Using Wikipedia to Increase Brand Recognition and Legitimize Your Business

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re probably looking for new ways to get the word out about your business and build a name for yourself in the industry. You want to stand out from the crowd, be seen as an expert in your field, and reach new customers even when you’re sleeping. Wikipedia is an interesting place to accomplish several of these very things.

Irina Kalonatchi, in her article Why Wikipedia is a Powerful Marketing Tool for Personal Branding and Business on Jeff Bulla’s Blog, had this to say:

“Wikipedia holds some prime real estate on Google’s search results page.  It’s usually pops up in one of the top five spots, so your company page gets a automatic SEO boast on Google to enjoy.”

Why Wiki?

wikipedia stats

comScore listed Wikipedia as number 9 on it’s digital properties list for 2013. Wikimedia is available both for desktop and mobile sites and is often touted as the largest online encyclopedia. It boasts 116,835,000 visitors. The site already has over 31 million pages and grows every week. SimilarWeb estimates that Wikipedia had 2.5 billion page views in October of 2013. Yes, you read that right. Their page views are in the billions. If the traffic alone doesn’t give you a reason to have a presence on Wikipedia, then consider these other points:

  • You can do edits and make sure any info put out there about you or your business is correct and up-to-date.
  • Can offer a linkback from a high profile site.
  • Allows you to reach new potential customers who read about your product or service in the context of an article which gives you expert status.

However, you can’t just run over to Wikipedia and start posting things here and there. That will get you banned from the site as an editor and it will be seen as spammy by potential customers and those in the Wikipedia community. There are some very specific rules that must be followed to post on Wikipedia, but the time and effort can be worth the extra work. As Social Media Manager, Melissa S. Barker, wrote:

“Given the effort required to contribute to Wikipedia and follow the many rules and restrictions, why would anyone (especially a business) take the time to become a respected member of the Wikipedia community? The answer is simple–it is establishes you as an online authority and helps endow you with credibility in specific subject categories.”

How to Get Your Business Listed on Wikipedia

First, understand that this isn’t a quick process. You will need to go through a variety of steps. Wikipedia tends to frown on companies or individuals creating a page for themselves, so you’ll need to work with someone already active on the site or who is willing to invest the time to become an active member and then post info about your business for you where it makes sense to do so.

Before you proceed, Wikipedia offers a word of caution or two about an article on you. First, they have a very strict Neutral Point of View policy. This means that both the good and the bad will be listed. As a contributor, you cannot simply delete a negative addition to your page because you don’t like it. This would be considered a conflict of interest by Wikipedia. Instead, you would have to prove that the statement was false, which can sometimes be hard to do. Joe Lewis at WebPro News cautions:

“Undertaking a Wikipedia campaign isn’t something to be taken lightly, however, given how vicious the community can be to those who abuse the system.”

While you can set up an account, add your info and see what happens, the article may get deleted or receive negative additions. Instead, it is better to get involved in the Wikipedia community. If you contribute valuable thoughts, are transparent that you are a business owner and let the other users know you are trying to remain neutral and above board, someone may just create a page for you and one that will be well received by the millions of people who visit the site every day.

Better Way to Take Advantage of Wikipedia Traffic

Photo Credit: Will Lion

Photo Credit: Will Lion

Instead of trying to throw up a page about your business or an autobiography, establish yourself as an expert in one or two subject areas. Follow these steps to get linked from Wikipedia. Again, this isn’t a quick fix method

  • Do you sell educational products? Start a blog and write on educational toys for children. Choose your focus and start that blog.
  • Write only high quality articles. Back up your main points with statistics from respected sources.
  • Spend some time in the Wikipedia community.
  • Update articles in your niche area, but do not promote yourself in any way. For example, you might go into an article on teaching degrees and add a statistic about how many teachers enter college education programs and link to where you found the statistic. This will help you begin to build a reputation on Wikipedia so that your input is valued.
  • If you have an article that truly adds to information on Wikipedia, go ahead and add a short bit of information on the topic and then link to the article as a source. Just make sure it is valuable information that adds to the topic.

But isn’t it against Wikipedia’s policy for you to link to a site you own or are affiliated with? Sometimes you have to get a little… ahem… creative. As Stephen Spencer, SEO expert and author, said:

“It is against Wikipedia’s External Linking policy to add links to sites you own, maintain or represent, so it’s best to fly under the radar and for such editing, use a Wikipedia account that cannot be easily connected with you. Oh did I say that? I meant… you should mention the link on the entry’s Talk page and let neutral and independent Wikipedia editors decide whether to add it or not.”

But, of course, you can just go into the “Talk” page and mention your article in the hope that an editor will decide to add it at some point. Some Wikipedians do have luck with this, but it can be hit or miss.

Additional Tips to Use Wikipedia for Promo

Since Wikipedia does receive massive amounts of traffic and simply being listed as a reference on the site or a link out can translate into additional traffic for your own website, there are a few things you can do to gain a presence on the site without making it obvious that you’re doing so. Keep in mind that the community frowns on some of these, so you’ll want to keep them close to your vest.

Form a Promo Team

Gather up a team of four or five people to cross-promote on Wikipedia. It is best if these people aren’t people who can be immediately linked to you. For example, your siblings wouldn’t be the best choice as they won’t be “neutral”. Fellow writers or other entrepreneurs would be a good choice for your team.

Now, each person on the team should choose one other person and search for an opportunity to use that person’s articles as references on Wikipedia. Make sure everyone understands the rules. The info must be notable, it must add value, and so on.

It would be best to use the promo team for a limited time or limited number of links added. For example, each person adds two links for one other person and then the team disbands. Wikipedia editors are pretty sharp, so they will catch on fairly quickly if you get spammy with it or the links don’t add value.

Hire a Specialist to Add Your Links

Some people have invested a lot of time building an excellent reputation on Wikipedia. These specialists know the community and the rules inside and out. A specialist may be worth the cost simply for the time she will save you. She will look at the articles you have available, search on Wikipedia for a good fit and add them in a way that will make it likely they will not be deleted by editors or spam controls. In addition, she may offer suggestions for articles you could add to your blog that would create additional opportunities for Wikipedia listings.

If you or your business is notable, then the specialist may use her contacts in the Wikipedia community to help get you a page of your own on Wikipedia. Just remember that you’ll want to really consider if you want that page or not as both negative and positive information can be listed and will be listed by anyone who is registered on the site.

Sister Sites

Wikipedia has some sister sites that are linked to quite often from the main site. Those sites include:

Having a presence on those sites could help with your presence on Wikipedia.

The Bottom Line

Like many things in life, those who have abused the system have made it harder for everyone to add info to Wikipedia. Add information, but do so very sparingly and only where it truly adds value. Utilize the community and other connections to add those links rather than doing so yourself as it can be a conflict of interest. Wikipedia can be a valuable way to add credibility to your business or professional name and to increase traffic to your site. It is worth the investment of time and resources to get listed on this site, but understand that it will be a process that doesn’t happen overnight.