The Day After: Looking At How Well Knol Pages Rank On Google

Danny Sullivan on
  • Categories: Channel: SEO
  • We’ve been
    assured
    that just because content sits on Google’s Knol site, it won’t
    gain any ranking authority from being part of the Knol domain. OK, so a day
    after Knol has launched, how’s that holding up? I found 1/3 of the pages
    listed on the Knol home page that I tested ranked in the top results. I came
    away feeling that being on Knol does indeed give pages an advantage they
    might not get if they’d been hosted on some other brand new web site.

    I was surprised to see a

    post covering
    Knol’s
    how to ackpack was already hitting the number three spot on Google.
    Really? I mean, how many links could this page have gotten already? As it
    turns out, quite a few. And more important, it’s featured on the Knol home
    page, which itself is probably one of the most important links. While Knol
    uses nofollow on individual knols to prevent link credit from flowing out,
    it’s not used on the home page — so home page credit can flow to individual
    knols featured on it.

    Right now, the Knol home page shows no PageRank score at all. It’s a
    brand new site, after all. But just because there’s no visible PageRank,
    behind the scenes, Google is constantly calculating PageRank values (see
    What Is Google
    PageRank? A Guide For Searchers & Webmasters
    for more on this). So being
    on the Knol home page is almost certainly giving some of these pages
    important link credit.

    To test things more, I picked out 30 different knols listed on the Knol
    home page, to see if they ranked in the top 30 results for the words they’re
    titled for. Here are the results, with pages listed in order of how well
    they ranked:


    1. Facial cosmetic enhancementt
      : 1

    2. How to backpack
      : 3 (backpacking: 19; backpack: 0)

    3. Toilet clogs
      : 3

    4. Vomiting in infants and children
      : 3 (“vomiting in infants” ranks 13)

    5. Decreased hearing
      : 5

    6. Type 1 diabetes
      : 6

    7. First Ironman triathlon
      : 6

    8. Orchid basics
      : 7

    9. Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators
      (ICDs)
      : 10 (lose the [ICDs] part, it drops to 17)

    10. Pneumothorax or "collapsed lung"
      : 10

    11. Pediatric sports injuries
      : 13

    12. Tooth pain
      : 15

    13. Adrenal insufficiency
      : 0

    14. AIDS
      : 0

    15. Autism
      : 0

    16. Barrett’s Esophagus
      : 0

    17. Cataracts
      : 0

    18. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
      : 0

    19. Crohn’s Disease
      : 0

    20. Devil May Cry 4
      : 0

    21. Echocardiography
      : 0

    22. High cholesterol
      : 0

    23. History of the Spanish language
      : 0

    24. Infective endocarditis
      : 0

    25. Lung cancer
      : 0

    26. Menopause -what is it?
      : 0

    27. Patient safety
      : 0

    28. Seasonal allergies
      : 0

    29. Shoulder urgery
      : 0

    30. Teething
      : 0

    OK, so 10 of the 30 — 33% of what I looked at — hit the top ten or
    first page of results. You can spin that both ways. It’s proof that being in
    Knol is NOT an automatic ride to the top of the search results. But then
    again, knowing that 33% of your stuff will rank within a day is a pretty
    good track record.

    There are lots and lots of caveats to consider. For one, doing a backlink
    lookup in Google is pretty useless, since Google
    deliberately
    underreports
    the links it knows about. For example, that "how o
    backpack" page comes back with

    no reported backlinks
    . Yet if I do this query —

    how to backpack knol
    — I come across at least two pages that link to
    the backpacking page. And over on Google Blogsearch, you can get

    better reporting
    to see 78 backlinks to it.

    So backlinks directly to some of the top ranking pages might be helping
    more than can be easily seen (and Google, this is one reason why you ought
    to report backlinks fully for any site, to help us when we want to debunk
    stuff). But then again, here’s a test knol I made yesterday —

    Firefox plugins for SEO & SEM
    — which ranks 28 for

    firefox plugins for seo
    . I never linked to it from my article about
    knol. I don’t think it made the Knol home page. I can see

    only three links pointing at it
    , and only one of those links uses anchor
    text relevant to what the page is ranking for. And it’s in the top 30
    results?

    Look, I know that being ranked 28 is pretty much near invisible in terms
    of traffic you’ll get from search engines. But then again, to go from
    nowhere to the 28th top page in Google out of 755,000 matches? I’m sorry —
    don’t tell me that being in Knol doesn’t give your page some authority. Yes,
    I understand that individual backlinks will likely make the difference in
    how high you rank for a particular term. But the bottom line is that Knol
    feels like a trusted domain to Google, and content hosted on trusted domains
    will do better, in my opinion.


    About The Author

    Danny Sullivan
    Danny Sullivan was a journalist and analyst who covered the digital and search marketing space from 1996 through 2017. He was also a cofounder of Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, MarTech Today and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo and MarTech events. He retired from journalism and Third Door Media in June 2017. You can learn more about him on his personal site & blog He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.