When helping clients with their online reputation, Wikipedia is often a top concern. Wikipedia results show up on the first page of Google in 46% percent of searches, which means that Google takes Wikipedia very seriously as a resource. Thus, a negative, incorrect, or misleading company page on Wikipedia would be dangerous to ignore should a company wish to maintain a positive online reputation.
When it comes to Wikipedia editing, however, things can get very complicated very quickly. Not only does Wikipedia have a set of rules for every topic of posting and editing, but the rules seem to be constantly changing with an exception at every turn. With all of these barriers, it's no surprise that most companies are wary about changing their company pages themselves. Not to mention, there’s a conflict of interest rule prohibiting anyone from directly editing pages on which they may have a biased view on the subject.
Gaps In The Content Conversation
There’s a lot of industry conversation about how to be a successful editor on Wikipedia (an oldie but a goodie by Stephan Spencer), but they often breeze over the most crucial part of bettering any Wikipedia page: determining what content should actually be on the page. What I’ll be talking about specifically is the first and most important step in the process of getting your Wikipedia page either up and running or edited: the audit. Performing a Wikipedia audit simply means diagnosing what Wikipedia copy should be updated, changed, or added, as well as whether or not there are sufficient verifiable references on the subject.
Starting Your Audit
If your company already has a page, you’ll start by working your way through the page material and identifying sections needing updates, additions, or changes. I’ve outlined a few categories specific to corporate Wikipedia pages in this doc to get you started on identifying informational gaps. Of course each business and page will be different so you’ll want to add in or change these categories to fit your specific needs.
Narrowing Down Reliable Content
Once you’ve outlined the areas needing updates, additions, or changes, the next step is to determine if there are existing resources available to verify the information you’d like to be included on your page. Determining this can be a little complicated because of Wikipedia’s many guidelines (Verifiability, Sourcing, and Notability), but the general rule is that any reference content you wish to add to your company’s Wikipedia page should answer yes to all of these questions:
- Is this topic verifiable?
- Is there a reliable unbiased source with this information?
- Is this topic considered notable?
You can get creative with these materials by tracking down founding documents, early news and print coverage, financial filings, sponsorships, and other sources to verify the content you’d like to change, add or update. You can narrow down the topics you are able to edit on your page based on the kinds of reliable references that currently exist about that topic. Some types of reliable resources are:
- Third party sources with editorial oversight
- Academic material
- News reporting from well-established news outlets
- Vendor and e-commerce sources (for example, to cite a best-selling book)
For more on Wikipedia’s Reliable Sources see the full article here.
Once you’ve found resources that fit these categories, start with adding these items to your page first. Let the reference lead your content.
Create an Ongoing Content Plan for Reference Gaps
Of course there will be information you’d like to see on your Wikipedia page for which reliable references don’t currently exist. For those areas of content you’d like to add but don’t have solid reference material for, your next step would be creating content that fulfills the reference requirements. This will take a concerted effort in creating news content, PR coverage, and company profiles, all of which will require time and resources. But knowing where your content gaps are is more than half the battle in creating a truly helpful Wikipedia page for your company.
You can download the audit spreadsheet here. It is “view only,” so you’ll need to make your own copy to reformat things how you’d like and add your own business page categories. If there is anything else you’d like to see in this audit sheet, or any feedback you have on this topic, please comment and let me know!