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How to Get More Bookmarks and Better Links

BookmarkA bookmark is the standard compliment for online writers. We applaud singers, we laugh at comedians jokes, and we bookmark articles we find on the web. Bookmarks and links fuel your blogs success.

What can we do to get more bookmarks?

Why then do some get bookmarked while others get largely ignored?

It’s not just about writing great content. You can create valuable, interesting, well-written articles that get zero bookmarks.

You can also build a fantastic blog that entertains or informs your loyal readers but hardly ever gets linked to.

Why would you want bookmarks?

First of all a bookmark means an intention to return. That in itself is a good sign. Repeat visitors have always been very valuable to have. It’s the knock-on effects that bring greatest value, though.

Repeat-visitors can become loyal, longer term readers. Loyal readers are more likely to refer others.

Then, of course, there are the shared bookmarks which help your content become viral, driving more traffic and helping to attract links.

The sorts of articles that get bookmarked get more links. They are exactly the sorts of articles that will get maximum referrals from other bloggers because they know their readers will want to know about them too. This builds links, search engine traffic and increased positive brand awareness.

I guess a better question might be “why would you not want bookmarks”!

If bookmarks are so great, for both readers and authors, why are we not bookmarking all the time? The difference happens when you take the next step and create something not just worthwhile but “bookmarkable”.

What makes something bookmarkable? Imagine yourself in the readers role for a moment …

What goes through your readers mind when they bookmark an article?Head

  1. No time to read this now but it looks interesting” – This is the ultimate skimmer. They give your article a quick look and if it passes the smell test then you get a bookmark. It often turns out that they never do come back.
  2. I will definitely come back and read again this later” – Unlike the above, this person does intend to come back and probably even quickly read the article one time but wants to give it more concentration.
  3. This will be a handy reference” – Cooks bookmark recipes. As a programmer I used to have lots of cheat sheets, pieces of code, etc bookmarked. As a writer for a long while I had a swipe-file of useful headlines and such.
  4. These instructions will be useful” – From “how to fix the plumbing” to “10 things to do in case of earthquake”, it is good to keep instructions around.
  5. My friends will love this” – Social bookmarkers don’t just bookmark for their own use. The more they share the more benefits to you!
  6. LOL!” – Part of the reason for Dilbert’s popularity I am sure is the amount of times strips were cut out and pinned to cubicle walls. Perhaps bookmarking is the online version?
  7. I need to keep checking this” – Your reference doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. Think of constantly updated articles with updates as the story progresses, event calendars, world-time planners, or tools like stock tickers.
  8. While I don’t need this right now it might come in handy later” – Some readers are hoarders, they have bookmarked lots of articles Sometimes you bookmark just in case.
  9. Nice content, I will reward you with a bookmark!” – It’s true, sometimes people will Digg, Stumble or Delicious out of gratitude or as a compliment.
  10. Well you did ask nicely” – If your good friend asks for a Digg, and you like their article, you give them a vote, right?

If you think as a reader you can have a better idea of which of your articles are going to get more bookmarks. In general a bookmarkable post will have the following qualities …

What are the properties of bookmarkable content?

Bookmarkable content is going to have several or all of these factors:

  • It’s got to have obvious value – At a glance the reader has to be able to see what is in it for them. No benefit, no bookmark.
  • It’s got to be remarkable – If what they are looking at seems old news then why bookmark?
  • It’s got to be worth a second look – Sometimes you can get a lot out of an article but never return, is it still going to be valuable on a second or third look?
  • It’s got to need a second look – Some of the best resources can’t be consumed all in one go. Is your article a snack or a banquet?
  • It’s got to be timeless or constantly updated - If your article is dated after only a few days then it will not gain maximum traction, on the other hand if it is timeless or always up to date then people will come back again and again.
  • It’s got to be comprehensive - Don’t just nibble away at the corner of a topic, give your reader your all.
  • It’s got to be specific – While I said it has to be comprehensive, don’t take that to mean you should try to cram everything imaginable into it. Stay on the topic, deliver the promise you make in the headline. Solve one problem. Focus on one clear benefit.

