Google SERP Bias? Google Knols Best

I noticed a few weeks ago that sites using Google Knol or Google pages were getting great positions in the Google SERPs. This didn’t seem like a big deal to me at the time, as it was in less-trafficked areas and nothing that was competing with me.

But now the trick is out, and people are inundating Knol to grab greater positions in the SERPs than they could attain with normal means.

Come on Google — and in this case I mean Matt Cutts — how do you really expect people to believe your edicts when things like this can occur? You had to see it out of the gate. You keep track of the SERPs — the patron saint as it were — and as much as I have gamed the system, I’ve always trusted your moral compass and moved as close to it as my clients’ needs would allow.

Mate, I like you, and know the good work you’re trying to do to make Google a much richer experience for users. But when stuff like this pops up, I have a hard time thinking you couldn’t see it coming, or at least react quicker to the results we’re all seeing now.

Folks, if you need some lift, start dropping pages into Knol and Google pages. They show up in the organic results faster than you can get them through Webmaster Central.

Is this fair? At this stage, is that really a measure anymore? We hear about black hats, gray hats, and white hats — that’s all B.S. What matters is if you tried everything possible — either for yourself or your clients!

In the August edition of OMMA magazine, there are a bunch of fluff pieces on Google — hey, they’re the 800-pound gorilla in the space, and God forbid we piss them off.

But realistically, Google right now is resting on their numbers — well over 50 percent of the global search reach and, in most cases, as high as 65 percent. And yes, they’re playing with all sorts of other media, but bottom line: they could fall flat on their faces if something else comes along.

OK, jump on Knol as fast as you can — think mid-September (if that long) and it will be gone — if not, you’ve hit the jackpot. Start using Google pages for local results — seems they’re a popular result.

I could drop in examples now, but I really don’t want to do Google’s job for them. I’ve seen great results for Google pages for some real estate stuff and Knol is just bursting out all over.

There’s no denying I’ve gamed the system, and I will again — just doing the best by my clients — but it’s been a long time since I broke an online law.

Keep watching and start using this gap in the system. Either Google drops Knol and Wikipedia from the organic results, or this keeps getting you solid traffic.

After all, this is Search Engine Watch not Search Engine Mute…

Chris, as a long time employee/executive of serious agencies, I think your stance would be a little less confrontational. I seriously hope it isn’t.

Chris Boggs Fires Back

Frank, you’ve fired me up my friend. I guess this is what a vacation does for you? Google should pay you to keep working and stop stirring the pot.

I just finished writing an internal review of the value of buying links, and although it’s still very much our company’s stance that we don’t buy links on behalf of our clients, I had to be fair. Buying links works, and Google is failing miserably in their battle on this front, as well as against other black hat methods that come up every day.

Without taking a serious stance against sites that buy links to gain top positions for competitive terms, this activity will never stop. Every day, people get better at covering their tracks, so it may be time for Google to move away from placing so much trust in links, if they really want to get it right. PageRank could be renamed to SomeSchmuckThatWeLetGoRank, and a new, more powerful way to determine trust could replace the rapidly aging system.

Some have suggested that it’s time for Google to use their Google Co-op system of having industry-expert users tagging sites and helping base organic rankings on those tags. One problem is that folksonomy-based ratings can be manipulated just as easily as inbound linking footprints. Human editors, like everyone else, always have a price, so corruption is a probable outcome of this path.

Maybe it’s time for Google to take some of their “20 percent time” and farm out quality assurance beyond Cutts’ team. Then they could at least monitor the top thousand or so categories that drive a majority of the volume and transactions originating with search engine research. They would have to ignore the adult world, probably — just put them on an island and let them fight it out for top positions.

Perhaps if Google actually started to get serious about cleaning up the SERPs beyond simply adjusting the Knol or Wikipedia effect, then more Webmasters would likely play fair.

Please reach out to me next week at SES San Jose to discuss this subject! I’m sure you can find Frank and I somewhere during the day, and somewhere loud at night.

Join us for SES San Jose, August 18-22 at the San Jose Convention Center.

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