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The Perpetual Hunt for the Front Page of Digg OR Blogging for People Who Actually Engage with You?

I wish someone had said something like this to be in the early days of my blogging:

“Many bloggers seem to be on a perpetual hunt for the front page of Digg. Sure, it brings you hordes of eyeballs, but then they turn around and leave. What’s the point of that, really?

I think that are plenty of tips you can follow to optimize your offering for this fickle mass group. But it’s still a crap shoot. Doesn’t it make more sense to incrementally earn the attention of a smaller, less glitzy but far more valuable group of people who actually engage with you? And the best part is, your odds of success are a lot better.”

Source – Seth Godin’s Blog.

I love what Seth’s said in this post. There’s a lot of wisdom in it.

However I’m not sure I’d throw out traffic from a site like Digg completely. I’ve written on this theme in Being ‘Discovered’ vs ‘Slow and Steady’ Blog Growth. In that post I recounted the story of three blogs that I’ve started and how each had a different way of growing (some grew one reader at a time and others on the back of waves from social bookmarking sites).

My conclusion in that post was to look for the opportunities to draw large amounts of traffic into your blog – but not to become obsessed by it and in the process ignore the smaller everyday tasks like building community, writing content that engages the needs of readers and networking with other smaller bloggers in your niche.

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Shayon says:

    I think we can look at it this way. There are a lot of sites out there (namely StumbleUpon, Digg, Technorati, MyBloglog, recently EntreCard etc) that bring hordes of traffic into your blog. However, all that traffic goes to waste if you don’t have good enough content to grip those audiences and force them to come back again and again. If they don’t read your blog, your audiences must feel that they are missing something. I’d say, these link-sending sites are a part and parcel of our blogging life. They might not be everything, yet we can never ignore them!

    However, if you happen to have advertisers who pay you by the impressions and if you are a great marketer who can bring in lots of traffic everyday just by networking alone while his posts being next to crap, i must say such a blogger can be rich too. But probably that’s more effort, more volatile and probably not worth the effort.

    What do you say?

  2. It’s all about setting the right “nets” to maximise the number of Digg visitors who become loyal readers, such as promoting RSS feeds, having your sticky articles easily accessible, etc. but at the core, they ARE drive-by shooters and probably not that relevant a readership…

  3. After submitting some posts to StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit a while ago I noticed the number of hits from Google has risen.

    So while a lot of the traffic from the social sites like Digg seems one-time, the effect lasts a lot longer, because you get linked from high traffic, high pagerank sites.

    Ofcoure keeping traffic requires good content, but the effect of using the social sites has a rather long effect.

  4. Neil Duckett says:

    I’ve had 2 posts stumbled with great traffic gains in the last 2 weeks. Interestingly the bounce rate was very low, average pages per visit very high and lots seem to have stuck around for repeat visits. While the traffic is often fly by traffic, it’s better to get the traffic in the door, then it’s up to you to converty it and encourage it to stick around.

  5. I always go after content. There are thousands of traffic techniques going around especially these click bucks sites but they are not that interesting. They are making short-term success as I see it. Unlike posts with good contents, they can stay forever.

    Networking is also not a bad idea, to have your friends see what you are doing or posting in your blogs. In the long run, and if they see you are earning, they might even set up their own sites. .

  6. I always go after what is inside the site. There are thousands of traffic techniques going around especially these click bucks sites but they are not that interesting. They are making short-term success as I see it. Unlike posts with good contents and sense, they can stay forever.

    Networking is also not a bad idea, to have your friends see what you are doing or posting in your blogs. In the long run, and if they see that you are earning, they might even set up their own sites. .

  7. Shayon says:

    Agree with iLovePhilippinesToo! in one aspect, definitely. It’s true that there are times when your friends too come up with their own blogs seeing you earning money off yours. I know it for sure ‘coz almost 10 of my friends have followed my footsteps in the past 2 years!! :-)

  8. aaron says:

    put in the work you need…but let the blogging be what it it. If you are building community and giving people fresh material to read over and comment…you’ll begin to build a readership. People want solid truth and fresh perspective!

  9. Matthew says:

    Jimmy is right on there with his comment. You might gain 9000+ visits on a good stumbled post and you might gain 25K+ visits from a digg front page. Yes, 99.9% of those visitors might not remember you and just go back to digg to carry on digging. But it does get you on the radar of other bloggers. They will follow your site/feed and if you carry on posting good worthy articles, they will link and continue to link over the coming years. It is those link backs that help your search engine traffic to grow. Repeat the process a few times and you will have a nice group of contacts to link with.

    The more they link, the more chances of other bloggers finding you through their blog increase.

    Digg and Stumble just speeds up the process of getting your name out there even if the conversion to reader is very low. Due to the sheer amount of traffic it’s still good, but it’s only a part of the whole picture that makes a blog/site successful.

    Some might complain that it’s wasting 4 – 5 Gb of traffic in a day. That concern back in 2001 might have been valid, but due to the low cost of bandwidth/transfer it’s not a factor to really worry about any more.

