WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

Summary: WikiLeaks is in the midst of dealing with an SEO nightmare... or are they? Read why the most infamous site on the Web right now has the best possible SEO going for them -- even in the face of site attacks and more.

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TOPICS: Browser, Security
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To start, I'd like to preface this post by saying I'm not here to delve into my opinion of WikiLeaks. Yes, I'm as tired of hearing about them as everyone else, but I'm here to wax SEOic™ on the implications of site attacks that take your site down, the positioning of innumerable site mirrors, and the remarkable benefits of having literally the whole world talk about you. It's not WikiLeaks I care about; it's the interesting SEO (Search Engine Optimization) scenarios their actions have presented where maintaining avenues to their content and establishing (and re-establishing) rankings on the Web are concerned.

As it currently stands, http://wikileaks.org/ is dead. Kaput. No mas. In and of itself, this would single-handedly ruin any and every semblance of SEO value you could hope to get out of a site. I mean, what is SEO without a Web site to 'O'? Pointless, that's what! That's like saying you're going to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but you have no bread. (Actually, that analogy makes no sense at all in comparison, but you know what I'm saying. :) ) Anyway, in response to all the attacks that keep leaving WikiLeaks' sites crippled, they have implemented an incredible number of site mirrors (alternate Web sites that contain backups of all the content from a central Web site; in this case, WikiLeaks). So, just what does that mean?

Well, it means they're contending with content instability and search engine traffic nightmares. At the moment, when you search Google for WikiLeaks, the top-ranking site is currently http://wikileaks.org/. But as is also currently the case, http://wikileaks.org/ is x_X. Assuming they still own the domain name but are simply out-of-luck when it comes to anyone being able to access it -- when the attacks die down -- they're going to need to start thinking in terms of canonicalization and 301 redirects to help search engines figure out which site has the original content that should be ranked. With so many WikiLeaks links pointing to so many mirrors, it should be interesting to watch WikiLeaks' search engine results for quite a while.

But even with the impending doom of *no one* being able to access their Web site which currently ranks the highest in Google, WikiLeaks has something that only a privileged few have: Continuous world-wide attention. Everyone is talking about WikiLeaks right now. EVERYONE. Basically, that means that any messange™ (that's my little combination of "message" and WikiLeaks founder/owner's last name, "Assange") they put out there will instantly get picked up and curated by many of the most influential sites on the Web and shared everywhere. When you have that kind of attention, you can afford to have the worst site in the world that's dead and full of 404s, yet ranking at the top of Google for your trending brand name.

This is a great case of showing how SEO isn't just about links and on-site optimization. In the case of WikiLeaks, content isn't king; it's the holy grail! When they post something, the world jumps. Likewise, both Bing and Google have now verified that they use social media buzz as a metric for ranking, so with the whole Web (both social and non-social) discussing you, you're going to be sitting pretty and most likely garnering MUCH more traffic than you EVER would through organic search engine traffic alone.

So, with that said, is WikiLeaks in SEO heaven or hell? Well, it's honestly a little bit of both, I feel. Their site ranking number 1 is dead, so that's definitely a problem... but right now, their search engine rankings don't mean jack since it's almost impossible not to hear about WikiLeaks right now and end up on a site mirror of theirs that's currently up. Now, bear in mind that SEO should be approached as a long-term strategy. WikiLeaks may be enjoying search engine immunity for the moment, but one day, they may very well fall back into the shadows of relative obscurity (especially if Julian Assange gets arrested or worse); so, once the dust settles, it would bode well for them to 301 redirect all site mirrors back to their main site. While canonicalization implementations alone would help them take care of duplicate content issues, the real value they stand to gain would come from all the links pointing to the site mirrors. 301 redirect all those puppies to your main site and good-googly-goo! No need to keep link juice flowing to site mirrors if the site they're mirroring is up-and-running (if/when it's back up-and-running, that is). Here again, though... when the entire world is your platform, your information has much more of a direct link to people than any search engine can currently provide.

