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Surprise Surprise – Google Knol Ranks Well in Google!

Posted By Darren Rowse 28th of July 2008 Search Engine Optimization 0 Comments

Last week Google announced their ‘Knol’ service and I (among others) questioned whether it would have a significant impact upon smaller publishers ability to rank well in Google’s search results.

Initial results show that Knol articles are already ranking very well (here and here for example) – and with as little as a link or two from other sites are even capturing #1 search results for certain keywords.

Aaron wall from SEO book has added more fuel to the fire with some of his own testing.

Update: What I think irks me the most about Knol is Google’s insistance that they’re not a media company.

They host content, they pay those who write it income when that content makes money, they keep part of the money for themselves, they distribute the content….

If it looks like a media company and acts like a media company – I got the feeling that they are one.

Of course this is Google’s right to do – they can set their own business plan – but I guess they need to be willing to be up front about it and name what they are doing for what it is.

They also need to be willing for other publishers (many of them who are their partners in many ways) to react against them. I’ve been hearing murmurings from a few fairly large independent bloggers and web publishers today of talk of a move away from using AdSense out of protest. I’m not sure what impact this would have unless a lot of large publishers did it – but it seems like there’s growing discontent around the online publishing community around this issue.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. So knol is the new squidoo?

  2. Aaron wall has written a killer article about this.
    Thanks for sharing Darren.
    I am heading to Google Knol now!

  3. If it goes this in few weeks or months we will see them replacing wiki results for most of the popular terms

  4. While it’s new, I think it’s a good timing to start being one of top knol users.

  5. Haven’t tried it yet but it looks interesting. Always nice to find a good way to pull in some “juice” for specific terms. :-)

  6. Looks like as of 2am they have changed something because when you search migraine which is the featured gnol it ranks around 9 on a google search of migraine whereas wiki gets the top ranking for a migraine search.

  7. Knol is still just open to U.S. people and worldwide everyone is trying to make pages for no use. The name verification is only for people from United states.

    And also, i can’t go against and also with Knol.. as sometimes Knol seem to be a few copied pages of Wikipedia, and sometimes its a good piece of information that helps people make money for contributing their knowledge to Google.

    I want to see Knol open for the whole world, and not only for U.S.

  8. Nick – there’s no ‘juice’ to pull – all outbound links on Knol are no-follow. They’re happy to accept juice – just not pass it on :-)

  9. It doesn’t surprise me at all… As long is their creation… All what Google touch in their yard ranks well :)

  10. Yep, checked that Darren..
    Every link in the page is no-followed and so, similar to wikipedia. The only difference being that the pages can be moderated only by the page owner..

  11. Nick raises a good point. So what is the advantage of publishing a gnol that ranks well if it leads no where with regards to your website.

    Can you put adsense on gnols that point to your account? and get paid that way? If so, then i do see an advantage of using it, monetary wise.

  12. knol is already expected to Be the Wikipedia Alternative and surely google will give KNOL more importance…

  13. The benefits of cashing in on this at the beginning may not come from the links but simply the persona that you could create and foster with the potential strength of your search results.

    Google’s fingers continue to creep.

  14. Aaron wrote a very well post. Thanks for sharing it here Darren. Knol will not recieve a visit from me…

  15. The best thing I like about Knol is — you can write reviews for other people’s Knols and those reviews will appear on those Knols as well.

    So just go out there, pick Knols in your niche, and write decent reviews about them. By the way – those reviews are created as new Knols of yours, so you automatically get more and more Knols created, interlinked among each other etc.

  16. Google’s motto is “do no evil.” Well, they might not have done any evil, but they surely are very close to being unethical! They…

    1. Rank themselves highly in search results.
    2. Have “no follow” links for authors who have worked hard on the contributed articles for free.
    3. Profit from the ads placed in the Knol articles.
    4. Disingenuously claim they are not a media company while knocking smaller publishers down the search results list.

    I wish I used AdSense ads so I could drop them!

  17. how do the a list bloggers fair knoling or are blogger excluede from it like from everywhere else

  18. I don’t know what to expect from this, but all I know is I’ve got a bad feeling about it. Adsense was a GREAT idea…. Knol is the opposite.

    How do writers on Knol make money? Do they get paid from putting adsense ads on their Knol pages?

  19. I think it will be interesting to see new “authorities” emerge from knowl. The editor/writer of a Google stamped Knol certainly offers a few points of credibility. As far as content- I have to say I’m intrigued and ready to give it a try.

