites that find themselves tossed from Google will buy more advertising if they find they don’t rank.  I heartily encourage people to use some other ad network and boycott Google, especially if your loss in rankings is due to content theft.

    Thanks for pointing this out.  The more noise that is made about how Google boosts its own sites in its supposedly "fair" search results, and the more noise that is made about how bad it is at determining the original source, the more public pressure will be on them to fix it.

    Its results are heavily biased in favor of its own sites, big corporations, and the very spammers it keeps trying to stop.


    • http://www.marketingonashoestring.web44.net Stan Pontiere

      I second the motion:Boycott Google

      The golden rule is absolutely true and as a result, I feel like I am being raped.

  • http://dailywritingjobs.com RJ

    As a marketer I find this news exciting.  As a website owner, I don’t like it one bit.  Search engine marketing has changed and will continue to change, but if Google is giving automatic favor to user-generated content hosted on its servers… that just seems plain wrong.

    Now, of course Google can do whatever it wants with its service – but by giving favor to untrusted & unvetted content – I think that they would be doing a huge disservice to their company.

    I can’t imagine that Google is going to allow Knol as a whole to manipulate their index, but this discovery is pretty disturbing.  If it’s an anomoly – the marketer in me says to take advantage of it…. which I am going to do right now.

  • http://llcoperatingagreement.blogspot.com/ Joe

    This is complete bull.  If google knows that knol has been spammed with a duplicate of content existing elsewhere on the web, it should treat the knol piece as it does any other piece of duplicate junk … give it the gray bar page rank (less than zero).  It is supposed to be impossible for these regurgitations to out rank their older parents.

    For instance, I have written a number of book reviews on my blog that have a moderate amount traffic.  I discovered that others were copying and re-posting my reviews on other web sites complete with my name.  At first it pissed me off but, on reconsideration, let it slide because google will always rank my blog first for this material.  What if my stuff gets copied and pasted to a knol?  This is a serious issue IMHO.

  • http://www.wasulaenterprises.com Renee Wasula

    Not to *cough* steal  *cough* anyone’s idea, but Skynet from the Terminator series was nothing more than a morbid prophecy of the very real doom and destruction that will occur when "GoogleNet" takes over the world.    You’ve been warned.

  • http://www.yourtrustedtradesmen.com ytt12

    Does it really matter and if so do you think we say willsway google.


    Me thinks not


  • Sean

    OK, this is hyping by those who eat from the dish Google sets on the floor if you ask me. Google’s Knol is the most underwhelming site you are likely to see this year. There is little there for the general public, and worse, Google’s oddball combination of censorship and lack of concern for content theft and duplicate content penalties applied evenly are likely to add nails to its ready-made coffin.

    The articles I have seen so far on the site are not very well done and there’s absolutely zero appearance of either authority or documentation. In fact, it looks like a writing platform for beginning authors who can’t get published elsewhere rather than a direct competitor for Wikipedia.

    I for one have no intention of even recognizing Knol or bothering to do anything about it for any clients. It is a joke, really, and another attempt to create an article index with the eventual goal of spreading more irrelevant advertising.

    Once again, we see a company dropping the ball and losing focus on its core business foundation. It wasn’t enough to index the Web and provide search results and then earn revenue of advertising. Now they’re going to create the websites they index. And have the content created just for their site.

    What’s next? Is Google going to roll out robotic web surfers so that they can claim to provide perfect results for web surfers by having produced them as well? What a neat concept. You create the web surfers who will surf for what you want them to…on YOUR websites…which will show up at the top of your searches because it’s YOUR search engine…where you sell advertising for YOUR web surfers to click on. Which should remind Google that they will need to create advertising companies as well.

    Hell, I better run out and patent the concept before Google does….

    Ho-hum. I’m going to do something exciting like drink coffee.

  • http://www.andrewburman.com andrew

    i think it’s another attempt from Google to take over the world, just like Microsoft copies everything and makes it better, ICQ  -> MSN Messenger. the big G is doing exactly the same Knol = Wikipedia

    Another thing that may be putting knol ahead of other old search pages is that fact that it is a subdomain of google.com which as we all know has huge pagerank, does this mean that subdomains are considered part of it’s parent domain, and some ranking goes into it from the parent?

  • http://seo.pittwebsite.com Pittsburgh SEO

    I don’t totally agree with your last remarks. I don’t think knols are going to have to be something every SEO for every project will have to partake in or necessarily a go-to destination. For one knols have nofollow on all outbound links. So it’s not that great in helping with Google rankings. Although it might help in other engines. Secondly I if knols start getting abused for SEO and spam purposes (noticed I said abused) then I’m sure Google will make some changes to lessen the ability for knols to be abused and thus making them even less effective in relation to SEO.

