You are here

How (not) to link to Wikipedia

One of the reasons why Wikipedia appears at or near the top for most search terms is because people keep linking to them (another reason is almost assuredly due to search engines promoting them to the top).

If you realize why Wikipedia should be opposed, but you still need to point to a WP article on your site, you should never under any circumstances give WP a "regular link".

A "regular link" means something like:

<a href="http://wikipedia...">some Wikipedia article</a>

Using a regular link will pass "search engine juice" from your site to Wikipedia, and will play a tiny role in helping the linked WP page rise in search results (or stay at or near the top). A regular link is a "vote" for that WP page, and that's not what you want to do.

A slightly better way to do things is to put a "nofollow" attribute on the link:

<a href="http://wikipedia..." rel="nofollow">some Wikipedia article</a>

Theoretically, that tells search engines that you don't want to pass search engine juice or their equivalent to the linked page. However, that might not work: some search engines might ignore nofollow, or they might consider it to be a partial "vote", or similar.

Perhaps even better, get rid of the "http://" and put spaces in the link:

en.wikipedia . org/wiki/Something

I don't believe search engines will consider that to be a link, although if anyone has contrary information please let me know. You could even make that more sure:

en -dot- wikipedia -dot- org...

Yes, that makes things more difficult for your visitors, but explain to them why you don't and they shouldn't link to WP.

This site does things a bit differently. If you have Javascript enabled while visiting this site, it might look like we're linking to WP. But, if you turn Javascript off and reload the page, you'll see that we aren't. Links to WP at this site are actually in the form of HTML code like this:

<span class="wl" title="wiki/NAFTA_superhighway">NAFTA Superhighway</span>

Then, a jQuery function changes that into a clickable link (with a nofollow added just to be doubly sure). Unless search engines start decoding and spidering the Javascript-enabled version of a page, that should avoid sending WP any search engine juice:


$(document).ready( function () {
  wikilinks_init();
});
function wikilinks_init() {
 $('span.wl').each(
  function( i ) {
   var newa = document.createElement( "a" );
   newa.setAttribute( "href", "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/" + this.getAttribute( "title" ) );
   newa.setAttribute( "rel", "nofollow" );
   newa.setAttribute( "class", "wikilink" );
   newa.setAttribute( "id", "wikilink-" + i );
   newa.innerHTML = this.innerHTML;
   this.parentNode.replaceChild( newa, this );
  }
 );
}

The code above is released into the public domain, feel free to adapt it for your site.

P.S. WP uses "nofollow" on almost all their outbound links, meaning that those who have links there probably get little or no search engine juice from those links. Wikipedia acts like a giant funnel: taking in search engine juice from those who give them regular links, and then funneling that search engine juice into a very small number of favored sites. They won't give you a good link, why give them a good link?