Google Keen

The Search Giant Releases A Content Collaboration Tool

Summary: Google has released an experimental new product called Keen, which combines the visual appeal of Pinterest with collaborative research features and content discovery powered by machine learning and Google's search algorithms.

What Is Google Keen?

While it is being positioned as a Pinterest killer, I think it is more properly defined as a content discovery engine. The product is a result of a collaboration between Area 120, Google's experimental workshop, and another unit at the company called People and AI Research (PAIR).

The tool enables you to discover content based on saved searches you choose according to your interests. It then finds content for you using machine learning and Google's superior search algorithms.

Keen provides tools to save and organize the content you like along with anyone you invite to collaborate on your curation. Your "keens," or collections of content, can remain private to only you or be shared with others or for the whole world to see.

David Erickson: My top story is Google's new--quote, unquote--social network; and I don't think it's really a social network but it's kind of being portrayed that way, called Keen. K-E-E-N. This is from a Search Engine Land article by Gene Sterling.

Keen Is Not A Pinterest Competitor

It is being compared, I think, it's called their next attempt at a social network. It's being compared to Pinterest. And I get that; it's highly visual. It's very well designed. It's very intuitive. It's counter from what you would expect from Google. It's not just engineering. It's actually usable and intuitive and easy to use.

Keen Is A Social Collaboration Tool

But it is's a social collaborative research tool, is how I'd position it. It's at, is the URL, and you go there and you can sign up right away with your Google account.

Keen Is Your Grandfather's Word For Cool

And you create basically collections of stuff. There's three sections for a given Keen. A Keen is I think it's like something is really cool, "keen." I think that's where they're getting the name. It's kind of weird but, anyway.

BL Ochman: Grandpa's word for cool.

Keen Gems Are Equivalent To Likes

David Erickson: Yeah, exactly. There's three sections. There's gems, which contain all your saved results. You can you can explore stuff and that's another section. You can like stuff and that's saving it. And then there's searches; so you can create saved searches, which will cull stuff from what Google knows about search results, what Google knows about news, and it's all supported by machine learning.

Google's Machine Learning Finds Great Content

It will actually surface some really good stuff. I tried it out and I was like, I was surprised the quality of the results right away. And then based on your own behavior, you can create your own collections, which are your Keens. And so I created one for Audio Marketing, and added a bunch of stuff.

Keen Includes Email Updates

You can have it send you a twice a week email with with new updates. I could invite you to my Keen and you can contribute to it. You can make it entirely private or public. I made mine public.

I did a full full walkthrough--video walkthrough--(see below) for people to see and you can try it out without actually trying it out. You can just do it vicariously through my through my experience. But I will try it out.

Screenshot: Keen Email

Is Keen Just An Experiment?

It is, you know, a Google thing so who knows whether it's going to last or whether they're going to develop into a full blown product and whether it will become really popular and then they'll kill it like Google Reader, so you never know---

BL Ochman: That's what I'm thinking as you're talking; we'll get into it, we'll love it and they'll go poof, it's gone. But I can't wait to try it. It sounds great. You know, we had Collections in Hangouts. And at the end, when they were busy destroying Hangouts, they added Collections and it had most of these features. So it looks like they took a piece of it, and they made something better from it.

Keen Is User-Friendly

David Erickson: Well, this is, again, this is, it's very simple. It's very intuitive. It's very easy to use. It's nothing like Google+, or you know, it's highly engineered--all kinds of really cool features that us geeks can get into, but most people don't know or bother with. So, but--

BL Ochman: I meant Google+, not Hangouts, yeah.

David Erickson: Yeah. But you know, Google does a lot of stuff just to learn. So that might--this might be one of them. Who knows? We'll see.

Keen For Social Media, Content Marketing & SEO

We marketers ultimately don't know if Google considers Keen just an experiment, an opportunity to gather data and learn, or if they are all in on supporting the product. Regardless, we're going to have to give it our attention because of it's potential to gain footing as a social tool.

If it gains widespread adoption, then it could become another channel through which to reach people who are interested in what we have to offer. But even if it doesn't earn popular appeal, it may have an effect on visibility within Google search.

That remains to be seen but I definitely will be looking for it.

On What Platforms Is Keen Available?

Keen is available on the Web and as an Android app.

