When you’re marketing your business, you want it to be as discoverable as possible. You build your website; you create your social media channels and you’re creating content that gets shared. When you’ve got to that point, is there any more places that you can shout about your business? Well, yes, there is. Creating a Wikipedia page can be another way in which people find your business, and since it is a well-recognised website that people trust – to a certain extent anyway (due to there having been countless changes to pages that were found to be untrue, Wikipedia now has a Vandalism policy!) – it can be well worth your time in getting an article published.
The history of Wikipedia
It’s hard to imagine life without Wikipedia these days, but in reality it hasn’t been in existence for all that long. The domain was only registered in early 2001, although there had been plans for such an entity like Wikipedia for quite some time before that – as far back as 1993 in fact. Initially the Wikipedia project was planned in order to complement Nupedia, which was a similar work except that entries were edited entirely by experts – Wikipedia was planned to create additional, complementary articles. The Nupedia project quickly died, perhaps in part due to the rigorous seven-step process for approval being simply too time consuming. Nupedia approved just 21 articles in the first year of the project, while Wikipedia approved 18,000 in the first year.
In early 2020, Wikipedia published the six millionth article – a biography of Maria Elise Turner Lauder. There may have been numerous controversies throughout the two decades that Wikipedia has been around, but six million articles in just 20 years – that’s three hundred thousand a year, or just under 822 each day – well, that’s hardly something to be sniffed at, is it?
Wikipedia facts and figures
- Wikipedia was founded on 15th January 2001, which is recognised as Wikipedia Day
- There are currently active articles in 299 languages
- Despite being able to be edited by anybody, a study showed Wikipedia to be 99.7% accurate compared to textbooks
- There have been more than 953,710,880 edits across 6,084,215 articles
- Wikipedia is currently the 13th most accessed website in the world
- There are more than 32.5 million Wikipedians – that is, people who have registered Wikipedia usernames
- There is a vote on what would be the last topic on Wikipedia, if the project ever closed. You can see the list here
- You can see ‘Deleted Articles, Freaky Titles’ – DAFT articles on this page
- The most visited article on a single day is the page for Steve Jobs, the day after he died – October 6th, 2011. The article received 7.4 million views on that day.
Why create a Wikipedia page for your business?
If you’ve already got your social media set up and you’ve developed a decent number of followers, you might wonder whether it is worth your time to create a Wikipedia page for your business as well. Is it worth the hassle, you’re likely to have thought – and so have many other people! And we get it – there’s quite a bit of work that goes into writing, and getting a good Wikipedia page published. But there are some pretty powerful reasons to put that effort in – let’s take a look.
The main reason for creating a Wikipedia page for your business is to improve the credibility of your business, and to add to your good reputation. The majority of customers today – whether they are end consumers or they’re B2B customers – will research the businesses that they are interested in working with before they even get in touch with you to discuss why they want to interact with you. Of course, they will look you up on review websites such as Trustpilot, Reevoo and Feefo – but having a well written and well linked Wikipedia page can help to validate that you’re a reputable company.
In addition to building your online reputation, having a Wikipedia page can help you to direct people to the correct website, if there are other businesses that have similar names – and if those businesses don’t have a Wikipedia page, so much the better for your business!
When someone searches for the name of your business and you’re not at the top of the search results, it can lead people to think you’re not as credible as you’d like them to think. Let’s use the example of if you search for ‘Office’. You might be searching for Microsoft Office, or the TV series The Office, but top of the search results is Office, the high street fashion footwear brand. Their Wikipedia listing also appears at the top of the page, on the right hand side. Would it help boost sales directly? Perhaps not, but if a customer is previously unaware of the brand, they might open the website out of curiosity – which could lead to them becoming a converting customer.
Although anybody is able to log into Wikipedia and make edits to pages, they’re combatting that with plenty of moderators that work hard to verify those changes. Because of that, and because of the high standards required to get a page published, Wikipedia is now considered to be a high authority website – although we’d always double check the facts we found on a Wikipedia page with a more credible source!
Linking to a high authority website from your own website – as you do when you’re link building – can help raise your domain ranking. Even though it is a nofollow link it helps with the EAT (Expertise, Authority and Trust) of a website. In addition, having a Wikipedia page can help elucidate the impression that your website is the most relevant for that topic – which will encourage people to click the link to your page first.
As a direct result of increased visibility and credibility, and better SEO, your sales are almost certainly likely to be improved too. As people see the Wikipedia article for your business, they’re likely to do one of two things:
- They go straight to your website because having your Wikipedia article at the top of the Google search results gives them enough confidence that your website is where they want to go – and then they buy a product or service from you.