So we know the kind of thing we are looking for, how exactly do we make sure we get more bookmarks?

How do you get more bookmarks?

If you have any barriers to bookmarking then you will get fewer bookmarks. Common sense, right? You would think so but sometimes people seem to try to make it hard on their readers. Follow this list to make sure you have the basics …

  1. Give people the tools – Widgets and plugins exist to make it easy for people to bookmark. Use them.
  2. Make it easy as one click – Don’t make people have to register with unusual services or hunt around for your links. In general the first person to bookmark has the hard work so get someone to do the initial submission first.
  3. Ask for bookmarks from the reader – Sometimes you need to prompt readers to take action, but be polite.
  4. Tell your friends – To start getting traction ask your friends for some help.
  5. Inform “sneezers” – Politely inform people you know who like to spread links. Point out the benefits simply, and do not demand. Don’t spam. A good place to share your link is Twitter, while not as direct it is less annoying than unsolicited email.

So you have put together what you think is a great resource and told your friends. Everything should be golden, right? Right?

What should you not do?

Anyone who spends time using Digg, StumbleUpon or Del.icio.us will see the same mistakes made over and over …

  1. Do not steal - This is a case where copying is not flattery, it is theft. Don’t even try to get bookmarks to copied material.
  2. Do not hype – Your headline makes a promise that your content has to deliver. Over hyping will just set you up for a fail or come across as snake oil.
  3. Do not rush – Spend time crafting your article. The better the finished product the more benefit you will get.
  4. Do not spam – The temptation will be to try to cram every article into Digg, and tell everyone in the world about each submission – woah, don’t get carried away, pick your battles.
  5. Do not over monetize – Once you get some links and traffic you might want to grab some cash by putting ads all around your content. In fact this will make you less likely to receive the bookmarks you so need as people will think they are being scammed for your financial benefit.

You have your original content, you have trimmed back the ads to the bare minimum, and you have told only selected people. What now? How can we put this baby to bed? …

How can you increase your chances of being bookmarked?

Once you have the bones of a killer resource there are still some tweaks that you can apply to be in the best place to get tons of bookmarks. While there are no guarantees, the following tips will help:

  1. Optimize headlines – The first thing your reader will see will normally be the headline. Make it scream out to be clicked.
  2. Optimize your introduction – Your headline sells the click but the intro sells the article. Create a killer first sentence. Then follow it up with another. Bookmarks live or die based on a snap judgment so make sure the introduction, and therefore article, begs to be read.
  3. Optimize URLs/Slug – If your article is to be shared around via email, forums and IM, then you need a simple URL. In most CMS you can specify a short and snappy URL, filename or in WordPress the “slug”.
  4. Optimize appearance – Pictures are worth many words but they also break up the wall of text, plus help the reader make that snap “yes” decision. Great pics can be found on Flickr.
  5. Optimize phrasing and sentence structure – Is your article skimmable? Do you have lots of complicated jargon? Do you use long meandering sentences? Simplify to clarify!

If you have followed the advice so far you should be well placed, but there is one last important tip to share …

The final, and biggest tip


Make it a habit to think like a reader! Get into the bookmarking mindset. Take notice when and why you bookmark. Notice which articles get popular on Del.icio.us and Digg.

I hope this article has given you some ideas for how you can get more bookmarks and links. Please share your thoughts and advice in the comments, and of course, bookmarks would be most welcome :)

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Comments

  1. Chris — this is a really terrific and well thought-out piece. Very comprehensive and … drum-roll, please … worthy of a bookmark. :-)

  2. Chris — this is a really terrific and well thought-out piece. Very comprehensive and … drum-roll, please … worthy of a bookmark. :-)

  3. Make your post a little longer than usual, but filled with tips and ideas (not paragraphs of text) which makes us think – I’ve just got to store that and come back to it.

