Wikipedia and SEO: Work the Wiki
by Curt Billig
Enter a search on Google and what invariably seem to appear on the first page of results are multiple references from Wikipedia. With Wikipedia’s authority – or perceived authority – now clearly established, it has never been more important to gain a foothold and maintain a presence on the user-based encyclopedia. There are, however, many pitfalls that can quickly snare self-interested parties whose edits don’t pass muster of Wikipedia’s PageRank. It’s important to realize that, if indeed you are marketing content, you must have a thorough understanding of how it is presented on Wikipedia.
Make sure to indentify relevant content and post references on discussion pages. The posting of external links could be considered a blatant marketing tactic and might be viewed as a violation of the Wikipedia community. One way to work around such tight guidelines and increase the chances of your own edits surviving and not sending you and your posts into Wiki exile is to establish notability.
So how do you cover yourself within Wikipedia in a manner that doesn’t breach the guidelines of the service while still achieving your objectives? Here are some tips to assist you with your interactions with the service, better ensuring your success within this valuable marketing venue.
Develop a profile that presents you as a pillar of the Wikipedia community. It begins by establishing credibility with your user and talk page and continues by bolstering your status through user activity and the age and history of your account.
Your user page can be thought of as a combination profile page and organizer. Think of it as a chef does his “Mise en place”; which, as Wikipedia itself defines from the French as “setting in place,” alluding to the preparation of ingredients and utensils required before beginning to cook. It amounts to a tool to list “to do” information, projects in different states of progress, reminders, reference links; etc.
Of course, you can list information about yourself on the user page, including pictures, contact info, your real name, biography, and homepage; if you so choose. additionally, the user page can be used to alert the community to your activities on Wikipedia, including a journal as well as voice your opinion on Wikipedia policies.
In true community spirit, other Wikipedians have the latitude to edit your user page – they might even laud you with accolades for your submissions. Conversely, in the event that your editing privileges are revoked, a notice to such effect will be placed on the user page.
The talk page, accessed through the Discussion tab, is simply for discussion of the specific Wikipedia page. It is not a page for questions, but rather to submit corrections and clarifications by the greater Wikipedia community; a dynamic forum for fact checking and rechecking. As Wikipedia clearly pronounces in its guidelines, the talk page is not a forum for opinions, but rather a space for editors to discuss proposed changes to an article or project page.
Adding links to Wikipedia is one of the most heavily debated and misunderstood parts about the system. While worth their weight in gold, links have a tendency to be deleted or misplaced and get heavily scrutinized for their relevancy – therefore, it’s important to know where and how to place them.
When adding a link to an article, incorporate content edits; this makes it more difficult for your edit to be reverted. Also, communicate with the main editor of an article before you actually incorporate an external link that you believe to be valuable. By involving the main editor of the article your links are more likely to be deemed as a valued resource than a suspect link faced with possible removal.
When adding links not within the article itself, put them within the References section rather than in external links. Reference links must substantiate those claims attributable to the original article. Links that require some form of registration or a login in order to access the content might be viewed as spamming.
Notability, not Notoriety
When creating new entries, make sure you are logged in under an account with a good history of contribution to the Wikipedia community. Wikipedia’s administrators and “new page patrol” are constantly on the lookout for content that is blatantly commercial; new usernames are especially vulnerable to suspicion. Make certain that you and your article subject cannot be directly connected – obvious self-serving articles will be immediately removed and your account will be flagged. For example, have the subject of an article contribute through the talk page, rather than editing the article themselves. Also maintain a vigilant presence on your own profile by making regular edits that are considered selfless.
Using plenty of references, especially those derived from the mainstream media is a crucial means of establishing notability. If your budget allows it, have your PR firm get an article placement that profiles your company; even if it’s with a small local newspaper. Any awards which can be referenced are invaluable; but a press release of the same is counterproductive. Press releases are usually nothing but self promotion and will be shunned by the community.
Finally, recognize that, like any community, there exists a fair amount of politics. Be sure to make friends and allies. learn to play the game.
Below are a few resources on how to better navigate and steer your way through the potentially choppy waters of Wikipedia:
To get a better look behind the curtain: