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Wikipedia has been one of the success stories of the internet, growing rapidly to become the de facto reference site for many people.

There are more than 4.4m pages in the English language edition alone, and it is still growing at the rate of 771 new pages every day.

How can its impact benefit digital marketers?

While everyone has heard of, and probably uses, Wikipedia, what fewer understand is the impact it has on search results.

Wikipedia ranks highly in responses to many search queries due to the high degree of trust the search engines have in its content, the breadth of information it contains and the global, multi-language scope of the site.

Our own SEO Ranking Factors Rank Correlation study shows this clearly. Typically Wikipedia ranks second in results for a large number of keywords, for example behind the respective brand or the specific URL for the search term itself.

However, if there is no significant brand that would match the search query, Wikipedia often ranks first. This is particularly true of informational keywords (such as definitions) that are unconnected to brands.

Looking at this graph from google.co.uk illustrates the correlation between Wikipedia URLs and search results:

Average ranking of Wikipedia in google.co.uk searches (from Searchmetrics 2013 SEO Ranking Factors - Rank Correlation Study)

So how can brands benefit from the correlation between Wikipedia and high search results? I’d say there are four key ways:

  1. Keep pages up to dateWikipedia aims to be an independent information source, so over developed pages about your company or products will be frowned upon by the community and potentially removed. However you should ensure that there are up to date, factual pages to ensure that you rank highly in search results.

    This is particularly true if you want to appear towards the top of results for informational keywords – make sure you are providing unbiased information that positions you as an expert.

  2. Maximise your Google Knowledge Graph informationGoogle’s Knowledge Graph feature aims to enhance search results by providing immediate information on the results page. Normally on the right hand side, it gives either basic details and images/maps on a topic or company, or direct answers to very specific queries, such as What is the population of London?, without a user needing to click on other results.

    Wikipedia is one of the major sources of this information – rather than your corporate website. So make sure information on your revenues, senior management, staff and products is always up to date on Wikipedia.

  3. Use photos within WikipediaKnowledge Graph also trawls Wikipedia for images to accompany results. Therefore make sure you include up to date images (such as your logo) on the site if you want to provide the latest information to browsers when they are searching.
  4. Increase trust in your brandAs it has been vetted by the Wikipedia community, information about brands on the site is considered highly trustworthy and independent by consumers. It provides neutral, fact-based content, along with multiple links to specific information which encourage people to find out more.

    Not having a Wikipedia page can therefore reduce trust in your brand. 

Our Ranking Factors survey shows that while Google favours quality, substance, and ultimately, relevance in ordering its search results it always takes into account secondary factors such as Wikipedia.

The information on the site is interwoven into Knowledge Graph results, meaning it could be the first thing that a prospective customer sees about your company or brand. Therefore you need to ensure you have built the right presence on Wikipedia and are keeping it up to date if you want to benefit from its undoubted power when it comes to search.

Marcus Tober

Published 19 December, 2013 by Marcus Tober

Marcus Tober is CTO at Searchmetrics GmbH and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

14 more posts from this author

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Paul Wilkinson

Marcus makes some strong points about the importance of Wikipedia to a brand's search engine visibility.

However, brand managers need to beware of being over-active in creating, editing or expanding the content of any article where they have a vested interest.

Experienced Wikipedians take conflicts of interest very seriously and there have been numerous examples of companies whose online reputation has suffered through adverse publicity regarding their attempts to "fix" Wikipedia entries about themselves or their clients.

The UK's Chartered Institute of Public Relations has published guidelines on Wikipedia engagement which will help companies work ethically with the Wikipedia community, stressing that company employees should avoid editing articles about the organisation (or its clients). These guidelines could prove invaluable to SEO practitioners and others too.

almost 3 years ago

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David Rosen

No doubt that wikpedia, and being cited on it, are now important for general ranking in google. However, although wikipedia is great, of itself, it tends ti favours brands and known players in markets, making it harder to get listed on wikipedia. A good example I have seen is law firms in London. My firm is small yet well known and very active online, but wikipedia only mentions the bigger firms, listed in other publications like the Legal 500, which of themselves favour the bigger firms. Is this what the average searcher wants when they search for a law firm ? Most searchers do not want a top 500 law firm, they want a local firm, cost effective, which they can trust. Unfortunately, becoming increasingly chicken and egg.

almost 3 years ago

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Perry Bernard

I'm guessing it's a fine line between creating a solid Wikipedia page vs erring toward 'marketing' your brand. That said, I would imagine it's not a bad idea to get someone external to your company to create your Wikipedia page for you, with strict instruction to not use any kind of creative language that could possibly be seen as marketing on your behalf.

Our company does not currently have a Wiki page, but it's given me food for thought, and ensuring we do this well is going to be very important to our credibility online.

over 2 years ago

Lenka Istvanova

Lenka Istvanova, Marketing Project Manager at Freestak

Some good points, Marcus! Wikipedia is definitely a place to be at - one of my client is featured on Wikipedia's page and every month this brings a good amount of referral traffic. However, as you said you need to take care of it, not just leave it to work for you.

Thanks!

over 2 years ago

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marketing

Great post you have shared & nice topic you have covered in your post. Thanks for sharing it.
http://hokx.com

over 2 years ago

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Joel Siddall

Great article, there are some very strong points here. I think Wikipedia generally favours the larger organisations who have extensive business history. However, if small businesses can get listed too, then it will definitely be worthwhile.

over 2 years ago

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Daniel Page

Marcus- Fantastic article! We included it in our Monthly Resource Roundup: http://www.aseohosting.com/blog/2014/01/seo-content-marketing-and-social-media-the-best-of-december-2013/

Cheers!

over 2 years ago

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angelina

ikipedia is definitely a place to be at - one of my client is featured on Wikipedia's page and every month this brings a good amount of referral traffic. However, as you said you need to take care of it, not just leave it to work for you.
great..post..!!

over 2 years ago

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