Online reputation is an important part of any SEO campaign. It can drive traffic and promote links, and when a new opportunity arises for such reputation management, it should be explored sooner rather than later.
A few weeks ago, Udi Manber, Google’s vice president of engineering, announced the advent of Google Knol, a program meant to challenge Wikipedia, the popular user-generated encyclopedia. The idea, like Wikipedia, is to let anyone create a page of information on a specific topic, and all of those pages will be organized like an online encyclopedia. Google has not announced when Knol will launch.
Wikipedia listings are on page one
Why is this interesting to those of us involved in ecommerce? Well, just search for something that might be core to what you sell online and, odds are, a Wikipedia listing on that subject is on the first page of Google results. For example, the search results for the term “wristwatch” has a Wikipedia listing as No. 1.
While it is impossible to predict all the parameters of Google’s new encyclopedia, it could be easier to submit contributions there than in the tightly edited Wikipedia pages, where getting any references to stick is next to impossible. Knol also looks to be more author-centric, so that people with a true knowledge on a given subject (just as you have for your ecommerce focus) will be given respect and, if an author gets in early, prominence for a given subject.
Carve out a knowledge niche
What does all this mean for the average ecommerce website? Keep an eye out for the beginning of public access to Knol and be ready to assert yourself with regard to your area of expertise. Position yourself as an expert on a subject that is related to what you sell. Sign up with the program and carve out your niche immediately by writing an article or several articles that are neutral and honest. Use the bio section to correlate yourself with your ecommerce site. Above all, though, offer real and accurate information in the articles that makes no reference to your company.
The goal here is to get in early on an encyclopedia service that is sure to be high in Google results. Manber promises that Google does “… not want to build a walled garden of content; we want to disseminate it as widely as possible. Google will not ask for any exclusivity on any of this content and will make that content available to any other search engine.”
If Knol users find a given article interesting or helpful, they could eventually reference the author and perhaps that author’s homesite. There are many parameters to Knol that remain undefined, but if reports are accurate, the service will offer an excellent opportunity for new contributors that has long been closed by Wikipedia.