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Should You Pay For a Wikipedia Article?

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John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown SEO.

This is a question I see every week in SEO forums. Should you pay to have someone create a Wikipedia page for your company?

Many online marketers believe that having a Wikipedia article will help boost your SEO.

My advice is, unless you are a national or international company, hold off on that.

Wikipedia has guidelines for what a company must achieve to qualify for an article. It’s not about monetary success, but impact on society.

If you are a local business, it is extremely unlikely that your Wikipedia page will stick. It will eventually be deleted if your business has not achieved a certain level of notability.

Pay-to-Play Wikipedia Editors Must Disclose That Information

A Wikimedia article from 2018 also states that article authors must state on their public profile if they are being paid to edit Wikipedia.

Most of the solicitations you receive for Wikipedia articles do not disclaim this. If a contributor is discovered to be taking money for editing Wikipedia, they can be blocked from editing further.

The Wikimedia article goes on to say the best policy is:

It may be that someone writes an article about you unprompted because you’re “notable” by Wikipedia’s standards. Let yourself be surprised!

What Wikipedia Says About Notability

Before soliciting someone to create a Wikipedia page, check out these articles on Wikipedia guidelines and see if you think your company meets these criteria.

Remember that overly promotional Wikipedia articles are routinely scheduled for deletion. Wikipedia company articles that lack sufficient amounts of credible, unbiased, noteworthy, third party coverage may also be deleted.

Can You Create a Wikipedia Page For Yourself?

While you can create a Wikipedia page for yourself, or for your company, it is unlikely to stay published if you are not a publicly noteworthy person. Wikipedia editors deal with a large amount of marketing spam, with many people attempting to add Wikipedia articles that link to a company website.

There is a mystique in SEO circles about the power of a link from Wikipedia, either from a main article page, or as a footnote link. Because Wikipedia ranks so well in Google for many queries, and has millions of incoming links, gaining back links from Wikipedia is seen as advantageous. For this reason, many digital marketing companies attempt to create pages for companies, leading to high-level editors deleting entries for lack of relevance and link spam. (This also includes attempted edits to Wikidata.)

How Big Does a Company Have To Be For a Wikipedia Article To “Stick”?

The Wikipedia guidelines on notability for organizations and companies states:

Wikipedia bases its decision about whether an organization is notable enough to justify a separate article on the verifiable evidence that the organization or product has attracted the notice of reliable sources unrelated to the organization or product.

This means that there has to be adequate coverage of your company or organization from credible third parties in order for a Wikipedia page to be published.

Wikipedia goes on to say:

No company or organization is considered inherently notable. No organization is exempt from this requirement, no matter what kind of organization it is, including schools. If the individual organization has received no or very little notice from independent sources, then it is not notable…

A company is not inherently worthy of a Wikipedia article, merely because it exists, or because other organizations similar to it are noteworthy.

Getting a Wikipedia article is very much a “chicken-and-egg” situation.

If you are big enough and newsworthy enough to have a Wikipedia page, then you probably already have one.

What Are the Criteria for Notability in Wikipedia?

If a company or organization has had an appreciable impact on society, it might be a good candidate for a Wikipedia article.

When evaluating the notability of organizations or products, please consider whether they have had any significant or demonstrable effects on culture, society, entertainment, athletics, economies, history, literature, science, or education. Large organizations and their products are likely to have more readily available verifiable information from reliable sources that provide evidence of notability. However, smaller organizations and their products can be notable, just as individuals can be notable. Arbitrary standards should not be used to create a bias favoring larger organizations or their products, though articles about very small “garage” or local companies are typically unacceptable…

Notice how Wikipedia says that editors and moderators should not be biased against smaller companies — but, smaller companies are prone to want a Wikipedia article so they can advertise.

Doing a quick browsing of Wikipedia, I notice that there are many large companies that do not have a Wikipedia article. International brands seem to be represented. However, some national brands that I would expect to have a Wikipedia article, do not.

What are Considered Good Secondary Sources of Coverage for Notability?

Wikipedia says that:

The primary criteria have five components that must be evaluated separately and independently to determine if it is met:

– significant coverage in
– multiple
– independent,
– reliable
– secondary sources.

What do each of these qualifiers mean in Wikipedia’s definition?

Significant Coverage

The coverage must be the primary subject of the write-up or reporting. A two sentence mention in an article does not qualify as significant coverage. A feature article on a news site would count as significant coverage.

Statistics and mentions like number of employees, stock price changes, attending a trade show, sponsoring an event, non-notable awards are all trivial coverage. These lack depth of quality coverage and discussion, and are not considered noteworthy coverage.

Independent Coverage

Multiple third parties with no vested interest in the organization or company must have significant, non-trivial coverage of that company.

Articles and materials like sponsored posts, press releases, trade show publications, or self-published coverage are not considered independent.

Multiple Sources

Wikipedia cautions against a bias towards recency. If a startup gets a few articles in quick succession, that may not qualify for notability. If a human rights organization from fifty years ago has a few articles published discussing their legacy, that shows staying power.

Another example they use is multiple regional newspapers doing full-length feature stories on a company. Consistency over time and over different sources may be a good sign of notability for a Wikipedia article.

There is no set number of articles that qualifies a company or organization as notable.

A good analogy would be voting for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or Baseball Hall of Fame. If a company is noteworthy enough over a period of time, then consensus among the Wikipedia editors and moderators should be achieved.

Reliable Sources

Wikipedia lists established newspapers and court filings as reliable sources. The information there must be factual and impartial.

They list the Forbes website and a tech reviews website as examples of unreliable sources. Forbes and some other well-known websites are notorious for having sponsored posts, or having contributors mentions companies in exchange for payment. Tech news or tech review sites are also infamous for skewing coverage towards companies who have sponsorship or advertising deals in place. Technology review sites and YouTube channels often make their money from affiliate commissions, so it is in their best interest to say one company is better than another.

Secondary Sources

This is what Wikipedia has to say about primary and secondary sources:

A secondary source provides an author’s own thinking based on primary sources, generally at least one step removed from an event. It contains an author’s analysis, evaluation, interpretation, or synthesis of the facts, evidence, concepts, and ideas taken from primary sources. Secondary sources are not necessarily significant, reliable or independent sources.

A primary source is original material that is close to an event, and is often an account written by people who are directly involved. Primary sources cannot be used to establish notability.

Primary sources are people who work at the company, or those who benefit from positive coverage of the company.

Secondary sources are independent authors who have nothing to gain from positive coverage of a company or organization.

Summing Up

For most small businesses, paying a marketing agency to write a Wikipedia article is a waste of resources. The best bet is to keep growing and doing things that are impactful on your community and region.

Businesses that do not already have significant, in-depth press coverage from a wide variety of non-sponsored, independent sources are unlikely to have their Wikipedia articles “stick”.

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown SEO.

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