wikipedia-logoThe web is becoming increasingly more dependent on community-contributed and moderated sites like Wikipedia and Yahoo! Answers. The audiences are engaged and the traffic valuable. It’s possible for OTHERS to accomplish fantastic things for your brand (if you’re truly “notable”) and it is possible to safeguard the entry from information “vandalism”. However if you screw up, your career and reputation can literally be ruined. This informative session with leading Wiki experts offered protocol, tips and tricks.

Matt McGee, SEO Manager, Marchex spoke first about Yahoo! Answers amidst a steady stream of jokes comparing the service’s relative importance compared to Wikipedia. The site is more for companies who sell expertise and services than for selling widgets.

What is Yahoo Answers?

It’s a simple Q&A site which is incredibly busy. There is a constant stream of questions and answers. It has many social features. You can create a profile page and include a link to your own website, which is a NO follow link. The site is for traffic building and not SEO. It’s the #2 reference site behind Wikipedia. There are 26 different international properties with 95 million users. “Professionals are welcome to provide valuable knowledge and experience to questioners.” You are allowed to drop your links provided you are actually offering value, but spam is not OK.

One benefit is referral traffic and Answers is often an excellent source of new visitors who tend to have a very low bounce rate. There are also search traffic opportunities and “Answers” ranks rather well in both Google and in – you guessed it…Yahoo!, especially Google. As Yahoo! Answers gets older it is likely that this will get even better. Right now Google indexes 11 million pages, Yahoo! 120 million, and 1.8 million in MSN.

You use Yahoo! Answers by subscribing to categories and subcategories, each of which has it’s own dedicated RSS feed. Sort wisely friend. Matt suggests cherry-picking answers that are about to expire by sorting by date and grabbing easy answers which are about to expire as a great way to earn easy “points” which enhance your reputation and, over time, makes you more important on the site. Make sure to sign your name when you are leaving an answer because it adds exposure and delienates you from spammers who only leave links. Do not spam. The strong community moderation catches it and it is possible to get banned.

Jonathan Hochman, Founder/President, Hochman Consultants
Digg is great but Wikipedia has much more visibility. “The number of eyeballs is huge.”Answer questions, interact with editors, donate images/media with appropriate license, report problems, and request changes via talk pages. All this builds good will. “Don’t be a dick is the fundamental rule of all social spaces” and this is particularly true on Wiki. (There is no actual definition of being a dick.) “If a significant number of reasonable people suggest either bluntly or politely the odds are good that you are not entirely in the right.”

Don’t pick a promotional username with a business or product name. Check licensure of pictures and don’t copy and paste text. Don’t write about yourself or promote anything. That’s a “conflict of interest” as defined in the Wiki TOS. “You can’t talk sense into the Wiki mob” and they will hunt down and kill inappropriate entries.

Spamming Wikipedia is a bad idea with lasting consequences. Every search engine can download a list of Wiki blacklisted SPAM sites and the list is downloaded and used – meaning that you could end up banned from many other sites. There are no personal attacks allowed on Wiki and they’re “punishable by death.” [I’m pretty sure they’re kidding about that.]

In an article about yourself or your client you should watch for Spam and vandalism, request removal of unsourced statements – especially in biographies of living people – state your case and request changes on the article talk page. Use the “watch list” feature to monitor articles important to you by RSS feeds to monitor for malfeasance. Let your audience do the marketing and it will spread virally because of loose copyright. Participating can improve your reputation.

Stephan Spencer, Founder & President, Netconcepts
“Add your links within references rather than the external links section. References must substantiate claims made in the article copy. Convey that you are an upstanding member of the community by the age and history of your account, awards, your user page and your talk page. Incorporating content edits when adding a link makes it harder to revert your edit. Communicate with the main editor of the article before adding an external link that you think is valuable but could be looked at with suspicion and removed.”

It’s hard to clear the “notability hurdle”. Great articles in the mainstream media about companies which arguably should be featured can work. To create new entries you have to be logged in to a “virtuous” profile otherwise the mantra is “shoot on sight”. Make sure there is no connection between you and the article subject. Weigh in on the proposed subject via the talk page rather than trying to submit it yourself. Watch the page after it’s created so you can be alerted to any AFD nominations or reversion of your work. Use lots of references, particularly ones that are from mainstream media sources. References serve two purposes – external links that will stick and to establish “notability”. Press releases don’t help with notability in the slightest.

Once you create an article about someone else you need to make sure it doesn’t get removed or reverted. Make friends. If you have no friends within Wiki it’s a lot more difficult to get your hard work to stick. Ask your friends to help explain that you are a “good person” and “not trying to game the system.” Be cautious and obey the rules.

Don Steele, Director of Digital & Enterprise Marketing, Comedy Central
Don compared the Wiki listings for “Gandhi” compared to “South Park” and there is NO comparison…South Park dominates. Bono has references to South Park in his bio, which is controversial. When you appear or are mentioned in the mainstream media the reference is fair game for a Wiki article about you which can be dangerous.

Wiki Traffic volume and success in SEO made Wiki a vital channel for everyone to understand, monitor and leverage. If your content is highly referenced and referred to it is important to make sure the information is accurate and up to date. Make sure your website actually still has the information being referenced. Wiki has become a relevant traffic driver to many sites. Best of all, the traffic is free.

Lise Broer “Durova”, Administrator, Wikipedia
Check out our interview with Durova here at SMX earlier today. She is a volunteer administrator and there are tens of thousands of others. She has around 18,000 edits and she’s been at it for about a year. She sees a lot of people that come to Wiki and make mistakes. “85% of Wiki advice you get is correct. The other 15% could ruin your career.”

  • Matt McGee

    Marty – great to meet you this week, what a cool guy you are. I hope you’ll be coming out to more conferences down the road.

    One note on my presentation above — Yahoo Answers actually ranks better in Google than any other search engine. Each of the examples I showed included a Google Top 10. 🙂

  • Marty Weintraub

    Thanks Matt…it was lovely to meet you in person as well after interacting some much prior. I’ll be @ SMX Travel Orlando, SES Chicago yet his year. Thanks for the clarification on the Yahoo! Answers ranking examples.