- They visit your Wikipedia page, follow a link to your website – and then they buy a product or service from you!
All in all – your sales are going to be boosted, just by having that Wikipedia page there. Sounds like a winning strategy, doesn’t it? Well – let’s take a look at the flip side of the coin first.
Do you really need a Wikipedia page?
One of the main requirements for a Wikipedia page is that your article should be notable enough to warrant the page being added. If your business is in the first year of trading, or you’re a sole trader, then you won’t have reached that level yet – but at that point, not having a Wikipedia page isn’t the end of the world. If you are in that situation, then don’t worry about getting your Wikipedia page set up for your business just yet – you can direct your efforts to other parts of your business. You’ll have your social media channels that you’re sharing your content on, and you’ll be interacting with your customers on those channels – that might be all you need to build trust right now, and seeing you being active on your social media channels, and replying to customer can provide enough credibility at this point.
If you still think you might want a Wikipedia page but you’re unsure whether you really need one right now, then there are other challenges that you need to be aware of, and we’ll talk about those next.
You have zero control
The very reason that people love Wikipedia might end up becoming the enemy for some businesses. You’re going to be writing the original article, but absolutely anyone – including your competitors, and any disgruntled customers – are able to go into Wikipedia and start making edits to your article. And although you can log into Wikipedia and delete any negative comments or feedback, the Wikipedia moderators will seriously consider whether your page is as accurate as you have implied in your original article – which may end up with your page being removed.
Pages need to be neutral
Remember the whole point that Wikipedia exists: it is designed to be an encyclopaedia, which means the moderators are aiming for all of the articles to have a completely neutral stance. (there is much debate around whether Wikipedia actually is impartial or not, but that’s a debate that we’ll save for another day!) But that requirement for neutrality means you cannot be at all self-promotional on your Wikipedia page – and that can be a hard thing to achieve when it is your own business that you’re writing about.
Your article will need to be monitored
As we mentioned just now – absolutely anyone can go in and make changes on your Wikipedia page. That means you need to keep a careful eye on your work, and check it regularly. Any changes for the negative that you don’t notice will be potentially very damaging in terms of how much business you stand to lose – just imagine if someone made a terrible change and you didn’t notice for a number of weeks, or even months. How much business might you lose? Since monitoring your page will take up time, rather than creating a Wikipedia article about your business to boost your sales and so on, consider whether improving other aspects of your business might be more valuable to you right now.
Your business needs to run flawlessly
Once your Wikipedia page is published, you can’t afford to make mistakes. Obviously, you’ll be aiming for that target as your ‘business as usual’, but where there are humans involved, sometimes mistakes do happen. If you have a Wikipedia article about your business, and there is some negative publicity – especially if it hits the news media – then absolutely anybody can go into your Wikipedia page and place a link to that story, which is there permanently. You can remove those kind of negative comments, but if there are links to credible sources that state facts – however uncomfortable those facts may be – then removing those edits will raise flags for the Wikipedia moderators that your page needs reviewing.
Reasons you should definitely consider creating a Wikipedia page
We’ve had a look at the pros and cons of creating a Wikipedia page, but there are a few instances that we strongly recommend that you do create one.
Your business has invented a new technology – if you hold a patent for the design, or it is likely to change your industry considerably, then a Wikipedia page can be a good idea in order to help point interested parties to the relevant pages on your website. This traffic to your website is likely to encourage sharing information about your invention on social media, or for the visitors to engage with you as a potential new customer.
Your company, or the founder of your company is ‘notable’ – Wikipedia moderators look at your article, and will search for more information about your company and founder before they approve your article. As we just stated, if your business creates something significant, or your founder is a person of note (that is, they are a published author, celebrated scientist, or are well-known in their field for some other reason) then creating a Wikipedia page is a good move.
There isn’t any information about what your business does – if your business is pretty niche, then you might not be able to find any information about the field your business is in either. If that’s the case, rather than starting with a Wikipedia page for your business, you might start with a page about the field – which is usually easier to get approved. Once that page has been approved, creating a page for your business, and linking to the page you originally created about the field in which your business operates is likely to make getting your Wikipedia article for your business approved much more easily.
Before you create your page
Before you decide to start creating the content for your Wikipedia page, it is worth checking that someone didn’t already set a page up for your business. If you find there is a page in existence for your business, then congratulations – you probably don’t need most of the rest of this post! That doesn’t happen all that often, but if you find it has, you’ll want to go into the post and check it for accuracy. If it’s accurate, can you add any extra neutral sources, in order to strengthen the page? Can you improve it in any other ways? If you haven’t got that lucky (and don’t worry, not many people do) then it’s time to get to work.
