Wikivoyage:Search engine optimization

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Search engine optimization is the process of making changes aimed at improving a page's ranking in search engine results. For Wikivoyage, these efforts are meant to make Wikivoyage the most popular free travel guide on the web. While the quantity and quality of our content has increased significantly since the move to the Wikimedia Foundation, we need to have a large audience who both use our guides for their travels and edit them to constantly improve the site.

Rationale[edit]

  • Having a large viewership is integral to the site's success and usage.
  • Growing visibility of the site will result in a growing editing community, fulfilling the mission of creating "a free, complete, up-to-date and reliable worldwide travel guide".
  • The most common way of finding information is through web search engines like Google, so it is important that Wikivoyage works its way up search results.

How to improve an article's search ranking[edit]

Search engine optimization is more art than science, but the following tips should help to improve rankings of Wikivoyage articles. Be aware that search engine spiders might take anywhere from days to weeks to re-spider an article and incorporate any changes into the search engine index, so patience is a virtue when trying to improve rankings.

  1. Write great articles. Most importantly, make sure that the article has good content. Search engines give greater weight to complete articles, and individuals are more likely to link to a good article. In addition, the whole point of Wikivoyage is to produce great travel content.
  2. Add a link from Wikipedia & Wikidata. Make sure that the corresponding Wikipedia article links to the Wikivoyage article; search engines use links from Wikipedia as a way of determining what are the best articles about a subject. Special:UnconnectedPages provides a list of all Wikivoyage articles that do not have a proper Wikidata entry, and thus will not have interwiki links from other Wikimedia sites (articles linked through Wikidata appear as links in the "Other projects" section of the left nav on all Wikimedia sites).
  3. Add internal links from other Wikivoyage articles. Internal links are another signal to a search engine of an article's importance, so make sure that there are internal links from other Wikivoyage articles where appropriate:
    • Ensure that any articles that mention the target article link to the article rather than simply mentioning it with plain text. The Wikivoyage SEO Tool can be used to quickly identify unlinked articles, for example by searching for articles that contain "Yosemite" but do not link to Yosemite National Park. Alternately, Special:Search, Google, or other search tools can also be used for this purpose.
    • Ensure all neighboring destinations are included in an article's "Go next" section. If you are unsure of what articles to include, the "destinations" icon on the article's dynamic map (located under the "zoom in" and "zoom out" icons) will show nearby articles, or the "nearby" tool can be invoked by replacing "Article_name" in the following link: Special:Nearby#/page/Article_name.
    • Parent regions should always include links for all child regions, cities and destinations contained within that region.
  4. Make sure the content is unique. Search engines sometimes penalize Wikivoyage articles if the content is too similar to content on other web sites. If a Wikivoyage article is not appearing in searches for a destination (example search query: "destination travel guide") then it may be getting filtered as duplicate content. Make sure that the content is unique by rewriting, expanding, and updating the existing article content.
    • It is important that entire sections of text are actually rewritten to be unique, instead of simply rewriting sentences using similar wording, as Google apparently red flags the latter as an attempted SEO cheat (i.e. do not just change "The scenic vistas are inspiring" to "The beautiful views will inspire you"). Also note that there is anecdotal evidence that changing text at the beginning of an article will have a greater effect than changing text elsewhere in the article.
    • Where appropriate, add or replace images. If superior images exist on commons, or images that are of equal quality exist, swap them out in order to provide an additional signal to Google that the Wikivoyage content is unique.
    • If it does not affect usability or stray from the article templates, update secondary and tertiary headings - for example, change a "Skiing" heading to "Winter activities". Search engines give extra weighting to content within heading tags, so changing headings may have an outsized effect when Google's algorithms try to figure out if pages are duplicate content or not.

SEO-relevant configurations[edit]

Changes to the following MediaWiki: namespace files may have a significant effect on the search engine ranking of articles:

  • MediaWiki:Pagetitle‎ – controls the page title for all pages except for the main page. Current value: $1 – Travel guide at Wikivoyage
  • MediaWiki:Pagetitle-view-mainpage – controls the page title for the main page. Current value: Wikivoyage – The FREE worldwide travel guide that anyone can edit
  • MediaWiki:Sitesubtitle‎ – controls subtitles on the site (may not be in use?). Current value: The FREE worldwide travel guide that anyone can edit

See also[edit]