Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Squidoo Alternatives #2 - Knol

Continuing my series of alternatives to Squidoo, here is my review of Knol. When Knol was launched by Google in mid 2007 there were comparisons with both Squidoo and Wikipedia. The site allows you to post your own content to a web page known as a Knol (unit of knowledge). The content can be about pretty much anything, although for some reason there are a large number of Knols about medical issues. In truth, Knol is quite different from either Wikipedia or Squidoo. Unlike Wikipedia, Google does not take any editorial control over what you post and although you can allow other people to add to your Knol, it is not compulsory.

Unlike Squidoo (or HubPages) there are no modules to help you construct your page. What you have is pretty much a blank page. For users of other Google products, such as Blogger or Page Creator, the interface will feel very familiar. The interface does allow you to incorporate pictures, YouTube videos, spreadsheets, calendar, Picassa Web Slideshow and more. The interface does feel quite basic though.

As it is a Google product, you have the opportunity to incorporate Adsense ads so that your Knols can earn you a little money. You can however, also add whatever affiliate or referral links you like.

As you can incorporate links in your Knol, you can obviously include links to your own website or blog, BUT initially your links within your Knols will be "no-follow" so will not contribute towards your page ranking. In order for your links to become "do-follow" you have to establish yourself as a trusted author on Knol. This is what Google has to say about it:

"When Knol launched we began with all pages marked with a blanket "nofollow" directive. This means that Google and other search engines would not crawl outbound links from knols, and those links would not flow PageRank to the pages to which they point. The advice Google provides webmasters is to make links "nofollow" if they represent untrusted or low quality user contributed content.

We are now at a point where we "trust" a certain fraction of authors and a certain proportion of user contributed links, and so we now use a "follow" directive for links within such knols.

Not all links are "follow". Some links will permanently remain rel="nofollow", including:

  • Links found within comments
  • Our automatically generated links to "similar content on the web".
  • Brand new pages and recently-added authors are liable to remain "nofollow" for a period of time.
Beyond that, the rules determining which links and pages use "follow" vs "nofollow" will change over time as we adjust our policies to find the right balance for users and search engines."

So, in conclusion, Knol is easy to use and there are opportunities to make some money, although in the absence of easy to use affiliate modules, you will need to to be a bit more imaginative. However, in order to gain any page rank benefit from links to your site/blog then you will need to put some time in to establish yourself as a "trusted author".

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