It goes something like this:

A CEO or executive discovers a competitor’s Wiki page because it appears very prominently in Google searches, so they want one too, naturally.

The first thought is to have their marketing or Corp Comm Department write one. However, in an attempt to please the boss, it is filled with excessive superlatives, lacks true citations, and reads like a recrafted press release (which it is).

Not surprisingly, the article is targeted for immediate deletion–Wiki parlance for rejection.

(In fact, I saw this happen three times for the same piece. Each time, a slightly altered version was attempted–and rejected.)

But not every article is Wiki-ready or even truly noteworthy enough.

This is because while Wiki is extremely desirable for online reputation management, articles must be:

  • Well sourced.
  • Presented neutrally.
  • Be truly noteworthy.

In other words, don’t promote. Instead, be honestly factual. If this is not followed, the project is doomed.

Standards are notoriously high. So ask yourself this question: does this truly need to be published, or is it really a promotional piece designed to get traffic?

Indeed, having a Wikipedia article is an important online commodity since it’s highly visible, builds trust and shows authority. Google certainly thinks so: a Wiki piece almost always shows up at the very top of its searches. Since this is an extremely valuable piece of online real estate, it is crucial to have it as part of your toolbox when repairing a damaged online reputation or trying to build a positive one.

Here are twelve real-world tips to get a Wikipedia article published to build a strong online reputation.

1. A Wiki Primer

12 Tips for Publishing a Wikipedia Article to Boost Your Online Reputation: A Complete Guide. Save and publish. Format article. Writing template. Tips on unlocking
Image Courtesy key-2114046_1280_1 from Pixabay CC Licence, Combined with Wikipedia Screenshot

Wikipedia follows the notion that encyclopedic knowledge is a democratically collective endeavor. Anyone can add anything–or at least in theory.

In the real world, however, things are slightly different.

True, (nearly) anyone can make edits and publish something, but there are “rules”. The main ones are to avoid shameless self-promotion, be neutral when writing, and importantly, editors or others can reverse unqualified information.

So in reality, there are actually severe limits on who can post and what they can edit. While it is possible for anyone with an account to make changes, there are thousands of volunteer expert editors that follow, review and approve/disapprove new articles and edits.

Be mindful too that it’s best to be transparent and truthful (as always). If there are legitimate negative issues that you are trying to hide, don’t. They could be added by someone else, such as a citizen editor or a competitor. Or an editor, being aware of the attempted obfuscation, could decide not publish the article altogether.

2. Think Before You Write

When starting, ask these basic questions:

  • Does this person, business or organization really deserve an article to be written about them?
  • Is the subject truly noteworthy?
  • Has it been covered elsewhere?
  • Is it neutrally written?

If the answer is no to most of these, stop now.

Spam, advertorials, or anything approaching self-promotion is not allowed and will be immediately rejected by scrupulous editors.

If, however, there are legitimate reasons for the piece, start with a draft. After finishing it, ask the same questions once more. If most of Wiki’s rules have been followed, it might be ready to be published.

3. Create a Wikipedia Account, Cautiously

All that is necessary for publishing an article is a Wikipedia account. Thankfully, creating one is extremely easy, requiring only a username and a password (email address is optional).

But again, things are not exactly what they seem.

Don’t just create an account and immediately start posting.

Here’s why: doing so risks the having the piece rejected. This is because bots or editors review the age of the account and number of edits associated with it. Generally, the older it is and the more edits it has, the more trustworthy or authoritative. If the account is brand new, it could be seen as an attempt to write a spammy article. Instead, go slowly by making many minor edits to other related articles (see more below).

In some rare cases, it might be possible to edit or publish articles without an account, but your computer’s IP address would be posted as the Author. Since this is easily traceable, avoid this.

Note too that if an article is rejected due to poor quality, the account itself might be blocked or deleted.

Lastly, be transparent and use an account name that truly reflects you or your business “JohnSmithNY,” or “LawReviewChicago” is more descriptive and trustworthy than a random name. This itself could show up in Google searches and helps build a positive online reputation.

4. Become an Expert, Making Edits on Other Pages

Become an expert on a subject and make many edits to related articles.

The more edits the better, since this builds trust and shows expertise. Generally, if there are a slew of updates associated with the account, the easier it could be to ultimately publish the intended article.

Select a topic to become an expert-editor on. A good strategy is to think about the subjects mentioned in the article you want to write. Make a list of these, find them in Wiki, and start making changes.

Let’s take a fictitious example of writing Wikipedia piece about a CEO of a large Middle Eastern holding company. Here, identify dozens of Wiki articles related to this person, business, and location.

This includes in this example:

  • Luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Gucci, Versace, etc.
  • High-end food: Godiva. Fortnum & Mason, Robinsons Department Store
  • Shopping: Bonwit Teller; Tiffany’s, Neiman Marcus
  • Automotive: Rolls Royce, Bentley, Maserati
  • CEO’s background: His/her college, awards, other employers
  • Locations of offices or branches: Cities, countries, natural features

As you can see, this can get quite large. Use the same strategy for your topic: come up with an extensive list for the related topic and make updates.

