How to Easily Get Your Business Listed on Wikipedia

Published by
Kenny Novak
on January 14, 2016
Posted in How-to

Wikipedia is an interesting beast in terms of web marketing. It’s one of the largest and most popular websites in the world, ranked number 7 globally according to Alexa. It’s also completely created and maintained by users, which seems like the opposite of something Google would consider authoritative. Google usually penalizes or at the very least mostly ignores user-created content outside of social media sites. Something like a wiki site, where anyone can come in and post content and links, just reeks of abuse.

Wikipedia itself, of course, is strictly maintained. They have high quality standards, despite its academic reputation. I read an interview once with a contributor for the Encyclopedia Britannica, and he vouched for the quality of Wikipedia simply because he knew the kind of minimally-researched low-effort content made it into real encyclopedias. Even years ago, Wiki was arguably better than any past encyclopedia ever printed, and it has only grown larger, more comprehensive, and more detailed over time.

So, despite Wiki being entirely user-created and maintained, it’s very difficult to just add a link to a post to send traffic and pagerank to your site. You can’t just go in and add one; it will be removed and you may be issued a warning about adding “spam” content to the site. Try it again and you can be blocked from making edits to page.

For the record, this all also applies to smaller wikia-type sites, which tend to have narrow focuses and less traffic, but more targeted traffic. However, wikia-style sites often have admins who are just as prudish about edits as the real Wikipedia, and sometimes even more so.

A Word of Warning

What Wikipedia is Not

Before we get into specific techniques to help you get listed, you need to know one thing. That one thing is that Wikipedia is not, and never will be, a directory. In fact, Wikipedia hates the idea of ever looking like a directory. You can see their “What Wikipedia is Not” document here.

  • Wikipedia is not a dictionary. It should not contain simple word definitions or pure dictionary entries.
  • Wikipedia is not a publisher or “original thought.” In other words, it is not a primary source of information, it is a secondary source and information aggregator. It is not for posting original research and analysis. You can’t just go in and post a blog post on a Wiki page.
  • Wikipedia is not a means of promotion. It is meant for impartial aggregation of knowledge, not partisan arguments, advocacy, recruitment, opinion sharing, scandal mongering, self-promotion or advertising. This is the key section that makes it difficult to get your link on a Wiki page. “All article topics must be verifiable with independent, third-party sources, so articles about very small ‘garage’ or local companies are typically unacceptable.”
  • Wikipedia is not a repository of links, images, media, or mirrored sites. It is not a link directory or a place to host, store, and use multimedia. For that, Wikimedia or Wikisource are more reasonable options, but are still somewhat outside of any marketing use.
  • Wikipedia is not a social network, blog, web host, or memorial site. Self-explanatory; there are real dedicated services, even free services, for all of those. Don’t try to use Wiki for what it isn’t meant for.
  • Wikipedia is not a directory for listing every business, or anything else for that matter. It should not have pages of loosely-related quotes, it should not have genealogical tracing for non-notable people, it should not be a copy of the Yellow Pages, it should not have store product catalogs, and so forth. This is another reason it’s hard to list your business.
  • Wikipedia is not an instruction manual, guidebook, or journal. It’s not meant to be a tutorial, strategy guide, or FAQ.
  • Wikipedia is not a hub for news, a diary, or a source of journalism.
  • Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate hub of information. It does not collect lyrics, statistics for non-notable categories, or software update logs, etc.

There are two key points you should take away from this. First, you cannot just add yourself to Wikipedia for no reason. Trying to add yourself to a list of businesses is unlikely to happen, as is trying to create a page for your business in totality. The reason for this is the second key point: Wikipedia focuses on the most notable information relevant to the world at large. Coca-Cola is a large enough company to have a Wikipedia page. Steve’s Auto Body in Gary Indiana is not.

Wikipedia Notability

This has come up a few times, and will come up again, so let’s discuss it first. Wikipedia has a strict set of guidelines for what is and is not notable enough to deserve mention on the site, either as an entry on a list or as a page of its own.

Citation Needed

There are a whole lot of different guidelines, but the ones relevant to us today are the Notability (organizations and companies) guidelines. Of course, as with all things on Wikipedia, they aren’t set in stone; they are flexible and up to interpretation. The thing is, you’re not the one doing that interpretation. The ones who do are the admins of the site, and they’re typically going to take a harsher stance than is perhaps necessary to avoid people exploiting loopholes.

  • No organization whatsoever is considered notable on its own, no matter how large the organization is. Notability comes from the notice of third party sources. If no one at all, around the world, paid any attention to Coca-Cola, Coke would not be notable, despite its size.
  • No organization whatsoever is considered notable simply because a notable person or organization is associated with it. Notability is not inherited, which is why there are no pages for the children of all celebrities. If Alton Brown buys a local restaurant near you, that restaurant is not suddenly notable.
  • Notability requires depth of coverage. Multiple independent sources should be cited to establish notability. Sources must have deep coverage; mere business listing directories are not enough.
  • Notability from a broad audience is a possible benefit, but it must be a truly broad audience. No matter how popular you are in your city, if no one outside your city has heard of you, you’re not notable. The same goes with industries as well.
  • Notability cannot be exploited. You cannot use materials you have published or paid for on third party sites as proof of notability. No press releases, forum posts, advertising, patents, or product placement counts. You cannot artificially create notability.