    Which is what I’ve just done :-)

    Joanna

  4. Make your post a little longer than usual, but filled with tips and ideas (not paragraphs of text) which makes us think – I’ve just got to store that and come back to it.

    Which is what I’ve just done :-)

    Joanna

  5. Well I have to say you’ve made a great example out of this article! Thinking like a reader is a fantastic tip–I especially appreciated the “what goes on in a reader’s mind” bit.

  6. Well I have to say you’ve made a great example out of this article! Thinking like a reader is a fantastic tip–I especially appreciated the “what goes on in a reader’s mind” bit.

  7. One of the best analytical blog posts I’ve ever seen. And pretty much detailed. Good work Chris.

    I believe your final tip is indeed the biggest tip. It can make your life easier if you just cross over from your blogging shoes to your typical online reader shoes for a while and ask yourself, “What can I possibly do to make people dig this?”

    I think doing that once in a while is really important.

  8. One of the best analytical blog posts I’ve ever seen. And pretty much detailed. Good work Chris.

    I believe your final tip is indeed the biggest tip. It can make your life easier if you just cross over from your blogging shoes to your typical online reader shoes for a while and ask yourself, “What can I possibly do to make people dig this?”

    I think doing that once in a while is really important.

  9. Hey Chris, came here after just following you in Twitter for the last 2 days! :-) I am just realizing the power of Twitter and how great a tool it can be for bloggers although I just have 6 followers.

    About the article, great tips overall and I try to ask myself what I would like to see in a tech blog before I post something. I absolutely try to avoid ‘breaking news’ kind of stories being dished out by everyone that day and just try to help with real life tech solutions. Del.icio.us’ed & stumbled! :razz:

  10. Hey Chris, came here after just following you in Twitter for the last 2 days! :-) I am just realizing the power of Twitter and how great a tool it can be for bloggers although I just have 6 followers.

    About the article, great tips overall and I try to ask myself what I would like to see in a tech blog before I post something. I absolutely try to avoid ‘breaking news’ kind of stories being dished out by everyone that day and just try to help with real life tech solutions. Del.icio.us’ed & stumbled! :razz:

  11. Wow Chris, this was one comprehensive post. And it is very inspiring too. Up till now specifically customizing blog posts for the purpose of getting bookmarked or getting ranked higher hasn’t been my priority (because I don’t write enough on my blog — I write in spurts) but your post has given me a good topic to think about.

  12. Wow Chris, this was one comprehensive post. And it is very inspiring too. Up till now specifically customizing blog posts for the purpose of getting bookmarked or getting ranked higher hasn’t been my priority (because I don’t write enough on my blog — I write in spurts) but your post has given me a good topic to think about.

  13. @Matt – Phew, I am glad. I would have looked pretty silly if this one hadn’t gathered any bookmarks eh? :)

    @Joanna – Let me know when you need a bookmark too :)

    @Michael – It’s one of those common sense but not common practice things isn’t it? :)

    @Human – Yes, this kind of resource above all needs to be aimed at the readers needs in order to get the reaction you hope for

    @K-IntheHouse – You will have seen today I talked about this post on twitter (possibly excessively) but you have to eat your own dog food right? :)

    @Amrit – Even if you write sporadically you can still gain a large audience by making each post count :)

  14. @Matt – Phew, I am glad. I would have looked pretty silly if this one hadn’t gathered any bookmarks eh? :)

    @Joanna – Let me know when you need a bookmark too :)

    @Michael – It’s one of those common sense but not common practice things isn’t it? :)

    @Human – Yes, this kind of resource above all needs to be aimed at the readers needs in order to get the reaction you hope for

    @K-IntheHouse – You will have seen today I talked about this post on twitter (possibly excessively) but you have to eat your own dog food right? :)

    @Amrit – Even if you write sporadically you can still gain a large audience by making each post count :)

  15. Nice post Chris!

    I agree with most of what you’ve said, but I make a real difference between digging and bookmarking. Digging is almost a game, bookmarking is more engaging than that. You won’t pollute your bookmarks list with links you’re not interested in, but well… you can digg about anything!
    I make this analogy in fact: If digging is saying “I love you”, bookmarking is “Would you mary me!”

