By Warren Pattison
Social networks are getting a lot of attention these days including Wikipedia, del.icio.us and MySpace. Along with the buzz, these sites are also generating a lot of traffïc! How can you integrate links for these types of social network sites into your search engine marketing program? While there are an increasing number of social networks, this article will stick to the above as they are kings of their domains so to speak.
I recently had the opportuníty to attend Search Engine Strategies in New York City this past February, 2006. While attending a session in regards to community marketing tactics using both Wikipedia and tagging, the panel asked the audience, "Who here knows what Wikipedia and tagging are?" - less than half the room raised their hands.
Let me give you an overview of these concepts.
Wikipedia is a frëe community content driven encyclopedia. I have included an excerpt about Wikipedia from their about section located at About Wikipedia.
"Begun in 2001, Wikipedia has rapidly grown into the largest reference website on the Internet. The content of Wikipedia is frëe, written collaboratively by people from all around the world. This website is a wiki, which means that anyone with access to an Internet-connected computer can edit, correct, or improve information throughout the encyclopedia, simply by clicking the edit this page link (with a few minor exceptions such as protected articles)."
Your benefits of using Wikipedia as an online marketing strategy are various. To begin with, your submitted content about your product or company may be very short and simple to begin with. As your content ages and more members view and contribute to your content with edit revisions, your content submission will grow and grow. For example, your submission may start out as a forty word brief that may turn into a multi-page article. Additionally, Wikipedia has a good Google Page Rank of 9 which will help boost your website's PR with a quality backlink from your submitted content. Finally, using keywords that relate to your site in your contribution will assist you in controlling more space within the search engine results' pages for your particular brand, product or name. For example, doing a Google Search for the term "Microsoft" returns a Wikipedia content entry about Microsoft in the tenth position of the Google SERP for "Microsoft".
You should only submit content about a famous person, a patented product your company invented, a trademarked brand, famous places, etc. When you write your content you will want to write from an extremely neutral viewpoint. Don't write all sorts of features and benefits; write more factual based information related to your subject. Your focus needs to be the community and not your subject. Tread lightly, the community is helpful to assist you in producing additional content, but be careful of keyword spamming and link spamming.
Although there are many benefits to using Wikipedia for SEM, there are also just as many caveats to using it. Submitting content to Wikipedia is a double-edged sword. You will only want to contribute to Wikipedia if your product or service is of relevance to the community. Using spammy techniques in your content or submitting an entry that has no real value such as "another affíliate website" could have the opposite of desired effect by producing negative feedback about your brand or product from the community.
Tagging on the other hand doesn't have quite the negative drawbacks as posting to Wikipedia.
Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site where members contribute links based on tags that anyone can search. I have included their about page found at del.icio.us/about below:
"What is del.icio.us?
del.icio.us is a collection of favorites - yours and everyone else's. Use
- Keep links to your favorite articles, blogs, music, restaurant reviews, and more on del.icio.us and access them from any computer on the web.
- Share favorites with friends, family, and colleagues.
- Discover new things. Everything on del.icio.us is someone's favorite - they've already done the work of finding it. Explore and enjoy."
There are a few simple techniques for commercial tagging through community type sites such as del.icio.us: create bookmark worthy content or link bait, get your tags in front of the right people or choose the right category, give your created tags only one self generated bump in del.icio.us, rinse and repeat about once a month. Below is an excerpt from del.icio.us to help you answer what various parts of tags are:
When a user saves an item on del.icio.us, it is posted to the front page as well as the tag page for each chosen tag. A sample is below explaining the various information pieces:
Here is a del.icio.us example listing under the tag "web 2.0":
O'Reilly -- What Is Web 2.0 save this
by Scottcard to web2.0 oreilly article reference ... saved by 2938 other people .
You will first notice the title with the link to the site, next is an option to save the link to your tags. Secondly, you see a Username Scottcard. Here you can clíck the username to see Scottcard's tags. Next you can clíck on the next links to see other related-sites within those tags. Lastly, you will see a highlighted link where you can view the members who have saved this site.
The good and the bad of tagging is that you will receive good quality backlinks to your site and increase visibility. The bad is that the majority of the time your tags will be removed from community members because the members are technically savvy and intolerant of any type of commercial push. Choose your keywords wisely and make sure your tag is in the right place and contributes to the community. Other tagging sites to consider are: Technorati and Digg. There are many others, but these are the ones that matter.
I see tagging or social bookmarking sites such as del.icio.us gaining in popularity within the next three years as blogs did two years ago. Yahoo has already taken notice by purchasing del.icio.us and flickr. Digg.com and furl.com are also making headway. Other sources to consider are the social network sites for developing a web2.0 SEM strategy.
MySpace is the current king of social networks, as it is literally a social-space network with 2.5 times more daily users than Google (psst, this is a huge untapped market). The domain dates back to 1999 where it was originally an online hard-drive of sorts. The current rendition took hold in 2003 making MySpace barely three years old. The main demographic is made up of teens to 20-somethings. The music industry is currently using MySpace as a marketing tool, not the labels themselves, but the bands. For example, Pearl Jam is announcing their upcoming release for May with sample songs and concert date announcements. One of their sample songs from their upcoming albums is one of the most played songs across the entire MySpace network. Independent film makers have also taken notice. In February 2006, amatëur filmmaker David Lehre released a short film called MySpace: The Movie. This short film has quickly become a hit, registering over six million views following its release.
Benefiting from MySpace traffïc is pretty straight forward. You will want to create a user profile and post links to your company or websites such as blogs, feeds, etc. Profile note, you can post html code in any field regarding your profile. Next, create your social pipeline of users and keep the demographic inline with any product or link you wish to shamelessly promote in the future. You don't want to get spammy here either. The downside would be getting your user profile terminated from MySpace or members posting negative comments within your profile. Again, tread lightly by thinking neutral and keep the benefit of the community in mind.
The opportuníty costs associated with community based SEM are very high. However, tagging in particular may be time prohibitive for most organizations as it requires a lot of trial and error. Tagging can seem like a waste of time as most tagging submissions will be removed by community members who find your submission "spammy". Time spent on tagging isn't a problem for most sole proprietors, but can be costly to your employer who is left with little equitable return to show for your time spent.
Utilizing Web2.0 sites such as Wikipedia, del.icio.us and MySpace, will prove effective for your business if done properly. Remember to tread lightly, don't use "spammy" techniques and stay neutral keeping the benefit of the community at heart in your content development. Doing so will help your business to avoid a negative backlash toward your brand from the community you are developing content for.
About The Author
Warren Pattison is the Director of Search for Elixir Systems, a full service search engine marketing company specializing in organic search engine optimization services, online public relations management and paid search or PPC management. For more information visit ElixirSystems.com. This article can also be viewed at http://www.elixirsystems.com/articles/a060322.php.
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