We saw the posts on Intelligent Positioning and Search Engine Watch earlier this month and did the exact same study but with a larger (2955 SERPs), more diverse (1-9 words in length) set of keywords. We used keywords serviced for real clients, which provide a sample representative of more competitive, valuable, and realistic SERPs.

Data for our Sample:

Count of Keywords by Length


Where Wikipedia Appears on a SERP

Wikipedia appeared in positions 1-10 for 28.2% of keywords.

Percent of Wikipedia Rankings by  Keyword Phrase Length

*7-, 8-, and 9-word phrases were left out due to low sample size

Conclusion: Sample selection matters. There is no doubt that Wikipedia owns a large portion of search results. But, for competitive phrases, Google does not just give a top 10 spot to the free encyclopedia.

Mark Rees

Mark Rees

Inbound Marketing Consultant at digitalrelevance
Mark Rees is an Inbound Marketing Consultant and Orr Fellow at digitalrelevance. He holds a degree in Entrepreneurship, Economic Consulting, and Public Policy from Indiana University.
Mark Rees

Analytics, General SEO, On Page SEO, Research | 8 Comments

8 thoughts on “Sample Selection Matters: Wikipedia Ranks on Page One for 28% of Searches

  1. Very interesting. With regards to the “Phrase Length” graph, it’s curious to see such a dip for three-word phrases. Why would this be the case?

  2. Great post, Mark. The more ambiguous a keyword is, the more likely it is to return a Wikipedia result. If I search for a one word noun as opposed to a 2-word or 3-word descriptive search, I am most likely looking for a definition or for information. I wonder how many of those SERPs with Wikipedia as a result also had dictionary sites as well.

    Thanks for the cool research.

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