In social news and social bookmarking sites, many users tend to get caught up in how many votes or bookmarks it will take for their submitted content to be promoted to the frontpage or “popular” sections of the site. What is often overlooked by users is the quality and naturalism of those votes that trigger the algorithms to promote that particular piece of content on individual social news and social bookmarking sites.
Seeking quality votes and bookmarks is comparable to seeking quality links in search engine optimization (SEO). A wise SEO will focus on the quality of links in the site’s link profile over the quantity of links. The key is building an image of trust to the eyes of the algorithm.
Often, social media users will be propositioned by other users on that network to vote or bookmark content they have submitted in attempt to promote that content to the frontpage. The original user will provide you a link to the voting page on the social media site, you vote, and then get back to your busy day. This is also known as a “blind vote” which defines a person blindly voting for particular content without viewing it. The issue in this scenario is that the vote you just gave to that content is not weighed very heavily and thus considered a low-quality vote.
With social media sites having their own framed bars for content now (e.g. Digg, StumbleUpon) they are able to measure the level of engagement on the actual content page. This opens up a whole new area for detecting naturalism within social media voting. Reasons why a vote might be considered unnatural or low-quality include:
- There is no click-through to view the content.
- There is little time spent on the page. (Average time expectations depend on type and length of content.)
- There is no engagement on the content page itself. (No scrolling, playing videos, clicking through slideshow, leaving comments, sharing, etc)
There is also the issue of how you arrived to the content. Coming straight to a voting page or an ‘upcoming’ page on a social media site, with no referring URL, likely means you came from a direct link via an IM or e-mail. While a shared URL isn’t a bad thing, it might be if the vast majority of your votes only come from that methodology. A way to gain a natural high-quality vote is to have the user start at the homepage of the site and perform actions to naturally find your content to vote on. That could be drilling down to the category or subcategory of your content and clicking on it, performing a site search for a keyword in your title, going to your profile and viewing your submitted content.
It’s important to note and keep in mind that if you are viewing a page that’s framed in a Digg bar and decide you want to thumb it from your StumbleUpon toolbar, you must first close out that Digg bar to get to the natural URL. At that point, the naturalism needs to begin all over again because StumbleUpon has just barely recognized you are viewing the content and doesn’t know you’ve previously been viewing it in another frame.
It’s not only pertinent to know how to receive natural votes, but there’s also a high level of importance in knowing how to give them. If you have a profile that’s always providing natural high-quality votes then your profile will tend to be trusted more when submitting your own content on that site. Avoiding any redflag that might indicate you partake in or organize manipulated voting for content can cause damage to your profile, and even the domains you might frequently submit.
Take it from someone who’s burned their fair share of social profiles in the past, that trying to get votes or give votes in a quick and easy fashion is not the best route to go when desiring long-term success with your profile and content promotion.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.