What Would it Take to Outrank Wikipedia for SEO?

Wikipedia ranks #1 in Google for SEO, public relations, and marketing. What would it take to displace Wikipedia from a #1 ranking if you were in a field that bloggers, designers, and web developers generally had a distaste for, hated, or misunderstood?

If only Google, Wikipedia, and a couple other sites outranked you for SEO, what would you do to push past them? Could anything short of an act of God or a hand edit move you past them?

Published: December 21, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


Patrick Altoft
December 21, 2007 - 8:08am

The first step would be to systematically remove the word "SEO" from the internal anchor text linking to the Wikipedia entry. Get a trusted editor to do it.

December 21, 2007 - 9:49pm

Hi Patrick
Good idea. I wonder if I have trusted editor status. ;)

December 21, 2007 - 8:19am

Hello Aaron!
First I'll ask Google (and maybe other search engines too) politely to rank Wikipedia automatically not manually ;)
After they reply to my asking with "Are you crazy?!" I'll try to hire an army of SEOs and "regular people" too to make my link campaign for a couple of months/years following all of the rules of the search engines.
If that doesn't help. I'll create another search engine and wait(work hard) to become No.1 search engine then rank my site there.
And yes God have to be involved sometime in that situation.

PS: Hope I'm not hurting anyone with my humor.
Great Site!

December 21, 2007 - 8:41am

Well...to outrank Google for "seo" you'll just have to do everything that they are not.

Which may easily mean being more creative then them and going against the policies they preach.

Some policies they don't preach, but still enforce.
This is the part about divinity and how Google would love to be God.

This is where (somehow) you have to become more useful, as a source of info on SEO, to Google than Google itself.

But I think that you're already well on your way ;-)

December 21, 2007 - 8:43am

How about instead of trying to defeat Wikipedia you do everything you can to make sure they really do rank for everything.

As people begin to realize that every time they go to Google they end up at Wikipedia you teach them how to bookmark Wikipedia and use it's internal search instead. People cut out the middle man and start their search directly at Wikipedia. Google loses traffic and is forced to remove Wikipedia from the index.

December 21, 2007 - 9:48pm

I think Google is already noticing this trend, which is why knol was announced.

December 21, 2007 - 9:35am

Just think organic internal linking. Im trying something along these lines and am going to rel=nofollow all 'ordinary' links like navigation etc and rely on juice being spread through in-content links. The only issue ive found so far is that i anticipate my glossary carrying the most weight whereas i want the product pages to achieve this tho i suspect that it will all rank if done properly. check my framework (in sketch) at www.neue.co.uk/xrio the left hand menu is a sitemap that simply gives me access to content. the content is all being re-writen or created so theres not much there but where there is content (ie news articles) you can see where im going with this.

oh and dont forget to rel=nofollow all external links and get some deep links into your content.

lets see if it works ;)


December 21, 2007 - 9:53am

I think if an SEO blogger nofollowed all of their external links that would cost them far more than it was worth to try as an experiment. ;)

Dave Keffen
December 21, 2007 - 12:11pm

Well, ahem.... I'm guessing the easiest way to knock them off now would be to buy Wikipedia a shed load of paid links, making the directories as bland and inappropriate as possible.

Google would have to penalize them wouldn't they?

December 21, 2007 - 9:46pm

Hi Dave
If Google penalizes Wikipedia I think it will be more for competing with Google than for having any shoddy inbound links.

December 21, 2007 - 1:56pm

Build an amazing authority page and post it on Google Knol! I can see this as something on the horizon, although it may not be what you were looking for!

Soon, we may hear a political exclaim
"We have nothing to Google, than Google itself."

December 21, 2007 - 9:45pm

Although I am not in favor of Knol I will publish a page there just as a hedge bet. :)

December 21, 2007 - 5:55pm

The position is attainable; the methods, however, will not make you any friends.

Know any wiki admins? :)

The other piece you are good enough to handle yourself.

December 21, 2007 - 9:43pm

So you think by deweighting its position in the link structure of Wikipedia its rankings would drop significantly? I think it is getting so many self reinforcing links that it would be hard to stop. Plus they have about as much TrustRank as Google does.

