According to Alexa, Wikipedia is the 8th most popular website – and with good reason.  At the time of writing, the English version of the encyclopedia had more than 3.5 million articles covering everything from higher mathematics through to individual episodes of the Simpsons.  The site has become the de facto source of information and statistics for major news agencies, and is often the cited source of information for university students researching their papers.  The structure of Wikipedia is perfect from an SEO perspective:  A combination of unique user generated content, a strong and descriptive internal linking policy, and millions of external links mean that the website ranks very strongly – ie position 1 or 2 for many of the most competitive search terms across many different industries including things like Poker.

All of this helps Wikipedia receive around 80 million unique users each month, and raises the question of how you can benefit more from the website.  It’s important to note that you shouldn’t see a traffic strategy for Wikipedia as a quick win for your overall marketing strategy.  It requires hard work, and a mindset that is open to criticism and challenges to the notability of your business.

1: Start with the basics

The first thing you need to do is create an account on Wikipedia.  You can edit without one, but anonymous edits from unregistered users are (rightly) treated with a great deal of suspicion.  Be reasonably transparent about who you are, if not your motives for being on the website.

The second thing you need to do is to create a page for your company on Wikipedia.  It’s wise to initially create a basic page that includes top level information about your business, and provides a feel for it’s notability.  Include information about proprietary technology you use, and key people within your organisation.

It’s important to stick to Wikipedia conventions when writing your profile page.  Avoid making it sound like an advert – stick to the facts – and also use the correct template for the page.  Look at how any competitors are listed on the website, and structure your article in the same way.

Link out from the article to relevant other pages such as industrial terms, the town where you are based, and any major partners.  Remember that you can’t make unsubstantiated claims, so it is a good idea to link from the page to any statistics that you include.  You should also include a link to your home page.

Once you have a page in place, it is important to legitimise it.  Orphaned pages – those with no inbound links to them are marked for deletion fairly quickly, so build a few internal links to your article from other relevant articles elsewhere in the wiki.

2: Do Your Research

The reason that Wikipedia needs to be a part of your marketing strategy is the fact that the website ranks so well for so many keywords.  If you are going to use Wikipedia as a proxy for your own website to get rankings and traffic, it is important to know what terms it is visible for, where it ranks, and what pages currently rank.

Review each of these pages and list information about where they rank, which external companies they link out to, and which internal articles they link to.  Look at which statistics they talk about, and collate the information that is important within them.

With some of the pages, linking them to your own article might be straightforward – if you are the manufacturer of blue widgets, it makes sense to immediately add a direct link from the article to your page.  Also, there may well be pages that you can directly link to your own external website.

3: Build Relevant Content

The biggest ongoing criticism of Wikipedia is that articles often lack any substantial sources to back up the claims that are made.  Any business should have statistics about trends within their industry, and factual information about related subjects.  For example, if you run an online poker website, then you will almost certainly be able to provide a list of statistical tables for the value of different hands.

Publish information on your website, cite it in Wikipedia, and then add a citation link from the article to the source of the information.  At the same time, ensure that each article you add to links to your own company profile within the Wiki.

4: Be User Centric

I bang on about taking a user centric approach to social marketing.  Not because it is the moral thing to do; but because it is the most appropriate method.  You need to understand how a user works within a system in order to benefit from them.  You must respect that system in order to appear credible, and must provide added value to the users who are present, otherwise you are likely to be removed from it.

Wikipedia is a community project managed by a dedicated group of volunteers who give up their time and effort freely in order to benefit their user base.  They do not welcome people who try and take without contributing.  When you are adding content or links, ask whether you as s user would find them beneficial.  If the answer is “no”, then the chances are that no-one else will want them either, and as such, they are best omitted.

5: Be Vigilant

Wikipedia is freely editable by anyone.  That means that any content or links you add can be amended and removed by other people.  In most cases, this is an admin who doesn’t think that the addition or edit adds value to users.  Read the discussion pages for information about any changes that have been made.

Be aware that a competitor can edit your content and remove links at will.  Record the changes you have made, and participate in discussions.  A presence within the community will be more helpful to your cause than behvaiour behind the veil of anonymity.

Why it works

Wikipedia is a website that encourages users to explore themes and concepts.  The internal linking from one article to another ensures that the average visitor to the website visits a lot of pages during their session.  Also, it is possible to visit almost every page on the website within 10 clicks of your starting point.  That means you have a big chance of someone visiting your profile and ultimately ending their journey there.

Track Everything

You can never know too much about your users and customers, and proper use of analytics is essential.  Track all visits from Wikipedia as you would any traffic source.  Look at how they convert in comparison with other traffic – is it better or worse.  What is the average value of each person who comes to the website?  Record the amount of time you spend on optimising your Wikipedia presence, and calculate what the ROI is.  If it is not a profitable use of your time, leave it alone, but make that decision based on the facts rather than by making an assumption.

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4 Responses to 5 Steps to Build Traffic from Wikipedia

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by James Lowery, Digital Marketing. Digital Marketing said: http://quumf.com/2011/02/4-steps-to-build-traffic-from-wikipedia/ […]

  2. Juan says:

    Nice Article..
    One caveat, how do you send traffic to your site from Wikipedia, without being tagged as a link spammer?
    There is a section for external links, but they are under the control of some editors that will kick you out as soon as you want to add something, even if it’s high quality, highly relevant, and non commercial.

    • Quumf says:

      Hi Juan
      Wikipedia is all about references and citations, and you need to demonstrate a supporting relationship between your page and the Wikipedia article. Try linking from the article itself to a footnote and then linking from the footnote to your external page – for example you might make a statement in an article along the lines of:
      “75% of people over the age of 60 suffer from some degree of memory loss”
      Then, add a footnote to the statement: [1]
      Then use the footnote to link to your page where the original statistic was published.

  3. lee says:

    i love this idea, kickig myself for not thinking of it earlier, heading straight over to wiki now :)

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