Welcome to the eighteenth unit in the ‘Journey Into Internet Marketing’ training series. In this module, we are going to look at social bookmarking, what it is and where it fits into your online marketing activities.
As you will discover as we work our way through, there is a very close tie between social bookmarking and effective link creation. If therefore you have not studied and thoroughly understood the previous tutorial – Part 17 – Effective SEO Link Building, I would strongly recommend that you do so now.
Although it sometimes seems as if the Internet has been around forever, it is in fact only 30 years old. But in this very short lifespan, most online media and marketing experts recognize two distinct developmental phases.
The first phase is now known as Web 1.0, an era where the Internet was a one-way communication tool through which businesses and individuals sent information without any form of interaction.
Web 2.0 on the other hand is all about user interaction and online participation. As an example, when a business uses the Internet to distribute information nowadays, recipients can ask questions, disagree with expressed opinions or place and pay for orders online.
Social bookmarking is a phenomenon that has grown out of the ever-increasing element of interaction that is now accepted as an everyday part of the Internet.
It is a way for Internet users to share and organize information so that other web users with similar interests can be directed towards that content. However, unlike file sharing, what is shared in the world of social bookmarking is a bookmark that links to the content, rather than the content itself.
The most popular social bookmarking sites are effectively online communities. They are communal meeting places where members log on to post bookmarks that direct other users to interesting materials elsewhere on the web.
The kind of materials and information that get posted to social bookmarking sites are as diverse as the Internet itself.
Nevertheless, one common social bookmarking factor is that users post bookmarks because they want like-minded individuals to discover content that they believe they will enjoy.
This idea of posting links to interesting content is the most important aspect of social bookmarking as far as your online marketing efforts are concerned. This is because every bookmark leads to a website somewhere.
For example, imagine that you have published a really interesting or challenging article on your site. If this article is found and bookmarked to a social site, there are two ways you might benefit.
In the first scenario, other social bookmarking site members will find the bookmark, like it, and visit your site as a result. Because they liked the bookmarked link and followed it, most of these visitors will be targeted, which is exactly what you want.
Secondly, the fact that your link is posted on the social bookmarking site generates a one-way incoming link to your site. And as you discovered in the previous tutorial, one-way incoming links are extremely valuable.
This is especially true because many social bookmarking sites are very highly rated by Google. As an example, Slashdot.org is a specialized ‘techie’ social bookmarking site with a homepage that merits a Google Page Rank of 9/10.
In short, having your content materials submitted to and published on a social bookmarking site can generate targeted traffic and extremely valuable one-way incoming links.
The problem with the bookmarking scenario so far is that you are relying on others to bookmark your content. What happens if they don’t?
A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece in which I totally disagreed with a leading online expert with whom everyone else seemed to agree.
I didn’t do this to be difficult or controversial. On the contrary, my disagreement was genuinely felt and well reasoned. Nevertheless, it was a controversial viewpoint and one that many other marketers disagreed with.
But because they disagreed, they also bookmarked the article. As a result, it appeared on the homepage of a couple of leading social sites.
This sent more than 10,000 unique visitors to my site within 48 hours as well as generating extremely valuable incoming links.
Albeit by accident, I had hit on one of the most important social bookmarking secrets. If you want people to bookmark your content for you, it has to be ‘out of the ordinary’ enough to force them to do so.
When social site users bookmark a particular content piece, they are to an extent putting social community standing on the line.
They are not therefore going to bookmark an article if it is average because doing so damages their credibility with other bookmarking members.
If on the other hand your content is challenging, controversial, hilariously funny, insulting, contrary or downright outrageous, some of those who see it will bookmark it.
This is one way of forcing others to bookmark your materials for you. Unfortunately, not everyone is good at creating outrageous content.
Even if you are, there is no guarantee that other social bookmarking users will see what you have written if (for example) it is published on your own site which is rarely visited.
You therefore need a ‘plan B’…
Plan ‘B’ is…?
If despite your best efforts to be controversial and outrageous, your materials are still not being socially bookmarked by your site visitors, you should become actively involved in making sure it happens.
In simple terms, you do the bookmarking yourself instead of waiting for other people to bookmark your content for you.
The first thing to understand about bookmarking your own content is that there is nothing wrong about doing so, and you break no social bookmarking rules either.
It is also something that almost all online marketers do. Hence, bookmarking your own materials is a practice that should be an integral part of your overall marketing plan.
To be able to submit content that you want to bookmark, the first thing you must do is register with the social bookmarking site to which you are going to submit.
For example, if you want to submit a bookmark link to Digg, you start by clicking the ‘Join Digg’ link on the home page:
After this, you need to complete the simple application form to open your free account:
You will need to check your e-mail address to confirm the new account information. When you do so, you will be asked whether you want to add additional details to your site profile:
Whilst it is not obligatory, I would definitely recommend it because there is an element of credibility involved in becoming accepted within the social bookmarking community.
If you have a site profile, you become a lot more credible and real, whereas ignoring the profile creation process is standard ‘bookmarking spammer’ practice. Taking a moment or two to complete your profile is therefore well worth it.
You are now ready to submit your first bookmark link:
This takes you to the first submission page. On this page, you need to add the exact URL of the content that you want to bookmark and specify what kind of content it is:
Click the ‘Continue’ button to move to the next page where you complete the process.
Add a title that includes your main keyword term and an attractive description that again includes your keyword phrase:
Some sites ask for a list of ‘tags’, additional keywords that people who are looking for content of this nature might use when they search the social site.