December 22, 2007 - 3:53am

Deweighting link structure would be one way, but isn't what I had it mind; controversial pages are often removed entirely and quietly, a far more effective approach (in this case, it wouldn't be quiet) -- after a couple of weeks that listing would have to vanish since it'd instead end up with a ton of links to a redirected admin only / page no longer exists splash. It would certainly not be the first time it has happened.

Once that is complete, you can go about taking on the other competitors....I see that you can definitely hop one or two spots just by pushing the active marketing.

The true bullcrap is the undesired stock ticker. What percentage of searchers are really looking for Stora Enso Ojy when typing 'SEO'? 2%?

December 21, 2007 - 6:58pm

I was looking for some info about Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch and Wikipedia outranks the makers of the Whiskey. Is that right?

December 21, 2007 - 9:35pm

Hi Geiger
Unfortunately this is not uncommon. Especially if a core brand has many sub-brands like red label, blue label, and black label.

Chris Marshall
December 21, 2007 - 9:25pm

If you want Wikipedia de-ranked, guide them into becoming a Google competitor, rather than continuing to serve as an underpaid compliment. This is the art of strategy.

December 21, 2007 - 9:33pm

Hi Chris
I think they are already heading in that direction. Hence Google knol :)

December 21, 2007 - 9:34pm

I have to agree with vangogh on this one. Google knows the writing is on the wall, as I'm sure many users who are doing research or an educational search are already loading up Wikipedia instead of Google.com. I know I've done it. Google will try to keep these users that are already starting to migrate like rats off a ship (or like myspace users jumping to Facebook) by introducing Knol.

December 21, 2007 - 9:38pm

Hi Roadies
I wonder what happens to the rankings when Wikipedia has a powered by Yahoo! Search or powered by Wikisaria search box.

December 24, 2007 - 5:48am

And now that monster is outranking them. Totally agree with VanGogh on this one, and your reply as to the point of Knol, Aaron. My problem with Knol is why would someone bother? Why not just go to Wikipedia? The only difference I see is that I read somewhere knol will be okay with companies editing their own stuff.

I had something more insightful to say but I've forgotten it now.

At the end of the day, if you can look around the top 100 backlinks to Google's page and either duplicate them or buy out the sites and kill the links to Google, it could probably have a significant impact, if we consider the 80-20 rule (here, 20% of the links contributin 80% of the juice). Question is: Are you doing it for pride or for the ROI? If it's the latter, is it cheaper to buy out the competition's links or cheaper to promote yourself offline in such a way that you're the greater authority and deserve the ranking more. NYT, WSJ and such links come to mind, which ought to be attainable for someone with your profile.

December 24, 2007 - 6:45am

Hi Bookworm.seo

Why not just go to Wikipedia?

Wikipedia's bias is hard to ignore. After you contribute to Wikipedia and then see your words edited out by a generalist with inferior knowledge you eventually stop contributing to it.

While you can replicate top backlinks, those criteria are irrelevant if one of 3 things happen:

  • Google treats Knol pages like YouTube and just mixes them in at the top of the search results
  • Google throws some of their internal link weight at the Knol pages
  • Knol is hosted on Google.com, and gets some of Google.com's TrustRank

Also many of the best links pointing to Google's advice on SEO page are on sites worth a million or more each. Buying those out could get expensive quickly.

September 19, 2008 - 5:47pm

Outranking Wikipedia isn't all that difficult, a law firm I work for is doing it right now for "morgan keegan". Keyword density, Page titles, etc are very important but really you need more social bookmarks and backlinks on relevant authority sites than whomever you are competing against.

In this case you would pretty much need external links from SEO "authority" sites with rich anchor text, matching anchor text for several relevant search terms that include "SEO" in them, then of course links with just "SEO" anchor text on them spread across 1000's of social story or related content sites. You would need to make sure all your content passes CopyScape and produce some kind of new content regularly if not daily. Haven't tried it, just seems like a crap load of work.

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