I recently read a post on Technology Review noting the new Google Knol project and its potential competition to Wikipedia as the web’s main authoritative web site. Google’s Knol aims to differientiate itself from Wikipedia by not allowing the public to update articles within the site. Rather Knol will use individual authors with their creditials displayed within the article. Knol aims to perfect what Wikipedia started – an online resource written by professionals. What also makes Knol unique is the ability for users to ‘vote’ on articles covering the same subject. According to Udi Manber, a V.P. of engineering, “for many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing.”
Tech. Review noted that Wikipedia had differing views about the usefulness of this idea:
But Mark Pellegrini, administrator and featured-article director at Wikipedia and a member of its press committee, sees two problems with this plan. “I think what will happen is that you’ll end up with five or ten articles,” he says, “none of which is as comprehensive as if the people who wrote them had worked together on a single article.” These articles may be redundant or even contradictory, he says. Knol authors may also have less incentive to link keywords to competitors’ articles, creating “walled gardens.” Pellegrini describes the effect thus: “Knol authors will tend to link from their articles to other articles they’ve written, but not to articles written by others.”
What does this mean to the SEO community? Well, it’s already nearly impossible to thwart Wikipedia from the current SERPS, now there will be another player to deal with in Knol. This will potentially push rankings further down in SERPS. SEOs must continue to be at the forefront of the latest technologies and algorithms to ensure sites don’t get lost within the search results. In addition, ranking for short-tailed keywords will become more and more difficult. It will be further important to conduct extensive keyword research to rank for more niche-specific keywords.