How I Got 70,000 Useless Visitors To My Site In One Day! (Analysis of Social Bookmark Traffic)

Recently, a page on one of my websites was bookmarked
or listed on Digg, a popular social bookmark site. It
gave me the perfect opportunity to study and analyze
the traffic coming from these social media sites. Read
to discover the advantages and disadvantages of social
bookmark traffic and how it can be applied to your
own online marketing or site.

Is Social BookMark Traffic Useless?

First, we must make the distinction that no traffic
is useless. Any visitor to your site is a good thing
and should be welcomed. However, all traffic is not
created equally, there are great differences in the
sources of your traffic. This article takes a close
analytical look at social bookmark traffic from an
internet marketing perspective.

In case you haven’t noticed, right now social bookmark
and media sites are all the rage on the web. Social
bookmark traffic comes from such popular sites as
Slashdot, Digg, Stumbleupon… basically these sites
are driven by their users — that is, users or members
pick and bookmark the content they want to view and
discuss.

These social bookmark sites are extremely popular;
they command the high traffic numbers most ordinary
sites can only dream about obtaining.

But is this social bookmark traffic useful?

Is it worth your time? Should you be actively promoting
to these social media sites? Is social bookmark traffic
of any use to the affiliate marketer? Should you
concentrate your online marketing efforts on these
types of sites? More importantly, what are the benefits
and disadvantages of getting a front page listing on
a sites like Digg or Stumbleupon?

As a full-time online marketer I wanted to know the
answers to those questions. Moreover, I wanted to
discover how or if I could use these sites from
an online marketer’s advantage; i.e. how can they
help me create more online income.

Recently, the Digg listing gave me a first-hand
opportunity to really study these sites.

Of course, nothing happens without a reason… I did
actually court these social bookmark sites by placing
the free Addthis.com bookmark on all my pages. You can
do the same. This simple bookmark lets your visitors
bookmark your content for you in all these sites; it
only takes a few seconds to place the bookmark code
on your webpages.

But be careful; getting your site featured on the
front page of these sites can drive 100,000’s of
visitors to your site immediately, so much traffic
that it may overtax your server and crash it.

So be warned; if you’re actively promoting to these
social bookmark sites just make sure your servers or
web hosting is up to the demanding task of handling
all these sudden visitors.

In my case, it didn’t crash my servers but unfortunately,
the page/link in question featured an old poorly
written article I did on the history of the Internet.
It was just some random facts and things about the web,
not really an article at all. Why it was even
featured on Digg is a puzzle and beyond me.

But still I am not one to waste an opportunity, so I
put my Google Analytics into overdrive and starting
analyzing these visitors and social bookmark traffic.

It pointed out some very interesting factors about this
social bookmark traffic.

Most of this traffic will:

simply bounce back
very few visitors will spend much time on your site
very few visitors will even venture into your site
very few will sign up to your newsletter
very few will enter your marketing follow-ups/funnels
(The unknown variable here being the content on your
site, how good it is? How well does it perform?)

Regardless, one common problem with traffic from these
sites, it’s very temporary traffic. The high volume
will only last a few days… until your item is moved
back from the front page.

These visitors will not stay on your site long and
most are gone within seconds, never to be seen again.
A few may sign up to your newsletter or venture to
other areas of your site but not many.

Social bookmark traffic is very fleeting, like
customers in the drive-through section in a fast
food restaurant, they grab the content and surf back
to the major linking site very quickly and surf
on to the next item.

This traffic will behave very differently than
organic traffic from the search engines, or from
your newsletter traffic or from traffic in your
marketing funnels. Much different.

It was unlike getting one of my articles featured
in Addme or SiteProNews, where I can easily get 200
or 300 new subscribers in a day. Plus, these visitors
are interested in my information and have been exposed
to my content (article) before coming to my site.

So there was no comparison; I would take the
traffic from these sites any day over traffic
from the social bookmark sites. And I would
take free organic traffic from the search engines
over any other source of traffic including
PPC traffic.

So the question remains – is social bookmark traffic
useless?

