Wikipedia is Still Useful for SEO

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.

21 Comments

  1. …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.

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  2. 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.

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  3. 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

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  4. Interesting perspective. I was unaware that answers.com 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.

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  5. 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 😀

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

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

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  8. 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

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  9. 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.

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  10. @MWM, Wikipedia can be unreliable; if you want information that you can count on to be accurate, try Citizendium.org. 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.

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

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

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  13. 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.

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  14. 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!

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  15. 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.

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

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

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  18. 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.

    Reply
  19. “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 Citizendium.org, a wiki encyclopedia that many are turning to instead of Wikipedia. Its growth is in a steady upswing.

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  20. Keep up the great work 😉

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  21. 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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_database

    Answers.com, 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.

    Reply

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