Monthly Archives: December 2007

My Thoughts On Google knol

Google could be heading down a slippery slope with Youtube and now knol. Their organic search results are meant to be unbiased and provide the most relevant results for any given query. In 2000 Google launched Google Adwords and we started seeing sponsored search results. That was ok, the ads were clearly marked and listed alongside the search results.

Google starts releasing additional services to diversify their revenue streams, like the Google search appliance, site targeting, radio and print ads.

At some point here, they suddenly realized that they have this great money making scheme called Google Adsense, but they only ever take a cut out of each ad because as a search engine, they’re designed to send traffic away. The next logical step here, from a money making point of view, is to take a larger percentage, or take the entire ad revenue. They can only do that if they become a content publisher. At that point there’s a huge conflict of interest in serving relevant, unbiased results and a serving up your own site, which makes money.

In Oct 2006 Google bought Youtube , then in May 2007 they launch Universal search to provide Youtube with more exposure in the search results.

Now with Google knol they want to extend publishing to textual content and run adsense. To ensure quality content and to keep the spammers at bay they will probably not offer a rev share either.

Since wikipedia has such a strong organic presence, that leaves 9 spots on page 1 for other reference material type sites. Enter Google knol and that reduces it to 8. Throw in Google’s diversification of search results and now for ecommerce queries, you may find that there’s only 1 spot left on page 1 for an informational article about a product.

So once knol builds critical mass, what could happen? Well obviously sites like about.com will loose rankings to knol. answers.com who already took a 28% traffic hit this year could face a double whammy by loosing rankings and having their keywords links in the results are replaced with knols.

What do you think might happen? Would you want to contribute an authoritative article to knol?

SEO Client Story

I used to work for an SEO agency in Pittsburgh and dealt with a number of interesting clients in a variety of industries, with large and small sites. There were a number of funny incidents that I encountered, which I’d like to recount here, although names will be withheld.

No Google Traffic
After taking on this client I gained access to their webtrends reports and it showed an astounding lack of Google organic traffic. I looked over the meta tags and page content and all seemed to be targeting the right set of keywords to some degree, although onpage could still use some improvement.

I knew they weren’t doing anything advanced like IP delivery so I used Firefox with the useragent switcher extension and confirmed that with my useragent set to googlebot, slurp or msnbot I could browse the site without any problems. After checking the robots.txt I found that googlebot had been disallowed! After asking the client’s developer why they decided to ban googlebot their response was: It was crawling the site too often and there were errors on some of the pages that were leading to open database connections and locking up the server.

Needless to say the developers got a quick lesson in why banning googlebot to mask their programming errors is not good business practice.

Want to hear more stories? Do you have any of your own you’d like to share?

Optimizing PDFs for Search Engines

At pubcon I listened to a session by George Aspland about various techniques to optimize PDF files for search engines. Part of his ongoing research is to see whether links within a PDF file pass link juice. To test this, he asked if session members would download and republish one of his PDF files. So here it is. Good luck, it will be interesting to see the results of this test.

Optimizing PDFs for Search Engines (1.8MB PDF file)

Meeting People At Pubcon

While I met a bunch of great people, there were a great deal of people I didn’t get to meet. Some were just rude or didn’t have any time for me (the man with the golden shoes and the offwhite hound dog), but apart from them, most others were polite enough to exchange pleasantries.

For those I didn’t get to meet, feel free to leave a comment, or you can catch up with me (my username is Pittbug) on the SEO refugee forums.

Thanks to Brett Tabke for the free beers, I shall return again next year.

Heading to Pubcon

Just a quick note to say that next week I’ll be at pubcon in Vegas soaking up the latest SEO/SEM issues and techniques.

If you want to meet, you can either post in the thread on seorefugee here, or call me using GrandCentral:

This marks almost one year since I started this blog, which was a direct result of having attended Pubcon in 2006.