Google's Matt Cutts: Don't Copy Wikipedia Content & Expect To Rank Well

Dec 27, 2013 • 8:07 am | comments (20) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

WikipediaA Google Webmaster Help has Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts, giving advice to a webmaster. The advice, don't copy content from Wikipedia and expect to rank well.

The truth is, Wikipedia is a great source for facts. Webmasters simply should not copy and paste it verbatim. You can use it when writing stories and for fact checking, but not for copy and paste.

Matt Cutts wrote:

I picked a page at random: and the first sentence of the first haunted place is "Berry Pomeroy Castle, a Tudor mansion within the walls of an earlier castle, is near the village of Berry Pomeroy, in England."

If you look up the Wikipedia page of Berry Pomeroy Castle, the first sentence of the Wikipedia page is "Berry Pomeroy Castle, a Tudor mansion within the walls of an earlier castle, is near the village of Berry Pomeroy, in South Devon, England."

That was the very first random thing I checked, and it doesn't bode well for your site. If you're just copying text and pictures from other sites, I'd expect that your site would only be adding a limited amount of value for visitors, so it's not a huge surprise that your site doesn't get a ton of traffic at this point. I'd take some time to think about ways to add more value for someone who lands on your site.

It is tempting to just copy and paste and try to pass it off as your own. But use it as research, not as a content source. Write your story or summary around your research and don't just copy and paste.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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12/27/2013 01:24 pm

@Google: DO NOT COPY content, text and pictures from wikipedia and other sources to scrape together your Knowledge Graphs!

Barry Schwartz

12/27/2013 01:25 pm

Was waiting for someone to comment. :)

Jon Rhodes

12/27/2013 01:44 pm

It's interesting that he mentions pictures as well as text. How many website and blog owners simply use stock picture? Most I would say. Is this a hint that we should also produce unique pictures as well as text?

Alexander Hemedinger

12/27/2013 03:35 pm

LOL boom! :P

Michael Martinez

12/27/2013 03:43 pm

Yeah, but they don't crawl and index the content that they have republished on their own site. Technically, it's being injected into the SERPs, not included in the search index. Not quite the same thing. It would still be nice if Google returned to being a search engine, though.

Durant Imboden

12/27/2013 04:37 pm

The answer probably depends on whether you want to rank well in Google Images.


12/27/2013 06:02 pm

Skinning the same cat multiple ways is still skinning the cat :)


12/27/2013 06:42 pm

So to get someone out of the SERPs, place their content into Wikipedia?


12/27/2013 11:59 pm

There speaks a man with no sense of irony. Take off the rose-tinited glasses and look at what your own company does.

Ralph Slate

12/28/2013 03:23 am

Wikipedia took images (old team logos which I researched, scanned, cleaned up, and posted) from my site. Google now displays those images when someone searches for the team, and they rank my site behind Wikipedia. If someone searches for the image, I don't even get the traffic because Google just gives them the image without redirecting to my site. Wikipedia uses my site as a source for their facts, and now Google is going to fault me for having the same information as Wikipedia? Sigh.

Jitendra Vaswani

12/28/2013 05:30 am

Yes Durant you are right, images do play imp part in ranking Google images

Michael Wood

12/28/2013 06:56 am

Normally Matt speaks a foreign language that only a select few understand and the rest of us need interpretation of; however, this is clear as day. Anyone who thinks that copying Wikipedia to your website will help you gain rank in Google needs to think again. But, linking content to Wikipedia as an authoritative source (I realize that is an oxymoron - just don't have enough time or enough characters to explain that one) will help with rank.

Durant Imboden

12/28/2013 07:10 pm

What irony? Are you referring to the Knowledge Graph boxes? Those are part of Google Search's user interface, not the organic results.


12/28/2013 07:39 pm

No. They would need to copy FROM Wikipedia or another site.


12/28/2013 08:15 pm

I have a site that has dozens of Wikipedia pages and very little of my original content and it ranks very well indeed. The key is to use Wiki 'verbatim' and reference the creative commons licence, the terms of the licence insist on 'verbatim' use, i.e. word for word not just excerpts. Also .... create your own wiki within your site using Wikipedia pages verbatim and now you have your own 'authority' references.

osman musa

12/29/2013 03:09 am

Does Google even have resources to be checking new posts or pages submitted for indexing against the trazillion gillion sites out there?


12/29/2013 12:57 pm

Yes, don't copy it verbatim. Go to Wikipedia and rip the content but slice it into sections, then go to youtube videos on that topic and rip the transcript and correct the english. It might help going to your local library and getting books on the subject too and use their paragraphs and sentence structures with the other material you have. After you're done, create a new masterpiece by selecting what you find best in each work. Make sure to change the style of writing and use different words unique paragraph structures. After that, rip some photos from the web and take a photo of the photo with your own camera. Lastly, don't overdo SEO. When you have title tags and words you are targeting, make sure google thinks you are targeting other words/phrases but make sure your phrases are in the text at least once or a couple of times. Matt Cutts does not want you to know how effective this can be, especially if you are targeting a commercial site that has its own content. I'm sure google loves it when you knock off an originally produced site done by an expert because those folk are forced to use adwords. Muhahahahaha!


12/29/2013 04:05 pm

because wikipedia scrapped knowledge graph licensed by google only, without any exclusive license. Just because google (only one real reason) can penalize everybody in their unnatural search engine.

Diya Kapoor

12/30/2013 11:23 am

One should even not think to copy content from anywhere else as well after the horrible effects of panda and specially penguin. In case we do it(don't do from wikipedia), the required credit should be given...

Spook SEO

02/02/2014 04:16 am

I do agree with Matt Cutts. Copying is just for high school students who conducts research or thesis. In SEO its a big No-No. When writing a content one must possess the ability to create his work originally. Well, i don't have to say more i guess everyone understands what this article means.

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