Social Bookmarking Explained: Why is it valuable for SEM?

A portion of a search engine marketing campaign is the actual onsite optimization of the meta tags and the content on the page. For the onsite component to be effective – there must be an off site component where links are built to point towards your site. These links build reputation and reference your site on the web, which in turn increases the authority of your site within its market or niche. There are many different types of links, but one of the most effective types is the ‘social bookmark’. A social bookmark is a link that is submitted by a regular internet user to a site such as Digg, Delicious, or StumbleUpon.

The user will submit a link, provide a title (anchor text), provide a summary of what the resolving url is about, and tags to identify the link within searches of the hosting site. Social bookmarking links are highly effective for two reasons – the first being that the sites are compiled by human actions, rather than the automated indexing of pages by search engine spiders or bots. This human creation allows for a much great level of clarity with regards to identifying themes, niches, or specifics. A search engine spider is relying on algorithmic interpretations of content and meta data to build a picture of what a page is about, whereas the contributing users to social bookmarking sites are using human understanding to provide insight as to what a page is about – which (in general) is much more accurate. An example of how a search engine algorithm and human comprehension may differ is illustrated here; There is a page on a website with a funny photo of a dog eating a birthday cake. There is no meta data present on the page, and there is no text present beyond the caption ‘My dog Harry being a naughty boy!’ A search engine algorithm would struggle to comprehend what this page is about – and would most likely discard the page as contextually irrelevant to anything. A human who viewed this page, and submitted it to a social bookmarking site would be able to understand the theme and content of the page from viewing it – and would be able to categorize the page and provide a description and tags, thus allowing potential viewers the ability to gauge what the page is about prior to viewing and find it from search the hosting sites directory (i.e., funny pet photos).  The second value to social bookmarking links is that the appearance of links to a page or site provides search engines with the general guidance that the site is being discussed, shared, and referenced by normal internet users. This makes the site the links are pointing to very current and relevant. A site that is mentioned by ten separate internet users, on ten different social bookmarking sites is has becoming interesting – and is therefore worth further investigation by the search engines.

The final component of social bookmarking is the ability of these links to increase a site’s PageRank. Many social bookmarking sites have a high Page Rank – and by having links (in higher volumes) on these high Page Ranked sites pointing at your site, your Page Rank will increase.

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