Wikipedia’s Role in Creating Your Brand Online

Sam Michelson, December 7, 2013

Establishing yourself or your company as a brand online is important.

By “brand” I mean getting to the point where Google is certain that your name (or company name) is associated with a specific entity – so that Google “knows” what most searchers mean when they search your brand. There are several reasons why achieving this is important:

  • Brands are treated much better. Their own website is invariably the #1 result in Google. Oftentimes an additional owned page ranks in the second position as well.
  • Search results for Google-recognized brands include a knowledge graph – the box of images (logos or images) and information appearing on the top right section of the Google results page.
  • Searches for brands tend to yield results that are relevant, timely, and useful (actionable).
  • When you search for a Google-recognized brand, you will find the results you seek more quickly – often without needing to click through to specific results.

More than a year ago our team began to see a strong connection between having a Wikipedia page and being presented as a Google-recognized brand online.

We found that a full knowledge graph (more than just the brand name and a map) was almost always dependent on having a Wikipedia page.

Wikipedia is pretty powerful. It is perhaps the only ubiquitous platform online free enough to accept input from virtually anyone, and at the same time strictly policed to ensure accuracy.

The end result is very useful for Google.

 

 

1) If a brand or individual is important – you should expect to see an entry for them in Wikipedia. This is correlated more often for politicians and celebrities than it is for executives at companies.

2) If you find content about a well-known person or brand in Wikipedia – you can bet its content has been peer-reviewed for accuracy.

As Google pursues structured knowledge in an effort to be more effective in sharing information, Wikipedia has become an important de-facto source. This is true both for its ability to source so widely and for its army of active editors who police new content in real-time. The fact that Freebase, Google’s community-curated database of well-known people, places, and things, relies heavily on content from Wikipedia indicates its primary relevance.

Wikipedia is perhaps Google’s most accessible and accurate measure of whether a person or company is important to people. Wikipedia calls this ‘notability‘. Notability is the standard with which Wikipedia determines whether or not an entity ‘deserves’ its own Wikipedia article. Google relies on Wikipedia’s standard to ascertain which brands are worthy of a knowledge graph rather than simply looking at volume of searches.

Apart from a Wikipedia article, other branding signals include:

–       Forbes profiles

–       Inclusion on lists of distinguished companies or individuals appearing in distinguished publications

–       Existence of active social media profiles that match the name of the brand or individual

If you are concerned with online branding for a company or individual here are some suggestions:

If the brand doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, engage the Wiki community to create one.

  • Realize that Wiki content has to be factual (sourced), relevant, and non-promotional.
  • Make it easier for Wiki editors by collecting and providing sourced background information about the brand.
  • Look at similar brands in Wikipedia to get ideas about the type of content that should be in the Wikipedia profile.

If the brand has a Wikipedia page:

  • Monitor the page for any changes.
  • If you see inaccuracies, use the Talk page to bring the issue to the attention of Wiki editors.
  • Keep an eye on traffic to the Wikipedia page – Spikes in article views are an indication of increased interest in the brand, which your communications and marketing employees will want to be aware of.
  • Make sure that new relevant content is being included in the Wikipedia page – Use the Talk page to point out to Wiki editors content that should be included.

With the central and increasing role that Wikipedia plays in the treatment of brands by search engines, make sure that your brand is properly covered there. If you are not satisfied, take action and strengthen your brand.


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