Anyone surfing the Internet has heard of Wikipedia. This online encyclopedia is often referred to as “the people’s encyclopedia” as it is authored by the general public. It is home to more than 10 million articles in over 250 languages. With 67 million unique visitors and 237 million visits each month, publishing an article on Wikipedia is an option that should be considered by all companies. Not only does Wikipedia improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it directs potential clients, consumers and journalists to an additional online source beyond a company Web page.

Get Found
Worldwide, 89 percent of Internet users use search engines. Users will type in a concern, question, product or company and the search engines will return a list of Web site links beginning with the most relevant at the top. Where does your company appear if you type in relevant keywords? If your company does not appear in the first five sites on the list, you may not be found. Research shows that 42 percent of Internet users only click on the top-ranking link on a search and most only click on the first couple links, rarely moving to the second page of results. A Wikipedia listing aides your SEO efforts as it typically ranks in the top five organic search results. Also, more consumers, clients and journalists are choosing to go to Wikipedia even before visiting a company’s Website.

Getting Started
Writing your Wikipedia article is different than developing a traditional marketing or public relations piece. All articles published on Wikipedia have to be neutral and should include many citations to validate the content. Simply, the articles cannot contain marketing jargon such as best, world-famous or leading.

Another challenge is that employees cannot post or edit articles about their company while at work or registered under their company email address. This is to ensure neutrality. All entries must be uploaded from a personal computer using a personal email address.

To get started, do your research. Go into Wikipedia and look up competitors and see what they have published. Once you have a good feel for your competition, take some time to learn the writing style mandated for Wikipedia articles. To do this, click on “edit this page” and review the guidelines for publishing or editing a page of your own.

After creating a username and getting a feel for how Wikipedia works, go through and add/edit content to at least five existing articles before starting your own article. This exercise will help you practice how to write for Wikipedia. Next, write your article in a word document so you can keep a record of it before posting it to Wikipedia, because as soon as it is online, your work may be deleted or altered by others. The document should include standard details, such as an information box, introduction, history, timeline, environment and products or brands. After you have written your draft in a neutral style, indicate the sources for everything. Keep in mind that you can occasionally source information to your own Web site, but the majority of citations need to be reputable third-party sites. Save the entire final article so you have a record. When publishing your article, don’t forget to add pictures to your page.

Tips for publishing on Wikipedia:

  • Anyone can contribute by clicking the Edit this page tab in an article
  • Before publishing, check out the tutorial and the policies and guidelines
  • Consider reading Wikipedia: How to edit a page
  • If you are nervous about editing pages, you can use the Wikipedia Sandbox tools to figure out how things work before you get started. The Sandbox is not published but is used for as a teaching tool. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Sandbox&action=edit

After your article is posted, monitor it every day for the first few weeks to see if changes are made or if anything is flagged. Be aware of any tags that a Wikipedia editor adds to your article. For example, they may tag your page as an orphan, which means that you need to add more links in your article. Follow any directions from the editors or else your article will be deleted. When your article has been live without any issues for a few weeks, you can monitor it on a less frequent basis.

Sharing Your Expertise
With some experience gained on your corporate article, consider contributing to or creating an article related to your industry. For example, contribute to an existing page related to concrete construction techniques if you are well versed in this area. Comment on green design if that is your specialty. You can even create an article for a topic that doesn’t exist. Be sure to follow the same rules as before – cite outside resources as often as possible. Although you can source your company as an expert to a certain degree, remain as neutral as possible or the information may be deleted. Also, link this article to your corporate page.

Although some argue that having a Wikipedia article exposes a company to criticism and liability, most marketing experts disagree because the conversation and online information will be distributed whether or not you participate. So, it is wise to proactively distribute accurate information. Creating a Wikipedia article allows you to be seen as the expert and consumers, clients and journalists can find your company before they find your competitors.

Sidebar: The Benefits of Wikipedia

  • A Wikipedia article will improve your searchability and allow Web users to find you easily. Wikipedia typically ranks in the top five organic search results. (source: http://legalblogwatch.typepad.com/legal_blog_watch/2009/05/does-your-law-firm-have-a-wikipedia-page.html)
    • Wikipedia contributes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Most people only click on the first couple links on a Google search and rarely get to the second page of results. SEO gets relevant links to your company as high up as possible so that users find you before a competitor. (source: http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/014605.html and http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/413-SEO-Can-Wikipedia-Help-Your-Business)
    • Consumers, clients and journalists are increasingly going online to find news and information about products and services. Worldwide 89 percent of Internet users used search engines to find information. (source: Digital World, Digital Life, December 2008).
  • Wikipedia is the second most visited site from Google searches and Google itself makes up a massive percentage of the total number of searches conducted in the United States. A company’s Wikipedia entry should paint a positive portrait because many people arrive at a company’s Wikipedia entry when using the company name as a search term. (source: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1649666,00.html)
  • Another way for the target audience to find you is to cross-link on Wikipedia. For example, link to pages with key words related to your products and services.
  • If you are active on Wikipedia and are aware of what is being said, it will be easier to correct any inaccurate information about your company.

The Risks of not having a Wikipedia page