Back when link building meant creating 50 links in a day with citations, social bookmarking, email spamming while wearing a giant, leather, old FUBU jersey with DJ Jazzy Jeff playing, I thought link building was difficult. But, nowadays, it’s even more difficult than that…and requires less sportswear.
There are a ton of linking options right at my fingertips. I can find new linking options for whatever I want, whenever I want…especially if I’m not bothered by that big, awkward message in Google Search Console stating there is suspicious linking activity [insert sarcastic tone].
Let’s be honest: Link building has evolved. I have to be picky about where I’m building links to now. I have to find a niche. I have to understand where my target audience lives. And, I have to provide them with quality content that engages them to lower my bounce rate, increase time on site, and ultimately be good enough for the user to click, comment, and share my content.
Whether you prefer to risk it with the black-hat tactics and sweater vests of 1995, or would rather progress forward, you have to get your content shared. When you’re creating epic content, people deserve to see it.
So, how do you get your content seen by millions?
This is a topic often discussed at SEJ. There are tons of content promotion ideas and link building techniques to get your work to reach the right people. But, what are the right channels? Is it social? Blogs? Social bookmarking? Today, I’m going to focus on the topic of social bookmarking as a link building tactic.
Let’s dig in.
The Pros of Social Bookmarking
Social bookmarking works when done with the purpose to build an authentic community.
Just take a look at Process Street. They stated, “Over the past 30 days at Process Street, around 11% of the traffic to our blog came from social bookmarking sites like Reddit, Inbound, and GrowthHackers.”
StumbleUpon became the #2 traffic driver for Cisco.
At SEJ, StumbleUpon alone brought us 5,787 pageviews in the month of July. It also shows in our #SurveySays Twitter poll results that StumbleUpon is a top social referrer for others.
And, advertising on social bookmarking sites work. Brent Csutoras goes in-depth on how to advertise on Reddit in a recent #SEJThinkTank webinar:
Here’s a peek into my StumbleUpon and Reddit campaigns I ran for $5.00 a day for 2 days.
Our own Danny Goodwin mentions a new Promoted User Posts feature on Reddit that rolled out on August 4 of this year. So, social bookmarking sites still want to be in the content promotion game. There is proof that it does work. Brands just have to find the right way to connect to users using these platforms.
Social Bookmarking Site List
Remember my old, leather FUBU jersey? Well, here’s my list of 50+ social bookmarking sites I used for link building back when that FUBU jersey was in style.
- Bibsonomy: Looking for research on mental health or gestational diabetes? Then, check out Bibsonomy. It is the medical social bookmarking site for all things health-related.
- Bizsugar: Similar to Reddit, users can use upvotes or “sugars” to push news tips to the top of the homepage. Bizsugar is most related to small business topics.
- BLOGbookmark: General, all-in-one social bookmarking tool, BLOGbookmark allows you to submit a story and upvote to the homepage.
- Blog Engage: This site targets bloggers who want to share tips on blogging and technology. You can comment on stories, participate in forums, and share stories in groups.
- BlogMarks: Headquartered in France so a large chunk of their bookmarks are in French. BlogMarks is invite only now.
- Blurpalicious: Similar to HubPages, Blurpalicious wants you to create (or repurpose content) on their site.
- BOOKMAX: Allows you to sort and organize your bookmarks in one place.
- BuddyMarks: Another social bookmarking manager tool.
- Citeulike: Store and sort your social bookmarks.
- Cloudytags: Once you create an account, you can submit a link to create a cloud tag.
- Craftjuice: Centered around all things you would see at JoAnn Fabrics or Hobby Lobby so if you’re not submitting a link about knitting or scrapbooking, this isn’t the site for you.
- del.icio.us: You pretty much create your own personal search engine with the links you can save here. It’s awesome.
- Design Bump: A social bookmarking site for designers who are searching for tutorials, tips, or advice on topics ranging from tattoos to graphic design to photography.
- design float: Dedicated to web designers seeking tips on the best web font to use or a reliable hosting software.
- Designer News: A community of designer-friendly topics on trends, technology, and news. Plus, they’ve got a podcast!
- Diigo: Diigo keeps me organized with tags, lists, and smancy add-on features on my browser like post-it notes and highlights.
