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My Social Bookmarking Strategy, Its Benefits & The Tool I Use

Social bookmarking is a hit or miss strategy for many, but utilizing it in a very specific manner using specific tools has been very effective for me.

It is a key component of my marketing strategy whenever I build a new niche website, or whenever I want to promote or build back links to new articles on my blog, websites or articles that I submit to directories and web 2.0 properties for article marketing purposes.

Social bookmarking is the bookmarking, recording or saving of a particular URL (a website or a single web page of that website) to a social bookmarking platform such as Digg and Stumbleupon. The reason why the strategy is effective is because social bookmarking platforms are some of the most credible and high ranking websites, not to mention the possibility of your content going insanely viral.

The reason why social bookmarking doesn’t turn out that beneficial for many marketers is because many use it haphazardly, without a specific approach that has a clear objective.  Clarity and focus are critical in everything you do.  Like most similar approaches, this initiative is like shooting in the dark.

Having a specific strategy with a clear objective in mind is how you gain the maximum benefit from this marketing approach. With that said, there are many ways to use social bookmarking to meet various objectives.

Personally, I use social bookmarking with two specific objectives in mind, to gain quality back links to my websites, and to get my web pages indexed on search engines before I begin spinning the articles and submitting them to article directories. Subsequently, I use it to boost the rank or build back links to articles submitted to directories.

Although high quality content can spread like wildfire if noticed by a high profile social bookmarker, and many use social bookmarking to do just that, I don’t proactively seek to gain this result from my social bookmarking efforts because the outcome is way beyond my control and involves a high degree of luck.  What I do intend to gain however is a solidified page rank to stabilize by ranking on search engines through back link building.

Using Social Bookmarking to Boost Your Article Marketing Initiatives

Just like article marketing initiatives can help provide a boost to your website and the various web pages within, social bookmarking acts in the same way and can also help take your link building effort a step further.  Not only can you bookmark your web pages, but also the articles you submit for article marketing purposes on various article directories.

Imagine three layers that start from the core, which is your website or blog.  The outer layer is the article marketing initiatives which brings back links to the inner core.  Another layer outside the article marketing layer is the social bookmarking initiative, which brings back links to your articles, which in turn passes on to the inner core which is your main website.

Social Bookmarking Flow Chart

As you can see in the diagram, I also use social bookmarking sparingly to link directly to content that is on my web properties.  Use this approach sparingly and slowly.

The Best Social Bookmarking Sites to Use

So which social bookmarking sites should you utilize to drive back links to your articles? Digg and StumbleUpon are solid social bookmarking websites to start with, but these are just two of several effective sites. There are social bookmarking tools you can use that come with a pre-populated list of popular and effective social bookmarking sites you can target.

In my experience, social bookmarking is a numbers game in that the more sites you target the more effective your efforts become. The utilization of an automated tool helps you do this relatively easily.

There are three tools that I came across when I first started looking into using social bookmarking, Social Bookmarking Demon, Social Marker and OnlyWire.  I personally don’t like Social Bookmarking Demon because 1) it is clunky 2) it is expensive for no good reason in my opinion and 3) it doesn’t give me any more benefit from using it relative to the other two.

I used Social Marker for some time and find it better than the Demon because it is FREE.  The downside is that their customer no support is non\-existent.  Moreover, depending on which day you try it, the tool may or may not work for you.  This frustrated me more than anything else and for that reason I don’t recommend it.

OnlyWire is what I use today because it is easy to use and it I like their back end support best of all three programs.  For a non techie like myself, robust customer service is very important and I am willing to pay extra for it.  However, OnlyWire has a free plan that you can use to market one website for up to 300 submissions per month. That is plenty for most people and you may never have to spend on a social bookmarking tool.

Since I have over 20 niche websites, I use the Corporate plan at $99/month because it allows me to market an unlimited number of websites with unlimited submissions.  They also have an intermediate plan that starts at $10 per month which allows you to market one website for an unlimited amount of monthly submissions.  For me, the fee well worth it relative to the benefits I gain from utilizing this powerful Internet marketing tool. However, you can totally take advantage of their free offer.

Note that utilizing social bookmarking mass submission tools doesn’t mean you don’t have to sign up with each social bookmarking site. You still do, but you only have to do it one time. You can’t skip this step no matter what social bookmarking tool you use.

