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Beginners Guide to Sphinn

Posted By Darren Rowse 4th of December 2008 Social Media 0 Comments

This is a guest post by Deanna deBara from Sugarrae.com.

Recently, I did my first guest post (ever) over at Remarkablogger. I got such great feedback on “A Beginner’s Guide to Twitter“, I decided to follow up with a guide on a site even more important to those in SEO – Sphinn, the social media site for internet marketers.


A Little History

Sphinn was launched on July 11, 2007 by Danny Sullivan as a way for people in the search marketing community to connect, network and share news stories about the industry that they thought others would find interesting.

The site follows the same structure as Digg where users submit a story and other users can vote on whether they like it or not; they can “sphinn” it for yes, and “desphinn” it for no. Once a story is “sphunn” 22 times (providing it is sphunn 22 times within 2 days of being submitted) it hits the front page of Sphinn and is immediately accessible to anyone who logs on to the home page (except for posts submitted to the Water Cooler category, which no longer have the ability to hit the main page). Stories submitted to Sphinn can also be discussed by members on the comment portion of each post.

Getting Started

You can access the articles on Sphinn without setting up a profile, but in order to leave comments or “sphinn/depshinn” anything, you need to register. On your profile, you can either use an avatar or a picture, and you can add in all your personal information like your instant messaging names (AIM, MSN), your social media profiles (Facebook, Delicious) and your forum profiles (Cre8asite, WebmasterWorld).

I’m not going to lie; I hadn’t heard of a few of these sites in my first few weeks in internet marketing. I don’t like to feel out of the loop, so I checked them out, and it was cool that something as simple as setting up my profile on Sphinn helped a newbie like me find other popular sites that will help me in the industry. After checking out those sites, I signed up for a few. Those not designed to, Sphinn also helps keeps track of all my social networking profiles for me (and sending a little link juice their way never hurts either).

Navigating Sphinn

navigation-sphinn.gifThere are different category tags on the top of the homepage, and I figured the best place to start was “Greatest Hits“. One of the first articles that caught my eye was Sphinn – The Social Networking Site Every Search Marketer Should Be Using.

It broke down in list format (I am a type A personality. I love lists.) the top 10 reasons why Sphinn is an important tool for all us search marketers out there. I also LOVED What Would Google Look Like If They Had To Optimize for Google? The article was a great combination of humor and information (which I’m always up for) and I ended up learning a lot.

The Greatest Hits (as inferred by its name) is where you will find what the community considers to be the most valuable articles on Sphinn. It’s here you’re likely to find the staples that should be in any internet marketers library.

In addition to reading what the community thought was the best, I also wanted to check out the posts that were fresh. I went to the “What’s New” page, but all those posts were REALLY new (I’m talking 1 sphinn new), and I wasn’t sure which would be the best place to start. That’s why I like that you also have the option of viewing the posts in What’s New in the order of “most sphinns so far”. The more experienced you are in internet marketing, the more you’ll be able to determine what’s good and what isn’t regardless of the number of sphinns, but for those fairly new to the industry (like myself), I figured it was a safe bet if an article had 12 or 13 sphinns, it was at least worth checking out.

For instance, I saw the article Could You Buy or Sell Social Media Profiles? It had 13 sphinns, so I clicked through to read it. It goes into the commercial value of social media and how that affects its credibility in our industry. Social media is one area of SEO that really interests me, and this article brought up some points about it that I hadn’t ever considered.

Submitting an Article to Sphinn

Once you’ve logged into Sphinn, you’ll can click on the Submit tab on the upper right hand side of the page. Type or paste your link into the News Story URL box and click “Submit News Story”. It will give you the option to choose a category. Make sure that you choose the category that is most relevant to your article. The topic title will automatically be whatever the title tag of the post is. You may want to remove any extras in the title tag (like the name of the blog) so that the title is only the title of the post, or if you think you can jazz it up, rename it altogether. While submitting your own site may be frowned upon at many social media sites, Sphinn has no problem with users submitting there own posts.

The description area is a synopsis that people are going to be able to read before deciding whether to look through the entire post. Think of it as a mini advertisement – you want to let everyone know exactly how the post is going to help them and why they should read it.

At the bottom, you’ll be asked to do a simple arithmetic problem and type in your answer to prove that you are, indeed, a human. Then, all that’s left is to click preview and submit, and your post will immediately be viewable on the What’s New page

Don’t just submit the article and forget it. Feel free to send the Sphinn link to friends you think might be interested in the article. You can also post it through to Twitter, Facebook or other social networking sites. The more people you get to see the Sphinn post, the more sphinns it will get once people read the post (if they like the content).