    I discussed this topic on my blog, I hope you don’t mind mee manual-trackbacking yours here :)

    http://xhtml-css.com/blog/3-reasons-why-delicious-is-better-than-digg

    Have a nice day! :)

  16. Nice post Chris!

    I agree with most of what you’ve said, but I make a real difference between digging and bookmarking. Digging is almost a game, bookmarking is more engaging than that. You won’t pollute your bookmarks list with links you’re not interested in, but well… you can digg about anything!
    I make this analogy in fact: If digging is saying “I love you”, bookmarking is “Would you mary me!”

    I discussed this topic on my blog, I hope you don’t mind mee manual-trackbacking yours here :)

    http://xhtml-css.com/blog/3-reasons-why-delicious-is-better-than-digg

    Have a nice day! :)

  17. Thank You! I’m book marking as requested. Very practical, helpful and thought provoking. You’ve given me some homework for the weekend!

  18. Thank You! I’m book marking as requested. Very practical, helpful and thought provoking. You’ve given me some homework for the weekend!

  19. Thanks for the Twitter idea!!

  20. Thanks for the Twitter idea!!

  21. H Devaraja Rao says:

    I remember to have read somewhere:
    “Bookmark. This is where I fell asleep.”
    You disproved it.

  22. H Devaraja Rao says:

    I remember to have read somewhere:
    “Bookmark. This is where I fell asleep.”
    You disproved it.

  23. Great article. I seem to lack the tools, I will be making some changes. I will bookmark ya

  24. Great article. I seem to lack the tools, I will be making some changes. I will bookmark ya

  25. Chris,

    Thank you for being so generous with your wisdom. I learned a lot from your post and Yes! I bookmarked it! As someone new to blogging I really appreciate this community of people so willing to pass on lessons learned.

    Thank you!

    Karen

  26. Chris,

    Thank you for being so generous with your wisdom. I learned a lot from your post and Yes! I bookmarked it! As someone new to blogging I really appreciate this community of people so willing to pass on lessons learned.

    Thank you!

    Karen

  27. Hi Chris, Thought I would drop by today and leave a compliment. I have been subscribed to your blog now for 10 or more months. My blog is more of a blogsite, and not used in the traditional sense, but it has been the cornerstone of promoting my business and I have done very well with it. I have continued to read blogs on internet marketing, making money online and business blogging. Many I have unsubscribed to over time. Alot of what you write is not of interest to me, sometimes I do not even check the feed, however most days I glance quickly at what you have got to say, read it and so many times I have been rewarded with your content, little gems of ideas that I store in my brain and use. Thankyou.

  28. Hi Chris, Thought I would drop by today and leave a compliment. I have been subscribed to your blog now for 10 or more months. My blog is more of a blogsite, and not used in the traditional sense, but it has been the cornerstone of promoting my business and I have done very well with it. I have continued to read blogs on internet marketing, making money online and business blogging. Many I have unsubscribed to over time. Alot of what you write is not of interest to me, sometimes I do not even check the feed, however most days I glance quickly at what you have got to say, read it and so many times I have been rewarded with your content, little gems of ideas that I store in my brain and use. Thankyou.

