Got a marketing strategy?
Does it include Wikipedia?
If not, you may want to rethink your game plan. Marketers have been implementing Wikipedia as part of their marketing strategy for years and have reaped many of the benefits that have come from it.
When it comes to marketing, Wikipedia is its own animal. It is not social media, a directory, or a news website. It has a writing style like no other and anyone can contribute to its content. This is one of the reasons many people overlook it when it comes to marketing. However, Wikipedia can be a powerful marketing tool if done correctly.
When incorporating Wikipedia into your marketing strategy, I advise you consider the following:
- Creating a Wikipedia Page
- Wikipedia Backlinks
- Monitoring Your Wikipedia Presence
- Using Wikipedia’s Sister Projects.
Let’s go over each of these steps right now…
Creating a Wikipedia Page
Creating a Wikipedia page is one of the best ways to include the site in your marketing plan. A Wikipedia page will show up high in the search results and also help jump-start the Google Knowledge Graph.
Despite many people arguing that Wikipedia is not reliable, it is still one of the most used sources for information. Don’t believe me? Just ask Alexa. It is the 7th most visited website in the world, 6th in the United States.
1. Who qualifies for a Wikipedia page?
This is a question that most of you are asking yourselves as you read this. It is also the most important question when it comes to adding the site as part of your marketing strategy. You MUST be notable according to the website’s guidelines in order to create a page.
Notability is the general criteria used by Wikipedia editors to determine if a topic warrants its own page in Wikipedia.
2. Here are the nuts and bolts on notability.
Wikipedia states, “if a topic has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject, it is presumed to be suitable for a stand-alone article or list.” This means that a subject must have references that meet all three prongs of the test (significant coverage, reliable sources, independent) in order to qualify for a Wikipedia page.
Significant coverage means that the topic must be covered in-depth in reliable sources. Brief mentions, quotes, or a simple backlink do not qualify as significant. Let’s use my favorite sport for an example and talk about Johnny Manziel.
Screenshots of articles that talk about Johnny Manziel.
One is an in-depth piece in The Washington Post, which could be used to satisfy the “significant coverage” prong of Wikipedia notability. The other from Sports Illustrated is simply a brief mention and cannot be used.
The two articles above both talk about Manziel, but only one of them is in-depth enough to be used for notability. The Sports Illustrated article, while it mentions Manziel, is more of an article about Josh Rosen from UCLA, while The Washington Post article is 100% focused on Manziel. Therefore, only the article in the Post could be used to satisfy notability on Manziel’s Wikipedia page.
When it comes to reliable sources, Wikipedia becomes a little “grayer”. A reliable source is one that is known for accuracy and fact checking. However, editors do not always agree on what qualifies under this criteria.
Sources considered reliable change depending on the topic and can range from popular music magazines (Spin, Billboard, etc.) for music topics to peer reviewed journals for medical topics. I could write forever on how to determine what sources are reliable, but I would recommend you start with the main Wikipedia guideline on sourcing. If you have questions regarding a source, Wikipedia has a noticeboard where you can ask if a specific source would qualify.
The final prong of the notability guidelines deals with independence. A source must be independent of the topic which means it cannot be self-published or directly related to the topic. Press releases, official websites, and social media accounts are not independent and therefore do not qualify for the purposes of notability.
I also offer a free guide to notability for those looking for additional information on the subject.
3. Other ‘need to know’ guidelines to keep in mind with Wikipedia.
Once you determine that you qualify for a Wikipedia page, there are additional guidelines you need to familiarize yourself with. There are too many to list in this article, but I recommend focusing on some of the most common such as conflict of interest, neutral point of view, and civility.
Another good place to start prior to jumping into creating articles is to learn the Five Pillars of Wikipedia.
Wikipedia backlinks are some of the most coveted on the Internet. But why? Aren’t Wikipedia backlinks no-follow?
Yes they are, but they still carry weight. No-follow links can lead to more brand visibility and also build link diversity. As Wikipedia pages also rank high in search, there is what I call a boomerang effect in which links within Wikipedia seem to get more weight from Google despite being no-follow.
I am only going to touch on Wikipedia backlinks briefly as I do not recommend using them. Wait, what?????
That’s right. They are simply too difficult. The link you probably want to add is likely not reliable according to Wikipedia standards, and ultimately it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
There are many articles online that give advice on how to do backlinks, but they will likely lead you right into getting the link removed from Wikipedia and your link added to its blacklist.
The reason I am touching on the topic is because, despite my advice, I know you are likely going to do it anyway. As such, keep the following in mind:
- Don’t simply spam your link in the “external link” section of a page. It must be used in the context of the article.
- Make sure the link you use contains information that supports the content. Links are used as references, not anchor text or directory links.
- Make sure your link is from a reliable source. Chances are your website is NOT considered a reliable source for Wikipedia.
