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  • XMCP’s Guide to Frontpaging Sphinn.com

    So before the legions of sphinn guys attack me on this one, I’m not going to mention gaming Sphinn. I would not game sphinn, or promote any tactics for that. I love sphinn, and it’s provided me with lovely traffic boosts I’ve gotten from nowhere else. So this is a nice, respectable guide. Some of it is painfully basic, but a lot of it is unique.

    Article Nav
    What is Sphinn, and Why Should I listen to you About it?
    Getting Noticed/Name Recognition(basic/moderate) Picking a Title(basic) Writing Your Description(basic) Writing Your Content(basic)
    Getting Votes and Traffic(advanced) Submitting Your Article(moderate) Know Your Audience(advanced) Why Is Sphinn Traffic SO Valuable? (advanced)
    Voting Thresholds(advanced) Keeping it Classy(basic) Conclusion

    What is Sphinn, and Why Should I listen to You?
    Sphinn is a Internet Marketing Digg clone(based on Pligg) that is rapidly gaining popularity. It has some big names in it, but they have yet to saturate the front page results, so newcomers are still welcome. It still lacks the cliques and bury brigades that plague digg as well! It’s used to promote blog articles about all things SEO/SEM/Search Engines. Promoting non SEO-related sites is forbidden, as is submitting a blog home page. It’s for specific articles only. The current administrators are Rob Kerry(evilgreenmonkey), Danny Sullivan(dannysullivan)), and Michelle Robbins(Michelle).
    Now for why you should listen to me. I’m definitely not the best, or most experienced sphinner out there. But I’ve been having good success. I’ve had 4/11 stories submitted gone hot, gotten an incredible amount of traffic from sphinn(including sphinn realted traffic), and have rarely had an article get less than 10 votes. Oh yeah, and I’m sassy enough to make this a relatively interesting read.
    Now, I will also add in that if DoshDosh, JeffQuipp, AndyBeard, or any other Sphinner that has more experience would like to try and top me, and write their own guide, I would LOVE to read it.

    Getting Noticed/Name Recognition
    On sphinn, nothing is important as getting your submission seen, and seen quickly. Nothing else matters if people don’t see your post. A few quick tips can help though. Some of these are basic, but good for newcomers.

    1. Blackhat AvatarChange your damn avatar. The default green circle just doesn’t get noticed. Most people, including myself, just skim over anything that is submitted by one of those. Get something eye catching. For example, my icon looks pretty frightening(it’s to the right). Here’s a hint though. That’s not even me. It’s a photoshopped Google images picture. Grabs some attention though, eh? Also, take time to find an avatar that reflects your blog or personality. People drawn the blog, just may be drawn to the icon.
    2. Make your name pronouncable. The brain is more likely to recognize a combination of letters it can read, so don’t you want people to recognize your name after they see it 2 times, vs. recognizing it after 10?
    3. Name Recognition is Terribly Important. Remember, if you friend someone and they see it(more about who to friend  later), they’re likely to remember you. For individual articles, try to submit a few quality articles from recognizable places, like seobook. Include the name(in that case,  “Aaron Wall”) in the post title. It will get noticed, and get you noticed. Also, remember to comment in places, especially frontpaged articles.

    Picking a Title-The next thing necessary to get noticed is a catchy title.

    1. Look at your title before you submit. Re-write it. Most of my stories get renamed 2-3 times before submission. You want it to NOT sound generic, and not “too good to be true”. Add some sass into it.
    2. Exclamation points are not your friend, nor are all caps words. Marketers see enough of that for it to not register, except perhaps for annoyance.
    3. Use upper case letters intelligently. As if it’s a book. The first letter of important words should be upper case, and that’s it.
    4. Remove your blog name from the post title. You may like the extra credit you think it gives you, but it looks crappy.

    Writing a Description

    1. Your description matters. A lot. You have about 2 lines that people will actually read before passing you over.
    2. Dispell any fears. Make it clear that your content is unique and worthwhile. State who can benefit from it. Try and do that in your first 2 lines.
    3. After the first 2 lines, hopefully you’ve interested your reader enough to get them to continue. Use the last 2 lines as a hook, trying to get them interested enough to make that click.
    4. As previously stated, if it’s an article from/about an easily recognizable figure, include their name in the title. This will grab more eyes, and make you more likely to get a click. Only do this if it’s completely relevant though.

    Writing Your Content

    1. Pay attention to the front page. What seems to be ranking up? Don’t duplicate it, but keep it in mind for topics.
    2. DO NOT plug anything in your article.
    3. Do not promote generic tools available everywhere. For example, in upcoming right now, there’s a topic called “Complete character codes list for ASCII art!”. Realistically, looking at the front page, what the HELL would make you think that would rank?
    4. More for this will be in the “Know Your Audience” section.