What kind of updates or edits?

Some could be minor. Look for typos, bad spacing, incorrect punctuation or replace poor words with better ones. Add additional links to other Wikipedia pieces; make citations that link to external websites and articles.

For more substantive changes, rewrite confusing sentences to clarify meaning or update sections with better phrasing.

Sometimes grammar can be awkward, especially if English (or whatever the language) is not fluent for the writer, so fix that. Often, embedded in articles are requests for help, such as the need for more references or additional clarity. Be a great Wikipedia editor too by changing overly superlative language to be more neutral. Finally, there might be key parts to the story that are missing, so do so, as always, with citations.

There appear to be several editing thresholds that Wikipedia seems to favor. The first is one or two (or a few?) edits; next, at least ten; lastly, fifty edits and beyond tends to identify the account as expert-level.

Aim for making fifty edits on articles related the key topic spread out over about a month or longer.

This requires a huge effort, but it could mean the difference between getting a piece posted on Wikipedia or not.

Again, the goal is to build trust as an account holder and author, and to show expert authority on Wikipedia.

5. Find Excellent References

Next, gather excellent, trustworthy citations. Conduct a Google search for phrases, related topics and key search terms in the indented article.

Make a list; be exhaustive.

Importantly, these become the referenced citations.

Start by gathering as much verifiable information as possible. This could be from known publications, important websites, or popular blogs.

For a person, scour the internet for:

  • Personal information such as their birthday, parents
  • High School
  • College, University, Graduate School
  • Spouse
  • Children–their school or jobs as well
  • Interests
  • Clubs, Associations
  • Awards (very important)
  • Volunteering
  • Presentations
  • Hobbies/community involvement
  • Previous employers
  • Other accomplishments

For a business or organization, gather:

  • Key financials
  • Company history
  • Offices, locations, branches
  • Mergers, divestitures
  • Major achievements
  • Key executives, Board of Directors
  • CEO and bio
  • Community connections
  • Sponsors, associations
  • Awards
  • Noteworthy events

This is a big, time-consuming job, but is vital for building an online reputation on Wiki.

6. Prioritize Citations

Prioritize all the citations that have been collected and rank roughly by importance. These should be in a Google Spreadsheet or easily editable document.

The best references are the ones that Google highly values.

Generally, these are from recognizable publications, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, CNN, The Wall Street Journal. Also powerful are links from the Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Mashable, DigitalTrends, Slate, and more.

But, it’s not just well known, high-traffic sites that are valuable. Prioritize around ones that are industry-related, even if they are lesser known or have much less search traffic. Top-level domain names such as “.gov” or “.edu” are extremely valuable.

Don’t forget about other Wikipedia articles too that relate to the topics and links already identified.

7. Now, Write

Now is the time to write. As mentioned above, Wikipedia only accepts pieces that are well sourced, written in a neutral way, and are noteworthy.

With that in mind see some Wikipedia general guidelines:

Material about living persons added to any Wikipedia page must be written with the greatest care and attention to venerability, neutrality, and avoidance of original research.

For bios (“Biographies of Living Persons,” or BLP):

should be written responsibly, cautiously, and in a dispassionate tone, avoiding both understatement and overstatement. Articles should document in a non-partisan manner what reliable secondary sources have published about the subjects, and in some circumstances what the subjects have published about themselves. Summarize how actions and achievements are characterized by reliable sources (but keep in mind that depictions of recent events may be unbalanced). Do not use controversial or effusive descriptions unless commonly used by reliable sources. BLPs should not have trivia sections.

I cannot emphasize the above enough.

Start by focusing on the key citations or references already gathered.

Let this be the backbone of the article and drive the piece–not the other way around. Don’t start with a preconceived notion and never write what you or anyone else thinks it should be about. Rather, base it almost exclusively on existing verifiable citations.

Write a first draft. Review and edit, making sure to:

  • Strip out overly descriptive language.
  • Remove nearly anything that cannot be referenced.
  • Include citations to verifiable, real third-party websites.

After a few drafts, finalize it by proofing it for typos and check for readability, taking one last look to make sure it follows Wiki rules.

If this seems overwhelming or initially too time-consuming, start small. Begin with a basic Wiki first and expand it later.

8. Follow a Template

Wiki articles often follow a standard layout or template. There are different ones for people (Biographies of Living Persons), businesses, etc., so be sure to follow the right one. Not doing so could lead to quick deletion or publishing delays.

Generally, the format for a Biographies of Living Persons is:

  • Boxed summary of the person at the top right (photo, full name, birthdate, nationality, occupation).
  • Brief general summary of key points a few sentences (with citations, as with nearly everything).
  • Personal heading. Briefly, perhaps mention of spouse, children, home.
  • Education heading. High School; college; degrees; clubs.
  • Awards, Memberships heading. Also, board or other memberships.
  • [Business]. If applicable, mention the business the person is associated with, owns, built, runs, etc.

