It’s hard to believe that Wikipedia has just had its 20th anniversary. Created on January 15, 2001, Wikipedia emerged at a time when Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter did not yet exist.
Nearly a decade ago, some of our clients were eager to get their company listed within Wikipedia. And why wouldn’t they be, Wikipedia was the social media of the time, a place where the average person could write and edit about the topics they were most informed or passionate about.
Even today Wikipedia remains a top search result for just about any term entered into Google.
So, for companies curious about the process of getting started with Wikipedia writing for your business, here’s a throwback to a case study the David James Agency experienced when Wikipedia writing for one of our clients. We found that no matter how small or big, Wikipedia writing can prove to be a daunting task.
Wikipedia Writing is Easier than Publishing
In my first Wikipedia writing experience for one of our clients, I assumed the process would be very straightforward and to be honest, somewhat simple. Maybe a bit naively, I figured anyone could post anything.
I zipped through writing my first entry, using various marketing materials and company blog posts to put together what I thought (and the client approved) was a solid entry on the company and its products. I formatted and posted the text, clicked save and my page went live.
From the time it took me to send a copy of the URL to my colleagues, the page was gone. This is when I learned the most important lesson of Wikipedia writing – anyone can post anything, as long as you are not writing about you or your company and you can prove notoriety.
Back to the Drawing Board
According to the Wikipedia editor (who wow, had apparently been eagerly waiting to delete my page), my entry was deleted because there was “no explanation of the subject’s significance” and the references included “were either internal links from the company’s website, or from various unimportant other websites.”
Although surprised, I can understand the importance of these volunteer editors who are merely ensuring the integrity of the site.
Still, I fought back explaining why I thought the company was significant and why my sources (the ones that weren’t marketing materials) were important. A group of editors joined in the discussion and agreed with my argument, but offered me suggestions for how to rewrite the entry.
With the rewrite, I deleted some claims and found sources in news stories or other sites that provided validation of these statements. With these changes, ultimately the group of editors gave me another shot and overturned the first editor’s decision.
As part of my Wikipedia writing and publishing process, I learned that a very factual entry is the best way to establish your company on Wikipedia and you can always return after a few weeks or months to add details. So, my client’s entry went up a second time, this time focused on the most basic details of the company, minus any founder, product or other marketing materials. This time the post stayed.
The Benefits Are Clear
A decade ago when we first began Wikipedia writing for clients, those that already had a Wikipedia page cited the resource as one of the biggest drivers to their website. With social media and changes in SEO, that may not still be totally true in 2019, but as stated earlier, Wikipedia remains a top search result. Anything that gets your company name to the top of Google is most certainly worth it.
Although Wikipedia writing can be difficult and the end result might not look anything like you’d imagined, I encourage everyone to get familiar with the resource and try to write an entry, even if it’s just a stub. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.