The Wikipedia Index: The Edits that Matter
We’ve noted before how important a Wikipedia page is: 98% of Fortune 500 companies have their Wikipedia page ranking in their first page of Google results. Previously (here and here), we examined the sheer volume of edits made to Fortune 500 companies’ Wikipedia pages.
But what is the nature of these edits? What kinds of changes are being made by Wikipedia’s many editors, and which ones should you care about most?
It turns out that the vast majority of all edits to Fortune 500 company pages are just one of four types – text, infobox, links, and references. Text and infobox changes are the most crucial.
Edits to text include changes, additions, and deletions of any text in the body of the article. This content is obviously what readers come to a Wikipedia page to see; what many don’t realize is that it’s also where Google pulls pieces of its search results.
Therefore, changes to text on a Wikipedia page often become incorporated into both the search page results and the knowledge panel (Google’s data summary box on the right side of the page).
In some cases, this happens as soon as an edit is made, creating an opportunity for vandalized text in Wikipedia to show directly in Google. We wrote about that here.
Another key component of a Wikipedia article for a company is the infobox. This is the box on the right side of a Wikipedia article that gives a synopsis of key points about the company. Critically, Google often pulls points directly from the infobox into its own knowledge panel.
Don’t Panic, But Do Pay Attention
Google and Wikipedia are two of the most visited websites in the world. When people search Google for information about a person or company, their answer on Google’s search results page often comes directly from Wikipedia.
Whether a company’s page is edited with malicious intent – vandalized – or simply updated with incorrect information, the strong connection between Google and Wikipedia means that edits within Wikipedia have ramifications for a company beyond just Wikipedia.
When someone edits the body of a Wikipedia article, that change may be picked up by Google right away, or it can take a few days. This sometimes allows other editors to undo or remove vandalized text before it ever makes it to Google. However, when an edit is in the first sentence of the Wikipedia article, Google picks up the change immediately, making such edits highly risky for the company or person. This can be the case also for edits made to the infobox.
Companies, brands, and individuals with a Wikipedia article about them need to be vigilant about continuously monitoring their Wikipedia pages for any edits. That way, they can be on top of any changes to these pages that don’t convey an accurate picture and, most importantly, take steps to remove these changes when necessary.