To conclude, I've left this topic rather open-ended (that is, I certainly didn't cover every SEO base where this situation is concerned) because I'm interested in hearing from you! What are your thoughts? Do you think WikiLeaks will ever have to worry about SEO after the amount of buzz they've generated over the past year? Should they even care, for that matter? If so, what do you think they will have to do to maintain rankings? Pretend this is your site. What would you do?

*Image created using Google's original logo and WikiLeaks' original logo.

Topics: Browser, Security

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21 comments
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  • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

    I don't think you have understood Wikileaks mission.

    Wikileaks hosts more content than Wikipedia does. For Wikileaks it's not only about whether the main site gets found in search results.

    Wikileaks cares about whether every single of the 250 000 cables of this release is well ranked in the search engine.
    It cares whether a million other documents it released previously are well ranked in Google.

    Even if Julian gets arrested over the rape charges that doesn't change anything about the fact that Wikileaks still has a treasure trove of documents.
    That trove is so full that Wikileaks took down their submission page temporally because they can't handle everything.

    Wikileaks are now much more well known than they were when they received the material that they now published.
    Wikileaks won't go into obscurity. They will publish more significant documents in 2011 than they did in 2010.
    ChristianKl
  • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

    ChristianKl is right but my quarrel is with US government officials who still remain oblivious to the fact that they tell lies for a living and deserve to be found out. <br>Yes. Simply put, they have been proved to be filthy rotten liars and they hate being found out for proving to be duplicitous rectum scum. <br><br>I guess they still tell their grandkids never to lie too.
    woja
    • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

      @woja - So then you're of the opinion that *only* US government officials tell lies? Or does your animosity extend to all the lying and corrupt officials other governments of the world too?

      Do tell.
      PollyProteus
    • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

      @woja Funny how you don't seem to mind that Julian Assange lies (witness the loss of his Swiss bank account), commits felonies (such as the distribution of classified documents without authorization), and engages in espionage while threatening to disclose the names of intelligence sources "if anything should happen" to him.

      Your sense of justice, right, and fair play is a bit out of whack.
      Michael Martinez
      • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

        @Michael Martinez

        Yep there was a time in civilised countries when whistleblowers lost their jobs, were put in prison and suffered character assassination. Now in most civilised countries, there is legislation to protect them.

        It's pretty simple. People do bad things and they get found out - everything else is immaterial. Distributing some other country's classified docs is not a felony and the conversations of diplomats or spies should be available to us all. I really think too many Americans have been watching too many crime and spy shows on TV - diplomacy is just a lot of liers and dissemblers chatting, it's not holy scripture.

        The truth is out there, it will set you free and you really can't handle the truth can you?
        tonymcs@...
  • WikiLeaks is everywhere

    http://www.wikileaks.ch/

    Or go to your favorite torrent site and type in Cablegate

    Or go buy a copy of the New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel. Etc.

    The internet can't be shut down, no matter how much spittle flies from the mouths of American politicians.
    HollywoodDog
  • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

    If anyone needs to visit a WikiLeaks site to see how crooked and unscrupulous politicians are, he/she is indeed naive. I got my Ph.D. in politics when I lived in Chicago for three years, where political thievery is a way of life.
    ITOdeed
    • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

      @ITOdeed

      aaah but we don't have yoru experience as some of us don't live in the US ;-)
      tonymcs@...
  • Good article, but

    what makes me cranky is a company like Amazon taking on the role of the government and trying to cripple WL. To my simple mind, however, I would have thought it should be just a matter of moving the whole site to another web-hosting service. Unless somehow they have killed wikileaks.org. Hopefully this could not happen. Happy to be enlightened.
    jonc2011
    • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

      @jonc2011 Amazon is not about trying to be the role of Government, Amazon is in the USA and can be held liable and itself shut down if the US government says that it is abetting an illegial act - thus any US firm will shut off any other firm if it thinks that it can itself be shut down and be fined / thrown in jail / ruined by the Federal / State government - even if proven in the long run no crime has been done. Preventing a possibility of being held accountable is what the people running are SUPPOSED to do. Thus, no matter if liked or not, they are doing things in the best interest of the people who own the company.
      TAPhilo
      • American justice?