  10. alanj878 says:

    I did not hunt to get on the front page it hunted me and I got thousand of links from it. I got there with a video on my blog seen here http://livelymoney.blogspot.com/2007/12/top-5-stock-picks-in-ghetto.html

  11. Seth Godwin is great! I haven’t managed to get much Digg or Stumble attention, although Stumble has given me a bit of traffic. The most effective traffic I got from these 2 communities were loyal subscribers who added me as contacts to their pages.

    My page hits have hit a plateau, but at least they are consistent. Now I’m just watering the blog, watching it grow (thanks to Darren for that one..).

    The Necro Files

  12. DO EVERYTHING

    In the case of social bookmarking sites, the backlinks that they bring not only increase your rankings on search engines – but they increase your pagerank and every internal page that is linked to from the popular article.

    Also, a small percentage may review your achives and come back as regulars if they anticipate a steady flow of quality material.

    Traffic from Search Engines and blog searches can be great if the blog is optimized correctly. The titles – the URL- and the keywords in the backlinks will help get relevant traffic for months after the spike on the social bookmarking site.

    Interestingly, some consultants are now promoting articles so aggressively that a decent article can almost be guaranteed to get a homepage on Digg, Reddit and Youtube for a price.

    additionally, making a bond with a top member and having that person submit your quality articles or blog topics can do wonders.

  13. DefogMyBlog says:

    I don’t know about getting on the front page of Digg but I have helped someone to get out of the Google sandbank by the judicious use of Digg, a spoonful of delicious and other medicines like YouTube. Mending broken links and getting some traffic appeared to work.

  14. There must be a balance between both.

  15. Frugal Dad says:

    I had an article stumbled the first week I was blogging (and it was even referenced on an MSNMoney.com page). In some ways it was the worst thing that could have happened to me because it set my expectations for thousands of visitors a day right off the bat. Obviously, that isn’t the way it works. I’ve settled into my routine now and write for the enjoyment of writing, not because I anticipate that same lightning striking again anytime soon (though I certainly wouldn’t complain if it did!).

  16. Val says:

    I started a personal blog, really to use as a guinea pig as I learn.
    I am getting hits everyday, but still trying to understand how to get traffic.
    Please help…how to get traffic to your blog would be greatly appreciated!

  17. He also said “Uses only two websites, Google and Facebook” – How did Google and Facebook become Google and Facebook? I think we should aspire to be the Google and Facebook of our industries – that way our names end up in the stats.

  18. Chris says:

    I can repeat a lot of what the other posters have said. I’ve had a post or two do well or the social news sites. A lot of the effect is a big flashy bang that’s looks crazier than it is.

    You get 100,000 page views, it’s a cheap thrill to watch your stats rocket into the sky for a few days, then things return to the status quo. Still, there are those little after effects like the links and the odd visitor who becomes a loyal reader.

    What irks me is when otherwise good blogs start altering and compromising their content to try to hit that Digg homerun. The smell of link bait puts me off personally.

  19. Luke says:

    Hi,

    I have tremendous luck with about 2 of 100 something posts using social media BUT I agree 100% with Seth. I have noticed slow and steady growth each month regardless of whether I get that much attention. The more quality stuff I write in my area the more traffic I eventually get. To be honest there is no blog worth reading that grew big overnight through social media. I think Seth is right. They look they leave. This has been my experience too.

  20. Simple Mindz says:

    I have not really done all that much with those sites – except sign up…. I am still very new to the game so I am basically new to the (known) blogging community. But I think I am doing something right by Twittering, etc….because my Alexa rank is flying down really fast. I want to be able to make money off my site – but at the same time I want to remain true to me and my (small amount) of readers. ;)

  21. To me the part about connecting with smaller bloggers is absolutely key to building a valuable network of friends. To wit:

    - Your fellow b5media blogger Susan Gunelius (BrandCurve.com) left my first comment ever, and we’ve since developed a great relationship including various story tips, guest posts and other miscellanea.
    - My friend Ann of SEOSmarty.com has given me a variety of links and kudos and recently stumbled a piece of mine resulting in hundreds of visitors. She’s been blogging for only a month!
    - I connected with XMCP of SlightlyShadySEO.com and he’s since helped me make Sphinn’s front page, linked to me etc. I’ve helped him with fleshing out posts, scripts, Sphinns etc.
    - Connecting with other SEOmoz community members like Ann (above), Will Critchlow, Sean Maguire, Vinny Goldsmith, Linda Bustos, Mike Piper, Kat French and a variety of others has yielded hordes of specialized knowledge in things like the travel industry, networking, real estate SEO, SEOing Joomla sites etc.

    One of my favourite things is to read comments and encourage people who mention some specialized knowledge/experience of theirs to blog about it. That’s yielded some great success and I’m quite pleased with it :D.

  22. Sam says:

    Invaluable information guys, thanks.

    I’m just starting out and hoping that good, original writing and content will do good job of growing my site (as well as a judicious bit of Digg!)