Live Blogging: SMX Social Media – Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers & Answer Sharing

Vanessa Fox had to catch a plane, so I decided to copy Tamar Weinberg’s coverage from the Search Engine Roundtable.

It’s the fourth session of the second day of SMX Social Media and it’s all about Wikipedia.

Web users rely on community-contributed-content sites such as Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers. These sites enable you to communicate directly with an engaged audience. But contribute to the conversation with care. Too much spin and your credibility will be shot and your brand damaged. You’ll come away from this session knowing how these influential sites work and how to participate constructively.

Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land

Speakers: Lise Broer “Durova”, Administrator, Wikipedia Jonathan Hochman, Founder/President, Hochman Consultants Matt McGee, SEO Manager, Marchex Stephan Spencer, Founder & President, Netconcepts Don Steele, Director of Digital & Enterprise Marketing, Comedy Central

Matt McGee!!!!!!!!!! is up first and he says that people can use it for their expertise and knowledge for businesses, not so much for people who are providing widgets and the like.

What is Yahoo Answers? A simple Q&A site that is incredibly busy. There is a constant stream of questions and answers.

Like any social media site, you can create a profile with a link to your website (nofollow, sadly). Therefore, it’s for traffic building, not for link building. It is the #2 reference site behind Wikipedia.

They know that people are using it to market their business. In fact, they encourage that to build credibility and to create a positive brand image compared to other types of social media.

It is also okay to drop links, as long as you’re providing a helpful answer to someone’s question. If you’re a good member of the community, go for it.

Yahoo Answers gives him a huge jump of referral traffic: highest source of new visitors and the lowest bounce rate. Shocking!

Also, it gives a great amount of search traffic. It does not come close to Wikipedia but it still gives good traffic.

How to use them: - The interface is easy to use, and there are a lot of categories so it’s inundating to browse. They have RSS feeds for every category on the site and every subcategory. - Sort wisely. View by date or view by number of answers. Matt says that it’s better to sort by date. He then finds questions that are about to expire so that he can provide a more meaningful answer in order to get points. If you sort by the number of answers or by the most answers, those are answers that get a lot of traffic. It helps to get eyeball exposure rather than point exposure. - Sign your name when leaving a question or answer – why? Spammers don’t leave their names, so you don’t want to be construed as a spammer. - Don’t spam!

Next up is Jonathan Hochman, Wikipedia administrator. We all want him to take Wikipedia down, but alas, we cannot, or Jonathan won’t be an administrator anymore.

Wikipedia has a tremendous amount of traffic share over Digg and delicious. In a way, I am happy about the Digg part.

Here’s what you can do as a marketer: - Answer questions, interact with editors, donate images/media with an appropriate license, report problems, request changes via talk pages. Build goodwill.

Don’t be a dick. Don’t spam, etc.

Here are some newbie mistakes: - Don’t pick a promotional username – those are called role accounts that are not allowed. - Don’t violate copyrights. - Don’t edit stuff that you have conflicts of interests in.

Don’t start stories for yourself. Don’t write about something you’re close to. Don’t spam or you’ll hit the MediaWiki spam blacklist (and you don’t want to get there). IP addresses are not anonymous, so be careful when making edits. The actions can reflect poorly on the company.

Reputation management issue: there was a company that was called out as a spyware distributor (they did, apparently, but they don’t anymore). Fortunately, they do the right thing and talk with the Wikipedia administrators to prevent page vandalism.

Keep in mind that Wikipedia information spreads virally, especially images (they’re licensed by creative commons, which means you need to link the page when you borrow the image). Participation can improve your reputation.

3 links - Wikipedia Business FAQ - Wikipedia Conflict of Interest - Wikipedia Search Engine Optimization

Up next is Stephan Spencer, who covers Wikipedia from an SEO standpoint.

Become a virtuous participant: build edits that stick (clean up spam, fix typos, add to the value to the site in a clearly noncommercial way). Develop that profile over a period of time and you get street cred. Then you can possibly be awarded (the Barnstar award) that acknowledges your contributions. You can change your User page and Talk page to remove some anonymity. Over time, you can become an admin like Jonathan.

Incorporate content edits when adding a link. It makes it harder to revert your edit.

Communicate with the main editor (the guy who makes the most edits) to negotiate with them regarding changes.

If you add links as references, it sticks better because references substantiate claims made in the document. If you substantiate claims, you’re adding value.

What if you wanted to create brand new entries? - Be logged in with a virtuous profile. Wikipedia mantra is that you’re guilty until proven innocent. - Be careful – you can be deleted: AFD (articles for deletion) or the speedy delete. AFD is a discussion; it’s not a vote. People discuss why to keep it and here’s why, versus other people wanting to remove it. - Use lots of references: clear the notability hurdle. Get press mentions. (People, write about me.)

Notability: - Don’t put press releases to establish notability. - Discuss this with people through the talk page if it’s related to your company.

How do you make sure your investment isn’t reverted? Social networks rely on friends. Make sure that they are on top of these changes – work with the people in the community.

Wikipedia has its own politics: Jimmy Wales doesn’t like being “co-”founder of Wikipedia, so his friends try to make the edits. He also wants to bury his history in the porno industry. But the rest of us know – or we do now.

As new tools get developed, you may be found out if you’re manipulating the content.

Next up is Don Steele, who has spoken many times about Comedy Central’s success with Wikipedia. Instead of regurgitating and tiring my fingers, I’ll link you to my past coverage: Wikipedia and SEO: August 23, 2007 Wikipedia and SEO: April 12, 2007 - He talked about South Park (which I’ve written about too). - He talked about the lawsuit between Viacom and Google (he works with Viacom). He can’t comment so he won’t involve himself.

Finally, Lisa “Durova” is up. She’s another Wikipedia administrator who has written for Search Engine Land. Her presentation is about Humans 1.0. She gives accolades to Comedy Central for being involved in Wikipedia in a positive way.

A lot of people come to Wikipedia follow advice that they think is good because it’s in mainstream sources. However, they are not publishing for you – they’re publishing for themselves.

Virgil Griffith is the WikiScanner guy. That is a tool that automated IP lookups for Wiki edits.

If you have a conflict of interest, declare it upfront. Don’t do it behind their backs. A company called Melaleuca made some changes that looked like advertising copy. Two Wikipedians noticed this and they were caught. But the guy denied the involvement – however, this is not the first time that people have done this. Don’t make an article conform to your company branding. If you get banned, don’t post from a different IP address that isn’t from your company headquarters. We know when you’re using proxies. We know when you’re asking your friends. You’re not fooling us. Now, you can’t edit this company’s page. The page is protected to new edits.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Search Engines: Wikipedia | Social Media Marketing | Yahoo: Answers

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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