The better question may actually be “how often does Wikipedia NOT appear during a Google search?” A recent post on February 8, 2012 on a blog by the name of Intelligent Positioning revealed some interesting statistics based on its own research regarding search on Google UK. This particular study showed that Wikipedia, at least from this blog’s standpoint, truly is king.
Be cognizant the next time you are performing an online search for just about any topic using Google. The first SERP will more than likely feature a Wikipedia page with many of those results outperforming the official website for the subject matter you were searching for, a trend that upsets many webmasters. Think about it – anyone can edit a page on Wikipedia, which means that quite often the content on that site is poorly written and full of grammatical errors. A webmaster that takes the time to craft relevant, well-written content is sure to be irritated if pages from his site rank lower than Wiki pages on the same topic.
This does not appear to be a trend that will change anytime soon. According to the study performed by Intelligent Positioning a Wikipedia page has a 56% chance of appearing as the Number One spot for any search, a 96% chance of appearing within the Top Five and an absolutely staggering figure of 99% to appear in a Top Ten search. That 99% becomes even more astonishing when an individual considers the fact that the Intelligent Positioning study showed a mere eight terms that did not generate a Top Ten Wiki result: flight; mail; national; news; phone; sweets; trainers and wardrobe.
The study researched 1000 different nouns. Critics will exclaim that 1000 is too small a number to generate conclusive results which is true. However, this small study does at least give us a small indicator of how often Wikipedia does appear on page one of searches performed on Google. Try typing in a few different searches on Google and see for yourself how often a Wiki page appears on page one of the SERP.