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Written articles, uploaded images, categories, and more - it takes all of these things to create a beautiful resource for fans. In this course, we will review what SEO is & why it is important, how to write content for all fans, best practices for linking, using page protection, and plenty more.

Course Video & Quiz


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Course Script

Welcome to Admin Plus!

We at Fandom are excited to welcome you to our Admin Plus series (or A+, if you’re fancy.) This series will review three core foundations of helping to facilitate a wiki community on the Fandom platform. These foundations are Technical Foundations, Content Development, and Community Building. After you have completed this course, go check out the other two!

Written articles, uploaded images, categories, and more - it takes all of these things to create a beautiful resource for fans. In this course, we will review what SEO is and why it is important, how to write content for all fans, best practices for linking, using page protection, and plenty more.

For some people, this might be review. If it is, that’s okay! Whether you are a seasoned editor and creating content comes easy to you or you are new to adminship and want to help grow wiki and community with amazing content, hopefully everyone can learn something new. If not, then we hope this is a good refresher for you!

A quick reminder before we jump in: for the sake of brevity, you will hear “your community” and “your wiki” a lot in this course and in the other courses, as well. We want to remind you that a wiki does not belong to a single person or even to the original founder. A wiki belongs to the community, the group of regular users who visit, edit, and interact with the wiki. As an admin, you help run the wiki and make sure that the community is working together for the benefit of the community.

We welcome all members of our community to watch these videos and learn how to best contribute to their communities.

Please be aware that Fandom awards badges of completion only to admins who have served in an admin role for at least 90 days and manage wikis that are 100 pages or larger. While the background and information we cover here today is critical information, we believe a mix of this information and real-world adminning experience best qualify someone for recognition.

Badges are awarded to eligible admins via a third-party service called Credly. More information about how Credly works and awards badges of completion to admins are available on our A+ homepage.

Hi, I’m JP. I’m Fandom’s Senior Community Manager of Creator Outreach. I manage the Community Central Blog, support DEI programming, and coordinate the creator recognition program called Fandom Stars.

Let’s move onto the agenda for today. In the Content Development course of the Admin Plus series we will talk about the following: search engine optimization, linking within a wiki and to other wikis, best practices for categories and naming pages, using Special Pages, creating a usable top navigation, how to use the analytics dashboard, representation in content, mobile portability, infoboxes, and when and how to use page protection.

Let’s jump in with one of the biggest players in the wiki game: search engine optimization, or SEO as it is lovingly referred to. We’ll go over some basics as to what SEO is then talk about how to optimize your wiki’s search engine optimization.

When someone creates a wiki, usually the next step is making content pages. These pages can include information about characters, places, or anything else relating to the wiki’s topic. Once content like sentences and images are placed on a page, search engines will start to pick up on the page’s existence - this is known as indexing.

Optimization comes when the content that is being indexed by the search engine is viewed as being informative and valuable and thus gets ranked near the top of the rankings. At Fandom, we have a dedicated SEO team - you already heard from Becky - that focuses on making all of our wiki content as a whole rank highly. But each community can do certain things to boost their rankings even higher, making it much more likely that a fan will find your content you put time and effort into.

We get asked a lot about when search engines will start to index a new wiki or new pages, and sorry, we don’t have an answer to that. Search engines like Google crawl sites and sections of sites on their own schedule, and they don’t announce when they do. A general rule of thumb is that finding a newly added piece of content on a wiki on a search engine can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours to a few days.

There are a couple of things you can do to help make sure your wiki is indexed correctly by Google, for example. You can make sure the page is linked from other pages that have already been indexed by Google and show up in Google’s search results. You can link the new page from a different page that you know already receives a lot of visitors (like the wiki’s main page.) You can also share the page on social media. Be careful with that last one, however - sharing every single new page or new piece of content to social media can look like spam and deter any new visitors from coming to the wiki.

Ultimately, it is best to keep the following three things in mind when writing content for your wikis: it is findable (content can be found easily by someone looking for it), it is readable (content can be read and understood by the person looking for it), and it is indexable (there are no barriers that keep the content on the wiki page from being indexed by Google or another search engine.)

So that was what SEO is. Now let’s get into how to write for SEO.

First, though - why? Why should anyone go out of their way to write for a search engine? Shouldn’t we be writing for fans who are on the wiki to get information? Let’s talk about that a bit.

With search engines using their algorithmic ordering to rank pages, they will try to show the person searching for a keyword or phrase a webpage that could best meet their needs. For example, if I were to search for “how to learn French”, Google will show me resources on how to learn the French language, specifically, instead of resources on how to learn to cook or where I can find a French restaurant near me. Search engines understand that people are usually looking for specific things instead of broad categories, so they will try to narrow down search results to fit those needs.

