Wikipedia & SEO

Aug 23, 2007 - 2:30 pm 1 by

The growth of Wikipedia and its almost ubiquitous presence on search results pages means that search marketers can't ignore this important guide. This session looks at appropriate ways to interact with the service. It also examines if there's more that can be done to make Wikipedia editors more accepting of marketers and to make marketers more understanding of the Wikipedia community goals. Moderator:

* Detlev Johnson, VP, Director of Consulting, Position Technologies


* Neil Patel, Co-founder, ACS * Stephan Spencer, Founder and President, Netconcepts, LLC * Jonathan Hochman, Founder/President, JE Hochman & Associates LLC * Don Steele, Director of Digital & Enterprise Marketing, Comedy Central

First up is Neil Patel. Neil is pretty cool. He's going to introduce Wikipedia. He talks very fast. I'm really sorry if this is incoherent.

It's good for authority links, branding, and information (especially for copying essays). Wikipedia also gets a ton of traffic especially since it's so high up in the Google SERPs.

What you shouldn't do: - Do not use Wikipedia as a link building resource. - Do not add biased information. They hate that. - You don't want to break rules. - Don't want to delete accurate information. (If you put in inaccurate information, Neil's term papers will get him a bad grade. He doesn't want that.) - You don't want to SPAM.

Once, Neil totally broke the rules and added a link to his website, but they found out and he got in trouble. Rule of thumb: Don't be a dick.

How to add links: - Develop a reputation as an editor. - Add information first, links second. - Follow the Notability rule. Adding images is good for branding. You will succeed and you will do well.

Wikis are everywhere. You don't need to leverage Wikipedia only. There are real estate Wikis, etc., and those are easier to manipulate.

Jonathan Hochman is a Wikipedia editor. He focuses a lot on SEO on Wikipedia and he wants to resolve the issue of the SEO reputation problem (which I covered yesterday!) Wikipedia ranks really well for SEO in Google. Competing for that spot is hard in SEO.

Wikipedia can rank for almost any generic search phrase. Even if you can't outrank the competition, Wikipedia probably can What's better at the top fo the search results? A neutral Wikipedia rticle or propganda from your competitor? How to optimize a Wikipedia page: - Introduce links from other articles - Add proper categories

Digg is great but Wikipedia gets better traffic. If you look at Social media, Wikipedia is better than Digg. (By the way, I am in the front row wearing a Digg shirt. I'm getting a bit sad.)

There is a thing called a spam blacklist and sites will be added to the blacklist. Search engines know about this blacklist as well. I wouldn't recommend that you join that blacklist.

Articles have to exist in Wikipedia as long as the subject is notable. There was an article about Matt Cutts that had no notability and it was nominated for deletion. That wasn't a bad thing to do, because most people don't know who he is. So you need to find notable sources to validate these entries. Also, it's not good form to start an article about yourself (like Barry did). :)

WikiScanner allows you to see IP edits from many sources. If you have a big brand, avoid getting yourself embarrassed. Make policies. Tell your people that editing Wikipedia at work is not anonymous and they need to follow site rules and avoid conflict of inflicts. I recommend a liaison take appropriate action for Wikipedia issues.

Example: zango - Check the Wikipedia page. It's perceived by many as a spyware application and thus people are writing bad things about them. But Zango is not happy with this so they're communicating with the users through the Talk page. You can use the Talk page to get attention. You can also go to the Conflict of Interest notice board to notify someone about inaccuracies.

Last thought is Tom Sawyer: you get all your friends to paint the fence. Get people to write about you and write important things about you. Think about that in those terms and you can promote great value.

Next up is Don Steele of Comedy Central. He shows a clip of Stephen Colbert editing Wikipedia. "If enough people agree with it, it becomes true." Comedy Central is a division of Viacom.

Wikipedia is one of the tenets of their online strategy. They're using social networking, email marketing, search, videos, etc. But their content is viewed as products and they are trying to find people's content that they can trust and discover.

