Social Marker looks like an awesome tool at first. It’s a website which makes the process of social bookmarking faster. Instead of having to visit each individual bookmarking site, you can scroll though 47 different submission pages within one iframe. Social Marker claims that this process will make search engines notice you a lot more since so many websites would be pointing to your website.
There’s also plenty of software out there to automate social bookmarking; all you have to do is enter the URL you’d like to bookmark. What a time-saver, right? Wrong. While sites like Social Marker are useful in theory, this is also known as spamming. But this isn’t just an ethical issue.
Search engines penalize spammers
Google, Yahoo, and other search engines use algorithms that recognize systematic spammers, including those who spam the social bookmarking sites. When you use a common tool like social marker, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time trying to promote your blog because the search engines will not rank you well when they recognize your spamming patterns. This obviously can have a negative effect on your website, and it could be permanent.
Social bookmarking sites ban spammers
Sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, and Delicious will ban your account, and even your IP address if they recognize that you are spamming their site for self-promotion. Participating in stumble/digg exchanges will also put your account at risk. According to StumbleUpon’s terms of service: “The practice of sending PM’s encouraging or inviting other stumblers to rate/review sites in exchange for reciprocal reviews/ratings, monetary, or any other form of reward is strictly forbidden.”
And not only can your account be banned for participating in exchange ratings, but your website can be permanently banned from being rated or reviewed. This isn’t worth the risk. Social bookmarking, when used properly, is such a valuable tool for getting valuable traffic to your site.
Don’t submit only your own content
You can still utilize social bookmarking sites to get meaningful traffic to your site without exploiting the system. Submit articles from blogs similar to yours, and write meaningful reviews that include your signature (name and URL). When the blog owners sees your review, they may go to your website and return the favor. The review you’ll receive in return will be much more valuable than if you’d participated in a stumble-exchange review: “Great!”
Being an active user of these social bookmarking sites doesn’t have to be time consuming. Most of their homepages include recently popular pages. So check out a few, and rate the ones that you found interesting. This way, if you have written an article you’re really proud of and want to get into the system, you can bookmark your own content once in a rare while without looking like a spammer.
Make it easy for visitors to bookmark your blog
Encourage your visitors to bookmark your site and articles by providing links to quickly stumble or digg your site. You can see my bookmark-icon links at the bottom of each post. WordPress and Typepad have widgets you can install that automatically add these links to each one of your articles. Add To Any is also a great widget that you can add to any site, and it’s really easy to configure and install. Don’t overwhelm your users with links to share your URL all over the place, but make the links easily visible on the page.
There are so many articles out there promoting sites like Social Marker, claiming that it can save bloggers so much time when marketing their blog. So if you still think that Social Marker is a valuable resource and want to use it, use it sparingly and only for your best posts. But decide first whether you think it’s worth the risk, because once your website is banned, it will be too late to change your mind. Also, decide if you really need to be submitting your content to 47 different sites. You’re probably better off becoming an active user a few sites, constantly using them to submit interesting articles on the web, occasionally including your own.
So what do you think? Do you use social bookmarking tools like Social Marker? Do you think automating the process and self-promotion should be treated so harshly?