Search Tools, Edit Wars, and More: Get the Gist of Wikipedia for Businesses

February 12th, 2015 by Jordan Polhemus


What is the Loch Ness Monster? Who is Monty Python? What is the history of Starbucks? Every time you do a Google search for practically any event, business, person, phrase, song, or obscure piece of trivia, Wikipedia seems to be right there at the top of the search results. Wikipedia, for those who are still using PalmPilots and pagers, is a free online encyclopedia. What makes Wikipedia unique is that it allows users to edit the content on all 35 million of its pages!

A Brief History of Wikipedia

With more than 500 million unique views each month, Wikipedia is currently the 7th most popular website on the Internet—but it didn’t start out that way. Wikipedia was launched in 2001, back in the dark ages of the Internet, and it was highly criticized for building a business plan in which no central organization would control editing and the general public would be responsible for the site’s upkeep. Because the site’s content was being created only by users, it took quite a while for the concept to gain traction in certain circles. In addition, some considered the website’s content to be untrustworthy because edits were so easy to make in the site’s early days. As you can see from the graph below, it took several years for the site to gain popularity, but within a few years, Wikipedia’s usage and traffic exploded.


If you have ever visited Wikipedia, you’ve surely noticed that there are no advertisements, no fees to use the site, and no indications that the company is making a profit at all! This is partially due to the fact that they are a not-for-profit organization relying almost completely on donations from their users. A few times a year, the site hosts drives in order to cover basic costs like server space, bandwidth, software, office space, and salaries for its small staff. Of course, because all of their content is donated, there is no need to pay for updates and contributions!

As time went on and Wikipedia increased in popularity, the company wanted to ensure that the site’s content was as trustworthy, current, and extensive as possible. Wikipedia began to create new processes that made editing content and creating pages more difficult, and it also added a review process. Only registered users can create new articles, some pages are protected from edits, and some pages are “semi-protected,” which means that only certain editors can make changes. All editors are allowed to submit modifications or updates. However, review is required for many of these edits, and all new articles must go through the review process. Depending on the page, edits can be reviewed by the public or by specific members of the Wikipedia staff, but if the edits are small enough, they might go live immediately without passing through the review process.

What This Means for Your Business

Because the site has such high authority and ranks so well in search results, Wikipedia offers incredible SEO opportunities for businesses. A business’s Wikipedia page can have very recent information, detailed descriptions about products and services, a history of the company, and even information about charities and community outreach programs the staff partakes in. However, because Wikipedia aims to always tell the full story from a neutral (and non-promotional) standpoint, dark spots in the company’s past are more prone to surfacing. Major lawsuits, media mentions, and other types of bad press could have a permanent place on a business’s Wikipedia page if that news is noteworthy enough. If your business is considering going down this path, always keep in mind that others will be able to write and edit all content about the business.

Below, we have provided additional information (all from Wikipedia) on how to create a page, make edits, and more!