There are also specific notability criteria for specific types of organizations, such as local organizations that are known nationally, local chapters of national organizations, and schools.

All of this combines to make Wikipedia a very tough nut to crack. Needless to say, getting your link there is valuable, useful, and hard as hell. There are essentially three ways you can get on Wikipedia, from “best” to worst.

The first is the dedicated page. Companies that are notable enough can warrant a page of their own, like Coca-Cola, Moz, or hundreds of other companies. If you’re smaller than the minimum threshold, though, you won’t be able to get a full page.

The second method is a listing on an aggregation page. There are not many of these, and you will have a tough time getting your addition to stick, so I tend to discount this option entirely.

The third is simply to make yourself a source. This turns the entire notability spectrum on its head. It’s also the technique I like the most, the easiest to use, and the best for establishing yourself in a low-key way.

Earning a Full Page

If you think you have the notability to have a full Wikipedia business page dedicated to your site, you can give it a shot. The worst that can happen is you’ll have it removed. Well, that, and you might end up on a list of people trying to exploit Wikipedia for advertising, which can come back to hurt you later if you make another attempt. Still, if you think you have it, here’s what you do.

Full Wikipedia PageFirst, create a new Wikipedia account, but do it from a device and a location not tied to your home or office. I don’t recommend using a public proxy service, simply because Wiki admins will be able to identify that it’s a proxy. Private proxies are better, but you might just want to use a VPN of some kind. You could also just pay someone to do it for you, or get a friend to do it. You can also just go to a coffee shop and use their WiFi.

Why hide your association? If you do end up having your request for a new page rejected, you don’t want that to come back to bite you. This adds a layer of insulation that, ideally, should not be traced back to you.

At this point, many people recommend using your new Wikipedia account for constructive purposes. Generate a bit of a reputation for yourself by making constructive edits according to Wikipedia guidelines, ideally in areas and on pages not related to your business at all. This creates an account history the admins can use to show that you’re not just a marketer.

Next, create your own Wikipedia article for your business, but do it privately. Learn the Wikipedia markup language and use an existing business – a competitor, or someone of comparable size – as a template. Make the information box, fill out everything as accurately and as honestly as possible, and make sure you use impartial language. Don’t promote it, don’t use sales language, and don’t be casual. Use the voice and tone Wikipedia uses throughout the site. Make sure you have a full list of third party citations, not associated with you in any way.

Create Wikipedia PageThis page lists articles that were declined because creating them would be advertising. You can also look over the list of declined pages as a whole to see other reasons why pages might be declined, and avoid those mistakes.

Don’t simply publish this article all at once. Break it up into sections and remove some things. Create the article and publish the barebones content, then a few minutes later go back and edit in more detail. Add some of your citations. Add the information box. Add more information and some more citations. Repeat this until you have added everything, as if you were slowly piecing it together from resources you have on hand. Spread this out over the course of about an hour.

Do not immediately promote your Wikipedia article. In fact, do not acknowledge that it exists. Use your Wikipedia account to continue making the occasional edit, so it doesn’t look like you were attempting to game the system the way you are.

At this point, all you can do is wait and hope your article was valuable enough, with enough citations, to get you past the notability requirements and let your page stick. If it doesn’t, all you can do is wait, grow your business, get more media coverage, and hope to grow to a point where it will work.

Getting a Few Links

I mentioned already that if you’re just shooting for links rather than for a full page, it’s a lot easier to get. The reason for this is the notability guidelines themselves. See, for a page to be notable, it needs to be mentioned in multiple third party publications with deep, robust, valuable content. That’s hard to do, right?

Just remember that to most other people, you are the third party publication. Your blog might not be Bloomberg or Forbes, but if you have the quality you should to succeed in SEO these days, you’re producing great, deep content. All you have to do is turn that content towards your goal of getting links.

The first step to success here, then, is to create a Wikipedia account and start making constructive edits. Follow all of the steps above, using an IP address that isn’t one associated with you, just in case. Once again, this insulates you from mistakes and gives you the opportunity to try again should something go wrong.

As you’re making constructive edits in non-industry areas, scope out your industry areas. Look at the pages for companies and concepts floating around. You’re probably going to find some [citation needed] entries. Those are what we in the business call “opportunities.”

There are two things you’re going to do here. First is look for citation needed entries and create a post that would work as a citation. Assuming you agree with it and it’s something that could be published without looking out of place on your blog, write it and publish it. Then, after a few weeks, go back and add that link as a citation. As simple as that, you have a Wikipedia link.

The other thing you can do is look at your old content, or content you want to produce, and figure out ways it can be used as a citation in a Wikipedia article. When you find such an opportunity, add a sentence or two to the relevant page and add the citation.

Make sure you aren’t only adding links to your website as you do this. When you make constructive edits to other pages, add citations to sites you aren’t affiliated with in any way. The idea is to make it look, from the outside, as if the links you add to your website are just the same as other links you make to other sites. Just part of the ongoing Wikipedia improvement.

If you can pull this off, you’ll get Wikipedia links, which gets you more notability and more traffic. Not only does it help you grow your business; it also helps you rack up notability for an eventual page of your own. If you’re lucky, someone else might even make the page for you, saving you the trouble.

Written by Kenny Novak

Kenny Novak

Kenny is an SEM and SEO professional. He uses blogging and content marketing as a launchpad for small businesses looking to grow their online presence.

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