Who needs to be on Wikipedia? You do!

Sometimes people ask if they need to be on Wikipedia. And although need is a subjective term, the answer is usually yes. In truth, the value and impact of a solid Wikipedia presence is so great that any company in a competitive market would be foolish not to pursue a strong Wikipedia page for their business.

But what does a Wikipedia presence gain your company? There are several misconceptions and some misinformation about the value of a Wikipedia page for businesses. Let’s look at just a few.

Misconception #1 – Wikipedia links are valueless for Search Engine Optimization.

This is a patent falsehood spread by Wikipedia editors who want to downplay the commercial significance of Wikipedia. They want to discourage companies, people, and other entities from seeking to promote themselves on Wikipedia, and they promote a viewpoint that Wikipedia’s attempts at making links less valuable have rendered them useless.

It’s not clear whether this is driven by a lack of comprehension on the part of Wikipedia editors, who oppose commercial activity on Wikipedia. It could also be purposeful misinformation designed to mislead people about how Wikipedia links interact with the real world.

In either case, the standard argument is that Wikipedia’s linking structure uses a “nofollow” linking structure and that this structure causes search engine spiders to ignore Wikipedia links when scoring pages for relevance, linkage, and other factors which contribute to Google’s search engine scoring.

It truth, nofollow links are meant to keep spiders from crawling and indexing hidden pages, and they were not designed to be used as Wikipedia uses them. Their effect on links from Wikipedia pages will be to make them less valuable for SEO than they might otherwise have been, but this is a far cry from being without value. If you are tempted to buy Wikipedia’s story, consider two things:

  1. Google’s search result policy is meant to optimize the user’s experience. And if users are negatively impacted by a Google policy, you can bet their secretive scoring algorithms will be adapted to fix this. Simply put, if Wikipedia’s use of nofollow links makes Google less effective, Google will change how it indexes Wikipedia.
  2. If nofollow links actually do work as Wikipedia intends and make links from Wikipedia pages less valuable from a SEO perspective, they will, as a direct result, make those links MORE important as link building resources. Wikipedia pages will compete with commercial pages for search ranking, will have huge advantages in placement, and will become destinations from growing search engine traffic.

Whatever the subtle and changing nuance of this issue is, Wikipedia links will always have value for SEO simply by the fact that they show relevance.

Misconception #2 You can’t influence your presence on Wikipedia.

This is another myth propagated by the Wikipedia elite, who think they alone should get to decide if a topic is worthy of inclusion. Purists will tell you that the only way for a company to get a Wikipedia page is if some entirely disinterested editor suddenly decides that the company is worthy. Then they have to take their own initiative to create a page for the company.

Simply put, most pages are placed by someone with an interest. Sometimes people list their own company or enlist someone else to help them do it. The utopian days of disinterested editors managing Wikipedia from an ivory tower are long gone if they ever existed at all.

Misconception #3 – Wikipedia isn’t used for business.

Wikipedia is one of the ten-most-visited sites on the internet. Everybody uses it, and links to it are widespread. While traffic may be driven by people in their personal lives, businesspeople use Wikipedia to research their purchases, get background on potential customers, and stay abreast of changing technology. Simply, Wikipedia may be used in people’s personal lives, but it isn’t a Facebook application where use is overwhelmingly personal and business only relevant if designed to consumer audiences.

In fact, it Wikipedia’s use in business is limited, it is likely because it requires skill and subtlety to influence Wikipedia content, and many companies lack the time and interest to make their mark there. Which means that companies who do make a impact on Wikipedia may see even more value due to their rarity over paid venues.

Jim is a Wikipedia writer and Wikipedia editor for hire.

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