Wikipedia is Still Useful for SEO

Posted on April 29, 2008 · Posted in Link Building, Search Engine Optimization, SEO Strategies

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. Answers.com 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.