Is Wikipedia part of your digital marketing strategy for SEO? If you’re working on a national brand, or an industry leading, expert organisation, it should be part of your plan.
Wikipedia features a Domain Authority of 100; however, all of its links are NoFollow. How can this possibly help your company’s search visibility? Because in spite of the common wisdom, some NoFollow links are worth it.
Wikipedia dominates organic search results, but its outbound links are all NoFollow. Does Google pay attention to NoFollow links? Maybe. The NoFollow article on Wikipedia itself cites SEO experiments that tested the impact of NoFollow links on visibility with conflicting results. SEO gurus follow one of two schools of thought: 1) NoFollow means that there’s no benefit from the link or 2) Google’s statement about NoFollow indicates it does sometimes follow these links (because of its “in general” semantic qualifier).
With this in mind, is it worth paying attention to Wikipedia for SEO? Definitely!
Nicole Kohler on Moz.com discusses the merits of NoFollow links in her article “The Hidden Power of NoFollow Links.” (see Additional Reading articles, below).
Nate Shivar in “How to Use Wikipedia for SEO & Content Marketing” points out that even if the Google NoFollow in fact not followed, there are many benefits to including Wikipedia in your SEO packages.
In spite of NoFollow, Wikipedia likely contributes to a higher position in Google’s SERP, and varied SEO authorities have reported a positive impact.
The anecdotal evidence consistently reports that SEO rank improves with links from Wikipedia. We’ve found that links in Wikipedia do enhance SERP position. An article has more impact than a link, but is naturally much more difficult and time-consuming to obtain. Wikipedia is especially worth pursuing if you have a significant client that has been featured in newspapers, radio, or television, as this provides an easy hook for citations.
A significant SEO accomplishment is getting your information featured in a Google knowledge graph. A large percentage of Google knowledge graphs comes from Wikipedia entries. Alex Butzbach in “6 Ways to Get Content into Google’s Knowledge Graph” asks the intriguing question “Do Wikipedia pages figure prominently in Knowledge Graph results because they’re often top-ranking entries? Or are they top-ranking entries because they figure prominently in the Knowledge Graph?”
Here, you can see how many top SEO companies want to provide the definitive answer to “What is SEO?” but Google’s Knowledge Graph entry is purely Wikipedia. Getting your company to feature in a Knowledge Graph is a clear win for promoting your brand.
Becoming a Wikipedia Editor
To get started you will need to create an account. As a best practice, use an email address that is personal and not associated with a particular company. Being a Wikipedia editor is valuable, and should be a part of your personal identity, not left behind when you change companies. Use your real information—treat your reputation on Wikipedia as an extension of your professional reputation. This will help keep you in-line with the site’s standards of conduct.
Read over their policies and guidelines. Note: They’re expressly against people 1) making pages about themselves or their companies, 2) making pages because they’re paid to do so. This is problematic for anyone working in the field of SEO. To succeed with Wikipedia, you have to set aside most customary link-building tactics. The priority here is not getting links for your client, but adding value to Wikipedia. Sometimes the two coincide.
While it’s not part of their express policy, new editors seem to receive a higher degree of scrutiny. Major changes to an article get looked at more than minor edits.
- Pick an area you’re passionate about and about which you know a lot: Gaming, dog breeds, SEO, cars, whatever.
- Read the articles on your subject. Because you’ve expertise in the area, this should be pleasurable and quick to do.
- Find an article that’s missing an important recent announcement or that has an express “need” from the editors on the top.
- Make a genuine contribution to the article, however small. You may be able to add more information and a good citation to an external reference, or you may find that two Wikipedia articles are closely related and one should link to the other.
Get used to Wikipedia, its norms, and expectations. Build credibility as a contributor and editor. Add things that are new and current.
“Write what you know.”—Mark Twain
This proves exceptionally true when starting off as a Wikipedia editor. For example, Merlin lives in Seattle and heard an NPR segment on the Seattle International Film Festival’s (SIFF) controversial premier this year of Woody Allen’s latest film. She’s interested in cinema, so she looked up the Wikipedia page on SIFF, saw that no one had yet added the 2016 premier film and made that a contribution. (She don’t have any professional connection to SIFF, Woody Allen, or the movie.) This makes for a very solid addition to Wikipedia.
