Using Wikipedia for traffic generation

Looking at our blogs analytics, I found something interesting: one of the all-time highest sources of referral traffic to our blog was a Wikipedia article on Taglines. Michael had edited it a few months back, adding a link to a post he wrote on taglines for building product marketing.

That post is currently one of our ten most viewed, and nearly a quarter of the traffic came from the Wikipedia page. But if you visit the page now, our link is no longer there. Which means, in turn, the traffic has dried up.

Here's what happened, both good and bad:

What went right

This edit worked because it added depth and diversity to a page that was, before our edits, entirely about movie and TV taglines. That covers many of the greats, but ignores the wide variety of product advertising taglines from across all industries that have entered our culture. Michael fixed this, writing: "Taglines are not limited to the entertainment industry. They have been used effectively in the building products industry, for example," and including a link to our post.

This should have been a valid change; we were not promoting our product or, directly, company. We were providing general information, on a topic about which we are experts, that expanded the usefulness of the page. So what happened?

What went wrong

Michael's addition was removed by another of Wikipedia's volunteer editors, which is also the way Wikipedia is supposed to work. Whether I agree or not, this editor acted properly to remove what was viewed as a commercial interest. The editor explained the removal, saying: "took out web address of ad for commercial business services in text, left reference in case this is really the only example of other use of taglines."

Wikipedia works as well as it does because the community keeps it honest. Even though this change went against us, I am glad it was made because the editor acted on right principles.

What should have happened

What prompted the deletion here was that ours was the only example of other types of taglines; that made it look suspicious. I can see that; Hollywood movies and building products are not two categories that usually go together. What we should have done is included examples for other types of products, possibly with examples.

For most building product manufacturers, the more direct application will be including links to multiple sources with useful information on the topic. Also, expand the discussion beyond the point where your product is used. The richer and deeper your changes are, the more likely they will stay put.

Finally, if the topic is one that's important to you, monitor it for future changes. This was not on our watch list because "Taglines" are a very small piece of what we do; the discovery it drew so much traffic was bigger than the discovery that it was gone. If this had been something more core to our business, like discussing social media in construction on the social media page (hmmm....someone should add that), we would watch more closely.