Once your login credentials are stored in the software you are using, the rest of the process becomes relatively streamlined.  You can mass bookmark specific web pages across multiple social bookmarking platforms with one click of the button. For example, in my Onlywire dashboard, I have most social bookmarking sites clicked, or enabled for submission (see below).

Onlywire Dashboard (Click to enlarge)

You can definitely benefit from social bookmarking without spending money on social bookmarking software, but utilizing one will make the process much easier, much less time consuming and more effective in my opinion.

What strategy(ies) has worked best for you? What kinds of results have you experienced? What tool do you use and what’s your opinion of it?  If you are not leveraging social bookmarking in your marketing initiatives, why?

Full Disclosure: I have an affiliate relationship with OnlyWire and get paid a commission each time someone I refer to it makes a purchase. I currently use OnlyWire for mass Social Bookmarking.

Cost Study: Site Build It (SBI) Vs. Building Your Own Site or Blog

This has been a long awaited post and I am finally glad to be getting around to it because the questions are just mounting up. Is it better to go with Site Build It (SBI) or is it better to put the pieces together yourself when starting your website or blog?

Why so many questions? Because I own over 20 niche websites, and many of them are on the SBI platform. In fact, my most successful and profitable niche site is on the SBI program.

If you don’t know what SBI is, it is a website building suite or program that comes with all the components you need to build a website and run a successful online business, except everything is already there and built for you. All you need to do is start creating your content or website material.

It is an all in one, single stop package developed for individuals who do not have the ability to or simply don’t want to go through the learning curve involved in setting up websites and blogs. It works particularly well for busy individuals such as successful corporate professionals who are looking to establish additional income streams on the side.

The individuals have the discretionary cash, but don’t have the time or the interest to dive into the technicalities of online business.  These individuals have the knowledge capital because they are already successful in their careers, and are now looking to transpose their knowledge into a web based business to achieve greater scaleability.

Because I have numerous websites that are successful both on the SBI platform and outside (good old HTML static sites as well as WordPress sites), many people ask me which is the better route to go.  The answer depends on the type of individual you are, what you want and how much you are willing to spend on your business.

While I will cover the qualitative aspects of the comparison a bit later, I want to first focus on the quantitative aspect of the equation because many people immediately discount SBI when they first see its price tag. Truth is, the price isn’t that much more than putting the pieces together, and definitely well worth the amount of time you save in the process at least in my opinion.

So let’s have a look . . .

Cost of SBI

All Inclusive Annually $299

Cost of Building Your Own Site

Domain $10.99

Hosting ($5/month) $60

Total $71 Annually

Purely from a financial perspective, SBI will cost you $228 more per year to operate a static website or blog with no other bells and whistles.  This is fine if you want a small family or hobby site that you do nothing with once you build it.  But what if you want to build a successful long term online business which require tools such as an email autoresponder and a keyword research tool for SEO purposes?

Let’s have a look one more time . . .

Cost of SBI

All Inclusive Annually $299

Cost of Building Your Own Site

Domain $10.99

Hosting ($5/month) $60

Keyword Tool $97 (Market Samurai is the most cost effective)

Email Autoresponder ($20/month) $250 (Aweber is the most cost effective)

SEO Checker Tool $97 (Traffic Travis is the most cost effective)

Total $505 Annually

So it turns out that SBI is cheaper by $206 during your first year

Note that the cost of the keyword tool and SEO checker tool drops after year one because it’s a one time charge which brings the cost down to $311.  The results?

SBI is cheaper by $12 annually.

So there you have it purely from a financial perspective.  SBI is actually a more cost efficient option when you take into account the bells and whistles many new internet entrepreneurs would want to have.  For those who don’t want to fork up the $299 all at once, SBI also allows you to subscribe on a monthly basis instead so you can try the program and see whether you want to stick around, making it much more affordable from a working capital or cash flow perspective.

I understand there are nuances involved that impact our decisions, such as differences between the keyword tool SBI uses vs. the alternatives, and the same goes for the email autoresponder and many other factors. However, all that just comes down to personal preference and comfort level using the tools.

For example, a more advanced internet entrepreneur may prefer a more robust email autoresponder such as Aweber while someone relatively new can be totally overwhelmed by it, not that it is too complicated but you get the point. There will always be nuances involved in the different components that go into running a successful online business that trigger differences in opinion. The important thing is that all these components work.

Disadvantages Using SBI

Building your own website or blog with WordPress or a static HTML program like Dreamweaver will give you more flexibility in terms of the look and feel of your website in terms of how you want to design it and the elements you want to embed within.  However, this requires some knowledge of coding/programming in order to implement.

