Google Love Affair with Wikipedia

Much has been said about Google algorithmic favoritism for Wikipedia. I was working on a project this weekend about celebrities, and wikipedia’s dominance in the SERP’s was nothing less than astounding.

Rather than be accused of rigging the test I’m going to grab all of the actors/actresses listed in the top actors section of the Yahoo Buzz Report. The list has been de-duped and alpha sorted, results with Wikipedia in the top ten are indicated with an *, results with Wikipedia in the top 3 are indicated with an !:

[Aishwarya Rai] !
[Alec Baldwin] !
[Angelina Jolie] !
[Angie Harmon] !
[Carmen Electra] !
[Drew Barrymore] !
[Elizabeth Hurley] !
[Eva Longoria] !
[Goldie Hawn] !
[Halle Berry] !
[Hilary Duff] !
[Hugh Grant] !
[Jaimee Foxworth] !
[Jamie-lynn Discala] !
[Jennifer Aniston] !
[Jennifer Lopez] !
[Jessica Alba] !
[Jessica Biel] !
[Kelly Ripa] !
[Kerry Washington] !
[Kristanna Loken] *
[Linda Hamilton] !
[Lindsay Lohan] !
[Lucy Liu] !
[Pamela Anderson] *
[Richard Gere] !
[Rosie Perez] !
[Sarah Silverman] !
[Scarlett Johansson] !
[Shawnee Smith] !
[Shilpa Shetty] !
[Tobey Maguire] !
[Tori Spelling] !
[Yasmine Bleeth] !

So out of 35 of the most popular actors searched on the web last week Wikipedia has top 10 listings on all 35. More impressive is that they have a top 3 listing on 33 out of 35 listings. Most were number 2 with the odd #1 or #3 thrown in. If you bothered to click through you might have noticed that IMDB was #1 for most of the listings, and you’re wondering why I’m not complaining about that. Let’s cruise on over to the top overall searches for the same time period. Again list has been de-duped and alpha sorted * for Wikipedia top ten ! for Wikipedia top 3. To make it even more apparent I’ll remove any of the people listed in the top actors list as well:

[Akon] !
[American Idol] !
[Avril Lavigne] !
[Beyonce Knowles] !
[Britney Spears] !
[Chris Daughtry] !
[Christie Brinkley] !
[Dancing Bush]
[Democratic Presidential Debate 2007]
[Department Of Defense] !
[Elvis On American Idol]
[Internal Revenue Service] *
[Kelly Clarkson] !
[Lost] !
[Mark Twain] !
[Mike Penner]
[Milka Duno] !
[Naruto] !
[NBA] *
[New England Journal Of Medicine] *
[Prime Numbers] !
[Prince Harry] !
[Pussycat Dolls] !
[Regis Philbin] !
[Rocky Mountain News]
[Rosie O’Donnell] !
[RuneScape] !
[Sea Otters] !
[Spider-Man 3] *
[T-Pain] !
[WWE] !

Out of 32 possible terms Wikipedia had top 10 listings on 27. Out of 27 possible terms Wikipedia had top 3 listings for 22. These aren’t ordinary terms either, they are high volume search terms. Ok some people are saying that’s Yahoo list not Google’s, so why didn’t you use the Google Zeitgeist? Well as has already been demonstrated Google lies on the Google Zeitgeist so let’s leave the Pinocchio of search sitting in the corner. Next we’ll look at the terms that didn’t have Wikipedia listings int he SERP’s:

[Dancing Bush] – that’s news, people were really looking for, not enough time for it to be in Wikipedia yet and be authority scored yet.

[Democratic Presidential Debate 2007] – that’s a news item again.

[Elvis On American Idol] – It was Elvis theme week on American Idol and Celene Dion sang with Elvis, so again news.

[Hi-5] – This one surprised me HI-5 is a transplant Australian kids band and has a Wikipedia page so go figure.

[Mike Penner] – Mike is sports writer who announced he’s having a sex change operation, so again news.

[Rocky Mountain News] – I have no idea why people are looking for this, nothing jumped out at me, drop something in the comments if you know.

What conclusions can we draw, wikipedia’s, not a good source for recent news, so you won’t find those types of items there. What else changed, dropped out of all of the searches except [Spider-Man 3] which is a movie. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to work, IMDB is a topical authority, they dominate in their area of expertise and not in any other area.

What’s the problem with with Wikipedia, well in a word wikiality (how funny is it that Wikipedia has a #2 listing for [wikiality] further proving my point). Anyone with a computer can edit Wikipedia, and we rely on the least common denominator of mob intelligence to determine accuracy. That wasn’t entirely true, you can actually win an editing war if you are willing to expend large amounts of time defending your fiefdom of personal edits, I just have better things to do with my time.

Why am I complaining, isn’t Wikipedia free and non commercial? Have you visited techcrunch and learned that Wikipedia has removed the no follow from links to their new commercial project wikia. Starting to see a problem yet? Who do you think is going to be the number one traffic referrer for Wikia … Wikipedia. Kinda gives them an unfair advantage getting all that free traffic from Google doesn’t it? What’s really going on is Google is willingly allowing Wikipedia to be a doorway page to funnel traffic to Wikia, not a bad set up to be on the other side of the cash register for eh?

How do we fix this problem, Google has to admit that Wikipedia really isn’t an authority for anything. Sure some of the information there is good, but I can’t tell you how many facts in the past 3 weeks I found that were omitted, misinterpreted, or just plain wrong. What you think I should do my part and fix them? Know what I’m not on Wikipedia or wikias payroll so why should I help them out? Adding no follow and taking away the value of the links removed the invisible currency and payment that existed. So now I have to guess and determine if I am going to get enough traffic from them before somebody who doesn’t have to qualify their level of expertise comes along and decides they don’t like my edit for whatever reason and just removes it. Wow sure sounds like a website that should be dominating the SERP’s don’t you think? runs on the Genesis Framework

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