How to Get Backlinks from Wikipedia

Many webmasters want to get the elusive link to their site from Wikipedia. I won't discuss the importance of that, since the importance of a Wikipedia backlink is somewhat questionable. The links on Wikipedia are all "nofollow" links, meaning that you won't get any direct benefit from the link in terms of your search results. However, the link is probably used by Google and other search engines to some extent in its algorithms. And Wikipedia itself always ranks very high on Google. So at the very least, you will get some traffic from Wikipedia if you have a link there.

As you have probably been told, "anyone can edit Wikipedia articles." So there is a temptation to simply open a Wikipedia account, find some page, and add a link to your site. The problem with this approach is that the link will be removed almost instantly by one of the zealous editors at Wikipedia. They will understand immediately what you are trying to do, they won't like it, and they will remove your link.

Establishing Credibility

What you need to do is establish some bona fides in the Wikipedia community before attempting to add a link. The best way to do that is to sign up for an account, and then follow some of their suggestions for the kind of editing you can help with. You don't need to do a lot, but you do need to show that you are adding some value to their site.

You can even write an article. Some ideas for finding a topic are shown below. In short, you need to participate for a little while before attempting to add a link to your site.

After you've been a member of the community for a while, you can now think about adding a link to your site. It's probably difficult to add a link to an existing article, and I haven't attempted this approach. What will be easier is writing a new article.

Picking a Topic for Your Article

You can't write an article about some trivial subject, because it will quickly be deleted. Articles can be deleted for a number of reasons, but the main concern is that the subject needs to be "notable." In other words, it needs to be the kind of thing that is normally included in an encyclopedia. The full definition requires more explanation, which can be found at Wikipedia, but for our purposes, just think in terms of topics that would normally be found in an encyclopedia.

As you browse through Wikipedia, you will see that most topics have already been addressed. For example, if you look for a public figure from the recent past, chances are, there's already an article about him or her.

The surest source of topics about which there is no current Wikipedia article is public figures from the past. Surprisingly, there is relatively little coverage of topics from the 1970's. Therefore, if you pick an event or a politician from the 1970's (such as a state legislator or the mayor of a city), then it's quite possible that the article has not yet been written. That might be a good topic, although you might find it difficult to do all of the needed research online. You might need to make a trip to the library. If you want to do that, great. But if you want to save some time, a good approach is to pick a topic from the 1800's. The reason for this is that you can do all of your research online.

Finding a Nineteenth Century Topic

Interestingly, you'll discover that your politician from the 1800's is actually more likely to already be on Wikipedia than would be the politician from the 1970's. The reason for this is that the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica has been mostly incorporated into Wikipedia. So if your topic was already in the encyclopedia in 1911, then it's already in Wikipedia. But there are still many topics from that era which dont' appear in Wikipedia.

One way to find topics is to browse through Wikipedia looking for red links. Those are links within Wikipedia to articles which do not yet exist. If you create such an article, those links will already be in place directed to it. But you can also just pick out some topic, and see if it has an article.

The best place to do your research is Google Books. Google contains the full text of millions of books, and virtually everything published before 1921 is fully available absolutely free. Simply find an old book about some interesting topic, and then read about persons, places, and events. See if these subjects already have a Wikipedia article. If not, they are perfect subjects. The subject is "notable" because it is already discussed in a published book.

Writing Your Articles

When you've found a topic, you simply need to write two articles about the subject. The two articles will obviously be very similar, since they're written by the same person (you) and they discuss the same subject matter. They should both contain references. At the very least, they should contain one reference, the original book you were reading at Google. Ideally, you should do more research and include other references.

The first article, which should probably be the longer of the two, will go on your website. To avoid any problems with copyright (in case anyone thinks that Wikipedia plagiarized it from your website), it is a good idea to include the following text on your website article:

The text of this page is released under the Creative Commons Zero Waiver 1.0 (CC0).

By including this language, you are giving up your copyright to your article.

Once you have published this article on your website, your website is now an authoritative source on the topic. Therefore, it will be appropriate to use your website as one of the references to the Wikipedia article.

The next step is to take your second article and use it to create a new article on Wikipedia. In addition to the other references, you should include your own website as one of the references.

Probably within minutes of creating your article, a Wikipedia editor will review it. It will pass this review with flying colors, since it is a notable topic, as evidenced by the published sources discussing it. And the link to your site will be an additional useful reference.

After a few days, you might want to add a link to the Wikipedia article on your own page. This will ensure that Google indexes the Wikipedia article, which will bolster the credibility of both the Wikipedia article and your own page.

An Example

Here's an example of how this works. I'm a lawyer, so it's reasonable for me to write articles about court cases. I noticed that the 1893 case Watteau v. Fenwick was cited in this Wikipedia article, but there was not currently an article on Wikipedia about the case itself.

I found the case on Google Books, and wrote a short summary, which I published on my website. Then, I wrote a Wikipedia article which was just a rewrite of the summary on my website.

Within minutes, my Wikipedia article was deleted, because the Wikipedia editor assumed that the article had been plagiarized from my website. I quickly corrected this problem by doing two things. First of all, I wrote a polite note to the editor explaining what had happened. Second, I added to my website the Creative Commons license language shown above. Within a day, the editor had restored my article, and even cleaned up the formatting for me a bit.

So for whatever it's worth, my website now has an incoming link from Wikipedia. I didn't have to pull any fast ones or use any "black hat" techniques. I simply added a bit of useful content to Wikipedia, and in exchange, I have a legitimate link back to my site.

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