Is Your Site Reliable? Meet Wikipedia’s Reliable Sources List: Another Proxy For Google’s Quality Raters

Is Your Site Reliable? Meet Wikipedia’s Reliable Sources List: Another Proxy For Google’s Quality Raters

From “Generally reliable” to “Blacklisted”, you can find scores and discussions for many sites whose reliability is frequently discussed by Wikipedia editors. And as a bonus, I’ll explain how to find when a site is used as a source across Wikipedia.

Wikipedia Reliable Sources ListWikipedia Reliable Sources List

Based on helping many companies over the years that have been impacted by major algorithm updates, I know it’s sometimes hard for site owners to objectively review their own site. This is why I have recommended running user studies through the lens of broad core updates. Like I said in my post about the topic, objective feedback from real users can sometimes be eye-opening.

The fact of the matter is that many site owners don’t run studies (even after showing a ton of interest in doing so). That’s why it’s great when you come across a resource that acts as a proxy for understanding how others view your site, content, company, etc. For example, I’ve written about NewsGuard in the past and how its nutritional labels can be a proxy for Google’s Quality Raters. And that goes for health and medical sites trying to avoid manual actions as well.

By checking a nutritional label for a site, you could uncover some interesting findings. For example, does a site publish false content, does it gather information responsibly, does it correct errors, does it avoid deceptive headlines, does it clearly label advertising, and more. These are all excellent things to understand about a site when it comes to meeting or exceeding user expectations (which is what Google is all about).

NewsGuard nutritional labelNewsGuard nutritional label

Well, I stumbled across another resource that I’m going to cover today, and it’s from a site millions of people are visiting on a regular basis – Wikipedia. It ends up there is a list that Wikipedia editors maintain that covers the reliability of sources. As I started browsing the list, and reading editor comments, it became very apparent that this would be a great resource for site owners and SEOs to review (as they look to improve their sites over time and gather feedback about how others view their content). Also, it’s a living document, so reliability scores can change as editors show consensus about the reliability of a source over time.

Wikipedia reliability scores.Wikipedia reliability scores.

The Legend:
You can visit the legend on Wikipedia’s Reliable sources page to better understand the “grades” a site can receive. They range from ‘Generally reliable’ to ‘No Consensus’ to ‘Deprecated’ to ‘Blacklisted’ (and everything in between). Again, it’s just another data point when trying to understand how others view your site. And for Wikipedia, this could explain why your site is being used a source, or why it’s not…

Wikipedia reliability legend.Wikipedia reliability legend.

What if your site isn’t listed?
The list does not contain every possible website, so your site might not be listed at all. Unfortunately, it’s a non-exhaustive list based on sources “whose reliability and use on Wikipedia are frequently discussed.” That said, it’s definitely worth checking out, even if your site isn’t listed. It provides an object view of the reliability of each site through the lens of Wikipedia’s editors.

Regarding if a site isn’t listed, Wikipedia explains that might be the case if it’s a stellar source and didn’t need to be covered or debated. Or, a site could cover a niche topic or simply fell through the cracks. For niche categories, you might find more information in other specific Wikipedia lists like this one for video game sites. And here is a larger list of topic-specific lists. And again, reviewing the reliability scores of others sites can also be powerful.

In addition, Wikipedia provides a longer list of discussed sources on the Page patrol source guide. That page contains many more sources and it’s broken down by various countries and topics. It’s meant to be a supplement to the reliable sources list.

For example, you can find additional sources by topic like Science and technology:

Additional reliability scores by topic and region.Additional reliability scores by topic and region.

Check the discussion summaries:
Beyond the top-level information you can find in the sources list, Wikipedia provides links to the various discussions about reliability for that source. So you can read the scenarios where editors are discussing the reliability of a source in question. Those can be super-interesting and eye-opening for site owners listed. And again, even if your site isn’t listed, it’s interesting to read the rationale behind editors scoring a site as reliable or unreliable.

You can find the links to the various discussions in the second column of the sources table:

Links to discussions about the reliability of websites.Links to discussions about the reliability of websites.

And each link leads to a specific discussion about the reliability of a source:

A Wikipedia editor discussion about the reliability of a website.A Wikipedia editor discussion about the reliability of a website.

Tips for how to use Wikipedia’s Reliable Sources list as a site owner or SEO:

  • The most obvious case is to first check if your site is in the list and then review the scoring and discussions about site reliability. You might find some very interesting nuggets of information based on Wikipedia editor comments.
  • Check other sites in your niche. You might find things that other sites in your niche are doing, or have done in the past, that you should avoid or emulate.
  • Review sites beyond your niche to understand why they are considered reliable or unreliable. There are many sources listed between the various pages I covered in my post.
  • If a site isn’t in a list, make sure to check the niche lists that Wikipedia provides. And don’t forget about the Page patrol source guide broken down by country and topic.
  • Then check where certain sites are cited as sources across Wikipedia. That can also yield interesting findings about the content being cited, the authors writing that content, and more. And if you’re wondering how to see where sites are cited as sources on Wikipedia, check the bonus section below. 🙂

Bonus: How to find when a site is cited as a source on Wikipedia:
Finally, if you are interested in seeing where any site is cited as a source on Wikipedia, then head to Wikipedia search and use the insource command. You can provide a domain name there, subdomain, directory, or even url.

How to find where a site is cited as a source on Wikipedia.How to find where a site is cited as a source on Wikipedia.

And here is Search Engine Roundtable cited:

A site being cited as a source on Wikipedia.A site being cited as a source on Wikipedia.

Summary: How reliable is your site?
When auditing a site that’s been heavily impacted by a major algorithm update, it can be an enlightening experience to hear from objective third parties. Outside of running a user study, you can find several resources that can act as a proxy for Google’s quality raters. With Wikipedia’s reliable sources list, you can quickly understand the score a site receives, view the discussions around that site’s reliability, and then find where the site has been cited a source. All of that can help site owners better understand how their content is viewed by others.


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