Let’s take this example to wikis. If someone is looking for information on The Amazing Spiderman, the 2012 movie starring Andrew Garfield, they are most likely going to use a mix of keywords, like “amazing spiderman 2012” or “spiderman andrew garfield,” to help get the information that they want. Google (or any other search engine) will understand that, okay, this person is looking for a specific thing, and it will show pages that have findable, readable, and indexable content for this specific movie. It will show pages that have the best information about this movie higher in the search results, and the person will probably click on one of those higher ranked pages.

If Google thinks that the wiki page about the movie isn’t going to help the person searching find their information, then they won’t show it, or they will show it lower than other websites. That is unfortunate because it means that the wiki just lost a potential fan or even a contributor who could have helped add more information to the page.

So how do you make search engines like your wiki? Good question; thank you for asking!

Content on a wiki page should be focused as much as possible. Using the example above, if your wiki is about Spiderman, and all of your wiki’s pages only give general information about Spiderman, then the wiki probably will not rank very high for a search on The Amazing Spiderman. Google will be looking for The Amazing Spiderman, not general information.

You can remedy this by breaking pages out. For example, instead of having one page that lists all the Spiderman movies and only mentions the existence of The Amazing Spiderman, create a new page for the movie and have the list link to the page. Expand on the content for the individual page with information about the movie. Try to keep in mind questions that someone might want answered on the page - when did the movie release, who starred in the film and what character did they play, what is the summary of the film are a few common ones.

Not everything needs its own page, though. A good rule of thumb is that a page should have a content count of about 600 to 800 words. If content on that page can’t fill up that word count, well, it probably should live on a different page and not its own. Instead of creating a page for a voice actor who dubbed ten lines in one episode of a series, it could be better to put that information on a page for all voice actors in the series. That will help buff up content on the voice actors page (Google will like that!) and prevent a stub page from being created that will probably never graduate from being a stub.

SEO changes… a lot. Google is constantly updating its algorithm to try and help people using its search engine. Thankfully for all of us, unless the algorithm update specifically notes that it is targeting content, you do not need to worry about tracking SEO changes, the SEO team tracks those changes for you.

For now, let’s talk a little about three of the most significant changes to content for SEO that have happened in the past that still play a big factor today:

  • The Panda Update: This was launched by Google in 2011 and continues to be updated today. The idea was to avoid as much thin content as possible. “Thin content” refers to any page on a site (or wiki) that has more code on it than actual content. Pages like these should either be removed, consolidated with other thin pages, or expanded with more topic-related content.
  • The Diversity Update: This update launched by Google in 2019 and focused on narrowing down how many times a site or subdomain can be ranked for a single keyword. The idea was for a search result to populate with a more diverse range of websites. After the update, Google limited a site to only being ranked twice for one keyword in the same search result. For wikis, this means that content outside of the main page should be as focused as possible (for example, as we mentioned before, creating a page specifically for The Amazing Spiderman instead of mentioning it quickly in a general Spiderman page will help it rank better when someone searches for the movie.) Also, this doesn’t necessarily mean a page will only rank for a specific keyword - it can rank for many variations.
  • Core Web Vitals Update: Rolling out in various stages in 2021 and 2022, Google began to focus on how a page performs in some core technical metrics, such as page loading times and how much the content shifts after a page initially loads. While Fandom can control many aspects of these performance indicators, we always encourage communities to be mindful of how much content they put on a page. Sometimes it may make more sense to split pages up into various subpages. Image galleries are always nice, but loading hundreds of images into a page can really slow down the load times so it’s best to be thoughtful about whether or not those extra few images are REALLY needed.

In the future, there may be more updates with how Google ranks search results, but as they roll out, we will try to keep you updated on how you can make sure that your wiki is doing well in the rankings.

Before we leave the land of SEO, two quick reminders. Fandom’s official Discord server has a channel specifically dedicated to SEO questions and features regular discussions with our SEO team. From there, you can also request an audit - when our SEO team will look specifically at how your wiki is performing in search rankings and findability and make direct recommendations on how to improve.

Woo! That was a lot about SEO, but we only touched on some of the basics. Feel free to keep looking into how SEO affects your wiki and how to improve your SEO ranking! If you have any questions, send them over to Special:Content or the Fandom Discord server in the SEO channel, and we can try to help out.

Let’s switch gears a little bit now and focus more on how to build content on a wiki that helps with SEO as well as helps fans.

