Is Wikipedia skewing search results?

A study conducted by Sam Silverwood-Cope over at Intelligent Positioning has revealed something rather interesting about Google search results and Wikipedia. It seems that the two are inseparably enamoured; Google just can’t get enough of Wikipedia’s dashing looks, GSOH and wealth of knowledge.

In a study of 1000 random noun searches, Wikipedia came up top trumps in 99% of the searches.

The Specifics: A random noun generator was used to establish 1000 keywords. These single words were then entered into a search using the Google Chrome Incognito browser to reduce the chance of personalized results messing with the results. There was no other filtering involved, there were 10 search results per page as standard, and all shopping or video results were ignored (at this would make it more than 10.) And this all happened in sunny Brighton.

It’s reassuring that encyclopaedic style searches, like Nitrogen, came up top. Why? Because this means Wikipedia is doing its job. The worrying part is that Wikipedia disambiguation pages were showing up at the top too. According to Intelligent Positioning’s research, if you throw “air” into Google you’ll get the disambiguation page which is just a page of links; not really the most relevant and useful page.

So what does this mean for SEO?

It’s an interesting find, but it isn’t the end of the world.

True, if Wikipedia has an iron grip on at least one of the top spots in Google searches, then you essentially only have nine spots left on that coveted PR1. So being ‘top ten’ in Google just got a little bit trickier.

However, it’s also interesting to note that this study was only carried out using single nouns, which isn’t an accurate representation of how we use search engines. So, while “Aries” might present us with a Wikipedia page in the #1 spot, a search for “Aries horoscope” doesn’t show up a Wikipedia result until #20.

So, in human search behaviour terms, there’s really nothing to worry about. (But it might be worth getting your Wikipedia page up and running, just in case.)