Tagging: Social Bookmarking

Tagging used to refer just to the tags that you placed in your web site’s HTML to indicate certain types of formatting or commands. Tagging today often refers to something entirely different. When you hear the terms “tagged” or “tagging” in conversation today, it could very well refer to a phenomenon called social bookmarking.

Social bookmarking is a way for Internet users to store, share, classify, and search Internet bookmarks. There is some debate over how important social bookmarking is in SEO, but the consensus seems to be leaning toward the idea that social bookmarking, along with many other social media optimization (SMO) strategies, is quickly becoming a serious consideration for SEO.

Social bookmarking is provided by services such as de.icio.us, Digg, Technorati, and Furl.net, which are taking the Internet by storm. They’re often referred to as Web 2.0 services, because they involve a high level of social interaction, which is the fastest growing element of the Internet today.

In social bookmarking, people create their own topics and lists for places on the Internet that they like or dislike. Those people can then give the places they choose a category (or tag) and a rank. Once they’ve ranked a site, they have the option to send that ranking out to anyone who is subscribed to their RSS feed.

The implications this can have on SEO are dramatic. For example, let’s say that one person visits your site during a web search and finds that it’s easy to use, and contains all the information they were looking for. That person could very well tag your site. The tag is then distributed to the people who are subscribed to his or her RSS feed. It’s word-of-mouth marketing — called viral marketing in today’s world — at its best.

One person tells 25, who then visit your site. Then maybe 15 of those people (60 percent) tell another 25 people each. The list keeps growing and growing.

So, the question, “Should you pay any attention to social bookmarking?” becomes “How do I take advantage of social bookmarking?” And the answer is, make your site worthy of bookmarking. Bookmarks appear to web crawlers as links to your page, and that makes them very valuable SEO tools. For some search engines, the more bookmarks that lead back to your site, the more “votes” you have on their popularity scale.

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On the web-site side, be sure to include the code snippets provided by social bookmarking organizations that allow users to tag your site easily. Then, maintain it all. Don’t just forget your account completely. If you do, eventually it will disappear and all the advantage of having one will go as well. Instead, continue using social bookmarking. Over time, the rewards will be increased traffic to your web site.

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