On July 23, 2008, Google launched their Knol project. A knol, as defined by Google, is “a unit of knowledge” and refers to both the project’s name and any individual article. The project collects articles written by users on a wide range of fields, and the goal is to provide Internet users the chance to access knowledge on any of these topics.
Sound familiar? Is Google trying to compete with Wikipedia, THE first source of knowledge many people run to online when in need of information? While there are obvious similarities, there are also important differences. And if you are interested in promoting your company on each, you will need to customize your approach accordingly.
Wikipedia & Google Knol: Main Differences
You’re probably well aware that any person has the ability to edit pages on Wikipedia, but with Google Knol, the author has the option to invite only selected experts to modify pages created by him. This way, with Knol, any kind of sabotage can be avoided, at the same time allowing the user to have his article reviewed by a peer/expert.
On Wikipedia, if you write anything that even remotely reeks of promotion, you will be promptly escorted off the premises. All articles are meant to be unbiased, objective information, much like what you’d find in any classic encyclopedia. However, this is clearly not the case with Google Knol as their content policy clearly states, “You may use Knol to create articles for your business or to promote your lawful products or services.”
Wikipedia has one article for each topic, which is edited so any new information or updates are added onto the same article. One page can be endlessly modified until it barely resembles the original. On the other hand, on Google Knol, there could be several articles on the same topic written by different authors.
Wikipedia is entirely advertising-free, whereas in Knol you have the option to use ads from Google AdSense in your own knols.
In Google Knol, articles can be rated by other users and comments may be left as well. This does not happen in Wikipedia.
Pros/Cons of Wikipedia
When it comes to marketing your business or promoting your products or services, Wikipedia has some serious limitations. Even if you make your article about your company completely unbiased, they might still bump it off. However, if you are successful in including an article about your industry or technological innovation, the benefits of being listed in Wikipedia, albeit through an indirect link, should be obvious. Even though it´s not perfect and particularly vulnerable to vandalism, it carries a great deal of authority, both in terms of prestige and search engine results.
Pros/Cons of Google Knol
The main advantage of Google Knol is that you can promote your services and not have to be worried about being banned or censored. Knol is a newcomer in comparison to Wikipedia, but is gaining popularity steadily. It might not yet have the respect that Wikipedia has, but you can gain a fair amount of credibility by getting high ratings from other users and reviews by experts.
Which Should You Use?
So, which should you use to promote your business? It all depends on several factors.
If you have a new business, chances are you won´t have enough to contribute to Wikipedia, but you have the possibility of providing information about what you do in Knol. On the other hand, if you’ve been in business for a while, conducted research, developed new software, or in other words, if you can contribute something of value to the knowledge base, Wikipedia will gladly accept what you´re offering. You can promote your business on either one, as long as you accept that they play by different rules and adjust your approach accordingly.
For more information on Wikipedia Marketing, read Zeke Camusio’s article “Wikipedia Marketing – 5 Steps to Visibility on Wikipedia.”