Digg does not ask for ‘tags’ so all you need do is select the right topic category before hitting the final button to submit your bookmark.
The home page key is…
When you hit the submit button, there are some social sites where your content materials are analyzed for suitability before publication. Others add the content to the ‘new materials’ section of the site automatically.
In both cases, once your content is added to the ‘new’ section, one of two things happens.
If your article is controversial or challenging enough and you have uploaded it with a good title, a snappy description and appropriate tags (where relevant), other site users will begin to find it within a matter of minutes.
If they do and they like it, they ‘vote it up’ or if they don’t like it, they either read it and leave or in the worst case scenario, they give it a ‘thumbs down’.
If you get enough ‘up’ votes, your article might get pushed on to the homepage in which case, you will see a torrent of visitors:
If on the other hand it is voted down, you content could well disappear from view within 24 to 48 hours.
As suggested in the previous section, not every piece of content you bookmark will be a home run.
On the flip side, if you bookmark every piece of content you publish everywhere on the Internet including articles on directories, new content added to your mini-sites, videos, forum postings and the like, the law of averages dictates that some will be successful.
The problem with submitting information about every content piece that you publish is that there could be an awful lot of work involved.
As an example, if you were to submit information about half a dozen different articles that you published on the same day to 30 or 40 social bookmarking sites, it would wipe out your whole working day.
Nevertheless, the only realistic way of achieving social bookmarking success is to submit details about as much of your content as you can, as often as you can.
For this reason, instead of submitting information about your content manually, you should take advantage of a mass social submitter like Socialmarker.com.
On the site home page, you will see a list of all of the social bookmarking sites to which you can submit information through the site at no cost:
Before you are in a position to start submitting bookmarks to these sites, the first thing you need is to open an account with each.
Although this is a time consuming (and frankly tedious) task, it is one that you only have to subject yourself to the very first time! You can also use an automatic form-filler like Roboform or the one that is provided with the free Google toolbar to speed the process up as well.
Once you have all of your accounts set up, use Socialmarker to submit information about your new content to the social sites listed by completing one simple form. This is at the top right hand corner of the home page as seen here:
The title of your bookmark should include your keyword as should your description. You insert the exact URL of the content that you are submitting, a list of keyword tags, and hit the ‘Submit’ button at the bottom.
When you do so, Socialmarker will submit your information to every social bookmarking site in the list that you have checked.
The last time I counted, there were nearly 50 social bookmarking sites listed on the page. This is a small fraction of the social bookmarking market, but these are nevertheless the leading sites to which your bookmark should be submitted.
When you do so, it is undoubtedly extremely tempting to submit your information to every listed social site every time you use SocialMarker.
However, most experienced marketers agree that ‘strafe bombing’ the social bookmarking sites like this is a mistake.
In the same way that you have spam e-mail, it is not unknown for social sites to be spammed. If you submit your bookmarks to every site every time, there is a serious risk that you will be viewed as a spammer.
Instead of bombarding the social sites every time you publish new content, I would recommend that you do something like this.
When you first publish a brand-new website and add content to it for the very first time, send information about this content to every social bookmarking site you can find.
After this however, change your tactics.
From this point on, no matter where your new content is published, submit information about it to half a dozen randomly selected social bookmarking sites.
Do not think about submitting information to every social site until the next time you create a brand-new site or blog. At this point, submit the details to every site but only do it once.
You should also ‘mix and match’ the sites from where you bookmark content and the social sites that those bookmarks are submitted to.
As an example, you publish an article on half a dozen of the top article directories including EzineArticles. You bookmark the link to this article on the EzineArticles article site to Digg, Slashdot, StumbleUpon, Backflip and Fetch.
An hour later, you publish another article to the same half dozen directories. This time, you bookmark the link to the article at GoArticles with Propeller, Spurl, Netvouz, Fark, Reddit, Del.icio.us and Diigo. A bookmark from a given directory has been sent to completely different social bookmarking sites, with even the number of submissions being different.
Randomizing your submissions in this way is the most effective strategy for harnessing the power of social bookmarking without overdoing it.
Whilst the thought of ‘carpet bombing’ the social sites has obvious appeal, the reality is that the only thing that this achieves is to get you flagged as a spammer. Oh, and it probably gets your account closed down as well.
As suggested, randomization of both the ‘from’ and ‘to’ elements of social bookmarking is a good thing.
Another way that some more active social bookmarkers add additional randomization to their submissions is to have several accounts with each social site.
This enables them to submit content using a different submission account every day.
As far as I’m aware, there is nothing in the rules of most social bookmarking sites to prohibit this. However, the strategy is not as effective as it might at first appear because the social sites detect your submission IP address even if the account username is different.
To ensure that this method is effective, you therefore need to use a proxy server to mask your IP address.
For this reason, some marketers feel that this is a ‘blackhat’ technique, a tactic that is a little underhand although it is definitely not illegal.
Every piece of content you publish on the net should be submitted to social bookmarking sites. Because the bookmarking sites are so popular with the search engines, this guarantees that your content is picked up and indexed extremely quickly.
Social bookmarking is also an extremely effective way of generating incoming links to your main site and your mini-sites as well.
Furthermore, if by creating content materials that are controversial or challenging you can gain enough ‘thumbs up’ traction to feature on the homepage of a leading social site, you can expect to see a rush of new visitors very quickly.
Most of these visitors will be very well targeted, and whilst this ‘surge’ of traffic will be temporary, my experience is that a proportion of these visitors will become regulars in the future.
It is now recommended you proceed on to Part 19 – Video Marketing Basics.