When using a social bookmark service such as IMAutomator it’s an easy trap to fall into to think that you don’t have to do any groundwork and the traffic will just flood in – this is NOT the case! In this post I outline several strategies you can employ to ensure that you’re getting the best SEO benefit from your submissions.
1) Do your on-page SEO first
The idea behind using a social bookmark service for SEO is not to gain direct traffic – that’s only going to happen if you’re lucky enough to get on the front page of a big site like Digg and that’s really not very likely! No, what you are after here is the backlinks – lots of them. But backlinks blindly thrown at a page that is not optimized are just wasted. Google wants to know what your page is about and then those backlinks help emphasize the authority of that page for the keyword terms that are being targeted on the page.
This is such basic advice but so many people forget about it. First make sure you target something! Pick a keyword phrase for your page and then make sure you include it in the title, the description, on the page itself, the URL if possible and you can also sprinkle it elsewhere such as in ALT tags if appropriate and so on.
2) Submit REAL and good quality content
This one follows on from number #1. The early versions of IMAutomator we were a bit too lenient with what we allowed and we had a free service which got horribly abused. People would create multiple free accounts to try and get tone of free submissions and they would submit absolutely anything they could – profile pages, about pages, category pages, even multiple copies of the same page with slightly modified parameters.
Doing this will actually hurt you, not help you. First of all if you abuse the social bookmark service that you’re using then it’s not going to last. We discontinued that particular free membership a long time ago. Secondly, your bookmarks are going to be rejected from any site that has a manual review policy which includes all of the bigger, higher PageRank sites. If they deem your submissions to be spam they will not only block the link but block the whole account taking all of the links ever posted with it.
Lastly, even if your links get posted and stay there in the case of sites that just auto-allow submissions without checking them, what do you think Google is going to make of them? If Google sees a whole bunch of irrelevant, untargeted links it is simply going to discount them.
3) Pay attention to the TITLE of your bookmark
When posting a social bookmark the title is used as the anchor text of the backlink in 95% of cases and the anchor text is one of the factors that Google uses to determine the relevancy of the target page to particular keywords. However do be careful here – remember that you are submitting a bookmark to a social networking site which means that real people see that bookmark. You should aim to include your keyword but work it into the context of a readable and valuable sentence.
Be careful here if you have a product site with many product pages where the title is simply the name of a product – this does not make a good bookmark! Maybe you could pad out the product page to include a good writeup and some reviews and then the title of the bookmark could be “xyz product writeup and reviews” which is more meaningful and more likely to be accepted.
4) Use Spintax to mix up your keywords
IMAutomator includes spintax support on every submission tool and you can apply it to any field including the title field for a bookmark. By creative use of Spintax you can vary your titles and thus vary your anchor text. Now I just said that you want to go to the effort to target a keyword phrase and include it in your title so why would you now want to change it?
Quite simply because Google has changed the rules of the game. In the 2012 Penguin & Panda updates one of the significant changes to the algorithm is that they now favor a mixture of different anchor texts and if you blast all of your bookmarks using exactly the same anchor text it will raise a red flag and some or even all of those links could be discounted.
5) Make sure a social bookmark service is not your ONLY link building strategy
This is perhaps the most important strategy on the list. Obviously I’m biased and am hoping that you’re going to sign up to IMAutomator but if that was the only thing you did as part of your link building efforts it would hurt you!
To expand on strategy 4 – Google now want to see variety in anchor text but that is not just variety in keywords. They also want to see backlinks to your main domain as well as content pages and it want to see a good percentage of those to use the brand name as the anchor text such as IMAutomator, and they also want to see some plain URL’s as anchor text such as http://www.imautomator.com because this is how other people link to you. It would be nice if people used a relevant keyword such as saying what a great social bookmark service that IMAutomator is but in reality, very few natural links would be in that form.
And expanding on this whole concept even further – you need to vary everything about your backlinks. Social bookmarking is just one possible strategy and there are many others – blog & forum comments, article submissions, links from other people in your industry, running a competition, listing your link on directories on on resources pages if that is appropriate and so on. The wider variety of links you can obtain, the better they will all perform.