First up is linking!

We can’t really get into linking and how important it is without talking about redlinks. Redlinks refer to a word, phrase, or image that has been set up to link to a page that hasn’t been created yet. The link shows up as red thus the name.

Google and other search engines give lower ranks to pages with a lot of redlinks - they see these pages as having links that lead readers to dead ends. In the past few years, the Google algorithm has changed to be more dependent on mobile searches, so with the launch of UCP in 2020, we changed how wikis on mobile view showed redlinks - instead of showing the redlink as a link, it was changed to plain text until the page was created, then the link was restored.

This change doesn’t make it okay for wikis to fill up pages with redlinks, though. Visitors to the wiki will become confused and frustrated if every time they click on a link, they aren’t taken to the page they hoped to go to. Redlinks can be used sparingly to give yourself a reminder to create the page later, but be careful not to overuse them!

While redlinks can be harmful to your wiki, interwiki linking can be beneficial.

Interwiki linking is when a page on your wiki links to a page on a different Fandom wiki (or to a site on the interwiki map.) We mentioned a bit before about linking to another page to help strengthen its SEO - this works the same for linking to other relevant wikis.

Sometimes we see wikis linking to pages on Wikipedia. That is okay, but your wikis already have such a great variety of information, and it is better to link to another wiki on the platform. Even if the page being linked to doesn’t necessarily fit with the main topic of your wiki and doesn’t need its own page, we recommend finding the content on another wiki and linking to that article. Google will see that the two pages are linked and generally give them both a bit of a search result boost.

What is important to remember about this is that linking across wikis should only be done for information relevant to the page. For example, if a wiki about an anime series wants to set up a link for a voice actor on the show, and they link to a voice acting wiki that has a lot of content about the voice actor already, that makes a lot of sense! Google understands that those are related.

What doesn’t make sense to Google is if the wiki about the anime series sets up a link to a wiki about a completely different topic. Google wouldn’t be able to understand why an anime wiki would be linking to something completely unrelated, so it wouldn’t give either page the extra boost we would normally expect.

We won’t spend too much time on the mechanics of setting up links within a single wiki, but if you would like a refresher, please check the Help page on Community Central here: https://community.fandom.com/wiki/Help:Links/Wikitext

A quick reminder is to make sure you are linking to a page that exists on wiki or will be created soon, so the wiki doesn’t fall into the hole of having too many redlinks. Also, make sure you’re using wikitext to create the link.

Making sure links lead to relevant pages on the wiki is important in making sure that readers can find and explore content easily without needing to go to Google or another search engine to find out more information. A lot of readers want to dive deeper into the rabbit hole to find more info on wiki, and linking pages together helps them take that jump.

You can use Special Pages to help maintain links, pages, files, and more on your wiki. Keeping up with these maintenance reports will make sure that the content is findable to readers who are looking for it. There are many Special Pages that can be used to help better your wiki, but today we’ll talk about three specific groups of Special Pages that will ensure that your content will be useful to everyone: Orphaned, Wanted, and Unused.

First up on our list is Orphaned Pages, also known as Lonely Pages. This Special Page will show pages on the wiki that are not linked to or from any other page on the wiki - oh no, they’re all by their lonesome! We already talked about how linking to and from pages helps the reader go between pages to get the information they want. If a page isn’t connected to another page via a link, readers will have problems trying to find the content on it without having to leave the wiki and go back to Google. You can clear out the pages on Special:LonelyPages by making sure they include links and making sure that other pages link to them.

Next, let’s move on to the Wanted group. These include pages and files in the Wanted Categories, Wanted Files, Wanted Pages, and Wanted Templates Special Pages. Pages in these lists have the opposite problem as those in the Lonely Pages lists - they are being linked to, but they don’t exist yet! Maybe either yourself or another user on the wiki planned to create a page, so a link was set up to it, but something happened, and the page was never created. This could be the same for a template, file, or category. Links like these (or, redlinks) give the reader the assumption that they will be able to click on the link to get more information, but because the content was never created, it leads them to a dead end. This can be pretty frustrating if the reader is there to learn but isn’t given the information they are searching for.

The two most common options for clearing out pages in this group are either removing the link from the original page and leaving it as plain text, or you can create the content that the link directs to. There are benefits to both. For example, for a page listed in WantedPages, someone at some point thought it was important for the wiki for that page to be created even if they weren’t able to do it at that time. If there is enough relevant content for the page to be created without it being considered a thin page, it might make sense for the page to be created. If there isn’t enough content, it might work better in the wiki’s favor to remove the link. Use your knowledge of the topic to do what makes sense for your wiki!

