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Monday, May 16, 2022

What To Do When Your Company Wikipedia Page Goes Bad

It happens to many companies: their Wikipedia page evolves and starts reporting bad stats, inaccuracies, legal stories you thought were water under the bridge and more. Wikipedia is a web 2.0 success story, and almost always ranks on page one in Google search results for your brand. Anyone can make changes, and there is little you can do to keep the public from adding, expanding and telling your story, their way. While you can’t make it disappear, you there are things you can do to mitigate the visibility of any negative content on your company’s Wikipedia page.

Wikipedia is a free-for-all content site, where anyone can make changes. For each page on the Wikipedia, there are typically one or more unofficial Wikipedia editors. These editors aren’t assigned by Wikipedia. Rather, they are ordinary people who keep an eye on changes, and, for one reason or another, feel particularly passionate about a topic and any change made to its page. If you find negative content, you are free to go and delete it, but be careful. It’s going to come back anyway, and before long the editors may call you out, creating more visibility to the negative content.

While you can’t make the unfavorable content disappear, there are some things that you can do to make it fade into the background by adding a lot of noise on the page. The editors like additions and changes—it’s the premise of Wikipedia. As long as your additions add value for readers (and not necessarily for the company) they will be accepted. For success, you need to add and tweak—not delete—content, and follow Wikipedia best practices when doing so.

Five tips for making negative Wikipedia content fade into the background

  1. Push negative content below the fold. Content always wins when it comes to search engine optimization, the same goes for Wikipedia. Add content to the top of your Wikipedia page to push down negative copy far below the fold.
  2. Reduce the numbers. Eyes flock to numbers, so make minor grammatical corrections to the page that change numbers 1-10 to text. This will give the unfavorable content less attention as a reader’s eyes scan the page.
  3. Bury the bad stuff in noise. When people read online, they don’t read everything; they skim, likely catching the beginning and/or end of a paragraph. Use this knowledge to your advantage by adding positive content at the beginning and end of a paragraph, and placing the negative comments in the middle.
  4. Fill the entire page with content. People do not like to read a mountain of information, and the more content on the page, the less likely they are to see the bad elements within the copy. Be cautious with this one—do not use corporate-speak or official language. Instead, use normal everyday language to describe the company, products, history, etc.

    Wondering how to expand your page? Include the company history, top clients and anything of interest. The Starbucks page is a good example of how you can expand the company Wikipedia page—they talk about the sizes you can order, the logo, various locations and more. Don’t forget that what you add must be unique content. The marketing and public relations departments often want to copy and paste from existing materials.

  5. Include pictures. Eyes navigate toward photos. Notice how the Starbucks page has many pictures, if you place the right photos at the right place on the page, you can divert eyes from negativity that might otherwise catch their attention as the user scrolls through the page.

While it’s not all-inclusive, it’s a nice list to get you thinking about how you can improve your company’s Wikipedia page that went bad.

Next time I’ll talk about tactics for actually making the changes in Wikipedia. In the meantime, use this information to gather ideas, pitch recommendations and get buy-in for making your Wikipedia page more positive.

Jessica Bowman is the Director of SEO for Business.com and an independent consultant and author of the SEM / SEO In-house Blog. The Brand Aid column appears Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.

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