Yahoo! has just started testing the efficacy of integrating bookmarks and tags generated by its subsidiary, del.icio.us in the organic listings on search results pages.
Social bookmarking pioneer del.icio.us was acquired by Yahoo! in December 2005. The site enables users to store their bookmarks and tag them online so that they can retrieve them or add some more at any time, from any computer that they may be using at that point in time, instead of the earlier practice of being able to access ones bookmarks only from one’s own PC.
Del.icio.us incorporates a social element by allowing users to share bookmarks with friends and check bookmarks used by others. In effect the system allows people to be better organized and share information with colleagues and friends.
Google has long considered bookmarking to be an important indication of site authority, and incorporated the number of bookmarks, social as well as browser-based, as one of the factors in its algorithm to rank sites. Yahoo! has probably weighed in the number of del.icio.us bookmarks to a page when calculating the page’s rank for some time too.
However, for the first time Yahoo! is now listing the number of bookmarks alongside the search results pages, as shown in the screen grab below, found courtesy of Marketing Pilgrim. Even if Yahoo! does not use del.iciou.us bookmark popularity as a ranking factor, the presence of the number of bookmarks pointing to the site will probably influence users to click on the more popular results.
Integration of del.icio.us tags and bookmark popularity in the search results is currently being tested and has not been implemented widely. If they find that the information helps users, we will likely start seeing the del.icio.us icon more frequently alongside search results on Yahoo!
The presence of the del.icio.us popularity number could turn into a bit of a vicious circle in some ways, as more users click on the more popular results and accordingly more users will end up bookmarking those results, further increasing their exposure. While this isn’t bad news for some webmasters, for others whose sites are new or not as popular, this could mean they start the SEO game on the wrong foot and are never given the opportunity to prove their worthiness of a place in the SERPs.