Author and search optimization expert Aaron Wall headed to Google's Knol, as did many SEO professionals, to create a page. He doesn't sound happy about what he found.
We have already seen how Knol grabbed great Google rankings for a significant percentage of pages listed on Knol's home page. Knol isn't supposed to have a high PageRank yet, but Google may be giving its house resource a little algorithmic love behind the scenes.
Wall suggested this as he reached out to see how a page on the site might fare for him. He created an SEO Basics Knol that "was essentially a duplicate of my Work.com Guide to Learning SEO (that was also syndicated to Business.com)," he said.
Google cited the new Knol as being similar to work already on the web at Work.com and Business.com. Wall searched for a string of text from the article and found it ranking on Google; searching for it with duplicate content filters negated found the Knol piece ranking above its syndicated and much older placement on Business.com.
"Some may call this the Query Deserves Freshness algorithm, but one might equally decide to call it the copyright work deserves to be stolen algorithm," said Wall.
"Google knows the content is duplicate, and yet they prefer to rank their own house content over the originally published source."
Whether Google changes this behavior or not, which could happen given all the algorithm tweaking they regularly do, probably won't change the flood of SEOs churning out pages at Knol. Considering Google's treatment of such content with favorable rankings, SEOs may have to do this out of a need to compete.
And we've all seen how well competitors fare against Google. Ask.com seems moribund, and depends on Google advertising; Yahoo took an ad deal with Google to avoid being taken over by Microsoft; and even Microsoft sees Google as a major competitor.
By ranking Knol articles highly, Google, by design or accident, made Knol a go-to destination for anyone seeking traffic for a website. Knol became something SEOs must consider in their work for their sites and clients because of this, and that may not be a great thing.