  20. Tom Laine says: 07/28/2008 at 7:09 pm

    Now, does this really surprise any of you, really? Google’s own stuff ranking high in their own results…seriously! They’re in business to make money just like any other company, not saints that just give stuff away for nothing. Of course they optimize their own pages to rank high in search results. I would be surprised if it didn’t! Ethical? No comment.

    What comes to them saying they’re not a media company, is just what some other major companies are doing. They have noticed the money being in online services and espacially in online media (incl. the so-called ‘social media’), and everyone wants a share of that. Just look at what the mobile manufacturers and telecom operators are doing, Nokia in the forefront – going into advertising and sharing/selling/distributing online media – and nowadays often user created content (the general Ovi service, previously e.g.Twango, that they purchased, and now the map company…). All I can say is, go grab yours or they will. Soon they all will be buying companies that specialize in online (social) media – one way or the other – and will be competing in this market space. Google’s there, MS is there, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay/Skype, Nokia is already there, Vodafone is trying to get there, Ericsson and Samsung following close by…

    Tom Laine

  21. I am doing a trial run on a knol of an article i published on my own website. 1. To see how the process of publishing a knol works and 2. to see how well adsense ads will do on them.

    So to follow up on my own question earlier about the advantages of knols. Yes, people who write for knol can put adsense ads on their knol and link it back to their adsense account. Only issue at the moment is it looks like it will take a few weeks for google to approve adsense ads within knol, that is at least what my knol is saying. Although i did see 1 knol today with adsense ads linked to it but it had nothing to do with the knol. Obviously they are still working out the bugs there.

    So in short, if knols do get some sort of better treatment with respects to google rankings then many of these stand to do very well with adsense collections.

  22. Surprising, and still well anticipated. I had, when I wrote about Knol, thought. About that backpacking article, I had noticed it already. It was ranking already well. But I guess that’s not a big problem since it is not a keyword well searched for. Don’t you think.

    All PR4 5 blogs always rank their new content well on google. What we have to really look for is if Knol content for big search words will be high ranking or not.


  23. Hey Darren, Knol is one of Google’s Sphere. Then it will automatically ranked well in G’s search. Don’t you agree? But Knol got the fame. So I have to check it now.

  24. Hey Darren, I left on Dare’s blog post urging caution before people jump to negative conclusions: http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/CommentView.aspx?guid=7fb38fd2-a79d-41fd-823e-e87c48c00543#commentstart

  25. Did anyone doubted this? I think it will not be long until we start seeing the results from Knol following (or vice versa) the results from Wikipedia on so many topics. It seems that being #3 on Google is going to be the best imaginable position for many popular search terms. Or am I wrong? :-)

  26. The service certainly is questionable to if it has been tweeted for google search or if google search has been tweaked rather. It is unfair but they are a business and they have to do what they have to do to keep Sergey Brin’s seat on that space craft he’s bought.

  27. I think everyone’s over-reacting.

    First, of course, Knol articles will rank highly. It’s an optimized, content-rich article on a site developed by the very best in the industry, Google themselves. I doubt very much that Google is giving the site any special weight. Instead, I would suspect a couple of things happened: 1) a lot of people took note of Google’s new product launch and linked to it, and 2) Google probably accidentally linked to it from some Google property where page-rank transferred over (maybe the Google Blog itself.) As a result, it saw a huge jump in search rank As people complained, Google responded, investigated the situation, and removed any offending links … just to be completely fair.

    Second, it strikes me as completely antithetical of bloggers to be afraid of new media. The internet is going to keep changing, while most of that change recently has been driven by bloggers, it certainly isn’t fair to complain when others (even big players) try to get the wheels rolling.

    Finally, it’s silly to call Google a media company, at this point. Sure, they are making ventures into media, but the vast majority of their revenue still comes from search advertising. Microsoft makes keyboards, but no one’s out there shouting, “Microsoft’s a peripheral company.”

    I say, take a deep breath and relax. I, personally, wasn’t that impressed with Knol. It struck me as difficult to browse, heavily slanted towards medical articles, and a horrible name to boot. Besides, it looks little different than the old Google Answers, and we see how well that did.

  28. I’ve moved away from using Adsense for a different reason (which explained on my blog today, and also detailed in a comment to another ProBlogger post).

