SES: Watch Your Wikipedia Steps

    April 12, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Some marketers swear by what a well-made Wikipedia entry can do for one’s online presence. But the perils are many and the punishments are swift for those who try to game the online encyclopedia for personal gain.

As our Joe Lewis noted earlier about Wikipedia’s potential for marketing purposes, even the savviest pros can run afoul of the site’s numerous editors. Barry Schwartz of SERoundtable narrowly missed having his entry banned by the site.

The obvious appeal of Wikipedia comes from the Google SERPs for topics listed at the site. Wikipedia listings tend to appear above the fold in the search results, and marketers of all stripes would love to find a way to tap that sweet high PR link love themselves.

Before tugging on the boots and sauntering off in Wikipedia’s direction, keep in mind some of the advice handed out at SES New York today during the Wikipedia & SEO session, with Danny Sullivan presiding.

Neil Patel, Advantage Consulting Services co-founder who is known to our readers for his SEO challenge to Jason Calacanis, offered some straightforward "don’ts" to would-be Wikipedians:

  • Don’t delete accurate information
  • Don’t add biased information
  • Don’t spam
  • Don’t break the rules

Wikipedia is not a links dumpster. Treat it that way and prepare for a swift banning. Instead, Patel said to add information first, then links later. And, since people can add images, Wikipedia can be a great place to build a brand with those.

Jonathan Hochman, Founder/President, JE Hochman & Associates, reminded everyone about the nature of outbound links from Wikipedia; they have the ‘nofollow’ attribute added to them. Wikipedia’s place in the SERPs has been built from inbound links, and that’s why creating an informative entry is so important.

He warned about the potential conflicts of interest that can happen when making Wikipedia entries. They should not shut anyone out from participating, so long as they are willing to learn Wikipedia’s policies and customs.

Don Steele, Director of Digital & Enterprise Marketing, Comedy Central, said Wikipedia benefited his network greatly, and has become a relevant traffic driver to their web properties. They would have to spend around $20k per month for the traffic they get from Wikipedia.

The cable channel has notability, which is a point that Stephan Spencer, Founder and President, Netconcepts, made about Wikipedia entries. Those have to have notability, and he had a couple of tips about enhancing that:

  • Use Google News archive search to find reference articles, but keep in mind an article with just a passing quote won’t be enough
  • Don’t use PR firms to try and game the system

It’s all about respecting Wikipedia and playing by the rules.