[SLIDE 17]

Lastly, let’s talk about the Unused group. These include categories, files, and templates that were created but are not being used on any pages. Similar to Lonely Pages, these were made with a purpose in mind but are not being used anywhere on the wiki. Try to figure out why they were created - did they originally serve a purpose but were found to no longer be needed? Are they actually being called to a page but maybe the link is broken? Look into them and try to keep this Special Page clear.

[SLIDE 18]

Linking pages is one way to create connections between pages and offer users a way to take in different pieces of information on your wiki. Another way is via categories.

Categories are used to group together similar pages (or template or images, etc.) to keep a wiki structured. Each page should have at least one category - categories are an easy way for a browsing reader to find similar pages. In fact, categories are one of the core data points that power the “Related Pages” module around the side.

But a good rule of thumb is to not use more than 5 or 6 categories so that readers find categories well-populated and useful. Categories like “6 foot tall characters with brown eyes” may be overkill. It really depends on what works best for your wiki’s topic and content. Use your knowledge of the topic to think about what categories readers would be interested in

For more information on categories, check out the category Help page on central!

[SLIDE 19]

Time to move onto top navigation, or topnav as it is shortened to. Topnav is the menu found at the top of all wiki pages that can be curated with links to different pages in the drop downs.

There are different circles of thought as to what pages should be included in the topnav. Some wikis prefer to have pages geared toward editors in the topnav. That is understandable - it creates easier access to editing tools that editors will need to create wiki content.

Instead of adding links to these tools, we recommend adding main articles to the topnav. Most of the people coming to your wiki will be there to view content, not edit. The topnav provides a great entrance into the wiki for readers to find the information they are there for. For example, if someone new to the wiki sees the topnav menu and tries to find character info but is met with links to different maintenance report pages, there is a good chance they aren’t going to stay to figure out where they are supposed to go on the wiki.

Try adding useful editing tools to your bottom tool instead to clear the way for more content-related links up on the topnav.

One editor-focused page we recommend keeping in the topnav is your wiki’s rules page. You want to make sure it is as accessible as possible no matter where someone is on the wiki.

[SLIDE 20]

An admin-only tool that should be used when creating and expanding content is the Analytics Dashboard. This page of data can help you and other admins on your wiki see where traffic is going, what keywords are being searched for the most, and how your wiki is being viewed by readers and editors.

See that users are searching for a keyword that doesn’t have a page? Create that page! Find out that there was an unexpected spike in pageviews over the weekend? Look into why and expand content related to that spike! Use the dashboard to your advantage and help your wiki and community grow!

Now, we mentioned this was an admin-only tool. The data shown on this page is sensitive and, unfortunately, can be abused, so we ask that you not post screenshots or share specific data numbers. However, we encourage you to talk about general trends with other users on your wiki. Use trends you see on the dashboard, like what pages are popular, as talking points to help editors understand where their focus should be with their edits. For example, if you see readers are searching for a specific term, let other editors on the wiki know and work together to make sure that the article related to that keyword is updated.

[SLIDE 21]

Within the Analytics Dashboard, you’ll see popular search terms that can help you and your wiki’s editing team focus your efforts on specific content. Another piece of information that you can find from this list is that you can see how readers are spelling those keywords or what names they are using for characters and places. You can use this information to help think about how best to name articles on your wiki. We’ll talk more about this in a moment.

[SLIDE 22] Naming your pages and images to reflect the proper, most commonly used name for the topic is important in helping readers find the content they’re looking for. How you choose to name the content is really determined by the topic of your wiki, so you will need to use a combination of what you see on the Analytics Dashboard and your own knowledge of the topic to judge how to best name something.

Here’s an example that will help give some perspective. Let’s say you’re an admin on a community where the original source material’s language is in Japanese but also has official English translations. In situations like these where you have multiple official sources, it is best to use the most common, proper name understood by new and old fans. Fans who have been following the series for a while might understand that a character may be called something different in the original Japanese compared to the translated English, but newer fans might not know this yet (and that is why they are on the wiki!) You should name the pages for these characters based on what is 1) the proper name (so stay away from nicknames!) and 2) what is the most commonly known name. You can put other commonly known names in the lede paragraph.

Additionally, it is wise to set up redirects for the “other” names for a character. In another example, most of us know the comic book character Bruce Banner as the Incredible Hulk. But what should his character page be? Bruce Banner? The Incredible Hulk? The Hulk? Simply ‘Hulk’? After picking the one that you feel makes the most sense for your wiki’s policies and conventions, go ahead and add those other names as redirects to the article so that people find it easily. This also prevents an individual from accidentally creating a second - or third - page about the same topic.