Why do they care about Wikipedia? In the SEO world, it's huge. They want to channel it and make it better. The content is highly referenced on Wikipedia. If there are links back to Comedy Central, they need to be up-to-date and not 404 pages. They need to focus on a good user experience. Comedy Central needs to use discussion pages to get their company's word across.

Wikipedia brings a ton of traffic to them.

How did they sell the idea internally? There are 50 million users a month on Wikipedia. For branding, that's huge to understand the reference of your brand. Getting all this traffic through Wikipedia is free instead of doing it through an SEM agency.

What we don't do: Google/YouTube vs. Viacom's lawsuit is known. They won't edit that out because they are not changing the brand perception. They work with discussion pages and editors and let them know about relevant content to promote it.

Sean Penn was once on the Colbert Report with a guy named Robert Pinski. This was put on Wikipedia. That ended up driving traffic to Comedy Central through Wikipedia. Cool.

Beforehand, Comedy Central was able to edit the pages, but now they can't due to IP tracking. So they post references in discussion pages. Wikipedia editors are decision makers. They don't troll for outbound links. They want to encourage conversations within Wikipedia.

South Park is not known to the staff of Comedy Central at 5pm. But at 8am, they get a press release about the episode. Someone who received this press release unrelated to Comedy Central put it on Wikipedia. The following morning, there were 3 pages on Wikipedia about this episode created by editors. Wikipedia has a rabid audience. But Comedy Central does want to make sure that the information conveyed on these pages are accurate.

Summary: - You must understand how your brand is conveyed on Wikipedia. - You should monitor Wikipedia. - You must follow the rules. Last up is Stephan Spencer.

You need history and street cred to get your edits to stick. It helps to have an altruistic profile. But if you don't, your entries will be deleted. A virtuous profile has a lot of age to it and has great history of altruistic edits, has won awards (Barnstar).

You should deelop a user page and a talk page. It helps to work your way up to Adminship status.

When you make an edit, you don't just want to add links. A harder edit to revert is one that you edit juicy content at the same time as that link. Add links to the references section and not to the external links section.

Communicate with the main editor of that article before adding an external link and negotiate with them. Ask them what they think.

References must substantiate claims made in the article copy. Reference links that require registration or login to access the information may be construed as spam.

When you create new entries: - Really important to clear the notability hurdle. Criteria: having something that's notable enough to be mentioned in a mainstream encyclopedia. Be written up in the mainstream media that are mainly about you (not just a passing reference). Get your PR firm to work on this stuff. - Have more solid contribution history for a new article to stick. You're guilty until proven innocent. - Make sure there is no connection with you and the article subject. - How do you make sure that the entries are perceived as real value and are neutral? If you're going to be editing/adding content to a page, do so by participating through the Talk page. It's a great venue for communication. - Watch the page after it's added because it can get shot down at any time. You don't want it to get Speedy Deleted or AfD (Articles for Deletion). If you get AfD, jump in and get your $0.02 to stack the deck and get the rubber stamp on your argument and the article.

Once you added a page, protect your investment - watch and make sure it stays. Use a tool that emails you when a web page changes (TrackEngine, ChangeNotes, ChangeDetect are some services that do this).

Wikipedia is a social network. It requires friends and you're going to need them.

Maintain activity of your profile. Keep altruistic edits going. If you make self serving edits, have a nice balance of that and other edits. Be selfless and there will be dividends. This is a bizarre community kind of like Digg. (Remember, I'm still wearing that shirt.) There's a lot of politics. The fact that Jimmy Wales is a cofounder of Wikipedia and also owned a soft porn website gets into Wikipedia but he tries to get them removed. The information is on

Everything you do is going to leave a trail. Anybody can get nailed into the future because every single edit is kept. You need the tools to mine that and make sense of that.

In the book Freakonomics, there's the story of teachers changing the test answers of their students. It took some time for that to be picked up but they got fired eventually. That can happen on Wikipedia. Don't think you're anonymous.


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