Wikipedia is Still Useful for SEO

Written on April 29, 2008 – 2:39 pm | by bigoak |

Even though Wikipedia added nofollow tags in early 2007, backlinks you manage to snag there will still help you from an SEO standpoint. Why? One simple reason: content scrapers. Wikipedia is believed to be the most heavily scraped site in the history of the Internet.

Wikipedia SEOLet’s take this example. Say you were able to secure an external link on the Wikipedia page about cats, here. Congratulations. You just snagged a dofollow link on a PR 4 page, here. is one of the many legitimate sites that scrapes content from Wikipedia, and it’s an authority one at that. They were nice enough to keep the content they scrape from Wikipedia dofollow. So how many backlinks will you pick up in the future from that one Wikipedia link? Too many to list, provided your link stays on Wikipedia for any length of time.

If you’re paranoid that having your link appear on a black hat scraper site will hurt you from an SEO standpoint, don’t be. The odds are against that happening in this situation. Google should be able to figure out that the only reason your link was involved with a bad neighborhood was because it appeared in content scraped from Wikipedia.

The other common opinion is that if you manage to pickup an external link on a popular or semi-popular Wikipedia page, many people will see your link and naturally create backlinks to it. Wikipedia pages do tend to get loads of Google traffic. This isn’t April 2007, so Wikipedia doesn’t rank number 1 for everything anymore, but I’m sure you’ve noticed it’s still fairly popular in the Google SERPS. And by “fairly” I mean “extraordinarily.” I’m digressing, but Wikipedia is the classic example of a site who’s success was truly driven off the back of Google. In fact, I would venture to say that if it wasn’t for Google, Wikipedia never would have entered into the mainstream.

Back on topic, finding sites that scrape Wikipedia is easy. Infinitely harder is getting external links to stick on Wikipedia. Here are two methods:

  1. Fill in missing citation gaps. Wikipedia will occasionally have sentences with a “citation needed” link after them. Create content on your site that revolves around that missing citation. If its quality is high enough, Wikipedia may let that pass as the citation.
  2. Manufacture a Wikipedia page that has high relevancy to an existing page. Link to that new page from an existing Wikipedia page. Add an external link to the new page as a reference. This has a higher probability of sticking since the page is fresh and needs sources.

Don’t let the fact that Wikipedia added nofollow tags stop you from using it in your link building endeavors.

  1. 38 Responses to “Wikipedia is Still Useful for SEO”

  2. By Nihiltres on Apr 29, 2008 | Reply

    …but don’t actually *spam* Wikipedia. That’s most likely to get your site blacklisted, which can really hurt your SEO as many other spam blacklists out there mine Wikipedia’s.

    Instead, try to actually contribute content – it might be harder, but it’s much less risky, and it’s better for both Wikipedia and you.

    Oh and although Wikipedia may have a reputation for cracking down on spam, if you offer content only via a discussion page, and say “Yes, that’s my site, I have a conflict of interest, but do you think that this would add to the article?”, people will be much more likely to treat you nicely.

  3. By Shell Harris on Apr 30, 2008 | Reply

    Nicely stated, Will. Of course getting into Wikipedia has been made more difficult by the spamming practices of some unscrupulous SEO companies, but this makes a link from Wikipedia all the more precious because of this. Although I do believe the powers that be err far on the side of conservatism when removing content they deem unworthy.

  4. By locjan on May 3, 2008 | Reply

    Thanks for your info. I have always ignored wikipedia. Now I’m aware that this is important.

  5. By pushkar on May 5, 2008 | Reply

    I do not think that no-follow would discourage people to contribute, if you are a serious contributor to the wiki, you can add your link to it. Provided the addition you have made is not spam and is promptly a part of the article. So you have added a link, the purpose now should be different, earlier people were looking for link building, adding link even with a no-follow tag definitely would give you traffic if not links to increase PR or SERP position

  6. By Peter on May 5, 2008 | Reply

    Interesting perspective. I was unaware that 1) uses Wikipedia and 2) removes nofollow for the results.

    Wikipedia has never been a part of my link-building strategy. Thanks to this article, that very likely will change.

  7. By Tibi Puiu on May 13, 2008 | Reply

    Thanks a lot for this Shell. I’m quite an active contributor to Wikipedia and from time to time a slip by a link or two to one of my domains. However I do it more for the natural, targeted traffic, rather then for the SEO purposes, knowing they have nofollow on their links. Nice to find out about this perspective too, never thought about it :D

  8. By Customer Care Rep on May 20, 2008 | Reply

    Yes of course wikipedia is really useful in SEO but don’t just copy its contents..

  9. By Southwest Rugs on May 25, 2008 | Reply

    Wikipedia isn’t just useful for SEO, but tonnes of others. It’s so easy looking up stuff using it. Thanks for the post.

  10. By NewSunSEO on May 28, 2008 | Reply

    This is very useful information. I never knew that Wikipedia could be useful for an SEO company. This blog is always nicely written and I look forward to reading more of your work.