For example, with WordPress, you have several plugins that are available that you can use to enhance or modify the look, feel and functionality of your site.  Although there is some learning curve involved in understanding what plugins are, what they do and how to implement and use them successfully, they are relatively automated compared to having to manually code in the functionality they delivery.

There is some flexibility with SBI as well, however this too requires some programming/coding skills. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself whether you are willing to invest the time to learn what it takes to implement such design changes. More importantly, are the design tweaks you want to implement important enough to impact your decision?

Another disadvantage of SBI is you can only host one domain in your account.  This become a moot point if you only want to establish one website. But if you want to establish several more down the road, getting your own hosting account will work out better if you want to host multiple domain names on it.

Basically, considering your own hosting account comes into play when scaleability is at stake because you can scale the use of other web components mentioned above as well such as the email autoresponder program.

Advantages Using SBI

  • Easy to learn and use
  • Step by step business and site building coaching
  • Several behind the scenes tools, both impacting the site itself and others that impact your business
  • Excellent support system
  • Plug and Play system perfect for busy people who don’t have the time or don’t want to learn the technical aspects of doing business but just want to turn their passion into a successful online business

Real Advantages Using SBI

While there are a few things to consider when deciding whether to go with SBI or put the pieces together building your own website or blog, the real advantage in using SBI in my opinion is everything else that goes way beyond the website itself. I am not saying the website is not good. It is. But what’s even better is all the bells and whistles that come with the program.

More than anything else, the step by step training you receive is fantastic. Before you even start building your website, SBI provides a multi-modular interactive training course that gets you up to speed on internet business. Literally, a novice can take the training and be on their way to establishing a successful online business. I can argue that this in itself is well worth the price of the program.

In addition, SBI has several behind the scenes tools that are invaluable, including a very large and deeply involved forum where thousands of SBIers regularly interact, share experiences and help each other out. SBI’s support network is the one of the best I have personally experienced among online tools, which outside of the SBI community you would have to build on your own, most often paying for it.

And the biggest advantage of all in my opinion is the time and pain you save in the process. You completely skip the growing pains and overcome the learning curve immediately because of the training you are provided with.  Outside of SBI, this training costs a significant amount of money.

Getting SBI is like getting a private tutor, or paying for coaching which not only takes heavy monetary investment, but also time and patience to learn, understand and implement.  With SBI, if you are ever stuck at any point, simply shoot out an email to the support team or post in the forums.  Responses come flooding in quick.

Concluding Thoughts

If you are a seasoned internet entrepreneur, you may not get all the value from SBI that it is meant to deliver. You likely already know a lot of it. However, if you are relatively new in the internet space and are interested in building a successful and long term online business, SBI is an invaluable tool that I highly recommend you at least try.

They have a money back guarantee you can take advantage of, and most importantly you don’t have to pay all $299 upfront if you don’t want to. You can subscribe to their monthly plan.

Remember that SBI teaches you how to build a solid, successful and long term online business, so it’s much more than just a website or blog building suite. You not only get the start to finish coaching needed to figure out what niche you should pursue, but also all the tools to start building your website without figuring out how to. All you need to do is type.  In addition, you get all the coaching and support needed to establish a successful long term and sustainable online business.

I personally like SBI for several other reasons as well that go beyond the scope of this post, but then again, I might be biased because it is said that one never forgets their first love.  I am not saying I dislike other methods. In fact I have several niche sites that are on WordPress as well as static HTML sites built with Dreamweaver. In fact, once you get some experience and feel you no longer need some of the bells and whistles that SBI provides, you may very well opt to build your own website or blog for less than SBI’s annual cost. That said, my most profitable website is running on the SBI platform.

You can see how several others like me are making SBI successfully work well for them here.

Do you prefer to build your own website or blog rather than using a comprehensive suite of tools like SBI? Why or why not? What are your main questions and concerns when deciding?

Full Disclosure: I have an affiliate relationship with SBI and get paid a commission each time someone I refer to it makes a purchase. I have been acquainted with SBI since 2007 and have several profitable websites built and running on the SBI platform.

My Top Effective Blog SEO Marketing Strategies

In this post I want to share my top blog SEO marketing strategies that have worked well for me in the short time that I have been blogging.

While I have been making money online for a few years now, I started blogging at the end of July 2010, and have since surpassed my own expectations in terms of visitors, subscribers, profitability and the participation from the community.

