Wikipedia can be useful for content marketing, link building, and entity research, helping marketers reach an audience of potential customers.
To be clear, since at least 2007 all external Wikipedia links include the no following attribute, instructing search engines not to count links in page ranking algorithms.
This is something John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, noted in a Reddit post, saying that “randomly dropping a link in Wikipedia has no SEO value and will do nothing. for your site,” according to an article from the SEO Roundtable.
This does not mean, however, that Wikipedia is of no value to content marketers and search engine optimizers.
At the very least, Wikipedia helps with topic discovery, link building research, search engine optimization feature identification, and, perhaps, feature creation.
By using Wikipedia, marketers can identify potential content topics in a way similar to building broken links, according to Nate Shivar, an Internet publisher.
The first step is to search Wikipedia for broken (“dead” in Wikipedia’s vernacular) links or statements that require a citation.
Here is an example. Imagine you’re a content marketing manager at an online store that sells sci-fi collectibles. You want to create content to attract Star Trek fans, so you do the following search on Google.
site:wikipedia.org star trek intext:“dead link”
This search returns Wikipedia articles that mention Start Trek and include the phrase “dead link” somewhere in the content.
At the time of writing, the results of this query included Wikipedia articles for two episodes of Star Trek Enterprise. In each case, the dead link pointed to an article on the Radio Times website. For example, here is the broken link to the article for an episode of Star Trek Enterprise titled “Anomaly”.
Using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, we can see what information was on that Radio Times page.
This content might inspire you to write articles about the Star Trek Enterprise series. Once you’re done, you can come back to Wikipedia, update the link, and improve the page.
You could also have found this broken link using Wikipedia’s monthly broken links list.
Simply replace the month and year (“March_2021”) in the URL with the month you want to view.
Finally, we could perform a similar search on Google for Wikipedia articles requiring citations.
site:wikipedia.org star trek intext:“citation needed”
Link Building Research
Let’s say you’ve finished your article on the Star Trek Enterprise episode “Anomaly” and added the link to Wikipedia.
You can take that same broken link from Radio Times and check it for backlinks with Ahrefs, Semrush or similar tools.
In the SEO context, entities are the people, places, things, organizations, and concepts contained in a knowledge graph, description, or related entity map.
Search engines sometimes rely on entities, as opposed to keywords, to better understand queries.
Here is a basic introduction, below, of the SEO entities from my CommerceCo by Practical Ecommerce presentation.
Some SEO professionals believe that Wikipedia articles and the application programming interface help identify entities that search engines like Google are likely to recognize. And the use of entities in content could impact the ranking of a given page.
Imagine you’re the marketing manager for a direct-to-consumer brand of workout apparel. You want to create content about CrossFit that includes related entities.
You search Wikipedia for individual CrossFit games and CrossFit athletes, such as Ben Smith, Samantha Briggs, and Tia-Clair Toomey, and the concept of “overtraining.”
Many articles returned by the Wikipedia search represent an entity recognized by Google. In this case, Ben Smith has a knowledge panel on Google and an article on Wikipedia. Thus, for Google, the person Ben Smith is an entity.
It’s also possible to use the Wikipedia API to generate a similar listing, according to digital marketer Daniel Heredia, who published an article on the topic, “Using the Wikipedia API with Python for SEO.”
Finally, you can create Wikipedia articles, which might end up in Google’s Knowledge Graph.
Certainly, creating a Wikipedia page is a challenge. The subject must meet several criteria. For example, Ahrefs, one of the most popular SEO and content marketing tools, does not have its own Wikipedia page.
Michal Pecánek, marketer and content writer at Ahrefs, has a great guide to creating Wikipedia pages that mentions how his own efforts to create a Wikipedia article for the business failed.
If you can’t create an article about your business or product, you can create related articles, which might still drive traffic or interest you.
Search Wikipedia for topics important to your customers. If you see a red link, you know there is an opportunity to create an article.