Look at competitors or ones that seem to fit your article, and use it as a reference to start from.

9. Publish the Article (Finally)

Now is the time for publishing.

The process is complex and archaic. This is probably done purposely to weed out spam or unprofessional pieces.

Here’s what to do:

12 Tips for Publishing a Wikipedia Article to Boost Your Online Reputation: A Complete Guide. Save and publish. Format article. Writing template. Go to Wiki

  1. Go to Wikipedia.org, select the Language.
  2. Sign In to the Account, already created.
  3. In the Search Box in the top right, enter the exact name of the article you want to publish, and click enter. 12 Tips for Publishing a Wikipedia Article to Boost Your Online Reputation: A Complete Guide. Save and publish. Format article. Writing template. How to begin
    Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Screenshots by the author, Steven W. Giovinco
  4. You will see You may create the page “Write my new article“, but consider checking the search results below to see whether the topic is already covered.
  5. Click on the link.12 Tips for Publishing a Wikipedia Article to Boost Your Online Reputation: A Complete Guide. Save and publish. Format article. Writing template. Start writing
    Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Screenshots by the author, Steven W. Giovinco
  6. You will see The article that you’re looking for doesn’t exist. Click on the Article Wizard on the bottom of the page.Follow several prompts.12 Tips for Publishing a Wikipedia Article to Boost Your Online Reputation: A Complete Guide. Save and publish. Format article. Writing template
    Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Screenshots by the author, Steven W. Giovinco
  7. NOTE: Be sure to click on I’m not connected to the subject (if true, naturally; if you don’t click on this, you won’t be able to publish the article).
  8. On the Wikipedia Article Wizard/Draft Creation page, enter the name of the article
  9. Be sure the Visual editing option, the small pencil icon in the top right, is selected.
  10. Copy and paste the article text.
  11. Format according to the appropriate Wikipedia article design.
  12. TIP: Or copy and paste an already reviewed and accepted format, replacing the text with your own.
  13. Add appropriate Citations, by selecting the Cite icon on the top. This should automatically format the citation link for you.

    Click on the Link icon on the top to add links to sites or other Wiki articles.12 Tips for Publishing a Wikipedia Article to Boost Your Online Reputation: A Complete Guide. Save and publish. Format article
    Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Screenshots by the author, Steven W. Giovinco
  14. Publish changes button on top right.
  15. In the Edit summary (Briefly describe your changes) enter the updates you’ve done. Be sure to fill this out to avoid being reprimanded by an editor.12 Tips for Publishing a Wikipedia Article to Boost Your Online Reputation: A Complete Guide. Save and publish
    Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Screenshots by the author, Steven W. Giovinco
  16. Check the Watch this page box to get notifications on changes.
  17. Click Publish Changes.
  18. Done!

10. Check for Edits, Modifications

You’re not out of the woods yet. Usually, if an article does not meet the criteria for publishing, it gets marked for deletion nearly immediately.

This could happen within hours or a few days. However, it still might get deleted or altered later.

Check for changes frequently to make sure the piece remains intact or is not inundated with edits. The best way to do this is to sign up for Wikipedia alerts.

If it gets deleted or if there are substantial changes, evaluate the reason. If it seems legitimate, accept it and move on.

If not, it might be reversible by offering a cogent reason or refuting the reason through a comment left to the editor.

If the change appears like “trolling,” retaliatory, vindictive, or from a competitor, it could be reversed too. Note that this, in turn, might be reversed again if it lacks a valid reason.

11. Link Back to Other Articles

Once the article is published, add links to it from other sources.

From Wiki, go back to some of the other topics already identified earlier and might have been edited. Add the newly published article as a citation or link to as many of these as possible.

Outside Wikipedia, go to properties you control or have access to, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus and other social media platforms, and add a link to the Wiki piece there. Importantly, be sure to post about the new Wikipedia article. Go to other sites such as Slideshare, Medium, Youtube, alumni sites, Google My Business, and industry-specific sites and do the same.

Add this link to the business or personal websites as well (or nearly anywhere else you can think of).

This all builds additional trust in the new piece, drives more traffic, and helps substantiate other Wiki articles.

12. Continue to Update Key Changes

Work is not yet done (in fact, in might not ever be over).

Update major changes as they happen to the article.

These could be new awards, key employment changes, important articles, additional citations, etc. Be on the lookout for any updates made by editors, and if necessary, address them. Continue to add to social media, posting about the article with the link back to it, and make sure the link gets added to any new accounts or platforms.

The Bottom Line

Publishing a Wikipedia article is an arduous process. But having one builds online trust, is highly visible, and appears at the top of Google searches. This is extremely valuable in repairing a damaged online reputation or trying to build a positive one.

I’ve shared some of my tips and real-world experiences. If you find this helpful, I’d be grateful if you’d share it.

Read more: Write a Book—Yes, an Actual Book—to Take Your Marketing to the Next Level: Part 1