Google’s new Wikipedia-competitor, Knol, has made quite a splash lately. The strange thing is, Google doesn’t own the domain name Knol.com. It belongs to a Dutch company specialized in steam cleaning equipment.
(Google’s Knol website is located at knol.google.com.)
A burst of traffic to Knol.com
The Knol.com website (i.e. the one not owned by Google) received a big burst of traffic when Google first started talking about Knol in December of 2007, something that is blatantly obvious when looking at their traffic graph.
Above: Google Trends traffic data for Knol.com. It appears the data has not yet been updated to show what is sure to be another traffic increase around the Knol release date in July.
Studying Alexa traffic data shows a similar spike, and also shows what appears to be the start of a significant traffic increase in late July (Knol went public on July 23).
Positive or negative effects?
According to the Knol.com website, immediately upon Google’s announcement in December, they received tens of thousands of visitors. They seem somewhat amused by the attention they are getting.
However, if Google’s Knol grows as big as Wikipedia, they may end up a bit less amused, since incidental type-in traffic to the Knol.com website is bound to increase significantly and they may get flooded with completely irrelevant traffic. Not all traffic is good traffic.
You may also wonder what this will do to search results for this company. Will it completely kill their Web presence? Google’s Knol is bound to take up most of the search results involving the word “knol”.
An honest mistake by Google?
Surely Google could have afforded to buy the domain name Knol.com from this company? They must have known that people would end up typing in “knol.com” in their web browsers, expecting to end up at Google’s Knol.
But if Google did want to buy the domain name, wouldn’t it have made a bit more sense to try and do that before announcing Knol…? For one, it would most likely have been a lot cheaper when their plans weren’t known. Now, every Knol marketing move that Google makes increases the value of the Knol.com domain name.
As far as we can tell, from the statements on the Knol.com website, Google doesn’t appear to have tried to buy the domain name, at least not before last December when they made their initial announcement.
Currently the following slightly rebellious note adorns the Knol.com website:
“NOTE: We sell steamcleaning equipment and don’t sell our domain !!”
We hope they are getting some good business out of this. 🙂
If Google’s next big thing is something called Pingdom…
… then we might just consider selling them our domain name for a few measly first positions in their search index for some words related to our business… Google, are you listening…? (Yes, we are joking…)