Wikipedia Appears On Google’s Page One 46 Percent Of The Time, Compared to 31 Percent On Bing [STUDY]

google-wikipedia-logosA new study suggests that Wikipedia gets better visibility on Google than it does on Bing.

While that may not surprise much of the SEO industry, it contradicts what some Google employees have previously said, as well as another recent study on Wikipedia’s search visibilty.

Last week, Conductor released updated data about Wikipedia’s search visibility, this time including Bing for comparison to its previous study that focused solely on Wikipedia’s Google visibility.

In the previous study, Wikipedia appeared on page one of Google 46 percent of the time, and on page two for 25 percent of the searches/keywords.

In its updated study, Wikipedia appeared on Bing’s page one for 31 percent of searches, and on page two only five percent of the time. The chart below shows Wikipedia’s visibility on Google (blue) and Bing (green) for all 2,000 combined keywords, as well as for the separate informational and transactional keywords.


(Note: The image above is a replacement provided by Conductor because the original image had a typo.)

At various conferences that I’ve attended, Google’s Matt Cutts has mentioned seeing earlier studies that had Bing showing Wikipedia more often in its search results than Google does. He echoed that sentiment in the comments of his Google+ post about Conductor’s earlier study. A recent Search Engine Watch study also suggested that Bing favors Wikipedia more than Google.

Why the discrepancies? It’s likely due to survey methodology, not to mention the rapidly changing search results landscape. (Search results can differ day-to-day, even hour-to-hour, so a study done one month is likely to differ from another study done a month later.)

In its studies, Conductor compared 2,000 informational and transactional keywords of varying word lengths. Navigational keywords were not included because Conductor found very low Wikipedia visibility for those types of keywords.

Bing Still Loves Wikipedia, Just Differently Than Google

Conductor’s recent study did reveal an interesting trend: Even though Wikipedia appears more often on Google’s page one, when Wikipedia does show up on Bing’s page one, it’s at the top of the results more often.

When Wikipedia is one page one, Conductor found it in the top three results 83 percent of the time on Bing, compared to 65 percent on Google.


Conductor also removed one-word queries from its study and found that, overall, Wikipedia appeared about 10 percent more often on Google’s page one than on Bing’s page one.

As I mentioned above, with search results changing so frequently, no study is likely to end the discussion on Wikipedia’s search visibility. But, if nothing else, all of this data related to search visibility — whether it’s Wikipedia or other major sites like Amazon — makes for good industry discussion.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: Analysis | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | Search Engines: Wikipedia | Stats: General | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • cutey

    I understand Wikipedia is great for some searches, but it appears for tones of transaction queries that it shouldn’t

  • Jim

    Didn’t Google try and compete with Wikipedia once upon a time? Can’t remember what the project was called though.

  • James X Nelson

    knoll.  Google knoll; never really took off though; the terrible name and lack of promotion left it pretty much dead in the water.

  • Stephen Treacey


  • Karthik kumar

    Wikipedia has over 130 million pages (Amazon has lots more).. One of the top authority sites on the internet.. Gets clicked through a lot (so much that I wonder if single word informational queries could be navigational to Wikipedia, just kidding).. Why wouldn’t it rank for as many terms, then? But I think even the 34% (transactional figure) could be a bit subjective, essentially when a query like “headphones” is categorized as purely transactional.

  • MicroSourcing

    Wikipedia has always been lauded for its internal links and web architecture, something that Google encourages when it comes to on-page optimization and web development. That could be one reason why Wikipedia’s pages rank so well in Google.

  • Shiply

    Google’s favor of Wikipedia results has been the case for years and not just recently. The majority of search queries are informational which Wikipedia results serve perfectly. Even when the search term is considered commercial (e.g. insurance), not all of searchers search for it trying to find a service. 

    We should also not forget that Wikipedia is one of the most authoritative websites on the Internet. It’s much safer for Google to show results from Wikipedia than 99.9% of other websites. 

  • James Spinosa

    Luckily when you search for “Google Knol” a wikipedia article describing this failed attempt comes up in slot #2.

    knol – A unit of knowledge.

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    Taking Wikipedia out of the search result doesn’t have any benefits for Google.

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    It seemed that Wikipedia suddenly was top ranked for just about everything so I was glad I found this post to confirm that it is. Don’t get me wrong – I love Wikipedia when I’m doing research and want facts and figures. But when do a search on, for example “memory foam”,  the first results is Wikipedia’s entry about it’s chemical composition. B-O-R-I-N-G. I think most people are looking for a mattress. The Penguin update seems to have taken user intent out of the equation and it’s become more literal, and thus less “smart”.

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    Wikipedia is an important source of information to user ends. There is no doubt about it.  This study is very interesting as it shows the way to see the algorithms of 2 search engines. Very interesting behavior we see here.

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