  29. Excellent work. I like tagging pages, posts or articles where it’s apparent that the person spent a good amount of time crafting content that is both insightful and usable. You’ve got both here. Tagged in Delicious. :)

    James

  30. Excellent work. I like tagging pages, posts or articles where it’s apparent that the person spent a good amount of time crafting content that is both insightful and usable. You’ve got both here. Tagged in Delicious. :)

    James

  31. Thanks for this great post. I discover your blog via BlogHerald. Great stuff

    best regards from France

    Claude

  32. Thanks for this great post. I discover your blog via BlogHerald. Great stuff

    best regards from France

    Claude

  33. the real way to get more bookmarks is to write a top quality, ‘how to get more bookmarks’ post

  34. the real way to get more bookmarks is to write a top quality, ‘how to get more bookmarks’ post

  35. Great tips! And of course, worth of a bookmark.

    I do have to admit though, you nailed me with #8. Never have been referred to as a hoarder, but in this case, I’m taking it as a compliment. :D

  36. Great tips! And of course, worth of a bookmark.

    I do have to admit though, you nailed me with #8. Never have been referred to as a hoarder, but in this case, I’m taking it as a compliment. :D

  37. Hey, Chris! Great content as always. However, I have been reading a lot of authority content from a lot of solid writers/bloggers and I’m having difficult assessing how “bookmarkable” content is any different from authority content in general.

    Yes, bookmarkable content is “optimized” and you want to “get a second look” but that’s not far off from pillar content that a good blogger would write otherwise.

    I guess what I’m missing is, what *distinction* to make it “bookmarkable”? Or is there one at all?

  38. Hey, Chris! Great content as always. However, I have been reading a lot of authority content from a lot of solid writers/bloggers and I’m having difficult assessing how “bookmarkable” content is any different from authority content in general.

    Yes, bookmarkable content is “optimized” and you want to “get a second look” but that’s not far off from pillar content that a good blogger would write otherwise.

    I guess what I’m missing is, what *distinction* to make it “bookmarkable”? Or is there one at all?

  39. Excellent work Chris, you’ve certainly earner my del.icio.us bookmark :P.

  40. Excellent work Chris, you’ve certainly earner my del.icio.us bookmark :P.

  41. Excellent points Chris!

    I keep coming back to your blog and start digging through the archives for an article I meant to bookmark but didn’t. That won’t happen again, and I’m bookmarking this one too.

    Each post you write inspires me to improve in so many ways, and I really appreciate your hard work bringing these tips to our attention. :)

  42. Excellent points Chris!

    I keep coming back to your blog and start digging through the archives for an article I meant to bookmark but didn’t. That won’t happen again, and I’m bookmarking this one too.

    Each post you write inspires me to improve in so many ways, and I really appreciate your hard work bringing these tips to our attention. :)

  43. Lots of really great, useful stuff in here. I noticed you mentioned StumbleUpon, but it’s not offered as one of your quick bookmark links at the bottom. Do you find it’s more valuable to have readers bookmark content in the five you’ve selected, or is that just a function of the particular plugin you’ve installed (and if you don’t mind, which one is that?) I’m trying to optimize that part of my blog right now, and I’m considering a different plugin.

    I also wanted to add that I think another reason readers (bloggers, of course) will bookmark your content is that they want to save it on their radar so they can link to it or promote it outside the site they bookmark it at as well – especially for comprehensive guides such as this one.

  44. Lots of really great, useful stuff in here. I noticed you mentioned StumbleUpon, but it’s not offered as one of your quick bookmark links at the bottom. Do you find it’s more valuable to have readers bookmark content in the five you’ve selected, or is that just a function of the particular plugin you’ve installed (and if you don’t mind, which one is that?) I’m trying to optimize that part of my blog right now, and I’m considering a different plugin.

    I also wanted to add that I think another reason readers (bloggers, of course) will bookmark your content is that they want to save it on their radar so they can link to it or promote it outside the site they bookmark it at as well – especially for comprehensive guides such as this one.

  45. Great article, Chris. I suppose articles like this are how you get bookmarked ;)

  46. Great article, Chris. I suppose articles like this are how you get bookmarked ;)

  47. How’ya Chris

    Brilliant advice in a very concise form.
    Thank you ever so much. Rii :)

  48. How’ya Chris

    Brilliant advice in a very concise form.
    Thank you ever so much. Rii :)

  49. Well worth the read if you want to get your readers to bookmark your blog. Lots of great, easy to implement ideas. Thanks for the great tips Chris

  50. Well worth the read if you want to get your readers to bookmark your blog. Lots of great, easy to implement ideas. Thanks for the great tips Chris

  51. Hi Chris,

    Outstanding article.