    The problem with Google becoming a media company is that they are also still the #1 search engine, which is an inherent conflict of interest. I’ve started as a paid writer on another site, Brighthub.com, and I get revenue-sharing — I am paid the majority of the advertising dollars generated by my articles. Now my articles have to compete with knols, and it steams me a bit because of Google’s conflict of interest. In fact, it seems just a bit like “being evil”…

  29. I am a little torn on this. I mean, I agree that it is in their right to do whatever they want. It’s their search engine, their ad program, their servers, their money, their time, etc…So, if they want to do it, let ’em. But then there’s this hypocrisy that I have heard about Google. They were selling links on one of their web pages once and I think the price tag was $10,000 a link…But, then Matt Cutts was going to war against link sellers. This just seems like another hypocrisy.

    If people are going to be leaving Adsense, this is the perfect time for Microsoft or Yahoo to really open their programs and try to make them big. The way I see it is this…If a lot of big bloggers get angry with Adsense, the other two will start to make more money and that’ll just make them stronger. The trick to building a strong PPC program is having strong publishers. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

  30. I have mixed feelings about this new service. Google has always maintained that it was never in the content business, and there’s no telling about how Knol pageranks and information will receive preferential treatement.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this doesn’t railroad the blogosphere onto Google’s track.

  31. Well duhh Darren, what’s the one page on the internet you know with 10 pagerank? The Google homepage. Google can make their pages whatever pagerank they want, so they rank higher.

    Lara Says: PageRank and Search Engine Results Pages rankings (listings) have nothing to do with each other, guys… The sooner you start realizing that, the better off you’ll be. The fact that Google has a PageRank of 10, does not mean anything in this situation.

  32. I was thinking of something… why would they want the knol pages to rank poorly? what would be the point of knol if their pages didn’t rank? ;)


  33. I just checked, and it’s now #1, with a page rank of zero. Lovely, nice level playing field. Totally a conflict of interest. Shame on Google. And I don’t think this is an overreaction. How can a brand new article that doesn’t have any backlinks and a page rank of zero get to the #1 spot. Foul!

  34. @Jill

    What search term is ranking #1? Just curious as I would like to check and see how it ranks on my end.

  35. “They were selling links on one of their web pages once and I think the price tag was $10,000 a link…But, then Matt Cutts was going to war against link sellers. This just seems like another hypocrisy.”

    Jacob, I’m assuming that you’re talking about this story:
    http://www.conversionrater.com/2007/02/23/google-selling-pr7-links-for-10000/ . If you’ll notice, I commented on that story within a day. This was an enterprise partner program, not any sort of link selling scheme. But just to be completely safe, we made it so that page didn’t flow PageRank.

    “I just checked, and it’s now #1, with a page rank of zero. Lovely, nice level playing field.”

    Jill, we only export PageRanks to the Google Toolbar every 3-4 months. In fact, that article has a ton of backlinks and quite a bit of PageRank.

  36. doesnt suprise me at all Darren

    Google may be seen to have to much power now
    only time will tell us

  37. Jill, see above. PageRank and results rankings (listings) have nothing to do with each other for the most part.

  38. “Of course this is Google’s right to do”

    maybe…but that’s what the cinema production companies thought when they too had control over production, distribution, and exhibition to the public. Until the authorities step in. I mean the media is monitored (although there are major flaws in the system eg Murdoch who technically is a foreigner but owns most of Australian media) to stop monopolies and conflicts of interest like this. Because the internet is a fairly new media outlet, there has yet been any real overview of the media ownership laws since its introduction (of course, it is extremely problematic being a global service too as compared to local media). But something will happen. I think google’s position as being a search provider, i.e a distributor and a publisher, ie, providing content, does not necessarily mean that it is being anti-competitive, but it does mean that it has a lot of power to act so…and therefore should be scrutinised very very closely. Good one Darren for pointing this out to us. Be very interesting to see what happens in the future..


  39. Having met with the UK Google team @my day job (not search guys) I got the impression that on the ground they are all very focused on simply providing a good services for their users. I guess they need to keep share holders happy, but they won’t do this by losing user trust. If knol pages end up pushing out better resources due to artificial interference (strongly denied) then this would be very much shooting themselves in the foot.

    There are plenty of rivals out there ready to move in as soon as the big G slips up (no, not you http://www.cuil.com).

  40. It just doesn’t seem right that knol pages are ranking higher than pages on trusted sites that have been up way longer. Only time will tell…

  41. Knol is still at its infancy, and having many cases knols rank #1 on search engine for a certain keyword does raise eyebrows – does Google inclined to favour its own network members, such as blogger dot com and feedburner dot com?

  42. Of course, Google plans to have knol favor its own network and network members over others. What else do you expect of them?

  43. I believe Google is breaking their own webmaster guidelines with Google Knol. I wrote a short blog post about it… I’d love to know what other people think.


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