Since its inception, the Wikipedia homepage has been viewed 44 billion times. In October 2021 alone, the encyclopedia as a whole was visited 1.57 billion times. It’s used to research information on practically any subject, including current news and other trending topics. It also feeds information to smart assistants, populates Google’s knowledge panels and People Also Ask questions, and is consistently a top 3 search result on Google.
It’s a mighty, powerful website, and it’s impacting your online reputation. How?
If your organization is included anywhere on Wikipedia that information can be reviewed by possible and current investors and employees, as well as the press. I’m not just talking about someone going to Wikipedia and typing your brand in the search bar. With Wikipedia’s reach, people don’t even have to know about your brand to have Google bring it to their attention. Siri, Alexa, or People Also Ask questions will do the work for you.
The question is, is the supplied information up-to-date and accurate? Is it positive or negative? How do you find out and how do you make any necessary changes?
That’s the focus of my book Wikipedia for Business 2022: The Rules & Latest Developments that Businesses& Communicators Need to Know to Succeed. I do a deep dive into the world of Wikipedia, providing updates on what’s new, what’s changed, and what strategies businesses need to benefit from the encyclopedia’s reach. All tips and strategies are used by my team as we help some of the largest Fortune 500 companies, international brands, and high-profile nonprofit organizations align their Wikipedia pages, SEO goals, and online reputations.
My top pro-tip: You need to really understand Wikipedia before you do anything at all on the site.
It sounds simple, I know, but it’s anything but. Wikipedia is ruled by a vast number of volunteer editors, many of whom are incredibly passionate about the encyclopedia’s guidelines, have their own strong opinions and biases, and are dedicated to keeping articles non-promotional.
One wrong step can see your account suspended, your edits reverted, or even your page deleted.
I answer that question fully in the book, but to get you started, here is an excerpt.
How to Get and Keep the Best Content on Your Page
Wikipedia prefers that people affiliated with a company leave the editing to someone else to preserve the neutrality of the page. Take heart though, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a part of the process.
Here’s how you can help.
First, very specifically identify what you would like added to your page. Keep in mind that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia and not a company biography or press release. Significant developments can be added, but you’re probably going to get laughed at if you want every tiny detail on your page. You also shouldn’t stress over this. Yes, your Wikipedia page is an important part of your brand awareness, but it isn’t the only factor. If people like what they see, they will research further, driving them to more specific sources of information. You don’t have to cram everything into Wikipedia.
Once you have the information selected, search the internet for reputable, third-party sources that support your request. Everything added to a Wikipedia page should be notable and verifiable, so this step helps you meet those requirements. Remember that content also has to be neutral, which is why you can’t use anything your company published when making your request. This includes press releases, your website, and sponsored posts.
Thirdly, draft your desired content, include any sources, and post the request on your Talk page. Be sure to share that you have an affiliation with your company.
Now, you wait for another editor to review your request. This is why we recommend being familiar with your page’s History. If you know what’s been happening on your page, you’ll have a better guess as to how long it might take someone to respond, and what their response might be. They might make the change, they might request more details, or they might share that they don’t find the information noteworthy. Engage calmly and politely no matter what happens. If another editor is rude, or is obviously being unreasonable, you can always make a request for someone else to step in and help mediate the conversation. Wikipedia isn’t a dictatorship, and most editors follow a Talk page because they genuinely care about the page’s topic.
If you’re thinking that this sounds complicated and you’d like to go rogue, be aware that all IP addresses used to edit Wikipedia are logged. There are also a number of common self-edit patterns that experienced editors will identify with ease. If you are caught doing any of these, it can result in a cascade of issues for your page. Issues include unwanted tags, undesired content trimming and deletion, and a hostile editing environment going forward. Remember, everything is logged in your revision history so missteps can continue to cause problems for you going forward. Of course, you can engage with an expert to help guide you through the process, which we highly recommend.
Josh Greene is CEO of The Mather Group, a digital marketing strategy company specializing in search engine optimization, pay-per-click, email marketing, content creation and ecommerce.