    Well, anyways it’s just some food for thought on knols and your post.

    - Sean


  • Guest

    I do not know about other search engines but I hate Ask .Com and sometimes when I am on google it throws me over to Ask.com and it is the worst search engine I have ever come across I do not know what to do about getting rid of Ask.com if you put apples it would give your everything starting with a A but not apples. it is driving me crazy. hope google soon drops Ask. or a lot of us will be looking for other searche engines. I wonder how many other people are having the same trouble.


  • http://www.hophunt.com Free PPC Traffic

    Knol is just another duplicate of wikepedia and another type of Yahoo Answers.

    People will bombard any kind of articles and Knol will become Knol garbage.

    Copyright infringement will also be inevitable with Knol.

    However, Big G will get more hits from these bunch of articles and they will capitalize the traffic by bombarding you with their Adwords Ads.

    Still, more kudos to Big G!

  • http://themeaningofweb.blogspot.com/ Ed Sexton

    What with Google’s own YouTube, news items from Google’s own news aggregator, shopping sites from Google’s own froogle, images from Google’s own image search and now Knol taking up the top spots in Google search listings will there be any room for non Google websites in the first search engine results page?!

    Oh wait, blogger occasionally appears…

    <I now spontaneously combust in a shower of cynicism>

  • http://thecomedynet.com funny guy

    Have you ever played a sport with a kid who was close to being totally inept at sports, but he owned the ball.  Either you let him play or no one played.

    When you own the equipment then anyone who wants to use it have to follow the rules, even though the owner doesn’t.  Until you own the equipment then all you can do is get in line and make the best of the game by the rules that are dictated at that point.

    Google has the golden eggs but they also own the golden goose. If your name is not Jack then just get in line.  The American way.

  • Guest

    I agree with the statement that we should all boycot google. Far as I am concerened, it should be blocked at the firewall just like porn sites are. It was great until they started to copy other sites out there and as they are bigger, they are normally more sucessful. When they come up with an original idea, then fine.

  • http://www.dba2020.com Daniel

    Like sheep lead to slaughter, We continue to be lead to our Marketing Death. The Solution is to USE other Search engines, quit clicking on Adsense Ads, Quit throwing your money after ADwords.

    There are other players in the Market. We can vote with our feet (or mouse). If enough people leave them to their own demise then they will pay attention when their revenues drop.

    So load on a version of Linux, Use other search engines, Install OpenOffice, GIMP, FireFox, Thunderbird, other GNU programs and get on with your life. Why are we allowing ourselves to be volunteer victims of such corporate hi-jackings?

  • http://www.kannada-greetings.com Kannada greetings

    Google as usual wants its version of everything on net, and wikipedia was one that had lot of reputaion, so knol should eventually gain more popularity just like any other product of google (gmail, orkut) did. I am starting my Knol soon

  • http://www.lightingsupply.com commercial lighting

    what a bunch of bs

  • http://www.spartanseo.com Spartan SEO

    We bet that within a year, Knol will be remembered as little more than a flash in the pan, with little to no important relevance in the big picture of SEO. Note, we just put this in writing.

  • http://www.paraibainternational.com Tanzanite

    Well, it is quite simply because it is Google doing the legwork here in terms of Knol that it will be difficult to any other website to challenge it. Let’s face it, it is their search engine and they can do what they want within reason.

    My sense is that Knol is a hodge podge article directory right now. With the right structure and integrity it could grow large.

    Because it can server its own ads, I am absolutely certain it will achieve high rankings.

  • http://www.nashvilleseo.info Tennessee SEO

    Knol had an extremely slim outside chance of making it, even though it would have likely become a self-serving channel for self proclaimed experts to post whatever would serve them best.

    Instead, Google’s overrating turned it into a white hat SEO nightmare.  I do clean, very white hat SEO, but you know the others are creating countless knol spam to bump up their own sites, in a manner that a reputable firm would never condone.

    Perhaps it is simply a temporary 30 day bump, that many call sandbox.  If so, there is an outside chance of success.  I wish Google the best.  They are on to something that could be brilliant, it just needs more tweaks.

  • Guest

    I lost faith when my unique and compelling content was stolen so often than Google penalized, oops, sorry, I mean filtered me out of their search results and started showing the "aggregators" instead.  Hmm, gee, I wonder if the AdSense links and the blogger.com accounts helped their cause.




  • http://www.vacuum-cleaner-accessory.com hoover vacuum

    Thank for great & useful article.

  • http://www.answerblip.com/articles/entertainment/movies movie facts and info

    Thanks for the great information. Knoll was good for SEO and then they closed it up so its now more of a social site.

  • http://games.maas1.com ?????


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