Strongly Recommend: Write your text in Word, make sure it is edited and perfect before adding it to a Wikipedia page.
The mark-up language is a bit awkward, but practice with the two different Wikipedia editing tools should quickly enable anyone familiar with html, CSS, and similar should be able to master the system quickly.
Now that you’ve established a bit of credibility and gained a bit of experience with Wikipedia, start thinking about what’s a solid fit for one of your clients. Any special feature likely has an article on Wikipedia. Revolving restaurant? Odd location? The mind-set here is not to place your client in a premium location, it’s to place a reference in a place that’s an excellent fit and adds to the knowledge base of the site.
- First, you’ll want to check to see if your client is mentioned in an article already, just using the search function. You may be able to provide a link to the official site. Ditto for the CEO and other authoritative figures in the company.
- Second, see if your client’s parent company or partners have articles. It’s likely you’ll have something relevant to contribute.
- Third, check for information on your industry. The broader the topic, though, the better the references you need for inclusion.
- Fourth, starting now, keep a “clippings” file. Keep track of every newspaper/magazine/website reference to your client. When you have some free time, try to find additional references. The emphasis here is not on link you may have built, but links (or citations in text-based sources) that are newsworthy. Ask your client for any of these references, including awards, they may have had over the years. A surprising amount of businesses don’t keep track of them. They’ll be very impressed that you do. Note: Wikipedia wants authoritative, external-to-top, impartial sources. Better to have a cite to an article in the New York Times that mentions a hotel was built in 1954 than to have a link from that hotel’s website. Varied sources are also key.
- Fifth, Wikipedia loves cross-references in articles to other Wikipedia articles. Be sure to fully-enhance your article with links to the city, state, industry and other relevant Wiki articles.
Your Wikipedia Contributions
Strive to make your entries and references for you clients indistinguishable from your personal and hobby contributions.
Your clients may have particular ways of presenting their brand information and strict instructions about how they appear in text. These rules suit house style guides; your initial edits may follow them perfectly. To adapt Helmuth von Moltke’s famous quote: “No text survives contact with the editors unscathed.”
Wikipedia is dynamic. The article you’ve edited or created will change.
Writing a new entry can seem an easy thing. You work with an international company, you see that several of their locations have short, individual entries with very little citation. You create one that’s very similar: short and with just the link to the location website.
Wikipedia standards have gotten higher over the years. What used to be a passable article with minimal information is no longer adequate.
To optimise the chances that your article will be accepted: Have at least 3 impartial, third-party references, cross-connect to at least 3 current Wikipedia articles, link to the Official Site, and include a good-quality (doesn’t have to be professional-quality) picture that hasn’t been published elsewhere and can become part of the Wiki Commons.
Pictures enhance articles, but there are a number of rules: You have to have full rights to them. They can’t be from a commercial website. They automatically become part of the Wiki Commons, so you’re offering to share and give up ownership. Loading pictures is very slow. In my experience, it may time out before finished, even with lower-res pictures. Strongly Recommend: Do everything else to the article first. Make sure it’s saved. Wait a few minutes, then try to add whatever image(s). Suggestion: Don’t waste your time with images from your clients’ websites. Ask for candid, ad-hoc pictures from folks in the area.
Wikipedia can seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it. You may be surprised at how enjoyable it is and how much it will impact your position in the SERP. Get started!
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”—Wayne Gretzky
- The five pillars of Wikipedia:
- How to edit a page
- Help pages
- How to write a great article
- Manual of Style
“How to Use Wikipedia for SEO & Content Marketing” by Nate Shivar
“Wikipedia SEO Strategies: Why WikiPedia Rank Higher in Google” by Sujith
“How Do I Use Wikipedia for SEO Purposes?” by Jon Cooper
“The Art of SEO for Wikipedia & 16 Tips to Gain Respect” by Stephan Spencer
“21 Actionable SEO Techniques You Can Use Right Now (Updated)” by Brian Dean
“The Hidden Power of NoFollow Links” by Nicole Kohler
“The NoFollow Tag is a Lot Like a Drunken Boss” by Jason Lancaster
“6 Ways to Get Content into Google’s Knowledge Graph” by Alex Butzbach