- Digg: My daily Digg Slack alert is something I look forward to every day. Digg shares the top stories from the internet.
- DZone: Site for web developers and website owners in all programming languages from python to java to HTML5.
- Fark: In order to Fark, you must become a member of Fark. Members are called Farkers (not to be confused with Fockers). Can you tell I just like using the word Fark?
- Flickr : This is my go-to source online photo management. And, you can share your photos with people around the world. Pretty cool, huh?
- Folkd: Using the star-button to upvote, Folkd is similar to other bookmarking sites to help discover top trending stories.
- Google Bookmarks: Free for all Google account users, Google bookmarks allows you to add notes and labels.
- GrowthHackers: They allow you to share your growth hacking projects with other community members. It’s awesome.
- Hacker News: Focused on computer science and entrepreneurship, Hacker News enables other progammers to share what they are working on.
- Hubpages: By creating a community profile, you’re able to submit (or repurpose) content to be shared here.
- Inbound.org: Created by the masterminds of Moz and HubSpot, Inbound.org gives online marketers a platform for communicating and sharing experiments, stories, and much more.
- Instapaper: A cool interface that allows me to save articles to my iPhone (or Android) to read later.
- licorize: Connects people who work on the interwebs (like you and me!) all in one place to turn bookmarks into presentations, to-do lists, etc.
- Lifehacker: Life hacks from Gmail productivity to flying tips, anyone can create a profile and contribute to Lifehacker.
- LinkedIn Pulse: Used widely by business professionals, C-Suite executives, and entrepreneurs, LinkedIn Pulse provides a microblogging platform for you to repurpose high-quality content.
- Medium: While Medium is best used to share personal, original stories, it can also be used to repurpose content. Larry Kim is a great example of this.
- Metafilter: You must be an active member for at least a week before you’re allowed to share a link. Meaning, you have to comment, share, and interact with other community members before Metafilter will give you access to share a link.
- NewsMeBack: Journalism, social news, and top stories from around the world will be featured on NewsMeBack.
- Newsvine: Aggregated filter of global news stories that pulls in syndicated content from other news sites like The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
- Quora: Quora is a question-and-answer based site filled with a wide range of topics to discuss and follow. It’s a great place to brainstorm new content ideas.
- Pearltrees: A place where you can save all your images, videos, and content in the same place. You can also upload personal content. And, the interface is easy-to-use.
- Pinboard Similar to del.icio.us, Pinboard gives you a way to organize, tag and sort through your social bookmarks.
- Pinterest My personal favorite visual bookmarking tool allows me to collect images and videos in a clean and organized way.
- Plurk: Another blogging and social network platform for users to share and create content. It’s similar to Twitter in that Plurk wants users to stick to 210 text characters when sharing content.
- Pocket: I don’t know where my life would be without Pocket. You can save images, videos, and content to read for later AND it actually sends traffic to your site.
- Reddit: Once you’ve become a community member, you have the ability to submit links, share content, comment, and upvote on Reddit. Reddit uses these upvotes as a social rating system to aggregate content to the top of the feed.
- Scoop.it!: Hybrid of a social media platform and a content curation tool, Scoop.it!
- Sitebar: A tool to organize your social bookmarks. You can use it as a browser extension for Chrome or Firefox.
- Slashdot: Self-titled “News for nerds” Slashdot hosts stories on science and technology approved by the users.
- SlideShare: If you’ve created an amazing keynote or PowerPoint presentation, you’re going to want to repurpose that on SlideShare.
- StumbleUpon: Known as a discovery search engine, StumbleUpon creates personalized web results based on your likes.
- Surfingbird: By creating collections, Surfingbird takes over-saturated information to deliver you the best results on the web catered to your preferences.
- Techdirt: From technology, legal issues, and government policy stories the Techdirt blog and its editorial staff has the news.
- Tumblr: A mix between blogging and social media, Tumblr is a fun, interactive platform to share different types of media.
- Url.organizer: Easy, simple way to organize and label your favorite links.
- Voat: Voat is very similar to Reddit where users can add subverses (links or stories) and others can vote on those subverses if they are worth sharing.
- We Heart It: Visual-based interface where users can discover popular images and get inspired by trending topics.
