Wikipedia Should Change Its Name To Googlepedia

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Wikipedia needs Google like plants need sunshine, according to the latest traffic analysis presented by Hitwise. Half of the online publicly-edited encyclopedia’s traffic comes from Google alone, with another 20 percent arising from the other search engines combined.

Wikipedia Should Change Its Name To Googlepedia
Wikipedia Should Change Its Name To Googlepedia

That’s 70 percent from search engines, for the mathematically impaired, a number no doubt responsible for Wikipedia’s recent debut on the Internet’s top 10 list.

Wikipedia’s market share of traffic has increased by 143 percent over the last year, perhaps in part due to Stephen Colbert’s constant poking at them, but also in very large part due to Google’s inherent trust of the site as a quality information source.

The site’s high ranking in Google’s search results is evident of that trust, as well as trust around the Web in general (Wikipedia gets lots of link love), but according to a commenter on LeeAnn Prescott’s blog post, it ranks a bit higher on Google than other search engine results.

A quick test of that theory, searching for the infamous "elephants" entry, shows that seems to be true for that term at least. Wikipedia’s submission on elephants, once terrorized by Colbert Report fans to say that the elephant population had tripled, appears as the number one result in Google, even above Elephants.com, the number one result at Yahoo, MSN, and Ask.com.

Prescott confirms that what has appeared to be true is certainly true:

If it seems like Google is sending more traffic to Wikipedia than in the past, it’s because it is. The percentage of Google’s downstream traffic going to Wikipedia increased by 166% year over year (week ending 2/10/07 vs. week ending 2/11/06). Last week Wikipedia was the #3 website in Google’s downstream, after Google Image Search and MySpace.

So how important is it for webmasters that their site rank well on Google? Well, considering only a fifth of Wikipedia’s traffic comes from the other major search engines combined, it would seem a requisite for Web survival.

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  • JDoorjam

    … or at least are ignoring the other half of the equation. I use the Google search bar when I’m trying to find things, but often I do so intending to go to the Wikipedia page I assume will come up in the first ten hits. It’s more convenient for me to use Google than Wikipedia from my browser, but the Wiki is still usually my intended target when I am trying to get more information about something I don’t have info on. So, certainly search engines drive traffic to Wikipedia, but in at least one sense, Wikipedia drives traffic to search engines as well.

  • kenasto

    Does Wikipedia really need Google? And are the search engines responsible for Wikipedia’s recent boost in traffic? I don’t think so, for a number of reasons.

    First, search engines are much more convenient and faster for finding articles on Wikipedia. So, like commented here before, many use their favorite search engine to find anything on Wikipedia.

    Second, obviously this is in most cases Google. Therefore Google drives more traffic to Wikipedia than other search engines. If Google wouldn’t show Wikipedia under the first results, users searching for Wikipedia articles would stop using Google for this purpose. This part of the Wikipedia traffic wouldn’t be lost.

    And the fact, that Googles traffic to Wikipedia has increased by so much just reflects a general increase of the interest in Wikipedia. Google understands this growing interest, automatically by evaluating the Internet link structure, and therefore shows Wikipedia more often as search results. It doesn’t reflect any preference by Google itself. Google trusts Wikipedia because we all do.

    The elephants example just shows that Google’s algorithm functions better than that one of the other search engines. I don’t know elephants.com that well but a quick look makes me think I would probably be more interested in some general information on elephants than in this particular site if I searched for the term “elephants” in a search engine.

    All of this just reflects the way I expect a search engine to function, show me the most relevant search result first.

  • Guest

    Actually, I use wikipedia FAR more than raw Google. Google is so filled with commercial sites and blogs that one must wade through a lot of crap to get near good basic data. If I want facts first I add "wikipedia" to the front of my searches. Only after I have consulted it do I remove that word and see what else pops up.



  • http://cybernetnews.com/ Guest

    thanks for that