September 4, 2007
How do you beat Wikipedia, the world’s number one free online encyclopedia, managed by thousands of passionate (and unpaid) editors, and a darling of Google?
In case you didn’t realize, Wikipedia already ranks top 10 for almost all popular search engine queries and keywords. Wikipedia’s main page has a PR (PageRank) of 8 and the English home page has a PR of 9.
Almost every topic and keyword imaginable has been covered (or will soon be covered) by this digital encyclopedia of sorts. The fact is they have more in-depth and complete content compared to your website or blog, and the people writing this content don’t ask for payment. Tying to match Wikipedia in terms of content integrity and completeness is suicide.
So how do you beat a giant like this?
The answer is to NOT become another Wikipedia yourself.
Look at it this way – how many people actually read an encyclopedia?
Are you telling me that just because encyclopedias exist, no one sells a book? Not in the real world. In the real world people put encyclopedias in a dusty bookshelf and use them only a handful of times in a year. But they read magazines, they buy books, they attend events and they most certainly read blogs.
The only time you should be looking at an encyclopedia is when you need a point of reference when writing a serious publication or thesis. Encyclopedias are boring, and so is Wikipedia.
So here’s Gobala Krishnan’s 5-step process to beating Wikipedia:
- Improve your writing style
You must improve your writing. If your writing is similar to the boring (although concise) Wikipedia text, you’re doomed. Inject your personality and develop your own style of writing. My style of writing is very plain, direct and personal. Some people choose to write in a more poetic / scholarly way. Some people inject humor or use harsh words. Whatever it is, improve your writing because it will set you apart and create a loyal readership base.
- Become more opinionated
People sitting on the fence sooner or later fall over. You either like something or hate it. If you’re neutral, you’re Wikipedia. Don’t become the best encyclopedia around; become the most dramatic blogger or writer.
Express your feelings for a certain product or service you’ve tried, even if it means you may lose some affiliate commissions from your honesty. It’s ok if some people hate the way you completely flamed a product or service. In the long run people will still prefer to read what you have to say then read a neutral page on Wikipedia.
- Stay current and relevant
Read up on your industry, and put yourself in a position where you understand not only the past, but also the present and future of certain topics in your market. Wikipedia can’t beat you if you can (based on your established position of an expert in a focused market) foretell the future and influence others to accept your views.
As valuable as history is, people care mostly about today and tomorrow. If you are ahead of the market, or at least up-to-date with the latest developments, write about it and let people know.
- Perfect your personal brand
Make everything you write, everything you sell, your sites and your design smell, taste and feel like YOU. If it’s consistent enough, the moment someone looks at a site they would know it’s yours before they even read a line of text. Don’t brand yourself as a know-it-all; brand yourself as an expert in one specific field and people will love you for it.
Wikipedia goes a mile wide and an inch deep. You need to go an inch deep and a mile wide.
You are a brand. Market that brand, and your online business will take a turn for the better. Common marketing wisdom has already proven the power of unique branding.
- Don’t put all your eggs in SEO
Search engine optimization is great and all, but it only takes another 9 more Wikipedia type of sites to completely dominate the first page of Google. There’s absolutely no way you’re going to beat sites like that in terms of pure SEO.
Focus more on social networking, making friends, finding new business partners, and creating more non-SEO-dependent sites. There are other ways to get traffic to your blogs than just search engines, so get creative. If you’re stuck with the idea of “Write great content and the traffic will come”, you’re in for a big surprise.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that you cannot beat Wikipedia (or any other big content site for that matter) at it’s own game. But if you change your game, as far as your online business is concerned, you’ll always win.
Author: Gobala Krishnan is a blogging enthusiast and direct marketing expert. Subscribe to his blog at http://www.gobalakrishnan.com for marketing information that will transform the way you look at your online business forever. If you’re new to blogging, download 2 chapters of his beginners guide to WordPress at http://www.easywordpress.com