- Wikio: Positioned as a top news site, Wikio also shares links to coupons and discounts to product pages.
- Wirefan: Enables users to submit links to content related to sports, lifestyles, technology, pretty much a wide range of topics.
Now, here’s my list of social bookmarking sites today…minus the FUBU jersey.
- LinkedIn Pulse
I cut my social bookmarking list by more than 40% in four years! Why? Because I want high-quality backlinks that are more relevant, useful and just a plain better experience for the user and the brand all-around.
The Cons of Social Bookmarking
Social bookmarking introduces a couple disadvantages to SEO. Social bookmarks seemingly take the authenticity away from organically earning links. SEOs and content marketers become robots executing a strategy of plug-n-play when we should be empowered to solve problems with our content.
You may not need social bookmarking in your SEO strategy. At SEJ, we don’t have a dedicated social bookmarking strategy anymore. Instead, the goal is for our content to earn their own links. Ultimately, some posts may not scale, but we love seeing how our content gets distributed naturally.
When there is no need to dedicate time to share posts on social bookmarking sites, a magical thing happens. You let your content do the work. The “chores” of manually posting links are no longer a burden and you can focus your attention on higher priority items like manually outreaching to people you mentioned in your articles.
Some will argue that you’re not getting the right traffic from social bookmarking sites. Submitting a link to a social bookmarking site may increase traffic, but may reduce your engagement metrics (time on site, conversions, pageviews, etc.) and increase your bounce rate. If one article can produce X traffic from one social bookmarking site, why can’t you produce the equal or more traffic from a social channel? Or, syndicating your content? The reality is that it’s a lot more work.
Developing and managing communities in multiple channels, creating authentic content, and manually performing personalized outreach takes time. It also increases the amount of work on the shoulders of each person doing the work. In order for links to build quickly, SEOs must collaborate with the content team. Ownership of links is now distributed and no longer a plug-n-play tactic.
Another major issue plaguing social bookmarking sites is a little algorithm called Penguin. The more low-quality, non-relevant links you generate, the more red flags you’ll be waving for Penguin to come waddling in. Search engines already have it out for social bookmarking sites. Just take a look at what Google search results brings up when you type in “social bookmarking sites:”
A long list of a whole lotta spam. Links from social bookmarking sites are low on the totem pole. They have low engagement, low conversion rates, and search engines do not like them.
The Hybrid Strategy of Social Bookmarking
So you’ve heard both sides of the story of social bookmarking. Now, you’re trying to decide what’s best for you. Follow these steps for a real, actionable social bookmarking strategy.
1. Know your Audience
Fact is, unless you know who and where your audience is, you probably won’t know what social bookmarking channels they are on. Developing personas from your Google Analytics and social channels will help guide you to determine where to spend your time. For example, if you’re writing a blog on parenting tips, sharing an article on Inbound.org is not going to be useful to you or the audience.
2. Engage in Conversation
It’s always scary to start a conversation for the first time. But, asking questions, leaving comments, and recommending another person submission, even if you don’t know them personally creates a community of engagement. This technique works because people love sharing if your content makes the right connection.
3. Say ‘Thank You’ to Others
Before you begin posting, the temptation to only submit your own content may be high. Resist the urge. Just take some time to share and promote others work. It’s a way to say thank you to others.
4. Casually Self-Promote
Finally, when you think you’ve nailed it on a great piece, pick your social bookmarking site to share. You should have your personas built out for each social bookmarking site you’re building your community on so you’ll know which piece will perform best where. For instance, my article on Google Adwords probably won’t hit the top of the charts on Pinterest. Be selective. Be courtesy to your audience on each social bookmarking site.
Okay, Your Turn!
It’s an awesome feeling to watch the pageviews of your content continue to rise as the day’s progress on after submitting a new post to StumbleUpon or Reddit, and there is no shortage of social bookmarking sites to help you get there. But, link building is now link earning. And, link earning is no longer about link chasing. So, do you develop a social bookmarking strategy? Or, do look grow your community elsewhere? I’d love to know more about the tools, channels, and strategies you use for social bookmarking.
Do you still use social bookmarking as a link building tool? If yes, which social bookmarking sites do you use to distribute content? Feel free to share in the comments below!