Target audience: Small businesses, startups, marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.
By Mike Wood
Wikipedia is the seventh most visited website in the world. Since its inception, companies have been using it as a way to establish their brands. Wikipedia can be a great way to promote your business, but you can’t just go in and create a promotional entry — you have to follow the rules.
For companies such as General Motors, Citibank and Facebook, there’s no question that they qualify for an entry in Wikipedia. The tough part comes when evaluating if a small business or startup qualifies for a Wikipedia page.
Why have a Wikipedia page?
Wikipedia contains more than 30 million articles, it’s read in over 285 languages and has 530 million visitors worldwide. In addition, more than 50 percent of people in the United States use Wikipedia on a monthly basis. This means that even though the accuracy of any given Wikipedia entry is disputable, people really don’t care. They still use it to determine if they should do business with a company or not.
Wikipedia has an amazing search footprint. More than 95 percent of searches return results from Wikipedia on the first page of Google search results — so much so that Google incorporates information from Wikipedia into its knowledge graph.
Having a Wikipedia page can increase your branding power. It will show up on page one of Google and also helps the page rank for your own website.
Start by getting coverage by reputable media
Before you go jumping into creating and posting a Wikipedia page about your company, it’s important to know if you qualify for a page. Wikipedia has tough guidelines for inclusion and failing to meet those guidelines will result in the deletion of your article — and a potential block from being able to recreate the article in the future.
In order to qualify for a page, you must meet Wikipedia’s notability guidelines. These guidelines basically state that you need to have significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the topic.
What types of sources meet the definition of significant, reliable and independent Significant coverage means that there is more than one source that talks about you in depth. Brief mentions do not count. You need articles that discuss you as the main topic of the article.
Reliable sources can be narrowed down to those who have fact checkers. Using well-known publications such as the New York Times, national magazines, business journals and other major publications is acceptable. Using sources such as online forums or social media profiles don’t make the cut.
Independent coverage is simple. You basically need high-quality sources that are not self-published. Don’t plan on using press releases or your own website to establish notability. If you do, deletion of your article is inevitable.
In addition to the general notability guidelines above, there are individual notability guidelines for specific topics. If you want more in-depth analysis of what constitutes Wikipedia notability, you can download the guide to notability free of charge.
Examples of who qualifies and who doesn’t
To make things a little easier, I evaluated two companies that potentially could qualify for Wikipedia pages. The first is Ubooly and the other is Takhfifan. Both are startups and both have references when you search for them in Google News. And, neither have a Wikipedia page at the time of this posting.
Ubooly is a little stuffed animal with interactive games and playbacks. It incorporates your iPhone or iPod and is intended for children ages four to nine. JD Lasica previously profiled the company for Socialmedia.biz in 2013. Looking at Google, there are plenty of references that come up. You can see in the image below that there are articles in Fast Company, Denver Business Journal, TechCrunch and more.
It’s clear that there is significant coverage, and I will save time by telling you that all of these sources are considered reliable by Wikipedia. The coverage is in-depth as it speaks directly about Ubooly and not just brief mentions (the company name is in the title of each reference). The coverage is also spread about various topics (acquisition, funding, company overview, technology feature), which makes the coverage more than in-depth. Based on media coverage, Ubooly would meet guidelines for inclusion in Wikipedia.
Takhfifan is a different story. On the surface it looks like it would qualify for a Wikipedia page. However, it falls a little short. The company is similar to Groupon and based in Iran. The company is talked about quite a bit in the press, but it has very little in-depth coverage.
The references that return all include information about Takhfifan, but they are not articles written about the company. Each article is about business in Iran and incorporates information about the company, but none of them feature the company directly. These references would be great for the Wikipedia article about the economy of Iran but would not qualify to establish the notability of Takhfifan.
Making the decision to create a Wikipedia article
Once you determine if you qualify for a page, you need to make a decision about actually creating one. While there are many positives to creating a Wikipedia page, there are also some negatives. Once such negative is that the site is open source and anyone can edit an entry. This means that someone else could potentially introduce information about your startup or business on the Wikipedia page you create. There are also conflict of interest guidelines on Wikipedia that discourage you from creating articles about yourself.
Final thoughts on promotion and Wikipedia
While having a Wikipedia can be exciting, it is not something you have to do to increase your brand presence. I see too many companies so addicted to having a Wikipedia entry that they wind up missing the bigger picture. There are plenty of ways to promote your business outside of Wikipedia. Sometimes the best thing to do is leave it in the hands of the wiki gods and hope that your entry will be created once you have enough press to qualify.