Over the years, Wikipedia has become a minefield for marketers, often causing more trouble than it’s worth. However, Wikipedia is still effective and can be used by content marketers to help with SEO and contribute to the mission of the world’s largest encyclopedia.
Content marketers often don’t understand how backlinks work on Wikipedia. They think that if the topic is relevant, just add a link to the “external link” section of a page. Not so.
Adding a link to Wikipedia is like surgery: if not done correctly, it can cause a lot of problems, including having your added domain appear as spam and get banned on Wikipedia.
It is so difficult to obtain and maintain a Wikipedia link that I stopped offering this service a long time ago. However, knowing that many marketers will do this anyway, I would like to share some of the best practices on backlinks from Wikipedia. Done correctly, it can still be a huge benefit to your SEO.
Going From Do-follow To No-follow
First, let’s see how the backlinks on Wikipedia have changed over the years. When Wikipedia was launched in 2001, the backlinks were all “do-follow”, created for SEO purposes. With the weight of Wikipedia and its backlinks from Google, marketers quickly saw the SEO effect.
Wikipedia editors quickly realized that spam was widespread. The community has taken massive steps to help contain spam, including changing links to “no-follow,” links that have less SEO effect, and creating a blacklist to block domains they consider spam.
Now, while unfollowed backlinks have less of an effect on SEO than no-follow backlinks, Wikipedia backlinks are still some of the most sought-after in the marketing industry. This is because Google places great weight on Wikipedia links, even though they are no-follow.
Identifying Where To Link
I’ll share what actually works to protect Wikipedia backlinks, based on my professional experience.
Do not simply look for citation-needed entries: Wikipedia automatically searches and examines the necessary full citation templates. If the added links do not contribute to the quality of the post, they will be removed and possibly blacklisted.
Find entrances that urgently need cleaning and expansion: In such cases, you have a better chance of contributing quality content, expanding the shared knowledge on that topic and contributing to Wikipedia’s goal of sharing knowledge freely.
To find an article that needs more quality information, go to the all-articles-to-be-expanded page. More than 1,800 articles fell into this category in one month this fall. Browse over a month for an endless supply of pages that can benefit from your contribution.
Knowing The Types Of Links
Now that you know where to find places for your links, let’s take a look at the most suitable link types:
Make sure the links are from a reliable source: Wikipedia’s rules on trustworthy sources are extensive. Basically, don’t use self-published sources (press releases, etc.) and make sure the linked site employs fact-checkers to ensure the accuracy of the content.
Check if Wikipedia already considers the source to be reliable: See if the mentioned website has its own article. For example, AdAge has its own page on Wikipedia, which increases the likelihood that your website links will be accepted as a trusted source.
See if your cited website has been used as a backlink: Go to the search box and enter the URL you want to check. A website that has been used numerous times also increases the chances of being accepted as a trusted source.
In this screenshot, you can see that AdAge has been referenced 301 times on Wikipedia. You can also see that the main result is AdAge’s own Wikipedia page.
Make sure the link is more than one landing page: Wikipedia editors consider a link to a landing page without information to support the content as spam.
Link directly to the relevant content page: The link must contain content that supports the information you are adding. For example, if you are adding advertising information, you cannot simply link to the home page of your website as an authorized source. You should connect to the exact page that supports the content, similar to how you would cite sources in a research article or industry study.
Putting It Together
Now is the time to add the link. To get things done right, you need to contribute to the encyclopedia, adding more links than just the backlink you want to include.
Here’s an example of how it works:
Let’s say you want to add a link from The Motley Fool to the Big King sandwich article on Wikipedia. The link refers to Big King’s announcement in 2014; this section is empty at the entrance. Adding the link not only allows you to place the link you want but also contributes positively to Wikipedia.
You also have a USA Today citation about Big King advertising, although you’re not looking to secure a backlink to USA Today, incorporating it adds credibility to the post.
Now, you need to write the content of the entry which is backed by the citations:
“In 2014, Burger King reintroduced the Big King as direct competition to McDonald’s Big Mac. (USA Today citation) Part of its advertising campaign was that the beef used on the sandwich was bigger than that of the Big Mac. (The Motley Fool citation)”
By incorporating two trusted sources into the aggregated information, you increase the chances that the desired link (The Motley Fool) will survive scrutiny. I also suggest adding even more content to the post to really increase the value of your contribution.
In conclusion, I cannot reiterate enough: it is not enough to create a Wikipedia link just to create a link. Make sure you do this correctly and contribute along the way.
Presenting content that adds quality to the encyclopedia is likely to help your link last a long time and greatly benefit your SEO efforts.
Remember that there is NEVER a guarantee with Wikipedia, so whatever process you use is not foolproof, it is just good practice.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with Wikipedia links.