Evolution of Social Bookmarking
Bookmark is web terminology that originates from web browsers. Netscape first used the term to refer to all the webpage URLs you would save and then access anytime without typing in long URLs. Its top competitor, then Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), decided to use the term Favorites instead of Bookmarks, but general Internet lingo is Bookmarks.
However, bookmarks were limited. Your bookmarks were saved to your actual computer. So, if you found a great site while at work on your desktop, you couldn’t access it from home. Essentially, bookmarks were not as mobile as the user. Thus web-based bookmarking services appeared. del.icio.us was an early success and their main purpose was to solve the issue of not being able to bring your bookmarks wherever you go.
As more and more of these web-based bookmarking services appeared, bookmark sharing was integrated to enable people to share their bookmarks with others. The thought was, if one person liked it, maybe others would too. Pushing it a step further, was the added element of voting, which was seen in many of the early social bookmarking sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and many more. This feature enables members to vote when they like something (up-vote) and when they dislike something (down-vote), and this was the start of the whole social bookmarking trend – also referred to as Social Voting, Social Rating and in some cases, Social News.
With an ever-increasing number of people using social bookmaking sites as a source for news, events, and basically anything interesting to them, Internet marketers quickly realized the potential of this tool. They began to implement Social Bookmarking strategies as an effective way to spread viral news and generate significant increases in traffic going to their sites.
Basics of Social Bookmarking
The Votes Count
Once you (or someone else) submit your web content (articles, news stories, blog posts, videos, images, etc.) there is no guarantee it will generate traffic. In fact, most social bookmarking sites display content by date and then filter to show the most popular. Essentially, they display the content that received the most votes in the shortest period of time.
Thus, if your website is bookmarked but doesn’t receive any other votes, it will never reach the homepage or other special pages like most votes that day, most popular bookmarks for a specific category.
Most people that go to social bookmarking sites for something interesting to read – or to bookmark themselves – do not explore the less popular content. Not only does it not have recommendations from their peers, it isn’t immediately visible and may need some amount of clicks to access. Unfortunately, this is true even if your bookmark submission was of exceptional quality, or would have been very interesting to the reader. The point here is: without votes, you can have amazing content…but no one will see.
Links from Social Bookmarking
Many social bookmarking websites have been abused for SEO purposes, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Most, if not all, social bookmarking sites have taken measures to curb this abuse and maintain the integrity of their site. StumbleUpon and del.icio.us have the “nofollow” link attributes, which tells search engines not to pass any link popularity value or Google PageRank value. Digg has recently enclosed all bookmarked pages into an HTML frame tag for the same reason.
If you want to make the most out of links from social bookmarking sites for SEO purposes, it is best to look beyond the link you get from the social bookmarking site itself, and concentrate more on link bait ideas. What I mean to say is – social bookmarking sites are just a way to get your content in front of a larger audience and have it shared virally. Votes count for exposure, but where you’ll really see SEO value, is when visitors that find your content on these social bookmarking sites link to your site. You have probably heard from SEO folks that “Content is King.” In SEO, we also say “Links are Queen!”
Making the Most out of Social Bookmarking
You definitely want your site to get bookmarked. You want to get more votes, leading to better exposure, leading to more targeted traffic, and resulting in high potential for links from readers. Here are a few tips that will help you to optimize your social bookmarking strategy.
- Don’t Submit Your Own Content
Social bookmarking sites have algorithms and formulas for ranking. One of the things that factors into this formula is domain. If you submit content that sits on a domain, and are using a user name with a corresponding e-mail address that also sits on that domain, this will affect your ability to rank. Even if the automatic features don’t weed out these submissions, self-promotion is not really welcomed by the active social bookmarking community. It is best that someone else submits the initial vote for your page and you can vote for it after that happens.
- Don’t Vote EXCLUSIVELY for Your Own Content
A pattern of self-interest/self-promotion can be seen if you only vote to promote your own content. Be generous and vote for others as well. Be careful to maintain the quality of your recommendations by voting for something that sparks your interest and has good enough content to keep you interested.
- Always Submit Quality Content
The formulas and algorithms that determine ranking of content, also factor in the quality of content you have submitted in the past. If you frequently submit content that doesn’t receive other votes, the value of your vote is less than someone who frequently submits content that rises to the top.
- Comments Help
Oftentimes comments spark conversations with other bookmarkers, leading to even more comments. When a post has a lot of comments, it entices readers – people want to agree, disagree, or just see what all the buzz is about.
- Establish Friendships with People Who Share Interests
In social media, just like in the real world, if you want to be popular you have to be friends with the popular people. If there are individuals who are in your niche, and have active profiles and lots of friends, it is beneficial to become one of those friends. Not only will they be sharing their bookmarks on quality content with you, you can share yours with them…and if they bookmark it, all of their friends will see it too.
- Submit Your Bookmark Early in the Day
What gets you to the homepage is not just the number of votes, but how fast the votes come in. I have seen many submissions with 60+ Diggs that never reached the homepage and I’ve seen just as many with 35 Diggs that do get the coveted spot. The clock starts ticking, once you hit submit. So be mindful of the times when people are likely to be on these sites and looking for content.