Wikipedia and Your Content Visibility

By Luke Bowen, The Search Agency

When the everyday internet user seeks information on a topic, Wikipedia often appears at the top of organic listings. Wikipedia is the world’s leading crowd-sourced encyclopedia, and search engines lean on it for many informational queries. In fact, Wikipedia is the fifth most-visited site, outperforming behemoths like eBay, Instagram and Twitter. Wikipedia, while not the first or only online encyclopedia, took off after many reputable websites began linking to it as a reference. Wikipedia is now available in 280 languages, earns 1.6 billion organic visits a month and enjoys over 5 billion backlinks to 83.9 million indexed pages.

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Source: SEMRush.com

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Conductor.com observed 2,000 informational and transactional queries and found Wikipedia on page one for 60 percent of informational and 34 percent of transactional searches. With a presence like that, it should be viewed as your No. 1 competitor and ally simultaneously. Yet with all its rank authority, content marketers are not sufficiently familiar with its scripting and user policies to effectively incorporate it as a part of their online presence.

Here are a couple important guidelines and insights for how you can tap into Wikipedia as a partner in generating online awareness without having to worry so much about your contributions being pulled.

Background to Wikis You Should Know

For the newer content marketer, Wikipedia offers many features you may not realize:

1. Wikipedia is free to join and Wikis are free to create and edit by anyone.

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Searching a topic that does not yet exist provides a prompt to “Create the page”. Topics that already exist can be updated via an “Edit” tab in the upper right of the page. Your name and IP will be tracked when you edit. Too many spam entries can get your IP entirely blocked from Wikipedia. So be especially cautious and only submit high-quality entries or edits.

2. Collaboration on topics happens often and is encouraged, especially if the topic is important and referenced in other Wikipedia articles. A “Talk” tab and “View History” tab exist so users can communicate about changes and see previous page edits. If you want to draw the attention of administrators to a question on the “Talk” tab, enter:

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A summary box also exists on the “Edit” tab to explain what sort of edit was made. Users are also granted Sandbox areas so when creating a new Wiki, you can hold off publishing or update it in sprints after other editors can review and approve before going live.

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3. Wikis, because of their domain authority and focused content, are so SEO-friendly that search engines like Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo will reference their information directly in the search results as Knowledge Graph Panels or Answer Boxes.

 

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4. “Wikitext,” “wikicode” or wiki markup is used to create and update articles. Wikipedia still deploys a WYSIWYG visual editor so writers can create clean article layouts without needing to inject code.

Other things you should be aware of:

    • Wikipedians do not tolerate spammy posts or anything nonsensical on the website. Your purpose should be to make Wikipedia better, not start a link farm or praise a company or idea. If you are posting anything which appears promotional, biased, libelous or unsubstantiated, it will often be removed within 24 hours — links included. There is no minimum or maximum size to avoid this. Other important issues that can flag an article for deletion are:
      • Too many statements needing clarification or that are confusing.
      • The topic is too ambiguous.
      • The article is duplicative or a topic is already covered elsewhere.
      • Violates copyrights or plagiarizes.
      • Has major cleanup issues in its formatting or quality.
      • Support for the article is controversial or resulting in an “edit war.”
  • Wiki editors with insufficient knowledge or bad intentions can (and do) alter Wiki articles. “Wikiality” (from The Colbert Report), a play on “reality,” refers to perceptions and beliefs that are altered due to something referenced on Wikipedia. This vulnerability is the primary reason Wikipedia is viewed as a non-academic resource. The point mentioning this here is to demonstrate just how important external references are in sustaining the prevalence of a Wiki article.

 

Here are some things to get you started…

 

Getting Your Wiki On

 

User Name and Profile Setup

 

This may sound arbitrary, but your name is critical to establishing the first record of you being impartial and unaffiliated. If you create a username that is attached or associated with a business profile, a clear industry focus or an easily discovered content creator online, chances are you are not going to be allowed to submit content without that content being scrutinized, if not pulled down entirely. To make sure your profile always appears unbiased, edit “Talk” pages and apply multiple accepted contributions to other Wikis. A good place to find where contributions might be lacking is on the Wikipedia Database Reports page. The more trusted edits you perform, the more reliably you can create pages and make significant contributions stick.

 

Share

 

You are going to want to have another fresh set of eyes read your copy. If there is any sense of bias or commercial slant to your text, you will often not see it as clearly as others may. Get a second sign-off first before the tedious process of coding it to Wikipedia. Wikipedia also makes available a chat function.

 

Formatting

 

There are a bunch of guides like this one built to help one get started formatting their content to appear properly. But a common way newbies begin applying the wiki markup to copy is by “borrowing” code from existing pages. Grab the text, paste it into a .txt file, and then replace inputted values with everything you have ready.

 

Commit the following five code pieces to memory; you’ll use them a lot in your Wikipedia entries:

 

==Headings== and ===Subheadings===

 

These basically operate as H2 tags and H3 tags which are incredibly helpful for search engines to identify keyword topics.

 

[[Link title]]

 

This will hyperlink a word with a related Wiki page inside your copy. Use as often as possible for the first appearance of an important word.

