Keyword research is the most basic skill in the SEO’s repertoire. When you’re creating a website, shaping your eCommerce strategy, tracking your growth, or launching a content marketing campaign, you always come back to this: keywords.
Basic as keywords are, we could all use a little help sourcing and researching keywords. I want to introduce you to a process for keyword research in Wikipedia, one of the web’s most popular sites and an amazing source for keyword research. By using Wikipedia as a keyword research source, you will be able to boost the value of your research, and therefore the value of your SEO as a whole.
The Power of Wikipedia for Keyword Research
The world’s biggest online information repository is also a killer source of keywords.
Think about it. Wikipedia is a global collaborative, multilingual, free-access, free-content Internet encyclopedia. With 30 million articles and 18 billion page views monthly, it’s probably one of the largest, yet most-overlooked, sources for keyword power.
Wikipedia probably has an entry — and maybe dozens of them — that deals in your niche with your keywords.
This is an insider’s secret for discovering some of the most valuable keywords.
How to Use Wikipedia for Keyword Research
To effectively use Wikipedia, you don’t need to learn any new software, buy any service subscriptions, or develop additional skills. It’s really simple.
All you need is the web, and somewhere to write down keywords.
Before getting into it, let me provide a tip that will help you get the best list of keywords. Wikipedia is not going to spit out a list of keywords for you. Instead, Wikipedia provides you with information-rich content that will inform your keyword research.
You’ll be able to identify great keywords in this content, but you will also need to add to these keywords some terms and additional words that make the keywords truly valuable. It’s helpful to view Wikipedia as idea generation and inspiration, not a keyword generation tool.
In the guide that follows, you’ll see this in action. I just want you to have that mindset as you start out.
1. Google your topic with “wikipedia” in the query.
One of Wikipedia’s advantages for keyword research is the way that they essentially define and refine the queries of searchers. Let’s say you have a website that reviews gas grills. You’re looking for keywords, so you simply type in “gas grills wikipedia.”
In these results are some valuable keywords. Since the first result is “barbecue grill,” this is apparently the more widely searched term, even if it’s broader and more general than “gas grill.”
The SERPs are a great place to begin your keyword research.
2. Write down a list of keywords from the SERP.
Without even clicking on any of the results, you should be able to identify a few other keywords within the results. There are related keywords that Google thinks are important enough to display for the search “gas grills” constrained within the massive Wikipedia index.
Here are a few keywords (highlighted) that you can gain from the first entry:
- propane gas grill
- single-burner gas grill
- gas-fueled grill
- cart grill design gas grill
Additional SERP results provide even more keyword specificity. Notice the following highlighted terms that can provide keyword inspiration.
These highlighted terms may not be keywords themselves, but they demonstrate the breadth and/or specificity of keywords that I could be using to amplify my keyword research. Here is the list that I created based on these highlighted terms:
- weber gas grills
- weber-Stephen gas grills
- American gas grills
- gas grill manufacturers
- charcoal and gas grills
- yakiniku grills
- high temperature grills
- grills fueled by gas
- grilling accessories for gas grills
- gas grille
- gas cooker
- gas grill for vegetables
3. Search Wikipedia for your keyword or topic.
Now, we’re going to dive right into Wikipedia itself for the rest of our research.
I’m going to use the example of a website selling accounting software. Someone researching keywords for “accounting software” types this into Wikipedia to come up with this entry.
4. Write down keywords from the first paragraph.
The opening section of a Wikipedia entry is one of the best places for keywords. The first few sentences of most Wikipedia entries provide disambiguation or definition of the topic. Use these sentences to gain some keyword ideas.
In the page for “accounting software,” I’m seeing the following potentials. This isn’t a time to be picky and choosy. Just grab what you think could be useful:
- application software
- accounting transactions
- accounts payable
- accounts receivable
- trial balance
- accounting information system
5. Create longtail keywords from this list.
To improve the value and specificity of these keywords, augment them with additional words for longtail expansion.
