Get ready to add another marketing buzzword to your list.
Last week’s announcement of Google Knol launched the first bout in the struggle to control the third page. While not as electrifying as the Third Rail, not grabbing control of the third page could be equally threatening to GOOG’s quest for world-domination.
For those of you wondering what the third page is: According to Josh Bernoff, an analyst at Forrester Research, “The first page is the main page of a portal; the second page is where the search results are; the third page is what you click on when you decide where to go. Google already owns the first and second page, but since they don’t own content, they have no control over the third page.”
If we strip out social networking sites, search engines and retail sites, the Alexa Top 100 shows Wikipedia and Yahoo as the dominant Third Page sites. This is followed by Go.com (home of ABC, ESPN and Disney), then , IMDB, CNN, GameFAQs, About, New York Times, IGN (home of Rotten Tomatoes), GameSpot, Reference.com, and CNET.
Take a look how this translates, in terms of traffic:
Wikipedia, alone, takes about 55 Million visitors. The majority of the other sites listed above add an additional 20 Million each. Those are a lot of eyes that could be converted to Google Ad dollars; a good reason why they would want to dominate 1st, 2nd and 3rd pages. Will the algorithm stay unbiased so that non-Google articles make it to the top?
The big question for me, however, is why would GOOG want to start with such a web 1.0 endeavor? Wikipedia is open to editing by members of the internet community. Google’s Knol will contain articles written by experts and community members. During beta–and perhaps beyond–Knol will remain closed to editing. Wikipedia (and wiki’s) are highly social, which helps ensure accuracy; if one person writes something that isn’t accurate, someone else will come along and fix it. Mashable suggests the information will be organized like a Mega-blog, but, to me, Knol doesn’t seem too different from about.com, Encarta, or any other web 1.0 experts/answers pages. With social search sites like Eurekster and Mahalo, trying to control content will (hopefully) lose to the content people find most informative.