How to beat Wikipedia at Search Engine Optimization

Recently I tried to watch all 23 James Bond movies in chronological order. But I soon discovered this is the cinematic equivalent of eating 23 Cinnabons in a row.

Eventually you just start begging for reality to kick in, and so I’ve put my plans on hold after the first seven.

(So far, “Diamonds are Forever” is my favorite.)

I also realized that reading the Wikipedia write-up for each Bond movie was almost as entertaining as watching the movies, and a heck of a lot shorter too.

Speaking of Wikipedia, you’ve probably noticed that a Wikipedia result comes up for about 90% of the phrases you search for on Google.

And as I’ve explained in the past, here’s why:

Google rewards websites that have a LOT of text (over 1000 words per entry) and very few ads or banners on the page.

Plus, Wikipedia gets high rankings from all the one-way links sent back to it combined with all the inter-linking it does to other Wikipedia pages on each post.

Those are some basics you need to do on your website as well.

That’s how you compete with – and even beat – Wikipedia, as Nicky Parsons, search engine guru and intellectual property thief, showed me.

She told me how my friend Jason Ferruggia created a 2594 word blog post on bodyweight exercises that is now ranking higher than the Wikipedia entry for bodyweight exercises.

That’s an incredible accomplishment and proves that a really long piece of quality content that can take the #1 sport for a very competitive keyword in the fitness niche.

Jay started going after this keyword on October 10th and at the time his page had 31 backlinks and ranked #34 for the keyword, “bodyweight exercises”.

Now just 2 1/2 months later, the post has steadily climbed up until today finally passing Wikipedia and taking #1 (and it now has between 400-800 backlinks thanks to some SEO work by Nicky).

Here’s the post (and another backlink for Jay)

Google is giving this major rankings for the high word count, and the post has 20 different bodyweight exercise keywords which Google can see has a lot of relevance.  

The Wikipedia page just has links to all of these different exercises but Jason actually writes about each one.

The guys from Shapeshifter with their Bodyweight Coach site are now down to #3 and Wikipedia at #2 while Jason has taken the top spot with less backlinks than everyone else.

The other recent factor or change was he had his site redesigned and he made sure his major keywords were linked from his homepage.

In mid December his new design went live and with the homepage link from a sidebar widget his ranking climbed from #6 to #1.

That one simple change, of having his major keywords linked to from his homepage made a huge impact on his rankings.

So I asked Nicky for the bottom line on how to get your blog posts ranked really high in Google and here’s what she said:

1) Write really long quality posts with a ton of relevant content on the page

2) Get more one-way backlinks

3) Set up your blog so your major keywords are linked to from the homepage (use a category set-up in the navigation bar like  you see on Jay’s homepage or on my site at

That’s it. A pretty simple formula.

I mean, it has to be simple if Jay can follow it..and succeed with it.

If he can do it, you can too,

Craig Ballantyne

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” Vincent T. Lombardi

  • Mike

    I think the 51 comments Jay has on that post help a lot too. They probably added another 1000 words to the page with many relevant keywords and natural variations.

  • #1 and #3 are pretty easy to implement. Step #2 however is what I’ve found to be challenging and time consuming, but also very valuable. I would love to hear your thoughts (maybe in a blog post) on building quality one way links.

    As usual, thanks for the informative and useful posts!

  • Hey Craig,

    Could you write an article on how to redirect an entire website to a new domain and how that might affect search engine rankings?


  • so with this trick i can gain higher PR ???

  • It always seems such a grey area SEO… everyone seems to be guessing and experimenting at things that might work. There are no real guidelines, and the top search engines seem to give away little information, probably for fear that it will be misused and corrupted. Your comments make good sense though. Difficult to see the wood for trees somedays.David

  • And the 1000+ back links his site has and the 95,000 Alexa ranking…thaqts without mentioning the 6000+ pages he has indexed.
    I dont think it really is a simple as this. His domain is almost 4 year old.
    Im not saying what he done doesnt work….cos it has! I’m just saying that teh guy has been buidling his platform for almost 4 years and has put a lot of work into the fundamentals before creating this article

  • Hi Keith,

    The ideal way to redirect pages permanently is to use 301 redirects – it redirects the page to a new location, and preserves all your previous SEO juice. Google passes on the page rank and SERP ranking of the old page to the new one.

    If the site runs on WordPress and has only a few pages, you can use a plugin like the “Redirection” plugin.

    If it has too many pages or if you are not using WordPress, the ideal way is to edit your htaccess file. There is a 301 redirect rule that is just 1 line – it would redirect all your existing URLs to exactly the same URL on a new domain name.

    I don’t have the code handy right now, but a 5 minute Google search would be enough 🙂

  • Nicky Parsons

    So you think you can pull out some stats on his website and that explains his ranking. HAH. Why don’t you pull those same stats on Wikipedia and see if your logic still holds true. By that logic Wikipedia should be beating him by a mile like they do for almost every other website. Don’t lose site of what the post was actually about. It’s not about how he got a #1 ranking, it’s about how to beat Wikipedia. But don’t listen to me, go out and beat Wikipedia yourself and then come back and tell us how you did it…..

  • Hey Craig,

    This is a great little article.

    I think the ‘secret’ to SEO is right there.

    Provide great, in depth content (1000+ word posts) without trying to sell too much (less banners).

    Search engines try to give people access to the information they are looking for so the above formula makes sense.


  • john

    Hi Craig.

    This is a great article and very inspiring. It gives me the kick to do more and have faith i will soon have the result.



  • dan

    Hi Good article but please clarify what a one way back link is
    also item number three is confusing – major keywords are linked to from the homepage…
    thx dan ( my latest book, Push Back is just released and I am trying to use a different tack to help market it