Social bookmarks are such a new tool for most marketers that there haven't even been studies done on how many law firms use them. Getting in on the ground floor of this new marketing technique is incredibly important for both your search engine optimization and just to improve brand awareness. If you don't know a social bookmark from a social network, this is the guide to get you started. We'll explore the world of social bookmarks, including how law firms can take advantage of this new tool to expand their inbound link presence and overall reach.
What is a Social Bookmark?
If you've ever clicked the star icon to bookmark a website, you know how convenient traditional bookmarking can be. Social bookmarks put your bookmarks out into the public, on the web where anybody can see them. Unlike traditional bookmarks, which are held in the configuration files of your browser software on your computer, social bookmarks are located on websites designed to be communities of bookmarkers.
Many, but not all, of these social bookmark communities allow users to not only submit bookmarks, but also to vote on submitted content. If content is judged by a large number of people to be good, it will become more visible for more users. If people think it's spam, it can be removed by a moderator or will just become basically invisible to users.
Most places with social bookmarks also allow for commenting. Submitting your social bookmark to a website can be a great way to get feedback for a particular piece of content that you've worked on before you link it from your Twitter or LinkedIn accounts.
How Do Social Bookmarks Affect My Blog/Site Traffic?
By having a social bookmark that links to your website's URL or that goes to your blog, you can get more readers to your pages. Depending on which site or sites you post social bookmarks to, you could see a very small increase to your traffic or—if it ends up on the front page of one of the bigger social bookmark aggregators—a tremendous increase.
If you suspect that your content has the possibility of “going viral” after you include it among your social bookmark submissions, check with your web hosting provider before putting links on social bookmarking sites. If you don't, there is a chance that a huge increase in traffic will be too much for the servers to handle, leading your website to go down in what amounts to a non-malicious distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. People who try to click on your website while it's down will just receive errors and won't be able to view your content until fewer people are trying to access it simultaneously.
How Do Social Bookmarks Affect My SEO?
The biggest reason that marketing professionals want in on the social bookmarking game is that social bookmarks have the potential to vastly improve your search engine ranking potential. How? Every time you create a new social bookmark, you're also making a brand new inbound link to your website. What's more, since posting social bookmarks often requires only a very minimal sign-up process, it can be one of the fastest and easiest ways to make new links from high PageRank websites.
Keep in mind that you'll always need to have diverse links in order not to trip Google's over optimization detection algorithms. If you're bringing in all your links through social bookmarks, you may actually end up being penalized. If you use a social bookmark strategy as just one element of a larger SEO campaign, though, you'll have much better luck maintaining a rankings rise.
Where Can I Submit My First Social Bookmark?
One of the easiest places to start making social bookmarks is Reddit. Part of the reason this is so easy is that the sign-up process can literally take as little as fifteen seconds—create a name, give your email address, and you can make a social bookmark right away.
When you create an account, though, don't try posting social bookmarks immediately unless you're already very familiar with the process. Get a feel for the different communities within the overall website (they're called subreddits, and odds are there's one for your specialty practice area). See how people are interacting, what they respond well to, and what seems to irritate them. By doing this, you're getting valuable intelligence about what kind of social bookmarks are most likely to interest your target audience.
How Can Social Bookmarks Go Wrong?
When marketers first learn how to use social bookmark applications, they often start by posting some sort of advertising material. If you haven't already learned this from social network websites like Facebook and Twitter, you need to learn it now: people don't want to see an advertisement unless it's very, very unusual and interesting. Unless you have an ad that you know for a fact makes people talk, it's probably not good material for a social bookmark. Some websites will actually delete your links if they think you are creating social bookmarks to benefit your own business.
It's also a bad idea to lie about who you are or who you represent if someone asks you about your connection to your social bookmark. People who use these websites are very internet savvy, and if you're caught in the lie, it's unlikely you'll be able to create successful social bookmarks on that website for a long time to come.
How Can I Get the Most From My Social Bookmarks?
Making a good social bookmark is a lot like making a good blog post. You want to have interesting content and a title that makes people want to read “below the fold”—or, in the case of social bookmarks, below the title.
You should also get a feel for the differences in each place where you put social bookmarks. Check out the comments and community, rather than just using these tools to place your own social bookmarks. If you're actively participating as a member of the community who's doing more than just advertising yourself, every social bookmark you make will have higher value and be read by more people.