- accounting application software
- software for accounting transactions
- accounts payable online software
- accounts receivable online software
- online software for payroll
- online software for trial balance
- online software accounting information system
I added the term “online software” to each of these accounting terms to improve the specificity of the keywords. You can add additional ones that are more tailored to your specific niche.
6. Write down keywords from the Wikipedia “contents” section.
The keywords you gained in the above steps might be helpful keywords. Chances are, however, you want something that is much more niche-related. That’s where Wikipedia’s next valuable source of information comes in – under “Contents”.
Most topics on Wikipedia have a table of contents. This is an outstanding source for growing your collection of keywords. You can use the table of contents itself as a list of keywords, or you can use it to drill down into your specific topic.
Let’s go back to the grill review website example. I’m on the “barbecue grill” entry, and I see the Table of Contents.
When I go down to the gas grill section, I see plenty of additional keyword possibilities. I’ve highlighted them in the section below.
What I’ve highlighted above is not a keyword list, but rather provides a source of broadening your keyword ideas. For example “wheeled frame” will not be a keyword, but these are some options:
- gas grills wheeled frame
- gas grill with wheels
- wheeled gas grill
- gas grill with wheels on it
7. Explore niche entries to create additional niche keywords.
If you are developing keywords for a niche industry, Wikipedia can still provide a great keyword source.
Let’s say that the online accounting software service company is specifically targeting nonprofit organizations who need online accounting services. If you started your research on the “accounting software” page, you would see this entry:
That bullet point — “fund accounting” — is precisely the type of accounting customers that the online accounting software company wants to gain.
So, to research the topic further, you would click the link to the “fund accounting” page for niche-related keywords. The entry for “fund accounting” is nearly 4,000 words long. You have plenty of possibilities for further enriching your keyword list according to some of the guidelines I’ve suggested above.
8. Reference the “See Also” section.
Wikipedia gives you a list of additional pages that you can review for even more keywords. This section, called “See also” is listed at the end of most articles. You can 1) use these as keywords, or 2) open these entries for more keyword ideas.
The “See also” section for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbecue_grill#Gas_grills opens up a variety of possibilities
9. Study the “References” section.
In order to be considered trustworthy, a Wikipedia entry must draw from existing and reputable information on the web. This information is clearly attributed in the Wikipedia entry, and linked to in the “References” section. This closing section of (almost) every Wikipedia article will give you additional keyword fodder. Here’s how you can use this section for keyword research:
Use the referenced titles as keyword possibilities.
I’ll use as my example the fictitious business that is selling online fund accounting software for nonprofits. When researching the references section, Wikipedia provides me with nearly fifty references to consider. Just the titles of some of the referenced works provide some ideas for keyword targeting and, equally important, for keyword topics for content marketing.
These highlighted terms may give me additional longtail or niche ideas for keywords that potential customers would be using. The more specific keywords I have, the better my keyword strategy will be.
Open up referenced works for more keyword research.
If I’m working on the gas grill review website keywords, I might open up this reference listed at the end of the Wikipedia article.
When I do so, I’m taken to an external site that provides a new source and form of keyword research — competitor keyword research.
The fact that Wikipedia considers this source as a valid form of reference for their entry is a signal to me that it has some level of trustworthiness. I can borrow keywords from this website for my own keyword ideas.
Wikipedia can be an extremely useful form of keyword research. Here are a few reasons why:
- It is often the first source of a customer’s research, which informs their subsequent keyword research, and can lead them to your site.
- It provides a huge variety of keywords within a single niche.
- It displays some of the most relevant keywords being searched for within your niche.
- It provides opportunity for branch-out research to capture halo searches surrounding your niche.
Wikipedia does have limitations, of course. It does not show you the level of competitiveness for a given keyword. It doesn’t display the search volume or other metrics that inform a full keyword research project. You should use Wikipedia in combination with additional keyword research sources.
If you’re just beginning your keyword research, or need to retool your existing keyword strategy, Wikipedia is the perfect place to start.
How do you use Wikipedia for keyword research?
Featured Image: Screenshot taken 2014 June 23
Screenshots: Taken June 2014
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!