As part of my continued SubmitEdge review I take a look at the SEO service provider’s Social Bookmarking Service.
The idea behind this is that once you have bought the product the staff will submit 250 (or more depending on your package) “social bookmarks” to a whole range of sites. These submissions will then form back-links to your own site that will then get picked up by search engines and will hopefully improve your ranking.
I’ve decided to purchase the $65 slow building Social Bookmarking service that operates over a period of 30 days.
What Kind of Links Can I Expect?
SubitEdge give a sample of the sites that they will submit to, they clearly have a large database of sites that they can use to build links. As usual this catalog of sites varies widely in quality with a few at the high PR end but most with a low rank.
By the very nature of this service these links are going to be “user created” which are typically less well respected by the search engines, after all it is always going to be possible for anyone with the right resources to create a load of these links themselves, they aren’t therefore necessarily an indication of quality. Which leads me on to my next question…
How Valuable are the Links?
This is a question I hope to answer through my experiments with these services. In my last test, I looked at article submission and I noticed a small but distinct uplift in my search engine traffic. So what kind of effect will the Social Bookmarking Service have on my numbers?
My gut feel is that these kind of links can’t be overly valuable. For instance, one of the Page Rank 9 sites that they submit to is Twitter. But I think it’s a bit cheeky to suggest that this equates to a high quality back link from a PR9 site. In fact in this case the Page Rank is totally meaningless as a link on twitter is quickly going to be lost against the backdrop of millions of tweets that are posted every day.
In fact it isn’t quite clear how effectively Google crawls twitter at all since they were disconnected from the “fire hose” data steam.
But Twitter isn’t the only site they will submit to, and I’ve read positive feedback from others who have tried this service, so I still think it is worth trying for myself. And of course I’ll publish the results below.
A brief aside, I was recently looking at the SubmitEdge forums and found it a strange place, it looks rather artificial to me. The majority of user names are in the same pattern firstname lastname, and many of the threads seem to be nonsense. Check out this discussion on CMS software. I guess it is a “made for SEO” forum?
Setting up the Order
Once ordered, the next step is to let SubmitEdge know which URLs you wish to promote. My package allows two to be submitted, and for each of those I can specify three descriptions and keywords to be used alongside the submission. So before booking this service you do need to have an idea about what you want to target.
In my case I chose to use my site’s homepage, and I selected a category page that I believed would be a popular destination for visitors. The process is fairly quick and easy to do, there is a video to help you if you get stuck and you can even pay a further fee to get them to fill the form in for you – but this shouldn’t be necessary.
Here is a quick run down of how I approached it:
- Title: You are advised to pick a title which contains your keyword. There are lots of resources on the net discussing how to write good titles but remember your goal is to get people’s attention, inspire curiosity, encourage that click.
- Keyword: With the basic package you get to promote six keywords. I went for a combination of my main target generic term and a series of increasingly niche keywords.
- Description: You have to write at least 100 characters for each description, the advice is to make it sound like someone else who is using your site.
So How Effective Was the Social Bookmarking Service?
SubmitEdge will supply you with a report that details all of the sites that your links are submitted to so you’ll get to see exactly where you are getting links from. This is actually useful as a reference as there is nothing to stop you using these sites yourself in the future. You might also want to go “vote up” your links on sites such as Digg!
At this point you will be wondering what kind of sites do they use? Unfortunately the list seemed very random to me:
- The Good: You’ll find the normal high profile bookmarking sites such as Twitter, Digg, Multiply, etc. Although as mention before, one tweet is hardly useful, and in my case I gained no referrals.
- The Average: The bulk of the sites look like they are set up to run the well known bookmarking script Pligg. It isn’t too hard to use the search engines to seek out these sites, and it’s possible that SubmitEdge might even own some of them.
- The Awful: Some of the links are just awful and, given the promise of expert run campaigns, it is hard to see how SubmitEdge can justify this. A link from medical-articles.net does not seem to fit the profile of my site!
I guess we should expect varying quality as not every site is going to be high Page Rank traffic driver, so perhaps this doesn’t matter just as long as we see some improvement in search traffic.
Impact on Referral Traffic
The first point to make is that, to date, I have just got one solitary referral from these 250 or so new links! The referral was from tagza.com and even that person bounced straight off! Given that social bookmarking should be a great source of referrals this is a little dissapointing.
There are two possible reasons for this:
- People saw the links but chose not to click on them. Perhaps the text that I created failed to engage those that read it which is quite possible as I am not a professional writer. However I am familiar with the basic concepts of headline writing so I find it hard to believe this is the complete story.
- No one actually saw the links. This is possible if no one is actually paying any attention to the sites that were used, or the accounts that they were posted with. For example, it is hard to believe that anyone is paying a whole lot of attention to the Twitter account used!
But perhaps this doesn’t matter if I still see the boost in search engine traffic that I am looking for?
Impact on Search Engine Traffic
Here’s a quick view of search engine traffic over the last two months, so the first month is a baseline, and the second gives us an idea of the impact this service has had:
As you can see, traffic has fluctuated a fair amount over the last month, so I believe that these new links have had some kind of an impact. However there is no obvious uplift in this case, not like the one observed with the initial article marketing service. I also suspect that the long term impact will not be as effective as these new links will quickly slip away and be replaced by newer ones. However more time is needed to get a good feel for this, be sure to sign up to our RSS Feed to see what the long term results are.
It’s also good to see that page views increased and bounce rate stayed at around 50%, which means that the search engines were driving some decent traffic and my site is managing to hold attention, this is some good news for me.
Note: In an attempt to make the test fairer, I have not engaged in any other link building activity nor have I posted any new articles to the site. In theory, and we have to remember this is not hugely scientific, fluctuations in traffic should be down to the SubmitEdge social bookmarking service.
Would I recommend SubmitEdge Social Bookmarking?
If I am honest, I am not sure it is a service that I would use again, at least not in isolation. I think this could be a good thing to do as part of a wider link building program, but if you are like me, and trying to chose the most effective link building program at a reasonable cost then I think I would chose other services ahead of this one.
If you really want to get the most out of social bookmarking I think you need to go and build your accounts and attract genuine users who will be engaged in your posts. My netbook twitter account only has a few hundred followers but when I make a tweet I know that it will drive more visits than all these purchased links put together.
I don’t think social bookmarking is something you can fake, it takes time to build up trusted relationships with people – it’s not something you can buy. However, at the end of the day my hit count did go up, and perhaps that’s all that matters!
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