Del.icio.us: An Underrated Link Building Tool

On the subject of social media, Digg and StumbleUpon seem to get almost all of the attention right now. While the traffic potential for these two is considerably higher than other social media sites, Del.icio.us can be one of the most powerful resources for your link building efforts.

Quick Overview of Del.icio.us

Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site that really focuses more on the bookmarking than on the social aspect. There is not as much interaction from user to user like there is on a lot of social media sites. Del.icio.us users find a page that they think would be worth bookmarking, and they can use the Del.icio.us toolbar to bookmark the page and tag it with whatever keywords they choose. Anytime you want to find something in your bookmarks you simply go to Del.icio.us and browse through your tagged pages. The front page of Del.icio.us shows pages that are being bookmarked by a lot of people, and of course being on the front pages leads to exponential growth in the number of bookmarks.

From a website owner or blogger’s perspective, having your pages and posts bookmarked by your readers has a few benefits: 1) it increases the chances that they’ll come back to the page in the future, 2) if enough people bookmark your page it can move to the front page of Del.icio.us, and 3) Del.icio.us has a network system that will allow other users to see the pages bookmarked by someone in their network.

What Makes Del.icio.us A Great Resource?

Del.icio.us uses nofollow tags on its links, so you will not be getting search engine benefits simply from having a bookmark that links to your page. However, pages that are popular on Del.icio.us repeatedly gain a significant number of inbound links as a result of the exposure that Del.icio.us provides. Here are some things to consider:

1. Tech-focused audience – A lot of the pages that are popular on Del.icio.us are tech related, and a relatively high percentage of Del.icio.us users are website owners and bloggers themselves. This is important because you are getting exposure to people that have the ability to give you a link from their own website or blog. Plenty of non-tech pages make it to the front page, but it may be a little bit more difficult.

2. Some users post their bookmarks on their blogs – Del.icio.us offers a feature that automatically publishes your bookmarks to your blog at the end of the day. If you’re looking to gain links, this is something you will love. Anytime one of these people bookmarks one of your pages you’ll get a link. If you make it to the front page you’ll almost certainly get several of these links.

3. Easier than Digg – Getting to the Del.icio.us front page is a little bit easier than getting to the Digg front page. Because the traffic volume is lower there’s not as many people competing to get there. StumbleUpon, however, is probably even easier for getting significant traffic, but not necessarily for link building.

4. Long-term traffic – Those people who bookmark your pages are now more likely to return at some point down the road. As more and more people bookmark your pages your long-term traffic potential from Del.icio.us will increase.

5. Not as easily swayed by “friends” – Digg’s system strongly favors users who have more friends than other users. While Del.icio.us has a networking feature, it doesn’t impact the amount of success nearly as much as with Digg.

6. More mature audience – I like Digg for the traffic potential it brings, but the audience has certainly developed a reputation of being negative and immature. Del.icio.us doesn’t have a comment system, so I’ve never had a Del.icio.us user tell me how much of a loser I am, unlike Digg.

My Experiences with Del.icio.us

In the last 4 or 5 months I’ve had 8 blog posts reach the front page. Together those 8 posts have drawn 566 inbound links (according to Technorati) for an average of 71 links per post. Some of these posts have also had success with other social media sites, so of course not all of these links are a result of Del.icio.us. Of these 8 posts, 4 were on the Digg front page and 4 were not. Even the 4 that were not dugg still average 62 inbound links.

After my second time on the Del.icio.us front page I wrote a post titled 10 Tips for Making Your Blog Posts More Del.icio.us. This is the same strategy I have used since then to make it to the front page. If you’re interested in gaining more links I recommend you take a look at that post. I don’t want to repeat it here, but I do want to focus on a few of the points in that article that have really become even more evident since the time it was originally published.

  • Use other social media sites to increase your chances with Del.icio.us – In order to get to the front page you’ll obviously need to get a lot of bookmarks (most of my pages have made it to the front page with around 100 bookmarks, but it depends also on how quickly they come). Part of getting people to bookmark your page is getting as many people as possible to visit the page. For my web design related posts I like to use DZone, a decent-sized niche social media site. Of the 8 posts that have made the Del.icio.us front page, 7 have made the DZone front page first. DZone then sends a few hundred visitors which has been enough to rack up some bookmarks and put these pages on the front page of Del.icio.us. You can read more about this is in How to Set Up a Domino Effect of Traffic.
  • Show somewhere on the blog post how many people have already bookmarked it – When visitors come to a page and see that 50 other people have bookmarked it they may also be reminded and encouraged to bookmark it themselves. Del.icio.us offers a Tagometer Badge that shows how many bookmarks a page has drawn (You can see it at the bottom of my posts). FeedBurner‘s Feed Flare also provides a similar option that you can embed in your posts.

Also remember that timing is important with Del.icio.us. Getting 100 bookmarks in a day might get you to the front page, but 100 over the course of a few weeks almost certainly will not. This means that you’ll want to try to send as much traffic as you can at the same time. If you’re going to promote the page at other social media sites, do it simultaneously so the bookmarks can add up faster.

What results have you had with Del.icio.us and how has it compared with your results from other social media sites?

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