First, as I mentioned before, you must realize no
traffic is useless; any visitors to your site is a
good thing. Without traffic your site is worthless,
just a few files sitting on a server in the middle
of nowhere.

Obtaining visitors is one of your first objectives
as a webmaster. You have to get visitors to your
site or it’s game over.

The best kind of traffic is traffic coming from
organic search, visitors who come from the search
engines seeking exactly what you’re offering on
your site. These are targeted visitors who will
consider your offer, real your information,
maybe buy a product or sign-up to your newsletter
or follow-up system. They often become repeat
visitors to your site. These are your ideal visitors.
This is the kind of traffic you want.

Social bookmark/media traffic is different but it
does have some saving graces.

Mainly it can help expose your site to millions and
help brand your site or business. It can get the word
out about your site. Start a buzz.

If you have a site that appeals to the mass market,
then these social sites could be an excellent
recruiting ground for visitors and traffic.

These social sites are good for another reason;
getting your links on all these high traffic,
high PR7 and PR8 sites can’t hurt your search
engine rankings. Once featured on a site like
Digg, your link will appear on many secondary
sites around the web, so far 500+ and counting.
Monkey see, monkey do. Although it has never been
my main ambition to get featured on Fark.com, all
these sites do have high PR ranks so from a SEO
standpoint it is not necessarily a bad thing.

Since many of these visitors will be using the
Firefox browser which has the Alexa toolbar
embedded – your site’s traffic rank will increase.
Over 50% of the bookmark traffic coming to my site
were using the Firefox browser. Alexa’s traffic
rankings are not a true picture of the web’s
traffic but it’s a good measuring stick,
nonetheless.

Google might even consider it when ranking your
site. Google basically considers their whole
indexing system as a democratic voting structure…
sites give a vote by linking to your content;
wouldn’t it also be reasonable to assume more
traffic means more votes. So wouldn’t getting a
lot of traffic or being featured on a site like
Digg where the users vote to propel the best
content to the front be the ultimate vote.

One strange thing I did notice, for some reason
the traffic from Stumbleupon was different. These
visitors stayed longer on my site and reacted more
like organic traffic. Maybe the Stumbleupon site is
of a higher quality and this may have been reflected
in the quality of the visitors coming from there.
It also reminded me, all traffic from these social
media sites can’t be judged with the one brush.

This whole experience also pointed out another
important factor; it made me realize how unsuited
my content is for the general web surfer or the
mainstream web. Just how much my online sites are
geared towards marketing and selling. My main goal
as an affiliate marketer is to gather leads and make
sales for the companies and products I promote. All
my sites and content were planned and organized to
first draw in targeted (warmed up) visitors from free
organic search and from my online articles.

If I or anyone wanted to take advantage of this
social media traffic, you would have to create
your site/content to appeal to these surfers and
then somehow draw them into your marketing funnels.
I don’t know if the majority of the users of these
bookmark sites would make good prospects, but my
guess is not very likely, the nature of the beast.
But it would largely depend on what you’re offering
on your site and how well it is suited to these users.

So I am not drawing any conclusions yet.

Hopefully, I will have further chances to study traffic
from these social sites and get the long-term effects,
especially in regards to my keyword rankings in the
search engines before making any final judgments.

For now I will keep an open mind but the jury is still
way out whether or not social bookmark traffic is worth
the interruption to the daily marketing tasks of your site.
Just seems like much ado about nothing.

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How To Use Social Bookmarking as a Business Tool – Can You Digg It?

Before discussing the use of social bookmarking as a business tool, we should first have a quick look at the phenomenon and discuss why it has become so popular. By understanding that, then it will become easier to understand potential business uses. The uses outlined here are just that: outlines, since the particular applications to which these sites can be put will be specific to your type of online business.

The original intention of social bookmarking is to enable you to store websites and pages that you have found and want to refer to later, and also to refer them to others that you think might benefit from them or just enjoy visiting them. You can bookmark any type of web content from articles to blogs to videos, and to start doing so you have first to register with one or more social bookmarking sites.

