Wikipedia Links - Good or Bad? (in Response to Stephen)

Last Update: December 30, 2021

Two WA blog posts in one day.

Wonders will never cease.

An apology first.

The following may be somewhat advanced, but I guess there’s learning points for everyone, including myself - but sorry anyway.

Once again, I set about simply answering a question to the best of my knowledge, but felt that it may be better to share with the wider community.

So, Stephen replied to my earlier blog post, and mentioned about Google potentially not liking external links to Wikipedia.

MY BLOG POST===>NoFollow DoFollow Links Arghhh!

Wikipedia “Authority”


Now, most SEOs will talk about the “authority” of Wikipedia.

I mean, after all, it has a Domain Authority of 98/100 (although, it does say something that this was 100/100 a few years ago).

However, in my mind, much of this domain authority has come from the millions of articles on Wikipedia, the millions of backlinks, and the fact that Wikipedia will be 30 years old this coming year.

Anyway, we are typically taught that linking externally to an authority website is good SEO practice.

But, sometimes it’s difficult to decipher exactly what “authority” means.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about themselves:

“Wikipedia is increasingly used by people in the academic community, from freshman students to professors, as an easily accessible tertiary source for information about anything and everything. However, citation of Wikipedia in research papers may be considered unacceptable, because Wikipedia is not considered a credible or authoritative source.”

And here’s a couple of actual Wikipedia pages alluding to this very fact.

Wkipedia - Academic Use

Wikipedia is NOT a Credible Source

Basically, Wikipedia doesn’t even view themselves as an authority or a credible source.

And the main reason for this is that much of the information on the site is generated by users, just like you or me.

In other words, it’s user generated content, much the same as Quora, Reddit, Forums, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

So, there’s no way to really clarify the expertise of a specific article (or citations) made on Wikipedia.

With that being said, Wikipedia does have a “Good Articles” and “Featured Articles” section, which are generally written by professionals, advanced users, and credible sources.

Anyway, back to the point, Wikipedia themselves have stated that they are not a credible source.

What Did Google's Johnny M Have to Say?


A Twitter conversation ensued back in March 2017 as to whether linking out to Wikipedia could harm your Google rankings.

The reason for this is because Google can and will “downgrade” a website if it consistently links to content that is found on a questionable website, i.e. a website that lacks credibility.

So, let’s say for example that you link 10 of your articles to an extremely spammy website, you may be penalised by Google for doing so.

In truth, they may view you as being connected in some way to the spammy website.

However, during the Twitter conversation about Wikipedia, John Mueller, Senior Webmasters Trend Analyst at Google, stated that you would not be penalised for linking to Wikipedia.

BUT

More-and-more people are becoming aware that Wikipedia isn’t actually that credible a website.

There are far more informative and authoritative websites on the various individual subjects.

So, this could mean that VISITORS to your website may NOT view YOU as a credible source if every single one of your articles externally links to Wikipedia.

This is when Google will start to take notice.

If users are immediately leaving your web page after clicking an external link to Wikipedia (and also closing the Wikipedia page as well), Google MAY view this as your article doesn’t provide the relevant information a searcher is looking for.

The result could well be that you lose rankings for that particular article.

Of course, this is nothing more than an educated guess and based on conjecture.

But personally, I wouldn’t like to risk it.

So, DON’T link to Wikipedia from every single article.

In fact, not even a high percentage of your articles should be linked to Wikipedia.

As I’ve said, there are plenty of authority websites in every single niche that provide fantastic, expert information.

What About Links From Wikipedia?


A standard SEO practice for many years has been to obtain backlinks from Wikipedia.

As Wikipedia has a Domain Authority of 98 this would be considered HUGE for your website to receive a link.

In fact, many SEOs have become editors on Wikipedia (you can do the same, remember it’s user-generated content), and edited actual Wikipedia articles, so they can leave a link to their website in the “References” section.

Another SEO practice was to find broken links in the references section of Wikipedia.

Let’s say that you’re reading the Wikipedia page about Affiliate Marketing.