        @TAPhilo
        Guilty til proven innocent. If the law doesn't fit, change it!
        jonc2011
      • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

        @TAPhilo

        So they were blackmailed or extorted? Another great moral victory for the US.
        tonymcs@...
    • Right

      @jonc2011 ... they are doing what's in the best interest of the company, which is assist the government in suppressing information they don't like.

      Why have secret police do one's dirty work when you can just call up corporations and have them do it for you.
      HollywoodDog
  • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

    If a Chinese guy stole from the Chines government & they hounded him, wanted to put him in jail, attached his site, can you just imagine the pious platitudes regards freedom etc that would flow from America! Your country and government are a joke!
    kcastan
  • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

    Where ever the database of documents already released ends up being hosted, it's gonna rival Wikipedia in rankings for years to come. Every policy wonk and conspiracy freak from all over the world is going to link to this stuff till the proverbial cows come home and then link some more.

    I wouldn't worry about SEO. I'd worry about covering bandwidth and server costs.

    At least until sometime next week, when truly secure, fast and decentralized p2p networks emerge (no, tor doesn't count). Then, SEO will die and Google with it, relics of the WWW age.

    The writing is already on the wall with torrent trackers. Now, imagine a distributed tracker that has swallowed a distributed indexing service. Welcome to the real Web 2.0, hope you have enough valuable content to matter here.
    chyfre
  • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

    If you want to read Wikileaks, and see Julian Assange narcisssic picture, try <a href="http://213.251.145.96/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://213.251.145.96/</a> (Roubaix, France) or <a href="http://www.wikileaks.ch/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.wikileaks.ch/</a> . Not hell or heaven, just business as usual, as London shops during the Blitz.

    And download the latest mirror map at http://wikileaks.ch/mirrors.html
    ebolavir
    • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

      @ebolavir

      Yep

      "Wikileaks is currently mirrored on 507 sites (updated 2010-12-06 14:02 GMT)"

      Good luck on taking them down ;-)
      tonymcs@...
  • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

    @tonymcs

    So, after publishing 1,000 or so documents, Wikileaks has managed to find 0 situations requiring legal investigations in the United States.

    Their espionage has failed to justify itself through any disclosures of hidden truths that the public needed to know.

    In the meantime, they have lied to people, thrown irrational conspiracy theories around, broken multiple laws, and that's all okay with you.

    Wikileaks advocates are now engaged in using DDOS attacks to shut down any business that refuses to do business with Wikileaks -- thus ensuring Wikileaks' "free speech" at the cost of everyone else's free speech.

    Is that really the world you people want to live in? That's called a dictatorship where I come from. Totalitarianism doesn't provide truth and transparency. Abusing people because they don't agree with you and don't want to see more laws violated is NOT a free and democratic process.

    It's time for people to stop rampaging across the Internet on behalf of Julian Assange and his criminal gang and realize that justice will only be served when those people are tried for their crimes.
    Michael Martinez
  • RE: WikiLeaks: In SEO Heaven or SEO Hell?

    "Yes, I?m as tired of hearing about them as everyone else, but I?m here to wax SEOic?" - is a frightening statement in itself. Successfully shutting down WikiLeaks, would provide the tools for governments (whether superpowers or banana republics), corporations, and others to shut down anyone who provided material that presented an "unsatisfactory" image.

    Drop shipping toasters and meds may be common uses for the internet, but free exchange of information might be a little more critical to all of us.
    chalicemedia
  • Message has been deleted.

    optixit