Among the more popular of such services are Digg, Reddit, Del.icio.us, Blink, Furl and StumbleUpon. They are easy to join, and having done so all you have to do to make a bookmark is simply to add a button or chicklet linking to the specific social bookmarking site, and click on it. The URL of the page you are viewing will be added to your bookmarks and you can categorize it by means of tags. Tags are no more than the keywords that you feel best describe the page you are viewing. You can use just the one tag or a number of them.

All of your bookmarks within each site are accessible by clicking on one of the tags in your ‘tag cloud’, which is basically a list of tags, although it is possible to categorize them in order to make it easier to find bookmarks on specific topics.

So how can you use social bookmarking as a business tool? For a start it is a way to increase the visibility of your blogs, websites and even your affiliate programs, and increased visibility leads to more visitors. Social bookmarking sites can provide you with back-links that will improve your Google PageRank: this in turn can improve your search engine results position. Because they are free you have nothing to lose by using these sites in this way, unless you overdo it and are regarded as a spammer.

Here are the steps needed to use bookmarking sites effectively for your business while avoiding the spamming trap.

Let’s assume that you have registered with a social bookmarking site such as del.icio.us, and are ready to go. The same steps here will apply to the others, and like most other aspects of an online business, best results will be obtained by using as many social bookmarking sites as you can find. Repetition brings best results.

1. Check out the site. Not all social bookmarking sites have the same type of users, and it is essential that there are other users on the site that are liable to be interested in your website content and products. Check out the blogs and websites that get the highest number of bookmarks – that is often a good guide as to the type of user, and if you can produce content similar to the more popular stuff on the bookmarking site in question, then you should be able to use that site in your business.

2. Produce content close to that which gets most bookmarks on each specific site, and twist it towards your business. It is possible to use practically any social bookmarking site this way if you are clever enough. The bookmarks that you make of your own web pages or blogs should contain good content that is interesting, entertaining or educational, and not outright sales material. Leave the conversion of traffic to sales until you actually have them on your website, and then provide links to your sales pages. People are more liable to purchase from you if you have shown expertise in the subject in hand by solving a problem or presenting a new angle on a specific topic.

3. Avoid the advice given in some quarters to open several accounts with the same social bookmarking site. That is liable to damage your reputation, and at worst can result in the site banning you and canceling all of your registrations. Even if under different names and email addresses, they can identify you through your IP address.

These are the general ways in which you can begin using social bookmarking as a business tool in order to generate new business. However, there is more to these sites than just getting business, and they are useful as administrative tools in their own right. Here are some ways in which they can help make your business easier to run:

1. Use social bookmarking as a cataloging system for the knowledge base of your business. Any employees that come across sites that deal with specific aspects of your business can bookmark them under specific tags predefined by you to be used for certain types of information. Good restaurants and excellent hotels for business clients, inexpensive sources of office equipment and reference materials relating to your business are all categories that you can predefine, and that you and your employees can build up on approved social bookmarking sites.

2. Use them when seeking new suppliers or customers. Staff can make a bookmark when they come across websites or blog postings of potential clients or suppliers for specific services you are seeking. Let’s say you are seeking a new limo company to transport important clients to and from airports. After a while you can access the social bookmarking site to find out what your staff has bookmarked, and so make your choice much easier.

3. If you are able to establish if your clients, customers or vendors have a registration with a social bookmarking site, you can register with the same site yourself and bookmark your own blog postings and web content. If you get advance notice that a particular potential client is seeking a new service or supplier, then you can get ahead of the field by making a bookmark on the site that they use.

One of the advantages of such sites is that the keywords, or tags, are user defined rather than search engine defined. They should therefore define the content in a more human way that the machines would. If you are looking for specific information you should be able to find it easier by using the language that others would also use. There is a disadvantage to this in that misspellings are common, so make sure that your spelling is correct because the social bookmarking site will not ask you if you are sure, as a search engine such as Google does.

There are many ways in which to use social bookmarking as a business tool, both as an administration and a traffic and sales tool. Once you understand how such sites work, then you will doubtless find many more uses in addition to those outlined above.

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