One often-overlooked local search marketing tactic involves contributing content to civic wikis. Much like Wikipedia, a civic wiki (or “city wiki”) allows anybody to add or edit content. The “civic” component means they focus on a specific city or town and are usually much more detailed than national or international sites.
Just like a solid directory strategy, contributing content to a civic wiki is meant to increase your company’s (or client’s) visibility in the organic search results. Before jumping in, realize that there are a few pros and cons to using civic wikis:
- Companies are often encouraged to create articles for themselves.
- Anybody can add or edit content, and in some cases upload images, documents, videos, maps, and other digital media.
- Established civic wikis tend to rank well in organic search results.
- Most wikis are free to edit and free to read.
- Most wiki article pages aren’t cluttered with ads, “premium” listings, and other distractions.
- Most of the visitors to the civic wiki will be from the city or town. If you run a local business, these are the people you want to speak to.
- A strong wiki page can increase your company’s visibility in the SERPs for your targeted keywords.
- MediaWiki (the most popular wiki software) adds rel=”nofollow” to all outbound links by default. Wiki sysops can disable the nofollow for the entire site, but not on a link-by-link basis. Most leave the nofollow setting set to true to de-motivate spammers.
- Most wiki admins require a neutral point of view (NPOV), so check your “happy” marketing-speak at the door. Factual, unbiased information only.
- Anybody else can edit your company’s article.
- Most of your edits can be traced back to your IP address (if not logged in) or your username (if logged in). Don’t assume you can post libelous or untrue content and expect not to be called out or banned.
Additional Civic Wiki Marketing Tactics
Consider going beyond just writing your article. Contribute more content to the wiki. Write about your industry in general, or create articles for local community groups or charities that might not have the resources to do it themselves. Or, undertake a project to clean up existing content in the wiki. Sometimes this means re-categorizing articles or applying templates where needed to provide data uniformity. This will generate good karma and help you develop other connections that may come in handy.
Update your User page. Add a short bio and include a link to your website in it. You’d be surprised how many active wiki editors check the User pages when they see a new editor become active. The power of this increases as you contribute more content since a link to your User page is included with every edit you make.
Add links to and from other wikis. Wikis are meant to be open content platforms. Therefore, it is completely legitimate to link from one wiki to another. Wikipedia gets a ton of traffic, perhaps there are articles related to your town or things within your town. Add content and/or a wiki link from Wikipedia back to your civic wiki’s article on that topic.
Where to Find Civic Wikis
These pages list various civic wikis:
- About Us Civic Wiki Category
- Facebook Group: Civic Wiki
- Wikipedia: City Wiki
- CommunityWiki.org List
- WikiIndex City List
Can’t Find Your City Wiki? Start One!
It’s really not that hard to get a MediaWiki installation up and running. If you know anything about running a website (or anybody that does), you’re no more than a few clicks away from installing a wiki on your server. The installation process is simple and only requires a few configuration settings.
I recommend you check out these resources if you are interested in starting a city wiki or need help administering one:
- MWUser.com Forums
- Mediawiki Book – Daniel Barrett, Safari Publishing
- Guidelines for running a City Wiki
I recently launched RichmondWiki.org, a city wiki for Richmond, VA. The inspiration came from Arborwiki.org which is led by a very active and smart group of people from Ann Arbor, MI. You can follow my wiki exploits on the RichmondWiki Blog.