Google Knols and Opportunity

Since I spent the early part of the week discussing how Google Knols will ruin the internet, I thought it might also be fun to discuss potential ways you can use it to your advantage.

Having seen little more than a screen shot it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going to be included or available, but lets assume it will be pretty similar to Google Page Creator and other sites like Wikipedia or Squidoo.

First we need to have a discussion about authority and trust. I know Matt Cutts dances around the trust rank saying it’s some paper that was written at Yahoo blah blah blah. I know the engineers at Google get a little picky with their nomenclature sometimes such as a data push being entirely different than an update, so if the internal name isn’t exactly “trust rank” the concept of ranking a sites “trustworthieness” definitely exists in spirit.

IMHO getting trust is the single most important factor you should focus on when you want to get a site to rank. If you combine trust with good site architecture (easy crawlability) and good internal anchor text you can rank for anything. In fact there are hundreds of empty useless pages like this one on Wikipedia which rank #1 for their top term [Joigny] on this combination of factors. But I digress.

Trust is the hard part but here’s the key, you really won’t have to worry about trust in this case, Google and everyone else is going to take care of that for you. It should take about 6 to 9 months to fully grab hold but after that Knols listings in SERP’s will be more common than price inflated Wii’s on Ebay.

What you will have to worry about is getting links with good anchor text. Using your own network of sites to link to your Knol pages is dicey. If you run a clean on topic network of sites, not much to worry about, if you take care and don’t duplicate yourself into oblivion. Run a shady network … I’d stay away from this method.

Now an interesting tactic would be to purchase some advertising. Personally I’d test the advertising by pointing it at my competitor first to see if it works. If they jump up you know the links are good and you can repoint it at your Knol page, if they tank let your conscience be your guide.

What you wonder hey won’t the person I’m buying the advertising from wonder why you’re making the change and pointing the links at a new URL? You’re still not directly pointing links are you … Silly Goose. Don’t you know some people point them at intermediate domains … for argument’s sake lets call them tracking domains. Purchase your advertising, point it at your “tracking domain”, and 301 it wherever you want. The great part is you can also repoint it wherever you want, no need to involve the person you are buying the advertising from.

Now if you were a person who experimented with “IP Delivery” you could do conditional 301’s. Let’s say the Mooklebot comes by you redirect it to the spot you want the link love to flow, normal visitors get directed someplace else. Now of course that behavior is strictly against search engine guidelines, not something I recommend or endorse in any way. In fact I included it only for entertainment and educational purposes … really.

Of course some people out there are really wondering about siphoning off link love, will they get a link with the best anchor text they can create to the best page on their site, and will it be nofollowed. Well I haven’t heard any mention of link condoms yet, but I hope they have thought about. if I were Google I would make the links straight links but give them equivalent of a nofollow in the algo, just because it would screw up the other engines. If they were really clever they would use an internal ranking mechanism to only allow link juice to pass from trusted profiles and ignore the rest. You did notice they slipped in Google profiles last week didn’t you?

However I think you really should concentrate on driving traffic to the knol page instead of the links to your page, ultimately you want them to buy something and the more pages you bounce them through the worse it will be.

Of course some truly naive people actually believe that Google is going to be able to police and editorially control Knol pages kicking people out who violate TOS … (excuse me while I stop laughing). Have you been to Blogger recently? You do remember that Google owns them don’t you? You see how well that “flag this” button they added in 2005 has stopped the proliferation of blogger spam haven’t you?

Lets recap Google Knols makes it much harder for the rest of the world to get top listings, since they become Wikipedia II. Google also assumes control of your content and locks you into their monetezation schemes. Lastly Knols provides a fertile stomping ground for spammers to put down roots and abuse Google’s over reliance on trust. Any Questions?

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