Amongst all the noise of Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sides, Wikipedia is often forgotten as a viable online marketing strategy in its own right.
Like these 5 ‘lifesaver’ programmes, Wikipedia is entirely free to use – a massive factor for young companies always looking to get the best bang for their buck.
However, many companies are put off by Wikipedia’s stringent controls on neutrality and objectivity. Any submission that appears even remotely ‘salesy’ or promotional in nature will instantly be deleted; Wikipedia takes its commitment to providing reliable information very seriously.
This is particularly the case with startups, where reliable, impartial sources may not be readily available. In this scenario, Wikipedia is likely to challenge your page on grounds of ‘notability’, that is, not enough people are writing about you.
As such, Wikipedia has some strict guidelines for businesses when it comes to setting up company pages. The main ones are:
- You must first make at least 10 edits to other articles and wait at least 4 days before becoming an ‘auto-confirmed user’ — at which point you can submit your own company page
- Your submission must reference at least 3 ‘high quality’ sources, i.e. published books, high-ranking newspaper articles, journal reviews. Blogs and press releases are not normally edited prior to publishing and thus are not considered ‘reliable’ sources.
Nevertheless, if these conditions are met and your page is published, you will instantly begin to see the benefits! In this article, I shall explain 5 ways in which Wikipedia can help boost your online presence and establish credibility.
Wikipedia is the biggest online general reference site, and the fifth most visited website globally. 1,500 new pages are created daily across 280 languages. That’s an awful lot of people and potential clients for a startup! It’s not just your own company: having a Wikipedia page means other larger companies can reference you in connection with their own business or sector.
It is an undeniable fact that Wikipedia reigns supreme for reference, making up half of all searches. The first port of call, as it were, for anyone trying to find out quickly and easily what you’re about.
This is partly why editors are so quick to shut down any page that whiffs of self-promotion, or only tells one side of the story. Users routinely trust what they read on Wikipedia, and so in turn are more likely to trust you as a respectable company.
With over 135,000 active editors, Wikipedia does not let contributors get away with hiding negative reviews or presenting a one-sided picture of their business.
Wikipedia insists on ‘notable’ content — in brutal terms, if you’re not big enough, you’re out. This poses a problem to startups initially, but those who do make it past the controls stand to gain massively from being seen as key players that belong with the big names.
One reason potential clients turn to a company’s Wikipedia page is to escape the jargon of many company websites. The introduction to a Wikipedia article serves to place companies into objective categories, e.g. ‘online marketplace’, ‘e-commerce website’, ‘multinational retailer’. On Wikipedia, such airy concepts as ‘innovation leader’ or ‘knowledge provider’ simply won’t cut the mustard!
And, with the threat of deletion hovering over any page that isn’t written in plain English, writers have no choice but to call a spade a spade.
Backlinks, also known as ‘incoming links’, serve to link one web page to another. The more web pages that offer ‘backlinks’ to your company website, the higher you will find yourself on Google’s search results.
However, boosting your organic search rankings by buying millions of cheaply bought backlinks can have an adverse effect. Instead, Google’s ‘Panda’ software takes into account the quality of the web pages that backlink to your website. Pages that reach a wide audience, and are regarded as being reliable and authoritative, are considered best — and Wikipedia is one such example.
All Wikipedia articles have a ‘See also’ or ‘External links’ section, which can include a hyperlink to your company website.
It might seem like a drag to write a company Wikipedia page, especially with so many content regulations, but it is still important to update your page regularly.
Wikipedia is by no means a social media network, but can still be used to inform readers about your progress. Any new acquisitions, funding or even awards won should be added as ‘noteworthy’ information in the appropriate sections of your Wikipedia company page.
Stale Wikipedia pages are confusing for new readers, who may not be able to tell whether you are still in business. If you don’t update it, others might, and write less flattering content -though of course they are entitled to do so anyway. At the very least, it reflects badly on organisation to have ‘gaps’ in their history. Worse, Wikipedia may delete pages that are inactive for a long period of time.