One thing to note is that people do make typos - you don’t need to create redirects for typos, that would be a lot of work for little gain. But abbreviations can and should be considered for redirects.

[SLIDE 23]

Moving from naming, let’s talk about representing real people and characters on your wiki. Any content representing someone, whether they be a person in real life or a fictional character, needs to abide by Fandom’s policies. Their name and pronouns should reflect their gender identities.

Fandom has extensive guides on how to respectfully document transgender or nonbinary individuals on our LGBTQIA Wiki under the Community and Fandom Resources top level menu. One thing we will particularly call out that it is considered proper to use the currently-known name and pronouns of an individual, even if they went by a different identity in a previous game or season.

If you are not sure how to write an article about someone, go ahead and send a message over to Special:Contact with some information about the character or person. We will try to help and give advice based on the information available. You can also review the LGBTQIA+ Resources and Gender Identity Guidelines on Central to help out, too!

[SLIDE 24]

Now you have all this content on your wiki - articles, images, and more! That’s awesome! You want to keep that content safe from vandals and trolls, right? That can be not as awesome.

Protecting pages and files should only be done on a need-to basis. No wiki is a one-person job - it takes a community of enthusiasts to collect their knowledge together to make a wiki. If too many pages are protected, editors won’t be able to share what information they know or help better the article.

It is okay to protect pages if there is edit warring or vandals attacking the page, otherwise pages should generally be left open for editors. Even for pages that need to be protected, they should only be done so temporarily. Once the issues are resolved, then the protection should be removed for fans to edit.

When you create content on a wiki, keep in mind that that content will be editable by anyone. If there is anything that you do feel comfortable with having been edited by someone else, please reconsider putting it on a wiki.

[SLIDE 25]

We’ve covered a lot of ground today. We do want to pass along some final tips and tricks - these are just some simple rules that really apply to any part of today’s presentation:

Once a page becomes fairly long, about two printed pages of content worth, it’s critical to have add sections to the page. This breaks the page up visually and allows a table of contents to be automatically generated. This allows readers to find and scroll to certain sections of content quicker.

As we mentioned earlier, sometimes if a page becomes too long it’s a good idea to break it up into subpages with links and categories to help users find the related content. It’s not just a Core Web Vitals reason, it’s a readability reason. Various studies have shown that once a piece of content goes beyond 5000 words, it tends to have a negative impact on the reader’s engagement and ability to process it.

We won’t prescribe a specific amount to aim for in a page since research on the quote-on-quote optimal length gives varying answers. But if you’re in the 1000-2500 words area, you’re probably on target.

Stub pages, short pages used as placeholders, can be a great way to get new members of the community involved. Also, when an update or a new season is announced, it can be a great way to make sure people know the wiki is going to cover a topic even if not much information is out yet. But again, but careful. If readers - or a search engine, for that matter - find a wiki to be mostly just very short pages, it’s not likely to be viewed as a good resource.

Using templates is always a best practice. If you are going to have consistent information across multiple pages - for instance, an infobox about a TV show characters - it saves you lots of time having to manually type everything out if it’s in a template. Additionally, if you need to add information or redesign the infobox, those changes go out to all the pages with that template at once, rather than you having to copy that change around. However, pair an infobox with a page with deeply-written content. Web content experts agree pages that are just merely tables are counterproductive.

Last but not least, sometimes admins will leave messages on the top of article pages. These messages, often called “notices”, can alert the editor community to the need to add more information to a page, add a reference, or otherwise make changes. But if you pile these notices up, it pushes the content down the page and can be a detriment to engaging readers.

[SLIDE 26]

You made it! You’re at the end! We went over a lot today - search engine optimization, linking, best practices for categories and naming pages, using Special Pages, creating a usable top navigation, how to use the analytics dashboard, representation and how to use page protection.

Below this video, you will be directed to take a quiz outlining some of the points we went over. (We’re sure you’ll pass that with flying colors!) This quiz will give you a chance to review what you learned today as well as have an open-ended question that encourages you to think about how you can apply this topic to your admin style.

When you have passed the quiz, you will receive directions on next steps and how to receive your completion badge.

[SLIDE 27]

Thank you for attending today’s A+ session. Here at Fandom, we are committed to providing our admins the best resources available - if you have any feedback about what we talked about today, we encourage you to write into our support portal and we will be happy to review them. Remember, we also have a large Help section on Community Central that dives deeper into many of the topics we discussed today.

Thanks again for watching and happy editing!

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