Wikipedia enjoys its status as the most popular online source for general reference. Its Alexa rank is fifth, behind Google, YouTube, Facebook and Baidu, respectively. Considering the first four are essential if anyone wants to stay up-to-date with anything, Wikipedia’s position directly behind signifies its monumental popularity. Communicating in 301 different languages, the ubiquity of Wikipedia’s reach is evident.
This begs the question – why is it so widely used? After all, if anyone can edit and create an article, wouldn’t this leave the credibility and reliability of information vulnerable to vested editorial interests? We’ll talk more about Wikipedia’s methodology to mitigate this issue later. But in short, Wikipedia’s popularity stems from emphasising a democratic environment that has information created for the people, by the people. The process through which articles are published and edits are made inherently seeks the consensus of the volunteer community. Each article published is constantly self-correcting, with editors accountable to the community’s purpose – to disseminate educational content effectively and truthfully. Importantly, if an article is published on Wikipedia, it means its information is unique, entirely objective and noteworthy. If you had written an article on another website, you could not simply copy and paste that article into Wikipedia. It would have to be a freshly written piece.
Benefits of building a Wikipedia Page
Instant reputation and global recognition
For a company, being on Wikipedia establishes an instant reputation and global recognition. The importance of this cannot be overstated – it has far-reaching benefits for customer trust, brand awareness, and readily positions a company as an industry leader.
A Wikipedia page also allows people to understand more about your business, what it aims to do, what is has done and how it’s done. But if creating a Wikipedia page was easy, then every business, small to enterprise, would have one touting their services. Publishing on Wikipedia means playing a part in its value-proposition: to project non-biased and factual information based on third-party sources. This is crucial for a marketers to remember – Wikipedia is not a public relations channel where a company can dictate what information is conveyed. In getting a page published, and maintaining positive conversation about your brand, you must engage mindfully with the Wikipedia community or risk deletion by moderators. For all the benefits of having a page, getting one published requires a lot of hard work and preparation.
Synergy with Google: it’s an SEO ultra-boost
A Wikipedia article, if one exists, is nearly always at the pinnacle of search results on a subject matter. This makes having an article published about your business an extremely valuable commodity. There is limited space in the first page of a SERP, and occupation of it compares to owning luxurious real estate. It unquestionably projects your business’ authenticity, prestige and credibility in its industry. Your SEO is automatically boosted, with significant increases in sales opportunities and revenue.
A major part of Google’s algorithm relies on links from reliable websites to evaluate the relevance and trust of other domains. For this aspect, Wikipedia is one of the most reliable website, putting a ‘trustworthy’ stamp on domains that it links to (yes, even if those links are Nofollow). When you type a search term into Google, you will notice that if there is a related Wikipedia page, it will be ranked at the top. There is even a separate information box on the side of each SERP summarising information and presenting key facts and figures about the search result. The synergy is logical. Google is the premier platform to search websites for the public, and Wikipedia is the premier website which the public visits for information. In Google’s purpose to procure relevant information efficiently for its users, it relies on Wikipedia as the backbone. As an aside, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri also use content from Wikipedia to answer user questions.
Google and Wikipedia have worked – and will work – closely together, if the $7.5 million invested over the past decade isn’t an obvious signal. The encyclopaedia’s articles have been used to train its machine-learning algorithms, and even to fight misinformation on YouTube. For example, Google-owned Jigsaw has used Wikipedia to develop its open-sourced AI which fights trolls.
In recent news, Google is equipping Wikipedia with its Custom Search API and Cloud Vision API. This will aid volunteer editors to cite the facts they use more efficiently. Currently, each time a new snippet of information is added, editors need to leave Wikipedia to find the source. With the Search API, this process can be done within Wikipedia, and Cloud Vision automatically digitises books so they can be used to support article credibility too.
Thus, considering the foundational, and growing synergy between Google and Wikipedia, having a Wikipedia article poses monumental SEO benefits. Whether it be about a person, brand, historical event or animal species, the information published is referred to by nearly 500 million unique visitors monthly.
Criteria for building a Wikipedia Page
Is your article eligible?
At the crux of it, Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia. Just as you wouldn’t find an entry about your neighbour’s dog, an article needs to be worthy of attention. So in determining whether or not you should even write an article, factor in Wikipedia’s eligibility criteria: notability of subject, no original research and tone neutrality.
