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What is social bookmarks?

Social bookmarking communities can increase traffic to your web site

The purpose of social bookmarks is to give users a place online to store links to their favorite web pages. These bookmarks are available to any computer with Internet access. This saves the trouble of trying to remember a web site address when you are not on your local machine.

Social bookmarking takes advantage of new online communities where users can submit URLs for other people to review. Pages of interest to the viewers are “tagged” with keywords, available in proprietary search engines and voted for as community favorites.

The concept has been pushed forward by allowing other users to view your bookmarks. The premise is simple: if you liked a certain web site and see that someone else also tagged that site you may be interested in other bookmarks the other party has stored - you have some interests in common and by sharing the links you have saved you get access to the sites other people with similar interests have as well as promote the sites that interest you.

Depending on the service, newly submitted pages may appear on that web site’s home page giving exposure to thousands of visitors. Some services require a certain amount of bookmarks before they appear on the home page.

Pages with important, unique and insightful content can get hundreds of votes and thousands of new visitors in the course of a couple days.

Most Popular Social Bookmark Communities - has an almost Google-like appearance. It’s white and plain. This makes it easy to use. has it’s own blog and offers an RSS feed of it’s home page which includes new links and popular links broken down by category. also offers the Firefox plug-in which makes bookmarking sites fast and easy. recently made headlines by being purchased by Yahoo! The transition will help as they have been having problems with servers and keeping power.

Digg - Digg sets itself apart from many of the other social bookmark sites by allowing its users to submit stories that are then voted for (”digged”) by the community. Digg is one of the most popular social bookmark sites and the one I have had the most success with for getting traffic to 14th Colony.

Digg offers news feeds for the site itself or you can have your own tagged links available in a feed. This can make locating your bookmarks even easier as you don’t have to log in to see your saved links. You can also get feeds of other people’s saved links - including groups of people defined in your “friends” group.

Digg also offers a Firefox plug-in again making the process of tagging a page fast and easy.

Finally, Digg offers the new “digg spy” which rotates up and coming stories using JavaScript to display the results in real time. Digg is among the most developed social bookmark sites.

Technorati - Technorati doesn’t tag individual web pages but instead concentrates on entire blogs. Some blog packages ping technorati automatically, including WordPress. Technorati also includes a fully functioning search engine. As they say, “Technorati is the authority on what’s going on in the world of weblogs.”

Technorati has a clean and simple look and feel. It is easy to navigate. You can add feeds to your “watchlist” to see which other blogs link to it. This is a great way to track friends and competitors. To claim a blog as your own you have to add a small JavaScript to your site. When Technorati is able to ping the script it gives you credit as the blog owner.

Technorati has great media relations and has even teamed up with Dateline NBC. Dateline is running an ongoing series coving the most popular blog stories as defined by Technorati.

Technorati offers it’s own blog. The blog covers all the new developments including design changes, gear for sale, and news appearances. Technorati also offers several unique features such as a mobile version, mini version, and a developer center.

14th Colony was a “featured blog” on Technorati’s home page for just a few minutes in the middle of the day and it sent dozens of extra visitors my way.

Technorati shows clear dedication to everything they do. Every page and feature carries a brief description so the viewer is never lost. This along with cutting edge technology and a clean look makes Technorati fun to surf around at!

Furl - Furl is owned by LookSmart which specializes in vertical search. LookSmart also owns and NetNanny. Furl doesn’t just store a bookmark of a page, it actually stores a cached version of the page! Each member has a 5 gigabit storage limit for their archive.

When other users see your links they are directed back to the originating site and not the cached version (this helps Furl get around copyright issues).

This approach makes Furl different from other social bookmarking sites. The intent for Furl isn’t to just give you access to a list of links but to actually be your “online memory”. The service is especially important for people that want to save a lot of interesting articles where bookmarks may not be enough to remind you what the articles are about.

Furl also recommends new pages to you based on your past “Furls”.

Furl practically insists users install the browser plug-ins they have developed. They support not just Firefox but also Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, AOL and some lesser known browsers. Furl guarantees their plug-ins are not spyware.

Furl is well financed and it shows. The design is clean and branded to match the rest of the LookSmart properties. The site is also well developed with 50 categories on display. - is a clone of based on open source technology. This site is fairly crude and lacks a lot of the polish better-funded sites display. - Basically a clone of Digg, Shoutwire works on a similar principle but instead of “Diggs” users vote with “Shouts”. Shoutwire has been growing quickly and has expanded to 40 categories over the last few weeks. Shoutwire does not offer any browser plug-ins yet but you can pull RSS feeds.

Social Bookmarking Effects on SEO

Social bookmarking is already having an effect on search engine optimization. As the search engines crawl the social bookmark sites the links saved in profiles are public and thus spiderable. Popular stories that make it to the home page also get crawled.

Social bookmarking fits within the theory of link popularity that search engines - especially Google - put so much emphasis on. The more links (or votes) a site gets, the better it must be. With social bookmarking individual users get to vote for web sites.

Yahoo! clearly sees the value of social bookmarking from a commercial point of view. Yahoo! owns both and Flickr. It may just be a matter of time until the search engines start applying “story popularity” in their algorithms.

Tips to Get the Most from Social Bookmarking

Know your audience! - Each community has it’s own strengths and interests. If your article is outside of those interests the response will be less than stellar. The most popular topics across the board are technology, business, politics, entertainment and pop culture.

Don’t bother with run-of-the-mill - Social bookmarkers are not interested in the mundane. They want quality articles with complete and thorough information. You have to make it worth their effort to tag the page!

Make it easy - Remind and encourage social bookmarkers to tag your pages by putting direct links up.

Be gracious - Odds are you will rarely, maybe never, encounter someone that tagged your site. But if you do, be grateful and encouraging. Remember you are dealing with a “community” and reputations spread. Nobody owes you a link.


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