For some years, there have been regular ‘complaints’ about Wikipedia’s top position in the search engine results pages, with Wikipedia links frequently occurring in the top three (or at least first page) organic search positions on all of the major engines such as Google and Bing. However, is it unfair bias or is it really very simple SEO?

If we presume that there is no search engine algorithm bias towards Wikipedia, then it must be that Wikipedia employs a winning SEO formula. For any company looking to promote their website, there are few better sites to study to understand how and why these top SERPS are consistently achieved. The following are just a few of the ways in which Wikipedia beats most websites on most search terms, and a few questions to ask yourself about your own site and SEO strategy.

1. Unique, in-depth and regularly updated content

Check your own website. What percentage of pages have been updated recently? Is your content high quality and unique? What level of detail do your pages go into about your products and services? There will always be a level of debate about how these criteria apply to Wikipedia, but for your own site these are valid questions to be asking yourself about your content.

2. Keyword rich (including many related phrases) and dedicated topic pages

Each page on Wikipedia is dedicated to a single topic, and it may well also include references, sources and keywords relating to that subject. Obviously, your website does not need to be encyclopaedic in its approach, but it is important to ensure that a page keeps as close to a ‘theme’ as possible, without crossing the line and creating so many pages to cover all topics individually that navigation for your users becomes difficult.

There is also a maintenance issue if you add too many pages to your site in order to capture more search engine interest, unless you have a global community of crowd sourced editors to help you regularly monitor and check for broken links, out of date info etc.

3. A frequently referenced/linked to domain showing site authority.

Are you an expert in your field? Does your company enjoy the respect of others for the quality of your knowledge and expertise? Are you providing sufficiently good and unique content for others to wish to share? Are you effectively promoting your site so that others in your sector or those in your target audience are aware of the site and quality content?

4. Logical and strong internal linking structure

Information architecture is extremely important when building websites, and making sure the internal navigation flows easily to further information, related products and services, news items, photos and so on is critical. As we can see from the screenshot of Wikipedia, there are multiple internal and external links on each page, each with keyword rich anchor text.

Wikipedia's wicked SEO strategy

5. Multilingual

Creating language specific content for a global audience or to reach customers in target countries is always a good idea, but make sure that your content is checked and double checked by several native speakers of the languages you choose.

Whether or not some of the Wikipedia pages deserve to be top of the SERPs is a moot point. The fact that so many are, on so many different engines, implies that the strategy employed and some of which is outlined above, means that it works and can do for your site too.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology