Improving Wikipedia: Brands and the Greater Good

Header image, a mountain side with the Wikipedia White Logo Super imposed

Remember when Wikipedia was the butt of jokes? People would scoff if your stats or facts came from Wikipedia, t-shirts proclaiming “Thanks Wikipedia” were worn by the edgier form of geek to graduation ceremonies (under robes though, no one wants to start a riot).

Over the past decade or so though, Wikipedia has largely shaken off the reputation as unreliable – most notable howlers are now firmly the past. Wikipedia now has significant claim to be the best website on the Internet, and not just because it has no ads.

Wikipedia's traffic stats rank it among Facebook, Amazon and Google

Enviable traffic

Not only the best, but easily one of the most popular, holding its own among Google, Amazon, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn:

Scientists use Wikipedia, albeit sometimes without admitting it, for serious academic research, university professors actively encourage students to engage with it and it is the last bastion in the battle against the ridiculous fake news epidemic.

Wikipedia represents, and fulfils, the human desire for knowledge and the altruistic desire to share that knowledge would surely improve society if that same, albeit minor, philanthropic attitude was used elsewhere.

The WikiBinge

I go on Wikipedia at least three times a day. Whether to find who guest starred in a particular episode of The Sopranos I can’t quite put my finger on (it was Annette Bening), the turning circle of a London black cab (8m to allow for navigation through the tight roundabout in the entrance to London's Savoy Hotel) or just why Donald Trump is such an arse (pick one), Wikipedia provides the answer, every time.

We have all gone down Wikipedia rabbit holes; you start by checking how old Eminem is for some reason (46 in October) and end up, many clicks later and typically at 2am, discovering the importance of Napoleon’s education reforms (although a much shorter trip was available according to the excellent Six Degrees of Wikipedia) without ever typing a word, such is the labyrinth of links.

Unlike YouTube binges, Wikipedia's inevitable click binges are virtually all educational

Unlike YouTube binges, where each click takes you closer to the lowest common denominator - sensationalised nonsense, fail videos and conspiracy theories - Wikipedia is practically all informative.

Paying for the privilege, sort of

I occasionally contribute to Wikipedia when the puppy-eyed banner appears asking for donations, though not as much as I should even at 10x my usage. Financial contributions only do so much however, and the Wikipedia Foundation’s ability to grow significantly in an ad-led digital economy is among the least of its incredible feats.

Wikipedia and Digital Marketing

As digital professionals, hopefully somewhat educated and skilled, it should be our duty to contribute to a source of collective knowledge that has helped us pass our degrees, settle arguments and scratch the itch of tongue tip lingering time and again.

But how can we do this in a way which helps our clients and brands? Especially as no one, and we mean no one, not even your most die-hard fanboy, wants to see your brand promoted on Wikipedia?

The answer is improving it.

No one, and we mean no one wants to see your brand promoted on Wikipedia

Fixing the plumbing

Local Heroes, one of our current clients, eager to grow the organic traffic to their relatively young website asked us to help in obtaining some high authority back links.

We pursued several tactics, some successful, some less so but a fascination with Wikipedia drew us to look closer in how we could use the content we had available to benefit both parties.

Improving relevant Wikipedia articles can benefit both brand and encylopaedia

We looked into Wikipedia pages relevant to the industry – plumbing, electrical, locksmith etc – in the hopes of finding gaps in the content. Despite being one of the most comprehensive websites online, there are always gaps and, provided you fill them accurately and fairly, are eager for them to be filled.

The Wikipedia page for plumber details the regulations and qualifications needed in various countries around the world for professionals to legally trade as a plumber. The qualifications listed were for those professionals in the US, Canada and Australia were listed in their own sections, but not the UK.

As a business – in the UK – which depends on connecting customers with qualified, vetted professionals, Local Heroes had this information. We quickly created a blog article – What qualifications do you need to be a plumber? – which detailed the UK qualifications. We then added an objective, fact-led UK section to Wikipedia’s page and cited our article – we did not mention Local Heroes anywhere except the citation in the References section.

 
 

With a Moz Domain Authority of a whopping 97 and a Page Authority of 76, only Google provides Local Heroes with more authoritative links. The links are typically nofollow but, as shown by both Moz and SEMRush in the past year, there is still plenty of value to be gained.

Only Google now provides Local Heroes with more authorative backlinks

By maintaining the primary objective of improving Wikipedia’s content, we contributed to increasing the Domain Authority of Local Heroes, ranked second for the title term and generally increased the overall visibility for our other plumbing terms.

 
 
 
 

We have also done this for our own content; our first piece of content – The Curse of Lorem Ipsum – contains facts we researched around the frequency of another common search term. The research was by no means particularly complex but the Wikipedia page on Lorem Ipsum did not have this info.

Wikipedia and Content Strategy

Improving Wikipedia in this way has a multitude of benefits – there is no real limit to the number of pages you can improve, you can use the gaps you find in other relevant Wikipedia pages to influence your content strategy and, over time, more and more pages will ultimately point to your site, as sites link to the Wikipedia page, search engine spiders will follow those links.

When creating your content to cite on Wikipedia, do so genuinely. Do your own research, collate verified facts from a variety of sources and provide your own references – provide the legwork which will benefit Wikipedia. Failure to do so is likely to result in your work either being rejected as an invalid source, or superseded by more thoroughly researched links.

When creating content to cite on Wikipedia, do so genuinely - benefit Wikipedia first

There is a significant caveat to this strategy: it would be easy to abuse. There is literally nothing to stop anyone from spamming practically every page, Wikipedia even goads tempted vandals, but all this is likely to accomplish is frustrating the hard working and underappreciated, 200,000 strong legion of volunteer editors as they simply delete your work and leave you with nothing.

Wikipedia is one of the most important websites available, by adding to it objectively and accurately, you contribute to one of the biggest achievements of the Internet, the benefit this brings to your website is the gravy.

 

 

Get in touch

If you're interested in seeing how your website can benefit from improving Wikipedia, drop us a line below.

 
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