Social bookmarking allows web users to search, share, organize, and store the bookmarks of different web pages. This can be done publicly or privately (in private groups), or a combination of the two. People who are allowed to view the bookmarks can view them using a variety of different functions to sort and tag them.
Most of the services that provide social bookmarking encourage you to organize bookmarks with informal tags. They allow bookmarks to be viewed with their associations to the tag, including information on the users that bookmarked those sites. Some services will even have RSS feeds for their lists, and you will be alerted when new bookmarks are shared, tagged, or saved.
The tagging and descriptions used in bookmarking is referred to as external meta data and can have huge benefits in SEO, because the information used in the tagging is not controlled by the site owners, but by the public. In essence, the information in external meta tags should be much more valuable than external inbound link anchor text or directory co citation. Especially if there are hundreds or thousands of users tagging these sites.
NoFollow is a non-standard HTML attribute value which is used to police the outbound link value of user generated content, especially blog commenting. NoFollow is used to communicate with search engines to tell them that a link should not be used to pass on link juice, or “PageRank”.
The idea is that it will help reduce people who spam links, making sure that search engines get better results when keywords are searched, and many social bookmarking sites havee implemented this strategy. However, there are social bookmarking sites that do not use nofollow in their HTML tags, and this is important for you to understand when you are developing your social SEO strategies.
Social Bookmarking Sites Which Don’t Use NoFollow
- Listible is a newer social bookmarking site, and it is very random. You can start a list about anything from TV theme songs to Firefox extensions. Users can then rate items and leave their comments.
- Furl, one of the services offered by LookSmart, allows you to copy web pages and then save, search, and share them. This social bookmarking site is great for everything from job searches to research papers to shopping lists. You can access Furl from any computer, and your favorites are always accessible.
- Yahoo My Web 2.0 Beta is a social search engine, meaning that people and the search engine technology work in harmony to create the optimum search experience. You can browse by keyword or search out interesting subjects. It offers you a way to bookmark and network simultaneously.
- Propeller is a hybrid of social bookmarking and social news sharing, with a voting system like Digg and hot stories, but it’s also owned by AOL, uses organic links in its stories, and also includes bookmark style tagging.
- Flickr gives social bookmarking a different spin – the site is all about photos. You can upload and tag your favorites, and then other users can bookmark them and share them with their friends. You can even leave comments as to why you like or do not like a particular image. Flickr lets its users place an HTML link in their photo descriptions – perfect for high rankings and relevant link juice.
- Digg.com can get a little crazy and confusing, since it is open for anyone to post sites and leave comments. The users of Digg.com are not shy about telling the world how they feel about different sites (especially if your story or ‘bookmark’ makes the homepage after receiving enough votes), and most of the posts are featured around technology items.
- Technorati Faves is a great place to bookmark sites on an authority social site without having the use of NoFollow cast a shadow on your links.
- Slashdot is the original when it comes to social bookmarking sites. Slashdot offers both personal bookmarks and summaries of stories which may or may not be approved to make it to the homepage. Users can submit links and stories and have other users leave comments. Submissions do have to be pre-approved, which is a downside for some users.
- Searchles is a social bookmarking oriented search engine with tagging, video upload, groups and voting. It’s also run by a search company, DumbFind, so they’ve made it extra search engine friendly.
Know of any more social bookmarking sites which don’t use NoFollow? Add some in the comments at the end of this post.
With your knowledge of the top social bookmarking sites that do not use nofollow, you can appropriately add these to your linking strategy. Remember, if a social bookmarking sites uses nofollow links, then your website will not garner the link juice benefits from these backlinks.
The Real Power of Social Bookmarks
However, don’t overlook the power of social bookmarking, especially for the major sites which use NoFollow, because their tags and external meta data can still be used to qualify and classify major sites. Del.icio.us and StumbleUpon should be your major social bookmarking sites to join because even if you don’t get the longterm link benefits of a No Follow, you’ll have the long term benefits of external meta data, votes and traffic (Delicious and StumbleUpon combined drove about 10,000 users to this story about using Images in Blog Posts over the past two days.)
Here’s a recap from a story I did in August about the direct influence of social bookmarking on search engines (read the whole thing).
How Search Engines Can Use Social Bookmarks
- Indexing Sites Faster : Humans bookmark sites launched by their friends or colleagues before a search engine bot can find them.
- Deeper Indexing : Many pages bookmarked are deep into sites and sometimes not as easily linked to by others, found via bad or nonexistent site navigation or linked to from external pages.
- Defining Quality : If someone takes the time to bookmark a site, it usually has some quality to it.
- Measuring Quality : Essentially if more users bookmark a page, the more quality and relevance that site has. A site with multiple bookmarks across multiple bookmarking services by multiple users is much more of an authority than a site with only several bookmarks by the same user.
- External Meta Data : Users who bookmark sites tag them with keywords and descriptions which add an honest and unbiased definition which is created by the public and not the owner of the site.
- Co Citation : Social bookmarking sites tend to categorize sites and pages based upon the tags used by humans to describe the site; therefore search algortihms can classify these sites with their peers.
In addition, by indexing the social measurement variables such as commenting and votes at Digg, Reddit, Netscape and various niche oriented (all of those Pligg powered hubs), search engine algorithms can also benefit from social news sharing sites by:
- Number of Votes : Similar to the number of bookmarks, the more votes a page receives on Digg or Reddit, the more useful that information usually is. If the same page receives multiple votes across multiple social news voting sites, the higher quality the site.
- Categorization : Like Co Citation, categorization can help define the subject of a site, therefore better helping the engine address searcher intent.
- Commenting : The number of comments can be compared to the number of votes, the higher the comment to voting ratio, the more relevant the news story or site was to the user; therefore, more relevant to the searcher.
- Relevant Sites : Techmeme and Propeller (and hopefully soon Digg) suggest relevant pages and sites to the stories which make their ‘popular’ categorical pages via intra-linking or blog index monitoring. Engines can learn from these projects to help users find alternative or relevant selections in their search results.
To the best of my knowledge, no search engines are currently implementing all of these theories into their current algorithms, but we cannot overlook that Microsoft and Google are/were partners of Digg, Yahoo owns Del.icio.us and AOL runs Propeller (Netscape). These social services also offer API’s and are completely open to search spidering, which makes these variables mentioned above available to search engines for the taking.