I attribute some of this success to effective blog SEO, or blog optimization. A lot of the optimization principles that work for niche websites also work for blogs, with the exception of a few nuances.

Thanks to the Thesis WordPress theme and a couple other blog SEO tools that I use, I have been able to capitalize on organic search engine traffic better than I expected, which has contributed tremendously to my blog’s growth.

Here is last month’s graph showing how my blog generates traffic:

Blog Traffic Breakdown

Top 10 Blog Traffic Sources

My diversified blog marketing strategy is clearly paying off huge dividends, particularly my blog SEO strategy.  Nearly 38% of my traffic is coming from search engine queries, which is my biggest source of traffic.

Organic search engine traffic is 100% free, and means that your website is being found for keywords that people are searching for the most.  This is where you want a bulk of your traffic to come from.

But how do you accomplish that?  By engaging in effective blog SEO.

Blog SEO and Marketing a Blog Effectively

Marketing a blog (or any website for that matter) can be broken down in two umbrella concepts, on page blog optimization and off page blog marketing.

On page blog SEO efforts involve researching and selecting the right keywords for your post, applying the correct meta tags, keyword density within the body of your blog post as well as the correct linking structure.

Proper blog SEO can initially seem like rocket science if you haven’t been exposed to it before. But I’ve broken down the process and each individual component in detail in a previous post here.

Though practically not too complicated to implement, these individual concepts can take time mastering, which is why I use Traffic Travis, a program that detects the flaws in each of my blog posts as I type it out and provides recommendations that need to be implemented to best optimize each blog post.

Traffic Travis is neat in that it gives you a rating system similar to the SBI rating system for on page SEO.  This system immediately shows you what you have done right and where you can make improvements in your blog post or page to achieve the maximum on page SEO score possible.

In addition to that, Traffic Travis helps you find out exactly why your competition outranks you, and then enables you to beat them.  Finally, it also helps you build quality back links.

Using Traffic Travis, coupled with the Thesis WordPress theme has been the best one two punch I have used for effective blog optimization, which has been extremely effective for me so far.  Do you HAVE to use these? Absolutely not. Do you WANT to use these? Absolutely.  Credible internet marketing tools are meant to make our work easier and expedite our success.

If you don’t do anything else for your blog, employing these two alone will ensure solid on page blog SEO.

If you want to read more about why Thesis is so effective, read my post titled Better Meta Tag Optimization with Thesis WordPress Theme.

Off page blog marketing initiatives can involve everything under the sun, which makes it overwhelming to process, digest and implement.  The growing social networking craziness, although effective for many, further ads to the minutiae and makes things more convoluted.

Grant it that each off page blog marketing strategy has its benefits, I will highlight the only three that I put a concentrated focus on which have all worked very well for me.  The three are article marketing, guest posting and strategically commenting on blogs and forums.

I engage in article marketing mainly to build quality back-links to my blog, submitting to a handful of selected directories and web 2.0 properties.  Article marketing is especially effective when your blog is not as popular yet and when Google takes its sweet time indexing your pages and posts.

Effective article marketing not only ensures that your pages are indexed as quickly as possible, but also gives you a chance to start link building initiatives from the get go. If you are interested in an advanced back link building strategy, read my article on link wheeling as an effective back linking strategy.

The caveat I’d add to this is that although many of my niche sites were not impacted by Panda and Penguin, some have, and it is very difficult for me to determine what caused the hit.  My best suggestion is to limit your link building efforts to credible directories and web 2.o properties. I also highly recommend spacing out your submissions over time (drip feeding). Too much too fast will raise a flag.

I engage in guest posting for two reasons; to get quality back links to my blog and to get exposure to a completely new readership base on a popular blog. The latter is actually the primary benefit, with the back link being the inherent benefit of the activity.

Effective guest posting is probably the single best off page blog marketing initiative you can undertake in my opinion to quickly gain exposure to your target audience.

Finally, commenting on blogs and forums also gets you in front of a new audience instantly.  Though many blogs and forums allow you to link back to your blog, many blog and forum platforms have a “no follow” attribute in their code which prevents your link from benefiting your blog from an SEO perspective.

If you are tight on time and have to eliminate one of these three off page blog marketing initiatives, commenting on blogs and forums would be the activity you leave out in my experience.

Readers: How are you marketing your blog or website? What blog SEO marketing strategies are you applying?  Which have worked best for you? Why aren’t you trying other strategies?

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