My English teacher wouldn’t have liked it, but Google has a new word for a ‘unit of knowledge’ – the Knol. Come to think of it, ‘Google’ wasn’t exactly an everyday term back when I was at school, but they certainly seem to have turned that one around. It’s eminently possible that given a couple of months, we’ll all be casually sharing our Knols.
So, what exactly are they, these Knols? The idea is this: most of us are experts at something or other, whether it’s an important skill like how to save lives or something trivial like getting a high score on Dance Dance Revolution.
Wikipedia has shown us the benefit of sharing our individual insights in order to build a greater whole. About.com has found success by publishing articles by a large number of experts. Knol is a cross between the two, allowing authors to publish their own work in a finished state, or to invite collaboration with others.
I was surprised to learn that the project has been running since December 2007. By January of 2009, Google announced that it contained more than 100,000 articles – and yet, I can’t say I have ever come across one in the course of running an everyday search. Possibly that’s because it began with articles mainly in the fields of health and medicine, which, praise be, I haven’t had much need of in the last few years.
For those in our business, after an initial interest in a new Google project, the question has to be whether any benefit might be gained from it. Well, you can forget straight away any idea you might have of writing hundreds of articles and linking back to your own website. Google is on to you. Its guidelines clearly state:
We don’t allow pages that have the primary purpose of redirecting visitors, acting as a bridge page, or driving traffic to another website.
After all, Knol is primarily a project for the public good, not for the good of your business, sad though that might be. That given, there is scope for the genuinely knowledgeable to benefit. If you write about your area of specialization, there is no rule against naming your business, and indeed, Google also says:
Use your bio to tell readers why they should trust your opinion on a given topic […]. If you know of good resources on your topic, you can link to them from within your article to make it easy for readers to learn more.
So in short, if your own business website is genuinely an excellent resource for people wishing to know more, it makes sense to link to it. And if it isn’t, then you now have every reason to make it so. By adding your specialist knowledge to your own website, you’ll find far greater benefits than just being able to link from Knol, though: you will find, in time, that you get all sorts of inbound links, all of which will do your search engine ranking the power of good.
There you go, that’s my little nugget of insight – I hardly dare call it an actual Knol – for today. check out the real Knols at >knol.google.com.