Attending a recent keynote address at a writers convention, an author friend was impressed by the advice of the marketing expert chosen to speak. MySpace, this speaker stressed, didn’t have the clout other social network and media sites have – in her opinion.

From an SEO standpoint, this does make a bit sense, considering how MySpace toys with outbound links to make it difficult to track inbound referrals. This speaker recommended alternatives: Squidoo, a helpful tool if one uses it constantly, and bookmarking sites like Digg. By conference’s end, my friend and others had set up several lens and created account to “dig” blog posts about their books.

Thinking about these sites from the perspective of an SEO agent working for various clients, I considered the effectiveness of these tools for the purpose of building rank relevancy. Is it worth the time and effort to post your site and blog links to a multitude of bookmarking sites, given the chance the links will simply languish under the weight of more popular entertainment and news blogs? If you choose the bookmarking route, which sites do you use? To look at the names of these sites: Digg, Diigo, Reddit, Sphinn, Yigg, Mixx, and so forth, one might think he’s stepped into a bizarre spelling bee. What can these sites do to help your SEO progress?

Depending on the purpose of your site, using news bookmarking networks may be useful in attracting local and regional interest. Many of these social media sites track top stories in entertainment, technology, and sports, so very likely you’re going to see the same players at the top – national and global sites like CNN and Reuters and Yahoo! News. If by some stroke of luck you are able to create something viral – a crazy video for Youtube, for example – you may be able to bring in traffic.

To look at Digg, you’ll realize you have a lot of competition for the top spot. Whether you are writing about new technologies or opining on college sport regulations, there are certain to be hundreds of articles similar to yours jockeying for attention. Attracting attention via Digg and similar sites could be helpful if you befriend other Digg users and arrange some schedule of mutual “digging” – scratch a few backs, get scratched in return. With enough persistence, you may be able to produce a submission that catches fire. Depending on how often Diggs user take advantage of the search function, if you make your submissions keyword specific you could gain viewers that way.

If you are unsure whether or not such a site would be helpful to your main site rankings, try an experiment. If your site doesn’t feature a blog, choose a page and create an article relevant to your site. Include embedded video or audio if applicable, then submit it to Digg. Establish friendships with like-minded people on the site, or recruit friends to register and help “dig” you story – one can argue whether or not this is “gray hat” SEO, but word of mouth remains the strongest form of marketing. Friends and family have mouths, or in this case, mouse buttons.

Pay close attention to your stats. Do you see many views for that particular page? Are people entering your site there? If you find the traffic is valuable enough to continue, then “dig” away. If not, don’t worry. Given the climate of SEO and social media optimization, another site is bound to come along that can help.