How effective is a backlink from Wikipedia
Wikipedia is one of the most authoritative websites that exist. They almost always capture the top results for any generic topic.
Cool, so a single backlink from Wikipedia is enough to make your website rock the competitors in any niche.
The sad truth is: they do not link out (DoFollow) to anyone except sister sites like Wiktionary, Wikibooks etc.
So, getting a dofollow backlink from Wikipedia.org is out of question.
The real question is:
Is a nofollow backlink from Wikipedia worth the pain?
You will certainly get a debate rather than an answer if you ask this question.
On one side stands Google’s official reply explaining very clearly that they treat any NoFollow link equally (i.e. not use it in ranking algorithm) no matter it comes from high authority sites like Wikipedia.
Also here is Matt Cutts explaining the same in variations.
While on the other side there are experts who think that NoFollow links affect your SERP in some minute, alternative ways. And when the source website is Wikipedia (Domain Authority =100) that minute effect is multiplied by a big number.
If you ask me though, I will say, lets trust Google’s official stance. Let’s assume that Google ignores NoFollow backlinks from Wikipedia altogether.
Even in that scenario a Wikipedia backlink is way better than no Wikipedia backlink. Here is why:
NoFollow tag is not for humans
Wikipedia receives insane amount of traffic. According to wmflabs.org, Wikipedia’s English version alone received an average of 254,277,663 daily pageviews in year 2016. That is more than a quarter billion pageviews on daily basis.
And this traffic is real human visitors hungry for more information on the topic. They check out lots of links mentioned in wikipedia including external ones. No human cares about NoFollow tags (or whether it exists).
The bottom line: Websites referenced in Wikipedia articles get tons of high quality highly targeted traffic.
A mention in Wikipedia skyrockets authority
Wikipedia is managed by very strict editors called administrators. They supervise and approve/disapprove edits made by other contributors. Thus all content and all links published on Wikipedia are tested and vetted.
This moderation results into only relevant and high authority websites linked from Wikipedia. From a visitors point of view, any link published in Wikipedia has to be high authority. So your website immediately becomes an authority when featured in Wikipedia.
You get eyeballs of high authority websites
Most of the people surfing Wikipedia have a research intent. And researchers need to quote their source when they publish. Thus getting the eyeballs of Wikipedia readers is always a potential natural link opportunity.
So, even if the Wikipedia backlink you get be NoFollow, it opens the doors of numerous natural, high authority, relevant, DoFollow backlinks.
Now focus on the original
Few easy ways to get a Wikipedia backlink
Even though Wikipedia is open to all to edit (more on this later in this article). you can not simply edit it and link to yourself. The moderators are always watching. There should be a sense and good faith in each edit. Neither can you replace a link to a website with your own just because “your content is better than his”.
There are a few good strategies though which pass the test of good faith and sense.
Step 1: Find the link opportunities
The broken link method of link building is no doubt the easiest way to find high authority link prospects in any niche. Wikipedia can fit in too. But, it is very different. In fact, it is even more cool:
A. (Easiest) : Wikipedia itself highlights its broken (dead) links:
So, in case of Wikipedia, “Step 1: find the broken links” part is already done for you. Wikipedia is immensely large. And this means a lot of old, outdated or even removed pages are still linked to from Wikipedia.
Wikipedia contributors and editors keep on curating the links and whenever they find a broken link, they put a tag [dead link] next the to link. So that fellow contributors may fix or update it in future.
For example when I checked the James Bond page on Wikipedia. I found so many dead links:
So, How to find dead links in Wikipedia? Make a google search:
site:wikipedia.org “Your Keyword” + “dead link”
It should return several pages of Wikipedia website containing the phrase “Your Keyword” and “dead link”. Do not forget to replace the “your keyword” with any keyword of your choice.
Now go to any of those Wikipedia pages, whichever closely resembles your niche, and find the phrase “dead link” using CTRL+F search. Make a list of dead link which you will replace with your own in next steps.
B. (Easier) : Find many more broken links using tools:
Do not feel delighted with the spoon fed dead links offered. Looking at the size of Wikipedia, not all links can be marked by moderators at a time. In fact when I checked the Skyfall (film) article on Wikipedia, I found several dead links while none of them was tagged with “dead link” tag.
Use free (but powerful) chrome extension Check My Links to check all links of any relevant Wikipedia page in few minutes. With one click of mouse it highlights all invalid links in red color along with the error code.
The bottom line is: there are millions of broken links in Wikipedia. But if they are not marked with a “dead link” you will have to find them manually by scanning Wikipedia article related to your niche one by one.
Tip: I recommend to take a note of all links with only 404 (page not found) error as they are most probably dead. 403, 410 etc may be down only temporarily.
Tip: This tool does not differentiate between internal and external links (rightly so). And since number of links in a Wikipedia article may be in thousands, I recommend to add wikipedia.org in “exclude list” by right click -> options. This save lots of time and resources.
C. (Easy) : Find even more link opportunities using”Citation Needed”:
Wikipedia loves to mention sources as citation(reference) in support of facts, statements and statistics. But sometimes contributors add content without citations and moderators add a “citation needed” tag against it. It simply means that Wikipedia wants a source of this statement or information.
