Does social bookmarking still work?

The world of social bookmarking, much like web directory submissions, can often feel a little murky…

However, when executed with a little thought and strategy, social bookmarking is actually still a very valuable and useful tactic that anyone can utilise.

The key to social bookmarking success is to utilise a variety of sources that deliver traffic, exposure and direct links.

Social bookmarking is very useful from an SEO perspective because:

  • It can increase visitors
  • It can act as a direct & indirect linkbuilding method
  • It can encourage social shares (++social signals!)

The results

(How social bookmarking took us to page 1 of Google.co.uk)

I’m always keen to ‘dog food’ our own services and expertise to help clients understand that what we offer them is actually used daily by myself and my team to great effect. Here’s some of the results we’ve seen by deploying our social bookmarking strategies…

Traffic from WPVote.com to one of our websites

Whilst this isn’t Digg or StumbleUpon levels of traffic, of those 1,585 visitors, 186 became subscribers (which equates to an conversion rate of just over 11%) which is much higher than untargeted traffic that comes from the big social bookmarking websites. This really demonstrates the potential of niche social bookmarking websites in driving traffic that converts – which is the only kind of traffic that really matters.

Sphinn sent 316 visitors to just one blog post

Again, this isn’t “front-page-of-Digg” levels of traffic but this exposure lead directly to a greater volume of Tweets, Likes and +1′s which helped to spread the word even further afield. It also helped to send the blog post temporarily to the front page of Google.co.uk for the keyword “SEO Copywriting” (the post now sits atop page 3).

Successful social bookmarking

Getting the most out of social bookmarking involves sourcing and submitting to the right kinds of websites AND blending different types of websites together to form one campaign.

Build links

Social bookmarking can be used as a direct source of backlinks – some of the medium to high-quality general social bookmarking websites represent very strong link opportunities which don’t necessarily bring much in the way of traffic, but will help to improve your SEO overall. Build links using social bookmarking websites with care as some websites are from bad neighbourhoods and may well do more harm than good. Assess each site as an opportunity in its own right, if you feel the quality of that website doesn’t live up to your expectations then move on and find a different one to place a link with.

Get exposure

There are of course the big name bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Digg and Folkd which offer huge traffic opportunities but traffic isn’t all that targeted and in some cases links are no followed – this isn’t so much of an issue in SEO terms because they’re more of an attention strategy and provide a platform of discovery that can encourage sharing on social networks like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter (remember social signals are playing a part in search results now). They also help other site owners and bloggers discover your work which can indirectly encourage links! There is also every chance that from the avalanche of visitors you receive, a percentage of these will convert into customers, subscribers or repeat visitors.

Drive targeted traffic

Then there are also niche or thematic social bookmarking websites like Sphinn or WPVote.com above. These can drive smaller volumes of more targeted traffic, that doesn’t mean the numbers they drive aren’t significant though so in many ways some thematic bookmarking websites are like the promised land of social bookmarking offering traffic, links and a big audience in one package.

There are quite a few lists out there helping you discover many of the social bookmarking websites that exist however the difficulty comes when you are looking to find a decent social bookmarking website specifically for your industry – the best way is to ask your own networks and industry peers or just Google [Your Industry] + Social bookmarking and you may well just stumble across the Digg for your industry.

Good luck with it. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.

One Comment

  1. avatar
    Matthew August 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    A great post James, thanks for sharing :).

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