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Has Google demoted Wikipedia?

     
1:42 pm on Mar 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Over the past couple of months I've noticed some shifts at the top of Google's results for several keyword terms, in which Wikipedia's ranking dropped a little. Here is a typical example:

Previously:
1. Wikipedia page
2. Big organization page
3. Government agency page
4. My page

Now:
1. Big organization page
2. Government agency page
3. Wikipedia page
4. My page

Of course the details of the rankings changes vary for different searches, but I've noticed several cases where Wikipedia's ranking has dropped. I think someone else here also mentioned noticing this not long ago, but I don't remember who or which thread. So I'm wondering how widespread this might be, or if it's restricted to just a few categories of searches.

P.S. -- Bing also appears to have demoted Wikipedia slightly as well, for some of the terms I watch.
3:50 pm on Mar 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Wikipedia no longer rules the roost for the informational search queries that I watch. Then again, neither do the other megasites and big-brand sites. I'm guessing that it has something to do with a change in the Panda algorithm (which seemed to favor site size over subject expertise for quite a while) and, in some cases, the "subject authority" algorithm tweak that Matt Cutts talked about nearly a year ago.
4:06 pm on Mar 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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the "subject authority" algorithm tweak that Matt Cutts talked about nearly a year ago.


If I remember right, that was something that was going to evolve as time went on. Where is Mr Cutts these days anyway? Will he ever return?
5:55 pm on Mar 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If I remember right, that was something that was going to evolve as time went on.

Could it have been part of last May's Panda update? I know of several niche information sites (including mine) that got a huge boost at the time.

Where is Mr Cutts these days anyway? Will he ever return?

My guess: He'll move back to his native Kentucky and run against Mitch McConnell in 2020. You read it here first. :-)
6:39 pm on Mar 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Wikipedia still ranks top for "this article is a stub".

No sign of a manual penalty there.

...
9:02 pm on Mar 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I can't be the only one who saw the thread title and thought Psst! Moderators! You goofed. This topic wasn't supposed to be posted until Wednesday.
9:40 pm on Mar 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Knowledge graph is taking a bit bite out of wikipedia
9:53 pm on Mar 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Could it have been part of last May's Panda update?


Yes. I got a nice boost with that one.

Seems that was your opinion Ed and didn't come from Matt.

[webmasterworld.com...]
3:48 am on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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With Google scraping Wikipedia, there is no longer any reason for them to appear #1 or #2 in the search results.
11:02 am on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@artistole
FYI, I originally referenced the drop in Wikipedia in this thread. [webmasterworld.com...]

However, there are some important things to note about this change. Observing the type of site and page that is ahead of Wikipedia, and how much of Google's knowledge Graph now appears instead of Wikipedia's entry.

What are you currently seeing?
12:38 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Wikipedia ranking remains unchanged for my niche.
1:19 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Not sure I would call 2 spot change a demotion what happens if the other two websites now after years of advancing their promotions just got promoted? Surely that would equal the same outcome.
1:33 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Wikipedia is between third and fifth spot on the most generic type of queries in my niche. Then again there is plentiful information provided by the "source" website about the subject so I don't really see any problem in the first place.

As for general search queries I do type on a daily basis, I too have seen a switch from wikipedia dominating the top spot to falling down to #3 and below, with Knowledge Graph scraping the socks(to put it mildly) out of them.
1:35 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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engine wrote:
FYI, I originally referenced the drop in Wikipedia in this thread. [webmasterworld.com...]

However, there are some important things to note about this change. Observing the type of site and page that is ahead of Wikipedia, and how much of Google's knowledge Graph now appears instead of Wikipedia's entry.

What are you currently seeing?

engine -- Yes I see that you reported this back in February in the Google Updates and SERP Changes thread. I had forgotten where I saw it.

As for the Knowledge Graph, it could very well be a factor, although it's not clear to me exactly how.

What I'm currently seeing in the SERPs is what I reported at the top of this thread. That is, informational searches in which Wikipedia's ranking has dropped slightly, with pages from big organizations and government agencies moving higher. In my opinion, Wikipedia's drop is mainly due to changes in the way Google's algorithm evaluates trust and authority, with less authority now given to Wikipedia than previously.

fathom -- yes I thought of that too. More authority given to "scientific" organizations, government agencies, universities, etc. But either way, Wikipedia's "relative authority" appears to have diminished.
1:43 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I see a promotion! For one search I see Wiki has a large snippet from a tutorial with a link and a more button which opens up to more information and more links to Wiki. Then the 2rd listing on the page is Wiki again.
3:01 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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After trying a few queries in my niche, I see no correlation between knowledge graph results and wikipedia's ranking.

I do see the biggest site in my niche has moved past Wikipedia, but big niche sites have, in general, only moved up a little against big media sites.
3:30 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If I were trying to get you to click on the first few results and you kept searching but not clicking then I would change what those first few results are.