Do your research
We can’t recommend doing your research before you start any project highly enough – it’s how we start any of our projects! But with creating a Wikipedia page for your business, you don’t just need to understand the tone of your article, or what constitutes a credible reference. You need to understand the Wikipedia community, and how it works before you get started. Just jumping in and expecting the content for your page to be added and approved immediately won’t end well – your page is likely to be rejected.
Create the content for your Wikipedia page
Let us state this very clearly: Wikipedia pages should not read like any of your promotional content, or your adverts. The tone of your article should be neutral, and objective. Focus on explaining what your business does, rather than telling people why they should buy your products or work with you.
What you choose to include is of course, up to you – it depends what you want to tell the world about your business, but also what you think customers (and potential customers) will want to know about your business. It’s a basic strategy to use, but using the ‘5 Ws’ is a good way to get started – who, what, where, why and when. (we usually throw in ‘how’ as well, as although it’s technically not a W word, it can be helpful to put that information in, whatever you’re writing) So, your article might go a little something like this:
Who: Adding the key members of your management team and the name of the founder of the business is a good start. Include the company number in this section.
What: Explain what it is that your business does. Using plain English is a good idea, but if you’re using technical terms, you might use those to link to other Wikipedia articles, thereby strengthening your post.
Why: Following on from what you do, you might include a section about why the business was formed in the first place. What problem does your business seek to solve for customers?
Where: You want people to find you, don’t you? Putting the contact details for your business, as well as your social media handle on your page is a no-brainer.
When: In this section you might add key dates such as when the business was launched, when the business changed from a sole trader to a limited company, or when notable products received a patent and were launched. If the business has a premises that is open to the public, you might include opening hours – but bear in mind, if those opening hours change for any reason, you will need to update your Wikipedia page, so it is likely to be a better idea to direct customers to your website to find current opening times. This has the added bonus that once they’re on your website, they’re likely to spend time on there, and become a converting customer.
You won’t actually add the ‘5 Ws’ to your Wikipedia post, of course – they’re just a guide to help you create your content. And it’s important to note that this isn’t a definitive guide, and it might not be the most appropriate layout for every business – we’re just providing you with some ideas to help you get started. If another layout suits your business better, then go with it. Just remember to keep your language neutral – Wikipedia isn’t a place for advertising!
Once you’ve got this lot in, you’ll want to make sure you have a section about any awards, or other instances where your business made the news. This helps prove that your business is noteworthy – and when you worked hard to achieve those goals, you want to be able to show them off to anyone and everyone!
Finally, you’ll need to create links to other neutral, yet credible sources. Without these references or citations, your article won’t be nearly as strong – or as likely to get through the approval process.
Why citing references correctly is important
When you’re looking to get your Wikipedia article approved, bear in mind the standards that would be acceptable when you were turning in an essay for school, college or university. Any references that you’re putting into your article need to be from respected, and reliable sources. Suitable sources are any that would stand up in an academic paper -so, published books, journals and even newspapers can be OK. Personal blogs and word of mouth testimonials are extremely unlikely to be approved, and your article may be rejected. You can find out more about citations and references, including how to cite sound, film, TV or video recordings, on the citing sources page.
Wikipedia dos and don’ts
- Do update existing pages to get the hang of the Wikipedia editor.
- Do make sure you include plenty of references and citations in your posts.
- Do check your article thoroughly. Proofread it several times, get someone else to read it, and use a tool like Grammarly.
- Don’t be tempted to mess about with pages for the fun of it. Wikipedia can, and will block your IP address if they find you changing articles to include false information.
- Don’t think that Wikipedia is a marketing channel. It’s an encyclopaedia, and if your content is too promotional in tone, your article will be declined.
- Don’t forget that anybody can use, edit or challenge any of your Wikipedia article.
- Don’t forget to update your Wikipedia page regularly when you’ve had it published.
How to create your Wikipedia page
Once you’ve decided what you’re including on your Wikipedia article – perhaps you’ve written it in a Word doc or a Google doc – it is time to get it into the Wikipedia content management system.
Create your account
This is the simple bit! Go to the Wikipedia home page, and click Create account in the top right hand corner. You’ll need to create a username and password, enter an email address) and then click Create your account.
Having your Wikipedia account means that you can not only create the article that you are aiming to get published, but you can also receive messages from any users that make changes to your articles. You’ll be able to receive credit for your writing and contributions, and you’ll be able to contribute to articles that you have expertise in.
