The online forum post was not in English, but here is the verbatim translation of the post. I used Firebug on Firefox and re-typed over the text and took a screenshot. I also changed the names of the people, locations and other details since I didn’t want this blog post to appear like I am calling them out in public. Instead of replying and going into a lengthy forum thread, I decided to reach a larger audience by posting it on a blog. This way I can help more people that are still learning how SEO is done today, and how it should have been done in the past. It can be a challenge for SEO newbies finding good valid information and not everyone knows how effective some techniques are in this day and age in the SEO world.
Why are Links a Ranking Factor?
I know this is an old question that every SEO should know by heart from the day Google decided to use links as a ranking factor. Its patent dates back to 2001 and even if it has been around this long, still some SEOs are misguided about why Google looks at these links and what they represent. Links are like votes of trust, authority and credibility. The more links you get, the more people perceive you as trustworthy, authoritative and credible in what you say or do. If your webpage gets fewer links from other people and more links from your own sites, your own friends or from other sites that you pay for links, then the links are not really voting for your trustworthiness, authoritativeness or credibility. It actually sounds like patting yourself on your back and telling yourself you did a good job while everyone else thinks otherwise. If that is the case, I think you should be looking at this patent instead.
A Link Is A Link — How Can Google Know My Intentions?
Google is way smarter than we may all think. Just look at the many factors out there that Google can be looking at: Link velocity, anchor text diversity, IP address diversity, Google PageRank, geo-location, semantic analysis, age of the link, adjacent links, link profile network, and many more. Talking about this alone can be a whole new topic in itself but that is not what this blog post is about so I will not discuss that in-depth. But the bottom line is there are so many signals that Google can look at and run statistical models to almost easily point out links that were not gained in a natural way. There is just no way around it, Google knows when a link is a natural link or an artificial link.
What is the purpose of a social bookmarking vote?
- We are not just after the link from the social bookmarking site itself. A link from a social bookmarking site is often nofollowed, or runs on AJAX, or is behind a login pages but there are still a few out there that are actually search engine friendly, but that is not the objective. Bookmarking yourself is also like voting for yourself, but the pat on the back apparatus instead.
- We are not just after the number of votes thinking the votes increases ranking per se. 10 votes or 50 votes are almost worth nothing if you are just trying to chase a number using manipulative methods. Thus using fake profiles, or paying people to vote or asking favors from others that are not true fans, believers, advocates, readers, followers or supporters of your site, will not help at all.
- We are after reaching large groups of like-minded people that are compelled to vote because they really like your content. The more people that are compelled to vote and share your content, the more it is a testament to the content quality. If several people like it, there’s a high probability other people of the same thinking will like it too. And this increases the chances of the content being shared elsewhere, such as on blogs, forums, news websites, online magazines, and others.
Now Seriously, How Do We Really Get 50 Votes in Social Bookmarking as Quick as Possible?
This is what the blog post is all about. I felt it was imperative to preface it with the goals and purposes of social bookmarking to set the limits of what can be done and what should not be done to get the most out of social bookmarking votes that actually help your SEO campaign.
Create good quality content
This blog post is not about how to create good quality content as that can be a long discussion too. But let’s just use common sense for a second. Let’s take out what quality content is NOT:
Quality content is not 200, 300, 400, 500, 600 or whatever number of words on a page.
Although good quality content often has a large amount of words.
Quality content is not all about correct grammar and spelling.
Although good quality content should always have correct grammar and spelling.
Quality content is not about using keywords with high search volume.
You can be writing about a smaller niche industry that naturally has lower search volumes, but still have good quality content.
Quality content is not about high keyword density, or keyword count, or keyword frequency.
Although if you are writing naturally about a certain topic, there is really a chance of a keyword phrase being repeated several times.
Quality content does not always have to be text. It can be an image, a video, a whitepaper, a podcast audio file, or any combination of the above. And if your target audience is pleased with the content you publish and what it expresses, then you know it is good quality.
When making good quality content, ask yourself: Is this useful? Is it valuable? Is this a good resource? Would I feel compelled to show this to my friends? Is it really interesting? Is it thought-provoking? Is there a high demand for the content by a good number of people?
Reach out to your target audience before publishing your content
Who are the influencers in your space? Who likes the topics on what you want to talk about? Who shares information about the industry you are in? Who has a large following that is an authority on the content you are going to write about?
Build a relationship with them, know them, and interact with them. Add them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social sites. If you expect them to vote for what you post, you probably also need to vote for their stuff too. Not because you are just doing an “I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine.” But because it is just natural for people of the same likes and dislikes to naturally vote for the same things on social bookmarking.
You can even minimally do this in a week or two, finding influencers, bloggers, people on facebook that talk about what ever content you wish to promote. Start commenting, liking, voting, tweeting the good stuff they are sharing, especially if it is really good stuff that deserves it.
Publish your content at the right time
Take a look at Web analytics for incoming referral traffic, or pay-per-click (PPC) performance, and take note of the best times of the day and days of the week content is being read the most on your site. And choose that time of day and day of the week to publish your content so you maximize the views when most of your audience is online.
Going a step further with data, aside from looking at the best time to publish, but also best places to publish, best related topics to share with, best people to reach out to, other related brands to monitor, hyper-curation may be an option to look at. I recently saw a presentation by Chase McMichael on hyper-curation to maximize engagement with content and how Infinigraph achieves this.
Build the initial push
Content can really be good, but if no one sees it, no one will vote for it on social bookmarking sites. Sometimes friends and asking favors can help. How the nature of newer sites today work like Facebook work, if your Facebook account does not have much interaction with others, even if you have tons of fans and friends, if they are not engaged with your content, they may not see it because your edgerank is low. So the best people to reach out to are the influencers you have initially built a relationship with. You do not even have to ask them a favor to vote or share or tweet. If you really have good quality content and your influencer is all about the content you created, then most likely they would be willing to share it, vote for it, like it, tweet it, the moment you share it with them. Not everyone you build a relationship with will be willing to do this, but the more relationships you build, the higher the probability of getting others to share what you shared to them. Once the influencers share it, then votes from people you do not know come in.
If you have some money to spend, you might want to look at sponsored tweets, Facebook ads, or a paid StumbleUpon push. To really get your money’s worth in these methods, make sure you target them well when using the proper filters that exist in their advertising platforms to reach the most relevant audience.
Benj Arriola is SEO director at Internet Marketing, Inc. Read Benj Arriola’s complete Pubcon speaker biography here.