When the first social bookmarking and social networking sites started to appear a couple of years ago, their creators hardly knew that these sites would become one of the most valuable tools for a SEO expert. Yes, social bookmarking and social networking sites were not intended to be used for promotion but as it turned out, they are a great way to drive traffic to one’s site and to improve one’s ranking with search engines.
social-media-waste-of-timeMany webmasters notice that they are getting more traffic from Digg than from Google. The other popular social bookmarking sites, such as Del.isio.us, Reddit, Technorati, or Propeller are also known for their ability to crash your server with traffic. If your submissions manage to hit the frontpage of any of these sites, you will experience an incredible peak in traffic, followed by a substantial number of daily hits for the years to come. If your content becomes popular on any of the major social bookmarking sites, this will beat your traffic from Yahoo!, Bing, and probably even Google.
Social networking sites (or sites such as Twitter, which are not exactly social networking sites the way we know them) are also gaining momentum. For instance, Facebook has already become an institution and similarly to Digg, it can drive you more traffic than Google (even for top positions for competitive keywords). Maybe this inevitably poses the question, if it is worth to invest time and money in Google optimization, when you can get all this traffic for free.
Well, any traffic is welcome, so you can’t just forget about Google. Additionally, it is not precise to say that you are getting the traffic from social media for free, especially when you calculate the amount of time you spend on these sites in order to develop a network. All these social bookmarking and social networking sites work well only if your network is impressive. Even if your content is top notch, when there are no people to notice it and support it, it is quite likely that your content will end with a couple of votes only.
In addition to driving traffic directly to your site, social media can help SEO in one more precious way – by rewarding your efforts with backlinks. How is this possible? When you submit a link, you will notice that very often this link gets the ‘nofollow’ attribute. This is bad for you because such a link doesn’t count for SEO purposes (or at least not with Google). This might feel unfair but the ‘nofollow’ attribute is quite logical because if social bookmarking sites didn’t add it, they would have turned into link farms overnight.
However, you can get backlinks thanks to social media. If you post viral content (no matter if it is a video, an audio, a pic, or text) and people like it, they will start distributing it. Also, they will start blogging about it and it is quite possible that they will link back to your site. This is how you get your backlink. For really popular submissions, it is possible to get 100 or more backlinks – this is much more than you can get for free and without any effort from any other place! You just can’t afford to neglect this avalanche effect of social media, so even if you are happy with the traffic you get from search engines, consider diversifying your portfolio.