Placing social media buttons all over blogs and web sites has been a hot trend. Webmasters feel that adding these small buttons to their website will increase their social traffic. In some cases this is true, but in most it is not.
If you look at the article below, there are two social media buttons within the red box that I’ve highlighted:
Let’s zoom in:
The first button is for Del.icio.us, and the second is for Digg. You would think that people click on these buttons, which might cause the article to appear on the Del.icio.us popular page and the Digg homepage. This article was good and had the potential to do well on social sites. However, it didn’t get popular on either of those sites. Instead, it ranked on a third social media site – Reddit:
Why did this story do well on Reddit despite the fact that a button for Reddit was not placed on the article? Here are the two main reasons:
First, most people place these social media buttons on every page of their site, which causes them to become common and blend into the design. If this is how you place them, no one is going to click on them, which will just cause these social media buttons to potentially take up valuable website real estate.
Second, you are scattering your visitors to sites that they are probably not familiar with. Even in the technology industry, there are millions of people who don’t know what Digg or Del.icio.us are. The way these sites work is that the more votes you get, the higher your chances are of getting on the homepage. By giving your visitors multiple options, you might decrease your votes on each individual social media site, thus decreasing your chances of getting on the homepage.
For an SEO analogy, think how many people have learned that it’s often better to try and build links to one particular page, for a particular topic, rather than to several of them. Just as you want to concentrate your link love, so you want to concentrate your vote love.
Due to this, I don’t recommend placing all of these small social media buttons your website. If you have content that is potentially worthy of social media sites, pick the site (and its audience) that it is most suited to your article and place a big social media button just for that one website. Another option is to specifically tell your readers to vote for your story on that particular social media site, right within the story or content you’ve created.
Whatever route you decide to take, just make sure you do not overdo it. If you constantly ask for votes, your readers will get used to your solicitation and begin to ignore it.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.