Wikipedia: The Barry Bonds of Search Results

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Even if you’re not a fan of baseball you probably know that Barry Bonds is one of the most questionable men in the game. From admitted steroid abuse to the brash ways in which he deals with the media — Bonds is nothing short of despised by most.

Like Bonds, Wikipedia comes across as one of the best and one of the cleanest players in the game. Yet when it comes to those in the inner circles — of baseball and in the search industry — both Bonds and Wikipedia represent all that is wrong with the game.

Wikipedia: Fraudulent, or Ignorant?

In a world where everything is competitive, Wikipedia comes off as being clean, right? Sure they do… They’ve got their labels and claims, like when they tell us that they’re the world’s leading reference tool. At SMX Social Media, attendees were reminded (a dozen times too many) just how difficult it is to game Wikipedia. The message a few weeks ago was clear — search marketing will not be tolerated by any of the editors or administrators donating their time to Wikipedia.

I can’t help but question though just how reputable of a source Wikipedia is. From a search engine results perspective, I can understand why Google and others would want to promote sites that making strong efforts to forbid search marketing efforts.

Let me get more to the point… If Wikipedia is the leading reference tool in the world, why does it have more than 40,000 entries that may require cleanup? To throw gasoline on that fire, let’s consider that another 1,500+ entries may not comply with Wikipedia’s content policies…

You probably find yourself disappointed in Wikipedia, unless of course you donate your time there regularly. While search marketers have every right to be irate with the preferential treatment that Wikipedia receives, it is ultimately Google’s responsibility to clean up their SERPs.

See, we already know that more than 95% of all Wikipedia entries rank in the top ten results on Google for their respective topics. That would be understandable if we were talking about unique content that serves users through providing factual information . When Wikipedia though has tens of thousands of errors, and allows anyone to edit anything at any time — it’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

That Mighty Asterisk

Assuming that no one breaks his record, Barry Bonds will go into the record books with an asterisk by his name. Even if that asterisk is not placed beside his name in the books, we will always hold onto that opinion in our minds. In a similar way, users scanning search results are already dismissing Wikipedia entries — and that’s exactly what Wikipedia and Google deserve.

Preferential treatment can not be tolerated in search results; Just as cheats and frauds cannot be allowed in sport.

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