John
3:38 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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the type of site and page that is ahead of Wikipedia

I recently had this request from a total stranger:

"I found your website [redacted] very informative, while unusually I found the Wikipedia entry for [redacted] to be quite useless - perhaps worse than useless. Would you object to me borrowing liberally from your site in re-writing the Wikipedia entry, in the hope of it being more useful?"

Wikipedia is not an authority on anything (except plagiarism).

...
3:39 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The big traffic drop off for wikipedia happened in late 2013, through mid 2014. It's hard to prove exact correlation, but it seems very closely tied to the expansion of the Knowledge Graph to me. While the KG rolled out in 2012, there was a pretty big expansion in functionality during late 2013 and early 2014.

It's easiest to see if you view just North American page views, as that's where the KG would have its strongest impact:

[i.imgur.com...]

I consider that pretty significant, as it is the only period where they don't show YoY growth.
4:25 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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rish3 -- Yes there's no doubt that the introduction of the Knowledge Graph had a big effect on Wikipedia's overall traffic, but that could have happened even if Wikipedia's organic rankings mostly stayed the same during that period.

What I'm seeing is a slippage in Wikipedia's organic rankings themselves, and I think that most of that slippage occurred during the past 2-3 months. I think there could have been some kind of "silent update" of the part of Google's algorithm that relates to trust and authority. At least, that's what I wanted to propose for discussion in this thread.
4:32 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Samizdata - That's interesting. Usually the people at Wikipedia don't bother to ask you before they scrape your content.
5:15 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Why hasn't anyone tied the use of wikipedia's information as being "commercial use"?
5:53 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Usually the people at Wikipedia don't bother to ask you before they scrape your content.

Content is not "scraped" (it is plagiarised), and not by "people at Wikipedia" (which is crowd-sourced).

Wikipedia has its uses, and I doubt that it has been singled out for demotion.

...
6:55 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Not much change in my sector (weird foreign widgets, no competition, no money in it). It's gone worse if anything as I used to be number 2.

1. Wikipedia page about weird foreign widgets
2. Some big site that may or may not have weird foreign widgets for sale but always has the page for them.
3. My active site and forum and number 1 English language site for weird foreign widget fans.

It's not just links. Might be something about where the links come from. Foreign people link to my foreign widget site a lot as they aren't foreign to them.
8:09 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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"I found your website [redacted] very informative, while unusually I found the Wikipedia entry for [redacted] to be quite useless - perhaps worse than useless. Would you object to me borrowing liberally from your site in re-writing the Wikipedia entry, in the hope of it being more useful?"

Wikipedia is not an authority on anything (except plagiarism).

What's interesting here is that the only way your correspondent could know that one source is better than another is if he had independent knowledge of the subject. But since wikipedia explicitly bars "original research", it isn't enough to say that you're the world's leading authority on the widgets (the way that would have been sufficient for, say, the editors of the Britannica 11th). You have to find some outside source to point to, even if that outside source is only saying what you already know.
8:14 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Yes I've noticed for quite some time now in my searches Wikipedia dropping. Yesterday I had to scroll down for the first time to find it.

No, I can't ever remember Wikipedia being in my niche results.
8:58 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google has taken on a vendetta against Wikipedia and manually demoted it. What other rational conclusion is there? It's not like Google has introduced and keeps growing the influence of user activity levels into their algorithm. By displaying information in the KG, Google siphons away some user activity from Wikipedia which leads to a weakening in their rankings.
9:09 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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By displaying information in the KG, Google siphons away some user activity from Wikipedia which leads to a weakening in their rankings.


Seems likely. Doesn't seem to be higher moral ground than a manual demotion though :)
9:35 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google has taken on a vendetta against Wikipedia and manually demoted it. What other rational conclusion is there?

An algorithm tweak, maybe? (See earlier posts in this thread.)

Sites move up and down in the rankings all the time. Why should Wikipedia be an exception to the rule?

By displaying information in the KG, Google siphons away some user activity from Wikipedia which leads to a weakening in their rankings.

On the other hand, the people who are being siphoned away are the drive-by searchers who want quick answers. This should result in better user-engagement numbers for Wikipedia.
9:49 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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On the other hand, the people who are being siphoned away are the drive-by searchers who want quick answers. This should result in better user-engagement numbers for Wikipedia.

There's really no way to spin this in a positive light. It's legal, of course, since it's creative commons content. However, plundering it to the degree that you create the ONLY YoY traffic drop in their history, without compensation, is just greedy.

They way Google has structured the KG is that many clicks within the KG lead not to Wikipedia, but to additional KG entries. Here's 4 clicks in a row that never lead to Wikipedia: [imgur.com...]

And that's how it is now. Google will, over time, optimize it further, until most of the traffic stays on Google.
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