    Getting Votes and Traffic

    1. Obviously, have good content, and follow the above tips. Those will ultimately decide it. This is for that “extra” bump.
    2. Friend people who seem to consistantly Sphinn your stories. They’re obviously interested, and are good to keep around. Check your stalkers every so often as well, and add them.
    3. Refer your SEO friends, and your readers to Sphinn. Tell them to sign up. Don’t directly ask them to sphinn your stories, but it’s fine to send them an immediate “friend/stalk” request. If they’re frequent readers, they’ll vote.
    4. Put the Sphinn Badge on Your Site. A lot of people will read, and not go back to the sphinn page to click “Sphinn”, even if they enjoyed the article. Put it on your site, and cut out the middle man. Also, readers who came direct to your blog and have an account can Sphinn it more easily. Everybody wins.
    5. Submit the articles of people whose blogroll you are on. Those people obviously read your blog. In addition, if their story succeeds, you get crossover traffic from their site. Traffic that likely originated from sphinn, and hence may vote for your article. Even if they don’t, hey. You got traffic, so don’t complain.
    6. Link out to other blogs of people who are known sphinn users. Their traffic likely(partially) comes from sphinn, they directly come onto sphinn. Even if a trackback or whatever doesn’t stick, you still have the blog owner who will likely see the referer log, and visit your blog. He might vote, might link to you, or might became a reader.
    7. When you have a fresh story stuck in limbo (not frontpaged, off the upcoming page, but still in the “Upcoming, Most Votes” page), try commenting on blogs using your specific article URL as your link. It only takes one or two votes to push you over the top, and hey. One of those users might be it.

    Submitting Your Article

    1. Type out your description, desired title, and your url into a text file before hand. Get ready to copy and paste quickly. Sphinn seems to start timing your submission(and hence it’s place on the upcoming page) the moment you click “Submit a Story”. So if you take 5 minutes to perfect your submission, and someone else submits their entry 2 minutes in, it appears that you will actually appear BELOW their submission.
    2. I’m not going to do the math for you on this one, but look at the front page. Notice the times things seem to go hot. Watch the times when submissions seem to flow in quickly. Things seem to go hot at the beginning of the work day, the end of the work day, at lunch breaks, and wayyy late at night. I’m still monitoring the times submissions flow in, so nothing on that yet. Gauge your submission times accordingly. You want to be on the top of SOME page during these peak times. Most Votes in Upcoming is best. Upcoming itself is second best, so long as articles don’t get submitted too quick.
    3. If your submission is more relevant to one country than the other, submit it according to the time zones of that country.

    Know Your Audience

    1. Sphinn users are generally quite intelligent. Just because something did awesome on DigitalPoint, does not mean it’s going to do good on Sphinn. In fact, many things will do TERRIBLE. Sphinn users are normally more experienced.
    2. Do not try and sell Sphinn users anything. Especially “Guaranteed Top 10 Rankings”, coupons, deals, bargains, anything like that. We’re the people BEATING you in the rankings, and we know it’s not that easy. You will likely just be ridiculed.
    3. If you exaggerate, lie, or don’t support your points well enough, you will be called out. There are people on Sphinn who are better than you, and better than me. They know their shit, and will not deal with that well.
    4. Sphinn users read the same things as you. They’ve seen all the “1000 Free Directory Submission” posts, they’ve seen those top 10 lists that are all identical. If you don’t have something original to say, don’t say anything.
    5. We can all recognize flamebait. That is not to say controvercial articles are not enjoyed. My very existance on sphinn is a testament to that. But at the same time, blatant flamebait will not do well.

    Why is Sphinn Traffic So Valuable?
    Here’s a hint. It’s not because they click ads. They don’t.

    1. Many of them have their own blogs. If they like what you have to say, you may get a backlink. For example, I now have several links I can’t even see, because they’re in private sections of forums, seomoz, or occasionally even commercial SEO service member’s sections.
    2. They’re not like digg users. Most of them vote for what they read if they like it.
    3. There’s a lot of Social News crossover. If you have a digg badge, you may find yourself with some votes from people that also happent to be logged into digg. Extra points, since several have good reputations on digg, with several friends.
    4. The Stumbleupon Orgy- Underlined for importance. There are several prominent, powerful stumblers on Sphinn(I love you guys!). For one article frontpaging, I have sometimes been delivered over 2500 stumbler visitors. In one case, over 1800 in one hour. Now, many have come to bash stumbleupon as being crap traffic. In the digitalpoint stumble exchanges, this is true. But in sphinn, people take care of their profiles, stumbling sites that stay on topic, and not just stumbling for traffic to a new site. The traffic sticks, and often the readers read extra articles.
    5. Sphinn Users have an RSS Fetish – You want subscribers? A large percentage of Sphinn readers have, and use RSS feeds. It’s incredibly useful for picking up new subscribers.
    6. Inter-Industry Attention – It’s the most targeted traffic you can hope for. They’re all interested, and many of them are powerful within the industry. Also, a lot of them actually make money. Real money. Which is more than one could say for a lot of people from SEO forums and the like.
    7. They are Social News Junkies -  Your article, if good, ends up getting submitted to a lot of different places you never would’ve thought to submit it. In a lot of cases, it does quite well too!