1. Notability of Subject
That is, whether your article’s subject is important enough to warrant attention. Wikipedia gauges this through several measures. It assesses the number of trustworthy secondary sources online which can provide a proof of reference and authenticity to your company. And not just any secondary source. Mentions on blogs and content-based social channels (e.g. Quora) are normally not considered. The prerequisite is for focus-pieces on verifiable sources like peer-reviewed journals and reputable national news websites. If your subject has societal importance, then you must prove it through previous exposure in the media.
If your company is notable, it should also be newsworthy. And just because you think something is notable doesn’t mean Wikipedia’s community will necessarily agree. Wikipedia assesses whether your product (or service) has an impact on your nation’s economy. Releasing a new product is not enough, your company’s societal impact needs to be describable. For example, describing newly released technology which improves farm irrigation services is inadequate. Details on how it has helped the environment and lowered costs for primary producers needs to be included.
2. Credibility of Sources
Remember, Wikipedia does not accept information that is self-published, or for which no credible sources exist. You cannot write your own sources and use them as citations in your article. Wikipedia evaluates how ‘independent of the subject’ your source is. This means that press releases, autobiographies or anything produced by the article’s subject (or its affiliated party) will be excluded. Ensure that there is sufficient evidence that others have written about your company. This means gathering sources from credible media publications and journalists. Think of high-profile and reputable publications as the benchmark. Appearances in The Economist are quality, whereas appearances in press releases and company websites are not enough. National newspapers are extremely valuable, but remember that a passing interview that might have mentioned your company briefly is not counted. And don’t think that gathering many brief mentions equates to one feature article. Furthermore, although websites like Forbes are generally credible, they are increasingly incorporating external contributor blog posts. These appear authentic but are not written by Forbes journalists – an observation that Wikipedia editors are well aware of.
Before you write anything, it’s also important to see if anything has already been written on your company or topic, for example an existing page that mentions it. The Wikipedia search box appears on top of every page of the website. Type in the subject of what you’re thinking of writing. If it appears, then you’ll need to write about something else. Even if it doesn’t appear in this search engine, use the same search through Google and confirm that nothing has been published yet on Wikipedia.
3. Tone Neutrality
The quickest way to page deletion is writing about your subject in a promotional way. Your style of writing should be detached and completely devoid of marketing language. Instead of “leading provider of telecommunications equipment”, state the exact ranking that your company holds. The onus is on specific and factual information. Be cautious about describing your products or services in too much detail, otherwise editors will judge it as promotional. Represent the viewpoints of authoritative media sources fairly and distribute equal weighting to each one.
Building Your Wikipedia Page
Once you’ve determined that your company will pass the notability test, don’t take matters into your own hands and create your own article right away. Wikipedia’s conflict-of-interest regulations aim to maintain a factual tone with every sentence backed up by an authentic citation. When companies or company-affiliates create their own articles, Wikipedia’s directive to provide valuable information is often replaced with subjective, sometimes outright promotional, content. This will raise red flags within Wikipedia’s community.
Instead, there are two options here:
Option 1: Hire a professional Wikipedia Page Creation Service
The major benefit of this option is that you will be working with experienced Wiki editors who already have an established trust within the Wikipedia community. It will be faster and the job will be performed by Wikipedia experts, although it is definitely a more expensive option. If you’re interested to learn more I recommend checking out Reputio’s Wikipedia Page Creation service.
Option 2: Create an account and build a reputation within the Wikipedia community yourself
Signing up and creating your own Wikipedia account begins your reputation within the community. You have to be a registered user to edit existing pages, participate in discussions, and create your own article. Starting small and making little edits to existing articles develops skill and demonstrates your authentic contribution. You’ll develop familiarity with Wikipedia’s content management system and guidelines and you’ll also build your user profile.
The worst thing you can do is to create an account and start posting immediately. Your page will almost definitely be deleted immediately due to its spam-like nature. Even worse, your account might even be deleted. Bots and editors are sharp and the first characteristic they review is the age and number of edits each account has made. An account which has made edits steadily, on many related articles, and has established itself as a subject matter leader, demonstrates expertise and builds credibility. This is important because every edit you make is recorded in your history and establishes a genuine track record for editors to review in case of future approval disputes. After you’ve contributed around ten edits and your account is older, you will be promoted to an ‘auto-confirmed’ status, where your edits will be permitted with less scrutiny. Another perk of being a registered user means you can receive messages when changes to your articles have been made.