To find such opportunities, make another search in google:
site:wikipedia.org “Keyword phrase” “citation needed”
and you will get even more backlink opportunities. Because these tags are the low hanging fruits. They are asking for a source to link, you can provide them exactly the same.
D. (Note Easy) : Edit with fresh content and then link:
When there is no market to sell, we create a market. This method requires more creativity but comes handy when other methods of finding broken links fail in your niche. Or when there are hardly any broken links on the Wikipedia article you want to get a backlink from.
But some articles on Wikipedia are easier to edit (and pass) than others. For example Wikipedia asks its users to specifically “improve” some articles. Such articles can be found be this search
site:wikipedia.org “Keyword phrase” “improve this article”
Your aim should be improve the article with more content following all guidelines and format, and your website as a citation for one of the statements. The more useful your improvement is more likely it will stay.
Step 2: Prepare your content to be linked
Once you have a link opportunity you should choose or create a page on your website to link. Again, this step requires a lot of creativity and common sense. Wikipedia has a strict External links policy. And apart from the rules, your edit should appear natural, in good faith and not self promoting.
Hence selection of right page to link becomes extremely vital. It should exactly fill the hole. And if you have no such page on your website, you have to create a new one, the one which fits exactly the hole.
Understanding the non-existing (dead) page currently linked:
The page that best fits the requirements is of course the now non-existent page which is currently linked. In fact some Wikipedia editors prefer the currently linked source so much that they find and link the cached version of that page from archive.org.
Before selecting or creating your own content page to link, you should always have a look at what earlier linked page was all about.
Go to Archive.org and put the URL of the dead external link you want to replace. The wayback machine will show a few cached versions of the dead page. Find the latest one and take a read.
Deciding to take or leave:
After reading the dead page and reading the context in Wikipedia from where it was linked to, you should be able to decide that whether any of your existing content can fill this information gap? Or whether this type of content will even fit your website if you go to create one.
If the answer is no, skip this link opportunity and grab the next one until you find a much more relevant one.
Changing your existing content to fit in:
Once you finalize to replace a dead link with yours you should choose which page of your own website can replace it. In most cases there won’t be any.
But do not jump to create a new one yet. Prefer to link a page you would like everyone to read. Prefer to link an existing important (but non commercial) page of your website.
One you choose the closest page to replace the dead one. Edit it to fulfill all the requirements of citation/reference.
Creating new content page:
If you happen to find no existing page on your website that can replace the dead page. You have no choice but to create a new page.
You should take help of cached version of dead page to find what your page should be about. Just make sure you do not copy paste the content from the dead page. The page may be dead but you may be still infringing some copyrights.
Also keep in mind that the sole purpose of your newly created page should not be just exist. Remember you will receive visits from Wikipedia. So this page should also fit your website’s content strategy. It should be able to engage and convert the visitors to your goals.
In case dead page is not available to read:
If archive.org has no cached version of the dead page. Or in case when there is no dead link (case C and D above) you have no reference page to copy from. In this case you have to be a bit more creative preparing your page to link.
Remember that there are a few types of content which are more likely to be linked from Wikipedia:
- Comprehensive lists of things (not random listicles). Eg. List of all movies shot in Denver, Colorado.
- News article about a major event. E.g. Director reveals that Logan will be the last X-men movie.
- Official page of the referenced product (e.g. book)
- Original results of experiments or research.
- Complete statistics or profile of the entity described in Wikipedia.
- Copyrighted content that can’t be completely shared on Wikipedia.
Step 3: Edit Wikipedia, Update content and link
Now it is time to the most awaited step: create the backlink. As I have mentioned earlier, editing content in Wikipedia is free and open to all. But doing so irresponsibly will result into rejection of change. And in multiple violations your account will be deleted.
So follow a few basics.
Create your Wikipedia account and edit
Create a Wikipedia account is you have not done so yet. Verify email, login and go to the page you want to edit. Though you can edit without creating an account there are more benefits of creating one.
Here is a simple guide to editing Wikipedia. In general your edits should reflect good faith and should improve the article. All edits have to pass the moderators’ eyes. So put some efforts in this step and think neutral.
Edit and improve the content without removing the part which needed the citation for the dead link. Then fulfill the need of citation by adding the appropriate link to your own website.
If you are not comfortable with the formatting of Wikipedia, you can use the new Visual Editor.
Proceed to improve the article by adding more useful information.
Whenever the need of citation is created use the add citation button and add the reference URL.
Wikipedia will automatically create citation in correct format. You can also edit the External links section directly and add your link there. But those links are less likely to stick because they have to undergo more scrutiny.
Once you have finished making all the changes. Do not forget to save your edits.
Once you have hit the save button, your edits should be live. In case of some highly sought after pages, changes go live until a review by moderators. in other cases changes can be seen live right after the edit, while moderators (and other contributors) can later review them.
In this article I have described step by step editing wikipedia and creating useful nofollow backlinks. In my next article I will explain how we can use Wikipedia to create very high authority dofollow backlinks.