When a consumer searches the Internet for information, products or services, chances are they often seriously consider the results that pop up first on their search engine, and disregard the results that come later. This is why SEO and online reputation management is very important, especially to small businesses. But what happens if the results that pop up first also contain erroneous and damaging information?
Wikipedia and Your Online Reputation
It is estimated that Wikipedia has over four and a half million articles in English, articles that are commonly found on the first page of search engine results for the subjects they are about. This could only be seen as a great benefit to the broad public and the businesses it represents–if all of these articles are completely accurate. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t.
The main purpose of Wikipedia is to provide a free, comprehensive encyclopedia to the entire world. However, if you imagine the amount of work it would take for even a small group of individuals to research and write articles on literally every word and subject, it’s easy to see how such a purpose would be viewed as utterly impossible to achieve. That is, unless one gives others the freedom to write and edit articles. But while this may seem to solve one problem, it also opens the door to many others.
An edit to a Wikipedia page is supposed to be reviewed by system administrators, but in some cases these edits still appear on the website until they are either approved or rejected. There have also been cases where edits have “slipped through the cracks” and remained on the website for weeks, months or even years without being reviewed and either approved or rejected by system administrators. This is where Wikipedia has the potential to harm a business’ online reputation.
When a Wikipedia article has been edited by an individual with bad intentions or an individual who simply doesn’t fully understand the subject, the article may present wrong or incomplete information about the business’ products or services. If all Wikipedia information is completely accepted by even a few consumers who are searching online, it is easy to see how erroneous or incomplete information can be harmful.
Fortunately, you can work to protect the truthfulness of your information on Wikipedia by addressing inaccuracies on the article’s “Talk” page, as well by increasing both the number and quality of third-party sources that will validate the truth about your business.