Archive for July, 2008

Google Knol. The new “Invisible Web”?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

In case you missed it, Google launched its new next-big-thing. Google Knol.

A knol is a “unit of knowledge” according to Google, and their Wikipedia-like Knol site is a platform where anyone can contribute their knowledge on pretty much any topic. While Google is encouraging ‘experts’ to contribute, any Tom, Dick or Mary Jane can write whatever they feel like.

All this is well and good, and Knol is an easy site to use. But — so far, at least — the bulk of its content is invisible. That is, content in Knol does not show up on an ordinary Google search. It usually takes just a day or so for new content to show up in a Google search (this Web Owls article, for instance, should show up tomorrow…UPDATE: Actually, it only took about an hour).

But content in Google Knol that has been posted for five days or more is not showing up in routine Google searches, or in results from other search engines, like Yahoo Search. In other words, most of Knol is invisible to search engines.

Don’t get me wrong. Some Knol content is making its way through to search results. These seem to be chiefly the articles that are featured on the Knol front page. A test knol by search guru Danny Sullivan also quickly made it into Google search results, causing no small amount of finger-pointing about Google cooking the results.

Whatever happened with Sullivan’s knol, the simple truth is that the bulk of Knol’s material is nowhere to be found. For instance, I ran a search at Knol on the term money, and pulled up 62 knols containing that term. One by one, I have been going through the list, trying to find one of these knols in ordinary Google search results (usually, I search on the author’s name and title of the knol. I also tried some exact phrase searching). So far, not one of the 62 has shown up.

Here’s an example. A fellow named James Burchill wrote a knol on July 24, called How to Make Money on Elance. A Google search on [ james burchill how to make money on elance ] turns up five results mentioning Burchill articles with the same title. But none of the results has anything remotely to do with Google Knol.

The knols all have nofollow code in the html, but I didn’t see anything that would disallow spidering of the articles. It’s not at all clear why Knol content is not being indexed by any of the search engines.

But it sure ain’t showing up!

One of the main attractions of Knol is that it allows authors to link their Adsense accounts to their knol articles, thereby collecting any ad revenue the page generates. But if the page never appears in Google search results, the odds of generating very much traffic appear pretty slim.

Stay tuned for more on the mysterious saga that is Knol…

News Flash! Andy Czernek, one-time Google Answers wunderkind (I think he was omnivorous-ga…hard to remember…everything fading…) has an article on people searching that made the Knol front page. Three cheers for Andy.