- Do NOT simply add it in place of a “citation needed” tag. When you do, a bot will flag your edit and it will be manually checked for spam.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Monitoring Your Wikipedia Presence
Now that you have a Wikipedia presence, you must keep an eye on it. After all, Wikipedia is open-source and anyone can edit. Don’t let someone else manage your brand, like the City of Oakland did after LeBron James was declared the city’s mayor after winning the 2016 NBA Championship.
You don’t need to check Wikipedia every day in order to monitor your presence. There is a simple method you can use to receive notifications when a change takes place.
1. Enabling Wikipedia notifications
First, you must have a Wikipedia account and valid email address. Once you sign up for an account, make sure to enable notifications.
Click on the “preferences” tab at the top right of the page.
Click on the “notifications” tab under preferences.
Adjust the settings to receive daily notifications. You can also use this page to update your email address or remove yourself from notifications.
2. Adding a page to your watch list
Adding a page to your watch list is simple. Just look for the star at the top of the article and click it. If you want to check notifications for pages on your list, simply click the “watchlist” tab at the top right.
Keep in mind that the notifications you receive will only notify you of a change. Once you receive an email, it is up to you to decide what to do next.
Using Wikipedia Sister Projects
Most people are unfamiliar with the organizational structure of Wikipedia. The site is actually run by a non-profit organization called the Wikimedia Foundation. The Foundation runs numerous projects, including Wikipedia, but also has many other projects that you should consider as part of your marketing strategy.
Logos of the various Wikimedia Foundation projects, including Wikipedia, Wikimedia, Wiktionary, and more. Image obtained from Wikimedia Commons.
In addition to Wikipedia, I recommend using Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons to help build your brand.
1. Using Wikidata
For those of you familiar with the old website Freebase, Wikidata will be easy to understand. The site is basically a repository of information that is available to third-parties under Creative Commons licensing. It is used by humans and bots for various purposes, including being a central data point for all Wikimedia Foundation projects.
So why is Wikidata important? Well, Google has to get information from somewhere. In fact, Wikidata is one of the sources for Google’s Knowledge Graph. For those of you who covet having a graph displayed in search results, having a Wikidata entry is a must.
Wikidata is one of the main ingredients of a Google Knowledge Graph. Image ©Legalmorning.com.
So who can have a Wikidata entry?
There are a few exceptions, but the general rule requires that each Wikidata entry has a corresponding page in at least one of the Wikimedia Foundation sister projects (Wikipedia, Wikiquote, Wikinews, etc.).
With that in mind, I only recommend creating a Wikidata entry if you have a Wikipedia page. As Wikipedia is also one of the sources for a Google Knowledge Graph, you will simply be rounding out the main pieces of the graph.
2. Wikimedia Commons
Similar to Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons is a central database of information, but for media (not data). It is a collection of photos, graphs, videos, maps, and other free media. Anyone is allowed to donate media to the site and it can then be used based on the license assigned.
You need to understand that when you upload media to Wikimedia Commons, you will be donating it to the project. According to the project, “Wikimedia Commons only accepts free content; that is, images and other media files that are not subject to copyright restrictions which would prevent them being used by anyone, any time, for any purpose.”
If anyone can use the media you donate, why even bother with it?
Simple answer: branding. If you are a company with a product, getting images of that product in front of the public is important. Wikimedia Commons is also one of the places where people look when they want to incorporate an image on their website or in an article. If your image is the one that fits what they are looking for, your brand will now be part of that website/article.
For example, let’s say someone is writing an article about digital thermostats. The writer will likely search a few places to find images to include in the content. For this article, I did a quick search and found the following image in Wikimedia Commons.
Caption: Lux TX9600TS Thermostat. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Lux is receiving free branding every time someone uses this image.
Not only does Lux receive free branding each and every time someone uses this image online (as their name is right on the product), but it is also being used in the Wikipedia article on thermostats.
You should know that the image was not contributed by Lux, but by a volunteer editor of the site. Imagine if Lux took the time to donate some of its own images to the project.
Summing It Up:
If you have not considered Wikipedia as part of your marketing strategy, it’s time to start. There are many ways to take advantage of the site’s marketing power and help establish your brand.
Prior to jumping into Wikipedia, make sure you understand the various rules, including notability, neutral point of view, and sourcing. Do not spam the site with links, and also take advantage of sister projects (Wikimedia Commons & Wikidata) along the way.
About the Author: Mike Wood is an online marketer, author and Wikipedia expert. He is the founder of Legalmorning.com, an online marketing agency that specializes in content writing, brand management and professional Wikipedia editing. He is a regular contributor to many online publications where he writes about business and marketing. Wood is the host of the Marketing Impact podcast and author of the book, Wikipedia As A Marketing Tool.