Have you ever found yourself sucked into a Wikipedia rabbit hole, going from one topic to another?
If you haven’t, I suggest the buttered cat paradox.
With its plethora of useful (and useless) information, Wikipedia has become a prime source to learn about new topics. Unfortunately, since readers can edit pages with whatever they’d like, many people often receive incorrect or misleading information.
Take the search engine optimization Wikipedia page for example. It is littered with myths and some facts, but fails to correctly explain what SEO is to readers.
In this blog we will dive into the deeper aspects of SEO techniques and what Wikipedia is leaving out.
So What Does Wikipedia Say About SEO?
According to Wikipedia, search engine optimization is:
The process of affecting the visibility of a website in search engine’s unpaid results by optimizing a website’s content, HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords, remove barriers to indexing, and promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links.
Essentially to Wikipedia, it’s all about keywords, indexing, and links.
And while those items play a role in improving a site’s SEO value, they aren’t the only things that make a difference. But hopefully, as we continue through this page, it will explain that, right?
Different SEO Techniques
What Wikipedia says about indexing:
What’s missing? – Being indexed on search engines is an important aspect of SEO as our main focus is to increase organic visibility. As professionals, we know that indexing is a combination of different techniques, yet Wikipedia only mentions one, submitting an XML sitemap.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, SEO requires planning, strategic execution of different tactics, and continuous analysis in order to be fully beneficial. While submitting an XML sitemap helps search engines know when something has changed and how often the search engine should check for changes, it hasn’t been proven to affect search rankings on its own.
So yes, Wikipedia is right, an XML sitemap is useful for indexing, but wrong in that it is the only thing needed.
What Wikipedia says about crawling:
What’s missing? – Honestly, I was a little surprised seeing this section follow instructions on becoming indexed. It’s like Wikipedia thinks SEO is a game of hide and seek.
Yes, robots.txt files are great at hiding certain pages from search engine crawlers, especially thank you pages. But, robots.txt files are not your only option to stop search engines from crawling these pages.
Another way is by applying “noindex” as a value in a meta robots tag, which tells search engines not to follow show this page in search results and do not show a “Cached” link in search results. Using this tag on a paid landing page would be ideal when don’t want these indexed, perhaps because the landing page conflicts with another page’s primary keyword strategy.
A third way is with a nofollow tag that will tell crawlers not to crawl the links within a page. This can be found primarily within blogs or online articles that link to external sources that may not be trusted or reviewed ahead of time for user benefit.
Increasing Prominence or Authority
What Wikipedia says about increasing prominence:
What’s missing? – This entry only mentions four ways to affect search ranking: internal crosslinking, fresh keyword-focused content, optimized page tagging, and URL normalization. While I understand Wikipedia is attempting to break down it into layman’s terms, it isn’t providing readers with a full description of SEO techniques used.
SEO noobs need to know that brand metrics, like off site mentions, and external links impact search ranking more than keyword usage. They should also be aware that utilizing structured data and open graph markup help to both enhance the look of their search results but also help tell the search engines what the site/page is all about.
Perhaps Wikipedia should just include a link to Moz’s Search Engine Ranking Factors to truly educate readers.
SEO as a Marketing Strategy
This, to me, is the most upsetting section of the search engine optimization Wikipedia page. While I agree with saying that SEO is not an appropriate strategy for every website, and other Internet marketing strategies can often be more effective, I shutter at this sentence.
“It is considered wise business practice for website operators to liberate themselves from dependence on search engine traffic”
What’s missing? – This section leaves out an important fact, which is that SEO is a rapidly evolving technique that requires effort, research, constant analysis, and time. Algorithms continue to change, just like the needs and wants of your audience. While SEO may not make your small business grow 5000% in a year (I mean, it could), neither will ignoring it.
SEO is not going anywhere as companies are going to spend around $65 billion on SEO by the end 2016. What’s more, it is predicted that the SEO industry will continue to grow to an estimated $72 billion by 2018 and $79 billion by 2020.
All in all, Wikipedia is NOT the best place to learn about new topics. The facts are often misconstrued and left out as I’ve highlighted above, especially for SEO. As professionals, we must be prepared to educate clients, coworkers, or bosses on what they’ve read and that they aren’t relying on outdated or wrong information when forming marketing strategies.
Fortunately for us, it isn’t too difficult to discredit the ‘posers’.