Wikipedia Is King of Google, Now More Than Ever

Google 5.12.2011 4 Comments

Over at Cre8asite Forums (via Search Engine Roundtable), there’s has been discussion about whether or not Wikipedia has increased in prominence in Google.

Barry Schwartz asks:

So is Wikipedia stronger today in the Google results than it was 6 months ago?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!”, by a huge amount.

We’re in the fortunate position here to have a serious amount of historical ranking data at our disposal, and we checked 13827 different search terms on Google UK for Wikipedia’s ranking six months ago compared to today. In short, out of 13827 searches, Wikipedia ranks in the top 100 for 11813 of the searches today compared to 7777 of the searches six months ago.

The distribution of rankings in the full 100 results is shown here:


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The red bars are the present results and the blue bars show the results from the 5th of June 2011.

The main difference appears to be in the first three pages, so just that portion of the graph is shown below:

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The difference is rather striking, isn’t it?

The search terms analysed are naturally going to skew the results, but in this case we think the skew will actually hide the extent of the problem, because the terms were originally pulled from e-commerce meta keywords tags. This means that they will be biased towards retail searches such as cheap lcd tv or florist in manchester, which Wikipedia has no business ranking for, rather than “academic” searches such as photosynthesis.

Wikipedia clearly has an enormous advantage here, and it’s something that Google really should be doing more about. There is evidence of Google adjusting the ranking for Wikipedia though, since it rarely ranks well for searches which include the words buy or cheap, although there are exceptions such as buy bow tie for which Wikipedia ranks 4th and cheap interest credit cards which Wikipedia ranks 5th for.

Conspiracy theorists may like to note that Sergey Brin recently donated $500,000 to Wikipedia.

4 Responses to "Wikipedia Is King of Google, Now More Than Ever"

  1. I like that you mentioned a conspiracy theory. If you don’t mind me semi-spamming your excellent post here (love the presentation of quantified data), there are a number of fishy things about how the Wikipedia machine is financed by insider connections:

  2. Guess that old saying “content is king” has never been more true huh?

    • james

      Well maybe, but the big gripe here seems to be that lots of stub pages with almost no content are ranking far to high for what they are.

  3. Mou

    To me this makes sense. Some stub pages have very little content, but the trust rating of Wikipedia is so high that it’s almost like it’s being given the benefit of the doubt.

    If you have a site with a million pages, and 999,990 of them are well structured pages with quality backlinks, it’s not unrealistic that the other 10 would be given a disproportial ranking based on the pagerank of the rest of the site.

    Plus there’s always the point of internal linking. Those stubs may be getting internal backlinks from some pagerank 5-8 pages from within Wikipedia.

    I’m not saying it’s *right*, but in the context of pagerank being assigned by an algorithm, this logic does seem to make sense.

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