Google Keen Screencast Walkthrough Tour

Video Transcript

This is the transcript for the video walkthrough shown above.

Hey, this is David Erickson with e-Strategy. I am going to take you through on a walkthrough with Keen, Google's new social collaboration tool. is where you go to. Keen, Google's new social network? Not quite sure exactly what it is but we're going to find out. You go to it by going to And then you'll be asked to log in. You see that I have logged in already with my with my Google account, so I'm ready to go.

Use Your Google Login To Get Started

It asked me to create a Keen for every interest. Got it. Okay, so I'll click the button to create a Keen, whatever those are. Here I can explore. And let's explore. So, Welcome to Keen; let's see what we've got. They've got 3900 followers already and "follow this Keen and get updates when new things are added." Got it. Okay, so "Keen is an experiment from Area 120 and PAIR built to expand what you're into. We like to use it to collect content, recommend things, and connect with each other through our interests. What about you?"

Follow & Share Existing Keens That Interest You

Okay, I'll follow that. And now I followed it. And I can share it, apparently. Let's see what happens there. And I can copy a link. I can email it. I can send it to WhatsApp and that's it. Okay, so I guess I can copy and paste the link to any social network if I wanted to.

Personalized Recommendations

"What is Keen? Looking for the best coffee roasters, learning about high-end audio or money management requires a good amount of research, personal recommendations. Keen as a space for things that extend beyond a few searches or inspiring visuals. Keen is about longer pursuits, the things you take with you and the things you're always looking for." So It looks like it might be a keyword--not a keyword-but a research tool, which could be very helpful.

Explore Your Interests

"Let's Explore. I want to show you the world. Get Keen, follow your dreams," blah, blah, blah. Okay, let's go back to the front page and get out of this Keen. Okay, so I'm following that. What else? Prepare for studying abroad. I am not planning on studying abroad so I don't need to pay attention to that. Open and manage a bread and breakfast. Kind of doesn't feel like the right time during a pandemic to be thinking about that. Stay up to date with machine learning. Okay, that I can get into.

Collaborate On Keens

Okay, so what does add mean? Oh, I can add to it, I'll bet. Let's just add a link; yep. And add from search. Okay, interesting. I'm going to follow that. Okay, go back to Keen. Interesting. Make woodblock prints of a log. Okay. Start practicing yoga. Not interested.

Create Your Own Keens

Alright, so let's create my own, then. Create a Keen and I'm gonna call this Audio Marketing because that's my latest obsession here. "Enter specific interest you want to spend more time on." Okay. Can I change that? I can't. Try something like grow mushrooms or studying like--Okay, this is suggestions. "Email me about new finds." All right, try that--oh, that's off; want it on. Okay. Audio Marketing, next and save web searches. "List of related searches you want to save, separated with commas." So audio marketing 2020. I'll take that Audio marketing statistics. examples. Yes. Yeah, why not? Services, audio marketing services; trends, definitely. Audio marketing--Okay, that's fine. More settings. Let's see what we got there. Add a description. Okay. Audio is the next frontier for content marketing. This is my research collection for the topic of audio marketing .

Make Your Keen Private Or Share It

Okay, so this is a description for people I invite. I'm going to keep this private, but if I undid it, I could share it with anyone, I can make it public. Okay, let's make it public. Allow community suggestions, why not? Okay, I'm gonna create that. And then I need to add, right? Audio marketing. We got edit or delete. I'm gonna click in there and now I can add text links, section to Keen. So got it.


Gems. Okay, share what you love. Save what you love, get more like it. Got it. Okay. So that's saved. Podcast advertising to radio to sponsorship; that's from The Drum. I'll save that, definitely. That's good. Okay, get more on what I like. I like that. Audio marketing services, nope. Audio marketing trends I should be paying attention to, I probably already am but anyway, I'll save that. Popping on this 30, sound marketing campaigns; that looks interesting. Save that. This is actually pretty good. Just in terms of content discovery. Evolution of audio advertising; what's next? That's from a MarTech series. Okay, that's probably good.

Content Discovery

Audio marketing e-trends. Look at that. It's already showing my stuff. Now, is it showing my stuff because Google thinks that's what I'm looking for, or because Google knows that I publish e-Strategy Trends. Maybe that. But we'll save it anyway. Six ways to get started with audio marketing 2018; a little outdated there. What can we expect from audio marketing in 2020, that's an AdWeek; I'll take that. Where does audio fit into...Okay, now, I've got some of the stuff; I've given it some signals about stuff I like.

