I have been thinking about posting on this subject (slightly different to my normal ‘how to’ and ‘techniques’ postings that I normally do) for quite a while. It actually comes out of analysis that I have done for several websites that have benefited from the Social Bookmarking in a big way in terms of driving traffic to the site. Bearing in mind that the sites that I work on tend to be media sites that sell advertising, you can see where the potential is. I am going to tell you what it is (although I am sure you all know), how it works (again, I am sure you all know) and some fringe benefits that I’ve discovered.
What is Social Bookmarking?
Social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to store, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web pages on the Internet with the help of metadata. Anyone can look up the meaning of a term in wikipedia, so what does this mean in real terms. Basically it means that if you like something, you can post it to a social bookmarking site who’ll then put it on their site. If other people also like it, they can vote for it and give it a better ranking and thus more prominence.
It’s something that tells you that the page that is linked to has been voted as one of the best pages.
Who uses social bookmarking?
Lots of people. Hitwise has Digg in the top 250 websites used in the UK and stumbleupon in the top 125. These people are young, they might be a bit geeky, but overall they are the people who are going to be contributing to your website. Want User Generated content? Get this lot in here – not only do they go around bookmarking pages, but they’ll comment on your pages as well. They’ll make suggestions of things you can change. They’ll blog about you on their own websites. These are the people who generate the noise.
Remember that 90% of your audience will only read. 9% will contribute comments. 1% will go that extra yard for you. These are the ones that are giving you stuff that you never dreamed of and don’t really need to work to get.
Essentially our job is to make it as easy as possible first for that 9% to contribute or interact with our pages. Secondly we want to make it as easy as possible to for the 1% to do that extra stuff for us. If that means that we have to put some buttons on the top or bottom of our pages, then so be it.
Other Benefits of Social Bookmarking
For years now we have been told that to get a better SEO system going on, we need to build more relevant links. This is all very well and good, but how do you do that in a mass scale without going round lots of sites asking them for links. Or going around blogs and posting comments so that they’ll link back. Social bookmarking is one easy way of doing this.
Take for example the New Scientist story about 13 things that don’t make sense. Ignore for the moment that some of them do make sense. This got picked up about two years ago by Digg. 2102 people digged it. That means that at least that number of people read it. That article was published in March 2005 almost 3 years ago now. That means that a year after it had first been published it go picked up and over 2100 people voted for it as a popular argument. Don’t forget that we have a 90/10 rule so that means that probably over 20,000 visitors clicked on the links (although actually it is more like 150,000 visits).
Don’t forget our little rule of one as well – 104 people commented on the Digg page. They’ve gone the extra mile and decided that not only are they going to look at the page but they are going to add extra bits in for the other users who may look at the page. That is the bit that adds the extra engagement and gives value.
Ok, so we’ve got 104 people commenting, but look at this – there are actually over 2,000 pages that have “13 things that do not make sense” on their page outside of New Scientist. All those posts, articles, forums, etc that have been ranked in google that are referencing the New Scientist story can only be good for firstly traffic to the page (generate pound sterling for the company) and for the SEO effort surrounding the pages (generating even more pound sterling for the company).
All this means that Digg has actually only generated less than 30% of the traffic to this page (long tails). Bearing in mind that all this was done a year after the article had been first written, it shows how NewScientist has benefited in the long run from being picked up by social bookmarking sites.
And just to prove that NewScientist aren’t the only ones who can do it. Here is Flight Global with their take on a NASA story. Here again we’ve ended up with some 1,250 pages with the title of the FlightGlobal article in it.
So what do you need to do? You need to make sure that you are building your pages to allow Social Bookmarking sites to pick you up. How do you do this? Well apart from the BBC’s way as mentioned earlier – there is always the Guardians approach. Or I am sure you could be inventive and come up with your own way.