In this evolutionary algorithmic age every search marketer charged with boosting rankings on the organic SERPs knows, with fearful certainty, that building inbound links is essential. Utilizing social media communities to do so is a front-and-center tactic for many.
However, there are hundreds of social communities other than the biggies. These niche' player-communities can be terrific venues to engage readers of similar ilk, make friends, drive focused micro-busts of traffic, and build links. Some communities are junk. This post offers niche' social site examples and provides links to lists which index and profile dozens of useful ones.
Dofollow and Nofollow
A quick word about Do/No follow. Most blogs (and many communities) these days attempt to discourage spam by removing "link-juice" passed on links dropped in discussion threads. That's called "Nofollow." (Wikipedia is a classic example of Nofollow.) Nofollow links deliver traffic but there's no SEO benefit. If you view the source code of this page, you'll see that some of the social site links are Nofollow and therefore do not pass energy.
When evaluating the potential benefit of social community participation, it's best practice to understand the objective and potential gain. Whenever a site, with decent Pagerank, "forgets" to turn off Dofollow, it's an opportunity of sorts to build links of varying strength and value. The most important caveat is that gratuitous link dropping, without offering true value to the community, is spam and will likely be treated as such.
Every search marketing professional knows that garnering good quality, relevant, and "natural" inbound links to your site or blog is critical to drive your SEO ranking efforts. Honest participation in niche' social communities, relevant to your product & services, is the tactic that many savvy SEMs reach for to build their site's inbound link-profile. In addition to the community site links themselves, "hot" posts can result in feed subscriptions, increased readership, and links from other relevant and valuable sites.
Fark is a social news site in which moderators approve user link-submissions and post them to the homepage. The links are Nofollow but can drive noticeable traffic.
Slashdot is a community where techno-heads hang out and geek-jam. However, users submit stories about entertainment, politics, and other fun stuff. If editors approve a submission and it's promoted the homepage, measurable traffic can result. Also, links in the body of each post are Dofollow and pass juice.
Metafilter is a moderated community, both by site administers and users, in which participants share interesting web content. Links are Dofollow.
Mixx is widely regarded as an up-and-comer in the social news world. A potentially mainstream Digg replacement site, many SEM folks had early-adopter Mixx profiles for fun and future marketing bang. Oh yes, they forget to turn off Dofollow so the links pass juice.
Hugg is a smaller community engaged in dialog surrounding environmental issues. There's social exchanges about technology, politics, and science as well. Links are Dofollow.
Sk*rt is a Dofollow PR 5 fashion, food, and technology community, primarily comprised of females.
Stirr'dup is a smaller NoFollow social news site which categorizes news as technology, entertainment, news and politics.
Linkinn is a PR5 site specializing in offbeat video and pictures. Links are DoFollow and pass juice.
Lists of Useful Social Media Sites:
48 Social News Websites: A List of General and Niche Social Media Communities
Tropical SEO: Top 38 Niche Social Media Sites (That Actually Send Traffic)
Respected blogger Sugarrae has posted a serious interview with industry leading link-building experts and is a must-read. Interviews include:
Eric Ward, the Link Moses behind URL Wire
Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz
Roger Montti, the founder and owner of martinibuster.com
Todd Malicoat of Stuntdubl and Clientside
Justilien Gaspard, Link Columnist for SearchEngineWatch.com, his link building blog and course author SEMPO Institute
Aaron Wall of SEO Book and Clientside SEM
Debra Mastaler of Alliance Link and the The Link Spiel
Michael Gray of the Graywolf SEO Blog
Andy Hagans, the lazy SEO of the Tropical SEO Blog
Jim Boykin of We Build Pages and Internet Marketing Ninjas
Rae Hoffman, CEO of Sugarrae and MFE Interactive