 

{{Infobox company
|name = Company Name, Inc.
|image = company_logo.jpg
|caption = Comp Name

|website = http://www.example.com/
}}

 

The above sample script is what delivers the summary box in the upper-right of most Wiki articles. This piece is commonly what search engines like to adapt to Knowledge Box placements.

 

[http://www.example.com link title]

 

This will hyperlink a keyword or keyword phrase that will point to a supporting page external to Wikipedia in your ==External Links== area. Do not apply this link in your written paragraph content. Leave it for the final section. Also, make sure the linked page is to something clearly on-topic and is not something that was generated to sell ads/products or requires the visitor to log in somewhere to access more information. This backlink is also “nofollow,” so while it is as good as any nofollow link can possibly get, it is still not sending link value, so do not overdo them or you will look like a spammer.

 

Apply Markup to Create Your Internal Bibliography

 

To do this, use:

 

{{cite web|url=http://example.com/|title=Title|last=AuthorsLastName|first=AuthorsFirstName|publisher=NameOfThePublisher|date=Month 1, 20XX|accessdate=Month 1, 20XX}}.

At the end of the article enter:

 

== References ==
{{reflist}}

 

This will be very helpful to tabulate your bibliographic references at the bottom. Make sure these are abundant and varied from many sources. Also, apply the same thinking here as you would to the ==External Links== area.

 

Additional Linking

 

To really get the most bang for your buck in Wikipedia, don’t just launch your article and move on: It will be considered an “orphaned” page if no other entries are linking to it. You need to make sure other Wikis have made note of your subject. This means finding places in Wikipedia through an internal search that could point to your page because (a) they carry the term mentioned or (b) their subject matter is very closely related. This is achievable often in the form of categorizations or subcategorizations.

 

Images

 

Images can obviously say things words may not and including them shows an even greater effort was applied to getting your Wiki together. But you should only use images that you own or that are a part of the Creative Commons so you don’t run afoul of copyright laws. Wikipedia offers an easy image file upload wizard to get the image online and ready for use.

 

Important Wiki Tactics

 

Dead Links

 

Wikipedia is a gold mine for filling in a lot of gaps where it indicates “citation needed” or “dead link.”

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Source: Wikipedia.org

You should prioritize finding these and strategizing how you can support the information that is poorly sourced with a better link or another supporting Wiki reference. Wikipedia tabulates these places frequently. Finding specific details about these places is easier than you think. WikiGrabber is great for showing dead links or missing citations, or you can just visit Google directly and type:

 

site:wikipedia.org [Target Term] “dead link”

 

OR

 

site:wikipedia.org [Target Term] “citation needed”

 

Using tools like Majestic.com or ahrefs.com on dead links in Wikipedia can also reveal opportunities to correspond with webmasters to update their own dead links, which can encourage them to link to your citations or related posts.

 

Wikidata

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Answer Boxes are often sourced from Wikidata to fulfill answers to longer-form questions. An example would be:

 

“When was McDonald’s founded?”

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Source: Google.com.au

The question posed in the graphic specifically asked “when,” yet Google will often supply additional information about a topic if these details are listed on its Wikidata page.

If you are in pursuit of markup optimizations to support internationally relevant concepts within foreign language directories, Wikidata.org is what you should leverage. According to Ewan McAndrew of Wikimedia UK, of the 5 million articles in the English language version of Wikipedia, only about 30% percent will appear in some form within other Wikipedia language directories. Wikidata serves as a repository where information can be sourced to foreign language search queries.

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Creating or updating a Wikidata item can likewise be done freely by anyone that abides by the terms in good faith. Contribution history is tracked and can work to establish your credibility as a contributor.

 

Wikinews

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Wikinews, another sister site of Wikipedia, is a collaborative repository for news events that can be cross-referenced, linked from and categorically organized by subject matter. Like other Wikis, it is free to join and update and operates with the same wikimarkup as Wikipedia. For websites that operated in the sphere of online journalism, updating reported events and creating news posts in Wikinews can be an invaluable source for building awareness of your own published news articles as well as establishing spiderable content to be sourced within search engine result pages.

 

For Your Next Content Strategy Session…

 

Wikis should NOT be the cornerstone of your content strategy, but instead for raising topic awareness or visibility of your brand online. Executed properly, a Wikipedia or Wikidata entry can earn you prime real estate on search engine results pages worldwide. So, when preparing to publish a new Wiki article, be sure to have an editor on standby who’s comfortable working on them, as well as monitoring them once live. This final task can become a very time- and resource-intensive process if your team members have never written one before and more edits and revisions are requested. A Wiki article will likely not be considered “complete” by Wikipedia moderators in its first iteration. And if left to “die on the vine,” recovering your rejected submission will not be possible. Making the effort to come back immediately to Wikipedia to collaborate and re-work what was published previously is the best safeguard for making sure your hard work will remain online. Most likely, Wikipedia moderation is going to come back saying your article isn’t citing enough or that your point of view has bias. If you are cognizant of this and prepared to remedy it, a back-and-forth or risk of article removal can be avoided.

Thea Fries