    I have a request: Could you please do a follow-up article where you take existing articles that were heavily bookmarked and show how those techniques you mentioned were used. You could also show how they could be better optimized for bookmarking.

  52. Hi Chris,

    Outstanding article.

    I have a request: Could you please do a follow-up article where you take existing articles that were heavily bookmarked and show how those techniques you mentioned were used. You could also show how they could be better optimized for bookmarking.

  53. This was a well written, well thought out article. I see several items that I can implement. Thanks

  54. This was a well written, well thought out article. I see several items that I can implement. Thanks

  55. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the great article on bookmarking. I have been practicing some of what you speak and seen a steady rise in links. I will now follow somemore of your ideas to improve even further.

    Nick

  56. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the great article on bookmarking. I have been practicing some of what you speak and seen a steady rise in links. I will now follow somemore of your ideas to improve even further.

    Nick

  57. Wow – fantastic stuff. This article distills the issues down in a thought-provoking way and no doubt will generate more than its fair share of bookmarks itself.

    Consider yourself Dugg, Zoomed, stumbled and more…

  58. Wow – fantastic stuff. This article distills the issues down in a thought-provoking way and no doubt will generate more than its fair share of bookmarks itself.

    Consider yourself Dugg, Zoomed, stumbled and more…

  59. Great article! Very thorough too! I think a lot of new bloggers aren’t aware of how well a bookmark is usually recieved by their peers. Generally, If I know someone dugg or stumbled me, I’ll almost always return the favor.

    Good Stuff Chris!

  60. Great article! Very thorough too! I think a lot of new bloggers aren’t aware of how well a bookmark is usually recieved by their peers. Generally, If I know someone dugg or stumbled me, I’ll almost always return the favor.

    Good Stuff Chris!

  61. Now this article definitely needs to be bookmarked and referenced again and again.

  62. Now this article definitely needs to be bookmarked and referenced again and again.

  63. Well, as a latecomer, what can I say that hasn’t already been said. LOL Very cool article. =)

  64. Well, as a latecomer, what can I say that hasn’t already been said. LOL Very cool article. =)

  65. Great article. I see how much work I need to do to make my writing better.

    I have subscribed and you have been bookmarked.

  66. Great article. I see how much work I need to do to make my writing better.

    I have subscribed and you have been bookmarked.

  67. Nice article and great tips! And of course, worth of a bookmark. thanks guys for sharing

  68. Nice article and great tips! And of course, worth of a bookmark. thanks guys for sharing

  69. Cool post, thanks! I’m pretty much of a hoarder, I tend to bookmark anything that looks vaguely interesting for later use and/or ease of retrieval – Delicious is like my online library. For Digg, I have to really like it to make the effort to submit it, unless there’s a link – in which case I’ll click more easily…

  70. Cool post, thanks! I’m pretty much of a hoarder, I tend to bookmark anything that looks vaguely interesting for later use and/or ease of retrieval – Delicious is like my online library. For Digg, I have to really like it to make the effort to submit it, unless there’s a link – in which case I’ll click more easily…

  71. I would have bookmarked this article more than once, if I could have! Thanks for the awesome tips!

  72. I would have bookmarked this article more than once, if I could have! Thanks for the awesome tips!

  73. Bookmarked, shared, and also printed. Gret great stuff!

    Eric

  74. Bookmarked, shared, and also printed. Gret great stuff!

    Eric

  75. I think thinking in terms of the reader is the best idea I have gotten from this post. Basically I book mark things all the time because It is a resource that I am likely to need again at some point.

  76. I think thinking in terms of the reader is the best idea I have gotten from this post. Basically I book mark things all the time because It is a resource that I am likely to need again at some point.