    Voting Thresholds (subject to change as popularity increases)

    1. You have 2 days to get to the frontpage. After that, it seems to drop into the background.
    2. Go to the  “Most Popular” page of new and upcoming. See the value at the bottom? That’s your goal by the time you get off the New and Upcoming page.
    3. Didn’t make the cut above? You’ve still got a chance. There ARE users who check the second page of “Most Popular”. You should hopefully be near the top of that.
    4. To hit the front page, notice the value at the very top of the Most Popular page in New and Upcoming. That value, plus 1 is what you need.

    Keeping it Classy

    1. Don’t try and make money beyond adsense off this crowd. They’re much more useful for reliable traffic, and links.
    2. Don’t create multiple accounts. The site is medium-scale, so spam prevention is still pretty easy.
    3. Don’t message every random guy you’ve known since middle school and ask them to sphinn you up. The spam button is coming, and it will hurt you. Your article should be able to stand on it’s own anyways.

    When it all comes down to it, you need quality content, and the ability to catch someone’s eye. There’s a million ways to do it, many of which were detailed above. It’s a system that for now is more difficult to abuse, and either way, I at least don’t really want to. There’s very little to gain from just a frontpage. You need to frontpage, and peak people’s interest.

    Best Of Luck,

    12 Responses to “XMCP’s Guide to Frontpaging Sphinn.com”

    1. Oliver Taco says:

      All good points.

      I think one of the things I like about Sphinn is that you don’t have hordes of newbies and overly sensitive flat-earthers cluttering up the place!


    2. Mack says:

      Really good job there. I like how you didn’t really put a focus on gaming the system and just kept it strictly informative.

      @Oliver Sphinn is still a new network, just give it time :P

    3. admin says:

      haha yeah. The sooner sphinn releases the spam button, the better. So far, the sphinn group seems like they’d use it liberally, knocking the obnoxious newbies out of the mix.

    4. Andy Beard says:

      A few corrections and other concepts

      Descriptions seem to be based on number of characters, so you can use that to your advantage.

      Submit good articles of people who link to you in posts, you might even get to submit before them even if they intended to submit themselves. Don’t forget to stumble submit at the same time as well.

      The time limit is somewhere around 2 days 55 minutes. Sometimes you will even briefly see 3 day old articles on the most popular, but they won’t go popular.

      Danny has explained in the past that it is possible for a story to go hot just based upon comments.

      Don’t get your friends to create virgin accounts just to give you a boost right after submitting.

      Check who votes for your stories, visit their profile occasionally and see if you have missed something good.

      Check conversations – they are a way of establishing yourself in the community – if all you do is submit your own stories to Sphinn, they are not going to be read unless it is a really compelling title.

      The rules state don’t submit more than 2 stories in a row. I would add to that don’t submit more than one of your own stories out of those 2. I know it seem to make sense for time management, but it just looks like an automatic submission.

      Fill out some of your profile

      Read the stories you Sphinn, quality counts

    5. admin says:

      Thank for the corrections and suggestions Andy!

    6. Gab Goldenberg says:

      Speaking of RSS fetishes, I’m adding you to mine. You’re doing a great job producing quality content, Shady (I actually wanted to write this article, but you beat me to the punch :P ).


    7. admin says:

      Thanks a lot Gabs! I have to tidy my own reader up a bit(it’s getting cluttered), but you’ll be on mine as well :-)

    8. Being nice can backfire, some people don't like advice | Wingnut SEO says:

      [...] read posts such as David Harry’s “How to Dominate Sphinn in 4 easy steps” and Slightly Shady SEO’s Guide to Frontpaging Sphinn and many more good posts like these about digg, slashdot, reddit, and [...]

    9. My 3 Reasons to Use Sphinn « SEOSOS says:

      [...] of a sphinn vote begging whore (Aim Clear Blog) How to dominate Sphinn in 4 easy steps

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      [...] Getting on the Sphinn Front Page: Basic and Advanced Concepts [...]

    11. SEO Genius says:

      Great article, very interesting points to be made.


    12. Articles says:

      This new year the web will come of age. Quality will prevail as the cream rises to the surface

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