The Surprisingly Simple SEO trick Wikipedia uses to rank for damn near anything on Google.
If you’ve ever searched for anything on Google, you’ve probably seen something from Wikipedia among all of the other results. It’s easy to create excuses why they rank so well (and I’ve heard them all)…
“Oh… they have a kajillion backlinks”
“Oh… Google likes them”
…Actually… That second one is true. It’s not because Wikipedia is using their money to pay off Google to make them like them that way though.
It’s because Wikipedia gives Google what Google wants.
At the end of the day, Google wants to be able to display information it finds by crawling the web. The purpose of this post is to understand HOW Google functions then apply that knowledge to your website. And yes… we’ll be looking at Wikipedia a lot because they do so much of this so well.
Google’s First Function: Crawling the web.
Years back, the visualization that the SEO community used to describe how Google works is a spider. A spider that crawls from thing to thing (page to page) on the web, looking to gather as much data as possible (more on that in a second).
The cool thing about Google’s crawlers is that they essentially function just like you and I do… by links.
One feature of Wikipedia that stands out is a vast web of deep links that connect all of the pages together. This is a crawler goldmine. For an online business, you can enhance ecommerce SEO (see what I did there) by using keywords that target other pages within the content of your website and linking back to your primary landing page.
For example… let’s say that we were researching Vaudville using Wikipedia. As we were reading that information, we’d see links to other Wikipedia articles about the 1930’s, the Three Stooges, Stage Performances, other specific acts, and so on.
Because of the fact that each of these links takes the visitor to other relevant information, Google rewards Wikipedia.
It’s worth noting that more links within your website does not mean better SEO rankings. Using a conservative amount (1-3 per page) is going to be enough if you don’t have 1 million + pages like Wikipedia. Google takes the amount of internal links you are using into consideration and if they believe you’re trying to “game” their system, they’ll punish you.
It should also be mentioned here that this also makes the case for external backlinks as well. If a quality website links to you, that’s a vote of confidence in the eyes of Google. Of course… the rule of common sense still applies here and quantity does not equal quality.
Google’s Second Function: Indexing the web’s information.
It may come as a surprise that the information that you see on Google is not 100% live time. In order for Google to display the information to their customers, they have to organize it first.
That organization is then used to give Google’s users what they’re looking for in an instant (more on that in section three).
So, in order for Google to accurately index your website’s information, it’s important to structure it in a way that Google can easily manage it. Google’s goal with indexing is efficiency.
Some high level indexing recommendations (in no particular order):
- Implement descriptive Page Titles and Meta Descriptions. The Page Title is Google’s first piece of content that they look at when they crawl your website. So, it’s critical to make sure this element is optimized to Google’s quality standards.The Meta Description is often ignored by site owners for various reasons. This means Google has to do extra work when they display your website in the Search Results. Take out the guess work and implement it. This allows you to keep better control over what Google displays for you.
- Use Content to your advantage. Content is a hot topic in SEO for various reasons. To me, the reason it’s so exciting is that we’re seeing a revolution in how people are searching. The days of a static keyword search are going away and the practice of asking Google questions is taking its place. This means that the practice of optimizing for specific keywords is also becoming less prevalent.Instead, website owners should address their content from a “solving a problem” point of view and work to tell a holistic story. This gives Google more of a background on what you do and it can make more informed decisions using their AI setup.
- Two Words: Structured Data. On the surface, this would make absolutely no sense to you and I. However, using a structured data markup like Schema.org makes all the difference in the world to Google. Structured Data can be thought of as “Robot Friendly Language.” This takes out all of the guesswork Google has to go through when they read your content.
When Google understands what your site is about better, it can index your site better. Period.
Google’s Third Function: Displaying the Search Results
At one point in time, Google’s mission statement was to Organize the World’s information. They’ve in a great way, done just that. As long as your content is optimized and easy for Google to find, you should be in pretty good shape for this part.
So, this is your opportunity to make sure that your user experience is as buttoned up as possible so that Google will keep sending people your way. Google takes the way people interact with your website into consideration when they determine who ranks where.
Consider elements like easy function and fast load times. Think about Wikipedia again… It loads fast and it’s easy to stay on. The user experience is phenomenal. Hence why… Google keeps displaying it.
The best-kept SEO secret.
The best-kept secret in SEO is that there really are no secrets. Every website that ranks on Google is visible on Google, so the reasons for why that website ranks are also all visible.
At the end of the day, SEO is all about math.
The website with the best equation in place wins.
I hope everyone found this helpful!