Add Content To Keens

Now, I'm going to add something. I'm going to go to the e-Strategy blog and find some audio marketing stuff that I know that I'd published already, like my magnum opus on it. That's not it. Let's do...just my search...pocasts? Nope. Content. It's probably in content. All right, I'm gonna search for it, then. Just search audio. There we go. Audio is countent mark--I'm gonna copy that link there and then go back to my Keen and add my own content in here and see what happens. Add a link text; oh, add a section too? Saved. Okay, pulls all that from my blog; nice. Add that. And where does it appear?

Organize Keens Into Sections

For the gem. here we go; that's a gem. Of course it's a gem; I wrote it. Alright, I see I can add a section here so I'm gonna add a section called Podcasting. Audio marketing trend. Okay, let's save that. And now I've got a Podcasting section. I could do--I'll add another one, I'll do Audio Branding. Just for the sake of...Sonic Branding, let's call it...branding has been a standard practice for marketers for years but takes on an added significance in the age of voice activation and smart speakers. It's a smart description, isn't it? Rather pleased with myself.

Okay, now I've got two sections that I've added to my Audio Marketing; one for Sonic Branding, one for Podcasting. And I'm going to go to eStrategy TV and add an article from my eStrategy TV blog about audio branding. So there we go, audio branding. Let's save that. I could have just copied the link but okay, copy that and add that to Sonic Branding...add text. Okay. Can I add it to a section? Yes. Saved it to Sonic Branding. There we go.

And then I need podcasting...or podcast listeners. Audio consumption behavior. That's more liking to add podcast listeners for that. Copy that. And then add that to podcasting and then I'm gonna go back and grab that 2020 Audio Consumption Behavior. Get that and that overall; that applies to both--isn't specific to one of the saved sections. I'm just going to add that there. And then I've got audio logos, no I've got audio logos here. There we go; copy that and I'm gonna add that to Sonic Branding.

Save that. Okay, look at that section, Sonic Branding. Let's go back. Gems, we are in Gems. There's podcasting and then there's my saved stuff. Okay. Explore: Creative blog, 10 best audio logos and why they work; I'm gonna save that. Do you know what an audio logo is? Save that. Here are the top audio logos in the US. Look at all this stuff. This is good stuff. This is good stuff. It is really--I'm impressed.

Audio...podcasting is the next frontier...Entrepreneur. Sounds like they ripped off my story. Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if this person ripped off...I'm gonna have to contact, I'm gonna have to research that there. Anyway.

Keen Home Page Organization

Okay, so then let's go back to Keen the homepage and just see what happens. There my Keens are on top. I can't..I'm following some Keens. I can explore more Keens; there's even more there. Lucid dreams; that's interesting. Okay. What can I do to oppose racism in America? That's a good one. Let's follow that. New blogging platforms...well. Lucid dreams; okay, that's fine. PS4.

Search Optimization & Keen Content

Now let's see what search says here. Audio marketing. Okay. So it showed me mine. Is it showing me mine because it knows it's mine. Or is it just showing me that because I'm that good at search engine optimization? Top USB audio interfaces. Best digital audio workstations. So if I'm just searching by audio, this is all related to audio production stuff. Audio visuals. Learn about high-end audio or stereo stuff. Contrast audio. How to apply audio compression. Yeah, this is all like sound design. This is all audio production or stereo stuff. So mine appears to be the only one about audio marketing, anyway. So what will be interesting is--I'll continue to use this and it will be...

Keen Profile Page

Let's see if...see what my profile looks like. Okay, so my profile shows the Keens I've created and those that I'm following. Too bad the username is just a string of letters and numbers. I'd like to be able to customize my username. I wonder if I can...share my profile. Copy that. Okay. Doesn't appear to be able to. Edit accounts settings. Yeah. No, that doesn't let me. That doesn't let me customize anything. All right, well, interesting. I'll try it out. And and we'll see what--I'll really be interested in is whether this has any effect on Google Search visibility writ large in the search engine, as opposed to just within Keen. But I'll keep trying it out. Looks impressive, though.