Let’s take an example where you want to write about the CEO of a Chinese multinational electronics company. Prior to doing this, find as many Wiki articles as possible which are related to this person, company or region. This could be: other electronics brands originating from China, information about the CEO’s prior work experience and international presences of the company. On these articles, you could make edits as minor as incorrect spelling or poor word choice. More substantial editing would involved rewriting sentences previously skewed due to incorrect grammar or confusing structure. The number of edits which elevates you to a Wikipedia ‘expert-level’ seems to be fifty. But remember – these should be spaced out over a month to avoid an impression of artificiality.
Remember, the onus is on developing trust with the Wikipedia community before attempting to publish. Outsourced knowledge can be tenuous, and editors will delete any page that has not established enough of a track record. After all, would you trust what a teacher said if they didn’t have any verifiable qualification? When you write an article, you are ‘teaching’ the information to the public, and editors are a necessary intermediary to screen any fraudulent attempts. The best way to build trust in the community? Edit, edit and edit. Your reputation will correspondingly rise.
Article Creation Process
If you’re affiliated with the company, it’s a tricky process to create an article. Wikipedia is strongly against people contributing to subjects they’re personally connected to. So it’s a good idea to use a personal account or hire professional Wikipedia editors. This ensures that you don’t divulge any hint that you’re related to the company. When you’re writing the article, use minimal adjectives and project a neutral perspective, bearing in mind that it should look like someone external to the company composed it.
Use your sandbox to hone article content, mirroring the format of pages in your industry. While you’re adjusting to Wikipedia’s user interface, gather sources for every point you want to make in your article. Remember that everything in your page should be verifiable. Even if you climbed a mountain bare-handed, an entry based on experience is not adequate. Third-party credible sources, such as books, magazines and reputable websites will need to be listed to support your information.
Importantly, build internal links to your article from other Wikipedia pages where possible. This will expedite your article’s approval. Even if your company didn’t bring up any search results, you may still find unlinked mentions on other pages in Wikipedia. This applies to all variations of your company name (or brand) too. Basically, for anything that might link to your to-be-created business page, it will pay dividends to note these down as votes of support. The Wikipedia community will see it as an existing foundation and will more likely accept your page submission.
If you do find internal link opportunities on other Wikipedia pages, to add them you must click the edit tab, add double brackets around the exact-match, and indicate that this subject warrants its own article.
In the case of a variation on company name, double brackets need to surround the variation in order to bridge it to the name you state in your article. The vertical line, between ‘train station’ and ‘station’ as seen below, acts as a ‘piped link’ to associate the two.
If you don’t want to skirt too close to violating Wikipedia’s Conflict of Interest policy, you could outsource the creation of your article to Wikipedia’s community. All articles have a page where contributors can discuss edits and ideas for new articles. You can find an article about your industry first, then post a proposal for an article specifically about your company in the discussion page. In this proposal, prepare a short, fact-based summary highlighting the key points of your article. Make sure that your tone is purely informative, and not promotional. This may mean less of a focus on elaborate product descriptions and more of an explanation on what your company contributes to the economy. Include the supporting documentation and sources of verifiable information to verify this summary.
Alternatively, if your company maintains a strong social media presence, you can reach out to your community of followers and ask if anyone would write an entry on your company. Remember the prerequisite – the member should be knowledgeable about what your business does in the context of your industry. They should be able to adhere to Wikipedia’s guidelines. This will ensure that their writing is the perfect mix of tone and facts which will make the article an informative, but neutral entry.
Whilst you wait for your article to be reviewed, a good way to pass the nervous time is to keep gathering sources. This is just in case Wikipedia staff editors request more. The review process can take a few days, but up to a few weeks, so patience will be a virtue. Remember that once it’s been approved, don’t just sit back! Again, your article is not your company’s property, it is now available for every registered user to make edits on. To avoid negative content about your company, a good way to keep track of changes happening to your article is to add it to your watchlist. This allows you to see the corresponding discussion happening. Alternatively, you can subscribe to your page’s RSS feed.
Whilst the start-to-finish process of getting a Wikipedia article published may seem like a long, and potentially fruitless journey, remember that the benefits are worth it. You might be pursuing other marketing avenues, but consider what happens when your company is featured on Wikipedia. Potential customers will value the reputation and credibility of your brand, and you’re given a huge SEO boost given Wikipedia is Google’s search engine partner.