Although it’s not as fashionable as it perhaps was a couple of years ago, getting a link from Wikipedia is still a pretty hot topic. I still frequently hear, “I need a Wikipedia link. How do I get one?”
I’d debate whether anyone actually needs a link from Wikipedia, or any specific site. A single link from a single site, no matter how powerful, is never the be all, end all of link building. But if you’re determined, just how do you go about getting that link?
There’s no simple trick.
Wikipedia Links: Are They Worth It?
All links on Wikipedia have the nofollow attribute. According to Google’s official policy, nofollowed links don’t pass PageRank and don’t carry anchor text metrics.
However, there are a bunch of link based metrics that they could be carrying, such as domain authority, domain diversity, etc. Without getting into a massive debate on the merits (or lack thereof) of nofollowed links here, suffice to say that nofollow links carry some algorithmic SEO value. So from that perspective, links from Wikipedia do carry worth.
It’s also interesting to note that in this video, Matt Cutts, in his usual carefully worded terms, voices some frustration that all Wikipedia links are nofollowed, as many of them, especially from trusted editors, would actually be useful to Google’s algorithms.
I don’t think it’s a big leap to imagine that Google does make some use of these links (no matter what Matt says), even though they can’t use the PageRank and anchor text metrics.
In addition to any algorithmic SEO benefit you may or may not get from Wikipedia links, there’s also direct traffic and plain old brand and content exposure.
So, in theory, yes it’s worth getting links from Wikipedia — even if they aren’t the most powerful links in the world. The catch is whether you can get one or more easily enough to make it worth your while.
However, there’s no simple trick with Wikipedia. Here’s an outline of a four-step strategy for Wikipedia linkage mastery.
1. Become A Trusted Editor
There’s no getting around this: if you’re going to be making anything but the smallest tweaks to Wikipedia’s content, you need to be a signed in user with a history of good quality edits behind you.
Going onto the site and doing something such as creating a new page without being signed in simply doesn’t work. Wikipedia’s editors will almost certainly remove that page promptly.
Before you even can start thinking about adding your own site to Wikipedia, start making changes to the rest of the site. This isn’t about gaming the editors into thinking you’re a trusted member of the community, whereas all you really want to do is promote your own business. It’s about offering real value to the community, and, in return, you might, just might, get the privilege of linking out to your own site from a relatively important page.
This is easy to do if you focus on a topic that you’re passionate about (whether related to your business or not).
Wikipedia, despite its good reputation, is still full of informational holes and inaccuracies. Start filling those holes in and correcting errors, and you’ll soon build up a good history on your account (note: it’s probably best to avoid working on controversial topics at this stage). Expanding stub articles is a good place to start.
Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough, read and remember Wikipedia’s contributor guidelines and policies.
2. Pick A Page That You’re Going To ‘Own’
Unless you’re a well-recognized brand or important organization at some level, you simply can’t have your own page on Wikipedia. Their notability guidelines are extremely clear on this. So, what you need to do is find a page that:
- Is closely related to your business’ area of operation.
- Isn’t too obscure and has lasting relevance (i.e., it isn’t just about something topical right now).
- You can make a valid, valuable contribution to.
3. Add Your Links
No, this doesn’t mean spamming your chosen page with dozens of links to your business! Think carefully about how you place your links in the page, and what the context is going to be.
It should also go without saying that although you’re adding your own links (and potentially content), you must not remove or replace anyone else’s in favor of your own unless your own material is genuinely better, more accurate, or more useful.
In some rare cases, you may simply be able to link out to your site. For example, if your page is about a well-known album, and you happened to be the sound engineer on that album, then it’s legitimate to link out to your site — especially if your site contains extra information about the album that would be of interest to the Wikipedia community.
However, for the vast majority of cases, you’ll have to think a bit more creatively.
One example of how you can get a link in is through a citation. This means including valuable, unique, and high quality information on your site and using it as a citation for an existing or new section of content on your target Wikipedia page. This should be the kind of citation you’d add regardless of whether you own the content in question.
For example, if your business works in technology, this could be a piece of original research. However, don’t just copy and paste something interesting from elsewhere and use that!
Alternatively, you could upload some media, such as a photograph or diagram, to the site and link to yourself as the source — but, again, this media has to be valuable and relevant to the page in question.
If there’s really nothing you can add in terms of unique and original content or media, then you may have to rethink having a Wikipedia link.
4. Link Up Your Page
While getting external links from Wikipedia is relatively hard, building internal links within the site is much easier. Go through and find content within Wikipedia that would benefit from being linked to “your” page.
Create as many of these internal links as you can, but always remember, the caveat on any edit you make is that it has to benefit the site has a whole. Don’t just link for the sake of it. Creating all these links will drive traffic to the page, and with any luck through to your site, as well as increasing the SEO benefit the links on the page may (or may not!) have.
You’ve probably got the gist by now: if you do want a Wikipedia link, it’s a hard process that will see you become a trusted, beneficial member of Wikipedia’s editing community if it is to succeed.
Whether you think this is worth it is up to you to decide! But whatever you do, remember that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a platform for self-promotion. Any changes you make have to be made from that perspective alone.
Join us for SES New York 2011, the Leading Search & Social Marketing Event, taking place March 21-25. SES New York will be packed with 70+ sessions, multiple keynotes, 100+ exhibitors, networking events, and parties. Learn about PPC management, keyword research, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, local, mobile, link building, duplicate content, multiple site issues, video optimization, site optimization, usability, and more.