If you don’t want to register (there are plenty of reasons you might not want to!) then you can suggest an article to be published on the Wikipedia Articles for Creation page.
Start by making minor edits first
Although once you’ve made the decision to create a Wikipedia page for your business you might want to just get it written and published, it is rarely that easy. By making small, minor edits to existing pages, you can learn how the Wikipedia content management system works much more effectively.
Once you’ve created your account, each time you publish a change on Wikipedia, it gets recorded on your user page. Wikipedia editors and moderators can access your user page, and once you have done enough editing and creating on existing pages, your account will be awarded the ‘auto-confirmed user’ status. This means your Wikipedia reputation will have grown sufficiently for you to be able to publish. Once you have reached that level, you’ll have the ability to do certain controlled functions, like moving pages to the public space, and adding images to pages.
Using the Sandbox
The Wikipedia Sandbox is the name of the text editor that you use to create and submit your articles. Most people like to create their articles in Word or as a Google Doc, but the content will need to be pasted into Sandbox to be able to be submitted.
It’s a good idea to get used to typing directly into Sandbox, and to get used to using the tools. You can have a go at playing in Sandbox, without needing to sign in on this page.
Before your article can be submitted and moved to the public space, you’ll need to format it using the Wiki code – also known as Wikitext and Wiki markup. This can be the most challenging part, since it isn’t really like anything else. Even if you are familiar with HTML or other languages, you’re likely to find this part will take you some time – so be sure that when setting your deadlines, you have given yourself enough breathing room.
Entering your Wikipedia article
This is probably the trickiest part of the whole task. As we just mentioned, Wikipedia pages need to be formatted in Wikitext.
Assuming that you have been autoconfirmed, you can go to the Wikipedia Writing an article page, and then click the blue Article Wizard button, which is around a third of the way down the page. If you’ve already practiced editing in the Wikipedia Sandbox, then you can click Next. From there, you’ll see information about copyright, and about how referencing and notability applies to each article.
On the following page, you’ll need to tell Wikipedia whether you’re paid to edit, whether you’re writing about yourself, or a close person or subject, or if you are completely unrelated to the subject. If you’re writing the page about your business, you will of course, need to disclose that you are a close person (or that you’re writing about yourself).
On the next page, you will see information about how to disclose your relationship with the page you are submitting, and before you can continue to create your page, you will need to complete those steps. After that, you’ll be reminded that you can request an article (in order to avoid a conflict of interest) and the need for you to be transparent and neutral in your activity.
Once you’ve gone through this process, then you’re at the point of starting your draft! Enter the name of your page (of course, this is likely to be the name of your company) and click Create new article draft. Then you’ll finally see instructions for creating your draft article, and you can get started! There are instructions to help you with formatting on the Wikitext Cheatsheet article.
Publishing and approval
Before you save your page, it’s a good idea to copy and paste the whole article in Wikitext into a text file. If your article is deemed to be inappropriate and gets deleted, you will be able to simply edit your text file and paste the article straight in for your next attempt at getting it published.
Once you’ve saved your page, the Wikipedia staff editors will be alerted to review your article, and if they deem your article is suitable for being made public, it will be made so. If it is unsuitable, the reviewer will let you know that your article is unsuitable, or they will request that you make changes or add extra sources or references.
If you need any additional help with publishing your article, you can click Help on the sidebar menu.
How long does it take to have your Wikipedia article approved?
How long is a piece of string?! It really is a tricky thing to know. Some articles will be approved (or removed) within a day or two, others may take anything between three to six months. That’s because Wikipedia is run by volunteers – and so it may be that nobody picks up your page to approve it or otherwise. When you’re setting your deadlines, it’s wise not to include a deadline for your article to be approved – it is completely out of your hands.
After your page is approved
Hurray! You get the notification that your page has been approved by the moderators – time to celebrate, right?! Well, yes and no. Absolutely, take a moment to pat yourself on the back – you’ve achieved something that many businesses have tried, and failed to do.
Unfortunately though, once your page has been approved by the Wikipedia moderators, that’s not the end of the job! When your Wikipedia page starts showing on page 1 on Google, you need to stay on top of keeping it up to date. If you’re adding new products or services, be sure to log in and update the page. If you can add links to other Wikipedia articles, or add new links (such as if your company has been nominated for an industry award, for example) then you should do so.
When you update your page regularly, you’re helping customers, or business leads to know that they can trust you. You’re showing transparency about what you’re doing, and by keeping your Wikipedia page up to date with your latest developments, you’re also showing that you care about your image, and that your business doesn’t neglect what is important.
