E-mail + Social Bookmarking = Instant Rankings

  |  December 7, 2009   |  Comments

Building a loyal subscriber base takes energy, time, and consistency, but it can lead to a significant uptake in search rankings.

Getting links is one of the most difficult tasks in search engine optimization. It's a slow, tedious, never-ending process. Here's an approach to linking that can rapidly boost your rankings for selected landing pages -- if you have an e-mail newsletter or a group of people who read your blog regularly.

In a nutshell, the technique is this. E-mail your list about a new article, product, or service. Specifically ask them to bookmark the Web page using AddThis.com, a gadget that makes it easy for people to bookmark using their favorite social bookmarking service. If you provide valuable content to loyal readers, you'll get a number of social bookmarking links to your Web page -- using your own selected anchor keywords. These targeted links add up to higher page rank for your landing pages.

Let me break this down into its elements.

Develop a Following

The key to this strategy is to develop loyal e-mail newsletter or blog post readers. This has three parts:

1. Get subscriptions either to an e-mail newsletter or subscriptions to an RSS feed for your blog. To achieve this, you'll need to make getting subscriptions one of the highest priorities of your site. Display a subscription form on every page. Provide readers with a rationale as to why subscribing is in their best interest. Offer incentives to subscribe. Don't be shy. Get the subscription.

2. Offer great content. Once you've obtained a subscription, then offer great content to your readers on a regular basis. This is a lot of work, but your readers will appreciate it. So much of what is written online is just fluff -- and fluff doesn't produce loyalty. But if you offer solid content consistently, your followers will continue to read your newsletter or blog each time you post a new issue.

3. Write personably. One of the keys is to build a personal relationship with your readers. If you write with a dry, third-person, corporate-speak style, no one will care. Rather, write conversationally -- though not sloppily. Share something of yourself -- but without wasting your readers' time. Share personal anecdotes that help you make your point. I try to obtain my subscribers' first name, so every newsletter addresses them personally. If your readers get to know you - and you offer them great content -- they'll become personally loyal.

Ask for the Bookmark

The second prong of this strategy is to deliberately ask people to bookmark an article or landing page. I used to ask people to link to a Web page, with only limited success. Few people control a Web site or blog that enables them to link easily. But everyone can use social bookmarks -- and many or most social bookmarks constitute a link to your site. Google trolls social bookmarking pages to see what users find valuable. Those bookmarks act as votes for your site. Those links to your Web page add up.

My tool of choice is AddThis.com. You can set up a free account with them. They supply you a bit of JavaScript encoded with your account number that shows up as a button when you paste it on your Web page. The JavaScript automatically grabs the title and URL of the page. When someone clicks on the button, it takes them to an intermediate page showing dozens of social bookmark logos. Your reader picks his favorite -- mine is Delicious -- and clicks on it. Now he's taken to the social bookmarking site. The title and URL fields of the bookmark are already filled in. Your reader saves the bookmark, perhaps adding comments or a few tags, and he's done. And you have a link.

I've taken this two steps further. When I ask my newsletter readers to bookmark a particular page:

1. I include the button in my e-mail newsletter, with the appropriate URL and title fields already filled in.

2. I also include a button at the top of the landing page -- and ask them again to bookmark the page. My readers have been asked twice. Since many have become loyal, they'll often do as I ask.

Of course, if a reader chooses the "favorites" option on his Web browser, I won't get a link. But most will select a bookmarking service, such as Google Bookmarks or Delicious. Incidentally, AddThis statistics will indicate the number of bookmarks for each bookmarking service.

Choose Your Keywords Wisely

Because you can control the title in the AddThis button, you also have control over the keywords associated with the resulting social bookmarking links. Construct these titles carefully, making sure to include the specific keywords that will draw the right people to this landing page in the future. With many linking strategies, you don't have much control over the anchor text of the link. But with AddThis, you do. Dig into the HTML of the AddThis button, and you'll see how it works.

Bottom Line

These linking strategies aren't easy. Building a loyal subscriber base for your newsletter or blog takes energy, time, and consistency. But if you're willing to put in the hard work, you'll find a wonderful bonanza of higher rankings for your projects.

This was originally published December 2009 in SES Magazine.

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Ralph Wilson

Dr. Ralph F. Wilson is widely recognized as one of the top international authorities in the area of Internet marketing. Business Week called his popular WilsonWeb.com website "bar none the best e-commerce resource out there." Business 2.0 profiled him as one of the savvy dot-com survivors. The New York Times named Dr. Wilson "among the best-known Internet marketing publishers and consultants who preach the responsible use of e-mail for marketing." He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Web Marketing Today®, the grandfather of the Internet marketing e-zines, published continuously since 1995. Currently it is sent to 107,000+ confirmed opt-in subscribers. His Web Marketing Today® Premium Edition is considered one of the top sources in the industry for in-depth content. He is a winner of the Tenagra Award for Internet Marketing Excellence and the author of hundreds of articles and numerous books, including Planning Your Internet Marketing Strategy (John Wiley & Sons, 2002), The E-Mail Marketing Handbook (Second Edition, 2005), and The Shopping Cart Report (Second Edition, 2004).

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