  11. By onlytravelbags on May 29, 2008 | Reply

    Thanks for your information. Before this I only know that Wikipedia is a very useful website to find out many kinds of information. Now only I know that it is useful for SEO :D

  12. By Dave on Jun 1, 2008 | Reply

    Wikipedia indeed are useful for SEO. I read about this last month in some blogs. This is great information for us all.

  13. By Luke on Jun 2, 2008 | Reply

    I have listened that Wikipedia uses “no follow” ?
    However wikipedia has lot of traffic and can boost traffic towards your website.

  14. By Tracy on Jun 4, 2008 | Reply

    I had the understanding that Google did not penalize you if a link on a black hat seo site pointed to yours. Otherwise it would be too easy to create a black site and put all of your competition on it and have them all get in trouble while you skate to the top. Google has to know this!

  15. By Sally Lopez on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    i never though that wikipedia that good…i usually avoided using this but now i know that this more useful and knowledgeable…thanks for the information really helpful

  16. By Eternity Puzzle on Jun 12, 2008 | Reply

    Wikipedia is actually very very useful for SEO and resourceful if you ask me.

  17. By doctor note on Jun 12, 2008 | Reply

    Getting blacklisted is a bad thing you could do from trying to copy wikipedias content. Its hard to get wikipedia allow the content post. Thanks for the guide.

  18. By amelia on Jun 19, 2008 | Reply

    i think wiki is really useful it brings us ideas

  19. By MWM on Jun 21, 2008 | Reply

    Thanks for the information. As I was told that wikipedia is not really reliable because people might just change the fact of it. Now I see that we can actually secure information in it.

  20. By Wise In Capital on Jun 23, 2008 | Reply

    All in all, everything is back to your skill of preparing good writing quality.. Doesn’t matter you write them on your own site, on wikipedia or other places.. If people like what you write, they would continuously come back, drive more traffic and let you get a way with what you are doing.

  21. By Will on Jun 24, 2008 | Reply

    @MWM, Wikipedia can be unreliable; if you want information that you can count on to be accurate, try In the future, more people will turn to it instead of Wikipedia. Most of the early adapters are already using it in lieu of Wikipedia.

  22. By Dodonnell on Jul 1, 2008 | Reply

    The old getting the wikipedia link to stick dilemma – love the idea of filling a citation needed gap!

  23. By Anonymous on Jul 26, 2008 | Reply

    Thanks for your idea. This is a very imprtant. I have always ignored wikipedia

  24. By Steve on Sep 24, 2008 | Reply

    WHy are you so interested in “I Follow” at but don’t have it here???

  25. By Shell Harris on Sep 27, 2008 | Reply

    Steve, we do follow many comments but spam got out of control so we have some filters in place to only follow the right type of commentors.

  26. By Mark on Oct 11, 2008 | Reply

    Great post – I set my wiki account up a few days ago, but was pondering this exact issue. I’m headed over there now to get to work!

  27. By Murthy Rao on Oct 16, 2008 | Reply

    Really Wikipedia has been made more difficult by the spamming practices of many SEO companies, but this makes a link from Wikipedia all the more precious because of this on.

  28. By Will on Nov 8, 2008 | Reply

    @Murthy, do you have any evidence that SEO companies were the ones doing the spamming opposed to just individual spammers?

  29. By Schmuck on Nov 11, 2008 | Reply

    I agree that wikipedia is really useful in SEO. But it is the wrong way to copy its contents.

  30. By Lexx on Dec 25, 2008 | Reply

    The best thing to do is to actually create content that has real value to the subject itself. Then, not only will your wiki link stick, but you will also get traffic from it.
    It’s kind of a simple deal – you contribute something of value to humanity, and you get paid.

  31. By Will on Dec 28, 2008 | Reply

    “It’s kind of a simple deal – you contribute something of value to humanity, and you get paid.”

    Except that anyone can take your link away no matter how helpful or relevant it is. External sources are less likely to be removed on, a wiki encyclopedia that many are turning to instead of Wikipedia. Its growth is in a steady upswing.

  32. By Daily Google Trends on Jan 4, 2009 | Reply

    Keep up the great work ;)

  33. By Charlie on Jan 6, 2009 | Reply

    I often use the Google Position Tool.

  34. By Search24online on May 28, 2009 | Reply

    wikipedia helps in SEO a lot …

  35. By Evan Carroll on Oct 1, 2009 | Reply

    Wikipedia is not scraped, and it doesn’t take a “blackhat” to get content off of wikipedia. It is the open encyclopedia because it is totally free, and legal, to fork wikipedia entirely! The software is mediawiki, and the database to load it is, isn’t doing anything special — more than likely they’re just rendering wikipedia pages from a clone of the wikipedia database, and their link template is borked. (the [] operator in mediawiki)

    And re:Will there is no evidence that Citizendium will be any more accurate, or have a greater content:trash ratio.

  1. 4 Trackback(s)

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