Don’t forget to update your followers on social media, and add links to your Wikipedia article on your website, and social media channels – particularly LinkedIn. If you’re creating content for your website, then writing a post about having your article published and how you did it, creating a video or mentioning it on your company podcast is a good idea too – and let’s face it, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra idea for your content plan, does it?
Can you outsource your Wikipedia page creation?
It is certainly a possibility. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr are full of freelancers that claim to be able to create your content and have your Wikipedia page ready and published in next to no time. If you don’t fancy taking your chances with a freelancer, or maybe you want something a bit more solid, then there are digital agencies that will create your Wikipedia page, and manage the content of it for you. However – and this is a big however – it is not recommended that you do engage with someone to create your Wikipedia page for you.
Wikipedia is free – it is intended to be a repository for knowledge about everything to do with the world. It is written, and edited by volunteers, and is available to absolutely everyone to access for free, without any advertisements. That means that paying for someone to create your content for you goes against everything that Wikipedia stands for.
We’ve heard of paid services that have claimed to guarantee the work they do will be of a high standard and won’t be changed by anyone. That’s an impossible promise to make, since the moment the article is published, anyone can access the article, edit it or delete it completely.
To sum up then – it is absolutely possible to pay someone to create your Wikipedia page for you, but it may not be a wise move to do so.
Six things people don’t know about Wikipedia
We love a good bit of trivia, so we thought we’d round off our article with a few little-known Wikipedia facts – and who knows when it might just win you the pub quiz down your local?
- Wikipedia will never be bought out. You might think it’s only a matter of time before Google or Facebook swoop in and take it over, but there is little to no chance of this happening. Wikipedia is run without commercials, by the Wikimedia Foundation – a non-profit organisation that is supported by donations and grants.
- Wikipedia content is free to be used by anybody. The only requirement if you use any Wikipedia content, is that you credit the contributors, and that you document the free license that the re-use is under. You’re also not allowed to add any restrictions on work that you produce that reuses Wikipedia content.
- Nothing in Wikipedia is deleted permanently. There are a few exceptions to this statement – such as where privacy is a concern – but Wikipedia keeps a complete record to all changes to content. That means if something needs to be restored, it can be.
- Wikipedia has never aimed to be a trusted source. We’ve mentioned this before (and you’ll almost certainly have heard this from teachers or lecturers if you’re lucky enough to have studied since Wikipedia was started!) but the very nature of Wikipedia being open to everyone, and a work in progress that will likely never be completed, means that the founders knew the quality of articles would vary.
- There are ten sister projects to Wikipedia: Wicktionary, (an online dictionary and thesaurus) Wikisource (a library of source documents) Wikimedia Commons (a media library of images, videos, sound files etc), Wikibooks (a collection of textbooks and manuals) Wikiversity (an interactive learning resource), Wikinews (a citizen journalism news site), Wikiquote (a collection of quotes), Wikispecies (a collection of information about all forms of life), Wikidata (a knowledge base) and Wikivoyage (a travel guide). These all operate under the same terms as Wikipedia – freely licensed and open for all to contribute to.
- Wikipedia has an official theme song – “Hotel Wikipedia”. It’s a parody of Hotel California by The Eagles, and was released in 2004. You can read the lyrics here, but it’s pretty hard to track down a recording – maybe you’re up to the challenge of singing it and posting it on YouTube?
Writing an article about your business is relatively easy – you probably do it all the time, and you’ll almost certainly have content that you use regularly. But writing an article that gets through the Wikipedia approval process is a whole other ballgame. To get your article published on Wikipedia, it needs to be suitably neutral, and include enough credible references and citations.
Although it can be tricky to get your article published, the rewards are absolutely worth it. Having a Wikipedia page for your business is worth it’s weight in gold though. Having a Wikipedia page helps to build trust and belief in your business, especially since Wikipedia articles are displayed right at the top of Google search results for the name of your business. If you’re on the case building a strong, positive online reputation, a Wikipedia page can be a powerful way to support for your business.
Last Updated on September 9, 2020
Aires Loutsaris is a content marketing specialist working with some of the world’s biggest VC funded startups and eCommerce companies. He has 15 years of experience in organic search optimisation and content writing with over 2500 students enrolled in his Udemy SEO course. An ex-head of two award-winning agencies, he has lectured at the University of the Arts, London College of Fashion on content marketing and has consulted for all three of the Universities he studied at: The Open University, The University of Hull and Kings College University of London. Feel free to connect with Aires on LinkedIn or Facebook.