Some Sphinn Pitfalls

While I found Sphinn to be a useful in increasing my knowledge in all things internet marketing, Sphinn does have a few issues that I hope they’ll address.

  • The site can be a little “cliquey” with obvious “in jokes” that make the homepage and people being referred to only by their first name, like I should already know who they are.
  • Flame wars can and do happen in the comment portion of posts on highly debated topics.
  • While there is a desphinn option, since it is publicly known who desphinns an article, it is intimidating to actually desphinn something because desphinns can sometimes come with backlash.
  • When Sphinn decided to prevent Water Cooler topics from hitting the homepage, it also prevented hot articles from showing in the Water Cooler category at all, even on the Water Cooler hot topics page. While I can understand why Water Cooler posts don’t make the homepage, I’d like to see the Water Cooler posts that have gone hot when I take the time to navigate to that specific page.

Benefits of Sphinn

I’m definitely still learning the industry, but it doesnt take an expert to see the benefits of using Sphinn.

For users, the benefits are being able to locate internet marketing themed posts that hopefully have some value and can add to your internet marketing knowledge. For industry writers and bloggers, one of your stories being submitted and going hot on Sphinn can bring your site exposure and traffic.

Deanna de Bara is an Account Manager at Sugarrae and contributing writer to their often controversial Internet Marketing Blog which focuses on SEO, content development and affiliate marketing. When not poring over SEO related posts and patents, Deanna can be found snowboarding in Colorado or loudly cheering on the Jets in her native New York.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. 22 sphinns, thats it?

    I’m not a huge fan of Sphinn but I did like “Top 21 Signs You Need a Break from SEO”


    Very funny.

    http://www.RantBlogger.com – “Get Paid to Complain”

  2. Another nice one, Deanna, I think you have a knack for this. Sphinn can be a bit much at first, and you broke it down nicely. Which reminds me: I need to spend more time on it…

  3. Great post! I have never actually used Sphinn and this has given me some good insight on about it. I think I am going to give it a shot over the next few days and see what I can do with it.

    Great post!

  4. I love the simplicity and structure of the writing in this post – really clear. A great introduction, Deanna…and thanks for the plug!


  5. I have seen sphinn on several sites and thought that it is a pretty good idea. It doesn’t have the amount of traffic of the others like stumbleupon and digg, but it has the possibility of your webpage/blog post becoming a higher rank, quicker than with the others. This would allow you to have a higher amount of traffic for a longer amount of time than you would normally get with digg. This would be especially good with niches. Also, i have seen some major sites us sphinn which will help it gain members.

  6. Thanks a lot for this tips, I’ll try to join sphinn

  7. Great post, lots of helpful information which I like.

  8. Very helpful guide for those who are starting to use Sphinn as part of their everyday social media tasks

  9. Hugely informative. I came across sphinn several times but just couldn’t realize the impact it could bring to my internet marketing knowledge.

  10. Largely informative post. I came across sphinn many a times but I couldn’t realize the impact it could make to my internet marketing knowledge.

  11. I always forget about Sphinn, sometimes you can find some real gems on there.

  12. i get valuable information from sphinn.i use it rarely but i make sure i go through all the current topics in seo .

  13. Great post Deanna, we’re glad to hear that you found Sphinn to be a valuable source for industry news.

    Just to note that we do take action against comment flamers and we appreciate it when people highlight these issues by getting in touch via the contact form. We also hope to fix the Water Cooler issues in the coming months, it was more of a temporary fix to stop photo albums and birthday greetings from clogging up the homepage.


    Rob Kerry
    Sphinn Editor

  14. great social media…..I must try to use soon…..from your articles, we can take many benefits…thanks for sharing…

  15. I for one welcome our Sphinn overlords. Good article, good Digg alternative.

    So, if an article of mine gets sphinns, that means I’ve been sphunn? Now i’m dizzy.

  16. I am not a fan Sphinn. But it would be a good service people should try.

  17. For sharing thank you very much good very beautiful work

  18. So this is Sphinn stand for? to submit article based on internet marketer right?! do they allow non-Internet marketer content or what? cause my account just got locked for submitting only 1 stories..

  19. I found your article very good, infact i haven’t try the Sphinn, but with the information you given its interesting, but let me share you this one a Social Networking Site learn more about this check out gotoWebinar.


  20. Very nice article. I just read it and shared it with others via Twitter. Sphinn has been a favorite of mine to go to for new articles and learn new industry trends so this guide makes it even easier to navigate the site.
    Thank you.

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