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Recently, a page on one of my websites was bookmarked
or listed on Digg, a popular social bookmark site. It
gave me the perfect opportunity to study and analyze
the traffic coming from these social media sites. Read
to discover the advantages and disadvantages of social
bookmark traffic and how it can be applied to your
own online marketing or site.

Is Social BookMark Traffic Useless?

First, we must make the distinction that no traffic
is useless. Any visitor to your site is a good thing
and should be welcomed. However, all traffic is not
created equally, there are great differences in the
sources of your traffic. This article takes a close
analytical look at social bookmark traffic from an
internet marketing perspective.

In case you haven’t noticed, right now social bookmark
and media sites are all the rage on the television  web. Social
bookmark traffic comes from such popular sites as
Slashdot, Digg, Stumbleupon… basically these sites
are driven by their users — that is, users or members
pick and bookmark the content they want to view and
discuss.

These social bookmark sites are extremely popular;
they command the high traffic numbers most ordinary
sites can only dream about obtaining.

But is this social bookmark traffic useful?

Is it worth your time? Should you be actively promoting
to these social media sites? Is social bookmark traffic
of any use to the affiliate marketer? Should you
concentrate your online marketing efforts on these
types of sites? More importantly, what are the benefits
and disadvantages of getting a front page listing on
a sites like Digg or Stumbleupon?

As a full-time online marketer I wanted to know the
answers to those questions. Moreover, I wanted to
discover how or if I could use these sites from
an online marketer’s advantage; i.e. how can they
help me create more online income.

Recently, the Digg listing gave me a first-hand
opportunity to really study these sites.

Of course, nothing happens without a reason… I did
actually court these social bookmark sites by placing
the free Addthis.com bookmark on all my pages. You can
do the same. This simple bookmark lets your visitors
bookmark your content for you in all these sites; it
only takes a few seconds to place the bookmark code
on your webpages.

But be careful; getting your site featured on the
front page of these sites can drive 100,000’s of
visitors to your site immediately, so much traffic
that it may overtax your server and crash it.

So be warned; if you’re actively promoting to these
social bookmark sites just make sure your servers or
web hosting is up to the demanding task of handling
all these sudden visitors.

In my case, it didn’t crash my servers but unfortunately,
the page/link in question featured an old poorly
written article I did on the history of the Internet.
It was just some random facts and things about the web,
not really an article at all. Why it was even
featured on Digg is a puzzle and beyond me.

But still I am not one to waste an opportunity, so I
put my Google Analytics into overdrive and starting
analyzing these visitors and social bookmark traffic.

It pointed out some very interesting factors about this
social bookmark traffic.

Most of this traffic will:

simply bounce back
very few visitors will spend much time on your site
very few visitors will even venture into your site
very few will sign up to your newsletter
very few will enter your marketing follow-ups/funnels
(The unknown variable here being the content on your
site, how good it is? How well does it perform?)

Regardless, one common problem with traffic from these
sites, it’s very temporary traffic. The high volume
will only last a few days… until your item is moved
back from the front page.

These visitors will not stay on your site long and
most are gone within seconds, never to be seen again.
A few may sign up to your newsletter or venture to
other areas of your site but not many.

Social bookmark traffic is very fleeting, like
customers in the drive-through section in a fast
food restaurant, they grab the content and surf back
to the major linking site very quickly and surf
on to the next item.

This traffic will behave very differently than
organic traffic from the search engines, or from
your newsletter traffic or from traffic in your
marketing funnels. Much different.

It was unlike getting one of my articles featured
in Addme or SiteProNews, where I can easily get 200
or 300 new subscribers in a day. Plus, these visitors
are interested in my information and have been exposed
to my content (article) before coming to my site.

So there was no comparison; I would take the
traffic from these sites any day over traffic
from the social bookmark sites. And I would
take free organic traffic from the search engines
over any other source of traffic including
PPC traffic.

So the question remains – is social bookmark traffic
useless?

First, as I mentioned before, you must realize no
traffic is useless; any visitors to your site is a
good thing. Without traffic your site is worthless,
just a few files sitting on a server in the middle
of nowhere.

Obtaining visitors is one of your first objectives
as a webmaster. You have to get visitors to your
site or it’s game over.

The best kind of traffic is traffic coming from
organic search, visitors who come from the search
engines seeking exactly what you’re offering on
your site. These are targeted visitors who will
consider your offer, real your information,
maybe buy a product or sign-up to your newsletter
or follow-up system. They often become repeat
visitors to your site. These are your ideal visitors.
This is the kind of traffic you want.

Social bookmark/media traffic is different but it
does have some saving graces.

Mainly it can help expose your site to millions and
help brand your site or business. It can get the word
out about your site. Start a buzz.

If you have a site that appeals to the mass market,
then these social sites could be an excellent
recruiting ground for visitors and traffic.

These social sites are good for another reason;
getting your links on all these high traffic,
high PR7 and PR8 sites can’t hurt your search
engine rankings. Once featured on a site like
Digg, your link will appear on many secondary
sites around the web, so far 500+ and counting.
Monkey see, monkey do. Although it has never been
my main ambition to get featured on Fark.com, all
these sites do have high PR ranks so from a SEO
standpoint it is not necessarily a bad thing.

Since many of these visitors will be using the
Firefox browser which has the Alexa toolbar
embedded – your site’s traffic rank will increase.
Over 50% of the bookmark traffic coming to my site
were using the Firefox browser. Alexa’s traffic
rankings are not a true picture of the web’s
traffic but it’s a good measuring stick,
nonetheless.

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