And one of the references at the bottom of the page led to a website about Affiliate Marketing.

However, that website is no longer online, but the link to it in the “reference” section remains intact.

You could now “edit” the reference section to provide a link to your website.

Suddenly you’ve scored a DA98 backlink (trust me, from a “normal” website that would be MASSIVE).

The main problem with this SEO tactic is that ALL of Wikipedia’s external links are NOFOLLOW.

This means that they do NOT pass on any page authority.

Therefore, you won’t suddenly see your website article jump from position 60 to position 1 in two days flat.

Additionally, John Mueller once again alluded to the fact that links FROM Wikipedia to your website are pretty useless.

He mentioned on a Reddit thread back in August 2020:

“Those links will do nothing for your site from a Google Search perspective. All you’re doing is creating extra work for Wikipedia maintenance who will remove your link drops."

What Does This All Mean?

I’ll put this as simply as I can:

Don’t have the vast majority of your articles’ external links pointing to Wikipedia.

You WON’T be penalised by Google for doing so.

However, if your website visitors are put off by your constant linking to Wikipedia they may leave your website.

If this happens consistently ONLY THEN may Google drop certain articles in the rankings.

AND

Don’t bother trying to obtain links from Wikipedia to your website, either as a Wikipedia article writer, or simply by editing existing Wikipedia articles.

The backlinks are NoFollow, which means you’re not getting any domain authority from these links, i.e. pretty much useless.

As always, all of this is just personal opinion based on what I’ve read and learned.

You’ll still find many of the most well-known and expert SEOs that I love and trust say that linking to and from Wikipedia is BIG BUSINESS.

I’m talking about some of the biggest names in the business, perhaps even including our own WA SEO Gurus (Love you Kyle & Jay, don’t hurt me, LOL).

I have nothing but respect for all these SEO ladies and gentlemen.

However, I would rather take on board what Wikipedia themselves and Google’s John Mueller has to say on the subject.

Another one of my famous sayings, “If you want to know something, then go to the SOURCE”.

Thank You For Reading

Partha

Join the Discussion
Write something…
Recent messages
Dhind1 Premium Plus
Interesting thoughts on the subject.

It is something we all know (Wikipedia is UGC) but often forget. I think of Wikipedia as an online Encyclopaedia, because that is what they have set themselves up to be.

But your point is valid - they recognize the limitations of their platform. We would do well to remember that.

Thank you again for informative content.

Alex
Reply
keimor Premium Plus
Thanks, very interesting read!
Reply
BrendaMZ Premium
Matthew Woodward, a SEO Guru from UK recently wrote a lengthy article on his website about getting backlinks from Wikipedia. He cited and emphasized how important that is to get the Wiki backlinks juice. I read his article with 100 percent skepticism because as an academic student and teaching classes, I do not allow my students to cite Wiki sources.

That is correct, the academia frowns at using Wiki as a citation source. Simply because it’s not scholarly. We teach students that they can find articles at Google Scholar. Plenty of sources there and other links to academic journals such as JSTOR through their college library links.

I knew that Matthew was just repeating the same old thing that other SEO gurus were saying. Of course he is just promoting his own product to which he claims is white hat backlinks. He sells his own link building courses and services.

Be aware that many of them SEO wannabes or gurus will claim that the Wikipedia backlinks work to rank your authority site. I decided that it wouldn’t be wise to use the wiki backlinks juice because I know it’s not credible, too many broken links and dead links. It is a lot of work with editing and hoping to get the backlinks from them. For sure, it will take you away from doing what you ought to do best is which is writing articles. I felt that maybe temporarily rank but not for long as you post does say it’s a do not follow backlink. I figured as much.

Thanks for clarifying the question for Stephen. I know it can be confusing when we read what others claim to be true when in reality it isn’t.
Reply
Jenny28 Premium
Thanks Partha.
I have a few links to Wikipedia, but will try and avoid them moving forward.
Reply
LMH1968 Premium Plus
Excellent info to know. I don't link that much to Wikipedia so I'm not going to have to run out and change links.
Happy New Year Partha.
Reply
Top