About six months ago I was trying to figure out how to get a client past Wikipedia for the term 'spread betting'.
Most people know that taking on Wikipedia for rank can be difficult because the website carries so much topic authority and a lot of people link to it. So much so that Wikipedia’s authority can trump a very popular, useful website.
In fact, one of the main rules of SEO is get a page on Wikipedia. This shows a level of Authority because you are significant enough to be listed.
While I was trying to figure this out, the client’s page on Wikipedia was dropped. The page was overly promotional. It is what happened next that is interesting.
What happened was that one month after the Wikipedia page was dropped the authority of the site in question increased and Wikipedia's decreased for the search terms measured.
From this I surmised that the site was giving its authority to Wikipedia rather than increasing its authority by having a page on Wikipedia. So we then took the conscious step of not trying to get back on Wikipedia.
I believed Wikipedia would continue to drop and if we could generate more clicks from the search terms we could quickly move past Wikipedia. So we also introduced a promotional offer into the Title as click bait.
Within two months the site overtook Wikipedia. Then caffeine happened and ranks jumped around but it has now supplanted Wikipedia.
This month something else also happened. Another website overtook Wikipedia, which has now dropped from three to five. In our authority chart Wikipedia continues to reduce. So what is happening?
Google determines authority with the Hilltop algorithm and subsequent Topic Sensitive PageRank (TSPR) algorithm. Hilltop uses reference websites to understand whether a page is relevant to a topic. TrustRank is a similar approach. TSPR will use the same references to determine whether it is continuing to link map a topic from page to page.
The original reference table for HillTop was the open directory project and Google’s quick adoption of this was a giveaway on how they are using it. I believe that Wikipedia pages are part of the reference tables to determine topic relevance. But I also think brands that own a topic, like Xerox owned photocopiers, have become part of the reference tables as that algorithm becomes more sophisticated.
Some brands have a higher authority because they invented a topic. The website we were working for has 80% of the traffic for their niche and was first mover for their niche. If I’m right, and I think this proves it, a Wikipedia page has no benefit for them. Only Wikipedia will benefit.