“How do I increase the chances of getting a blog post to the front page of Digg?”
I’ve had questions about getting to the front page of Digg many times in the last few weeks so thought I’d put together a guide with a process for doing it. By no means is this something that will guarantee you success on Digg – but from my experience it’ll increase your chances to follow some of this advice.
1. The Content
If there’s one factor that can influence the success of a post on Digg it is the actual content that is submitted. This should go without saying but I chat to bloggers all the time who tell me they have no success with Digg and when I look at the posts they’re submitting – they’re just all wrong.
Digg users like a certain type of story and it can be well worth your time doing a little research into what works and doesn’t work by spending some time on Digg:
- Topics – a large range of topics work on Digg but some are more likely to work than others. For example Tech, Offbeat, some Entertainment stories can work really well – but if you have a craft blog or are blogging about cats you might need to work a little harder. It’s not impossible to do well on digg with some of these less popular topics – but you’ll need to think carefully about how you present it (read on)
- Voice - one way to rank well for a more obscure topic is to write your post in a style that grabs attention and appeals to the Digg crowd. They’re a bunch that likes humor, irreverence and quirky stuff – so if you’re writing on cats you would do better to do something off the wall like strap a camera to one than to write about something more serious.
- Titles – sadly, some stories get voted up and down on Digg simply based up their title. Take time to get it right.
- Page Layout - make sure your blog’s design is well laid out, not stuffed withe ads, professional looking and not cheap and nasty. Pictures can work well.
- Format – some people say that the best way to get on the front page of Digg is to write ‘list’ posts. I agree – but also find that when you write a more comprehensive and in depth article that this can also appeal.
For more on the type of content that works on Digg I’d highly recommend that you read Maki’s post on how to create Digg-Friendly Content.
2. The Submitter
The person who submits your post to Digg can be a very important factor in how well it does.
From talking to hardcore Diggers there are two theories going around in how to approach who should submit your Diggs (and these theories change depending upon what Digg is doing with their Algorithm:
- Power Diggers – one approach is to find a power Digger to submit your posts for you. What happens when you have one of these Diggers submits a story is that it gets seen by their friends on Digg and voted up quite quickly. You can expect to see 100 or so Diggs within a few hours of them submitting it. Once the initial rush dies off things tend to slow with Power Diggers – although just having their name on your post can create buzz and additional diggs.
- Small Time Diggers - another approach is to have posts submitted by lesser known Diggers. The theory here is that it can take these Diggers less votes to get to the front page while a Power Digger can take a lot more.
Whichever method of submission – in the majority of cases on Digg it’s not enough. As a result you might also want to consider some of the following.
3. On Page Digg Cues
One important factor in drumming up some more organic Diggs to go with those that your submitter naturally brings is to add visual cues on your posts inviting people to Digg the story.
- Digg offers a variety of Digg Badges for you to use
- The ‘Digg This’ button is also fairly influential
- Also check out the Digg Widget – this is particularly good because you can get it to show any recent posts from your blog that have been submitted to Digg. Put it in your sidebar and it means people who are on any page on your blog know there’s something climbing up the ranks in Digg (not just those who are on the post itself).
Don’t feel you have to use these buttons on every post. I actually will use them more when there’s a post climbing up Digg.
Lastly – add a text link to an upcoming post inviting readers to submit it. Again – I wouldn’t do this on every post but it can be effective when you’ve got something on the rise.
4. Giving it a ‘Nudge’
So you’ve got some great content that’s been submitted to Digg, you’ve got visual cues in place that will make it easy for readers to Digg it – now it’s time to give your post a nudge.
There are a number of ways to do this. Some are more blatant than others.
- Ask for Diggs - lets start with the obvious, one way to get Diggs is to ask for them. You can do this in any number of ways and using any number of tools. Some will shoot quick requests to people that they know using instant messaging, others ask on social messaging services like Twitter, others have email lists that they utilize. The key with asking for Diggs is to think about who you ask and how often. Work out who is open to invitations and work with them, but only on your best stuff. If you ask for Diggs on every single post you write you might annoy people more than anything else.
- Shout It - Digg has a tool on each digg page that enables you to ‘share’ the story – it’s there to help promote stories on Digg so use it. This enables you to email people, blog it or ‘shout’ it with your friends on Digg. Shouting can be a great way to get a story in front of other active Digg users. Once again – don’t shout too often – pick your best stories for this type of thing. Also know that the more you digg your friend’s stories when they shout them to you the more chance there is that they’ll reciprocate. If you’re looking for Digg friends – start with this list.
- Drive Traffic to Your Post - another technique that is less blatant that asking for Diggs is to work instead (or as well) at driving traffic to the post you’re working to get on the front page of Digg. Here’s the thing – if you have a post with ‘digg this’ buttons and you’re able to get another popular blog or site to link to it you’ll increase the chance for organic diggs. You’ve got 24 hours once a story is submitted to Digg, so if you think you’ve got something that other sites would be interested in make sure you send them links at the start of the 24 hours (or even before it’s submitted).
- Other Social Bookmarking Sites Help – I quite often notice that the posts that do well for me on Digg will often do well for me on Delicious or StumbleUpon first (although sometimes it happens the other way around). What happens is that when you get on the popular page of Delicious users of that service who also use Digg will bookmark your story in both places. As a result it can be worth working on ‘nudging’ votes in multiple places.
You’ll notice that on this point I said to give your post a ‘nudge’ rather than spam every person you know asking them to vote. Subtle promotion of your posts on Digg is recommended for two reasons – firstly you’ll annoy everyone you know if you’re constantly asking for Diggs and secondly, Digg has measures in place to track people who are manipulating their system and too many people voting up your stories too quickly or from the one source could send warning bells ringing and get your story buried.
5. Educating Readers
Lastly I want to talk about something that has less of an immediate impact upon a specific Digg campaign – but which over time can help.
Educate your readers about social bookmarking.
Many blog readers have never heard of Digg so finding ways to show them what the service is and how they can use it can have a real impact. The more of them who know what it is the more likely it is that they’ll use it – something that will benefit you as you begin to create a Digg Culture on your blog.
6. Organic Diggs
There comes a point in every story’s rise (and fall) on Digg where you have to stand back and let things happen.
What you’ll find is that at some point most successful Digg stories enter the ‘upcoming’ and ‘recommended’ lists and a certain amount of natural and organic digging begins to happen by people who you don’t know. This is where you see if your story has the legs to go all the way or whether it’ll be buried by people.
This is where you realize that it’s not about how many people you can get to Digg a story from your network that matters but whether you’ve actually written something that appeals to Diggers – because if you’ve written something bad you’ll find the story gets buried and all your hard work has gone to waste.
One more thing….
Let me finish with one more piece of advice. Don’t become obsessed with Digg.
I see a lot of bloggers obsessing over climbing the rankings on Digg and while it can bring a lot of traffic to your blog and be worth the effort to promote some of your posts on it when you become obsessed you can fall into these traps:
1. Only ever writing for Digg – I wrote about this earlier in the week but if all you ever write is content aimed at the Digg audience blogging can end up being a bit of an empty experience.
2. Spending All Day on Digg and Not on Your Blog – I’ve come across a lot of people on Digg that could benefit from spending a little less time trying to game Digg and a little more time investing into building a quality blog. The funny thing is that if they actually built a better blog they’d probably end up doing better at succeeding on Digg.
3. Submitting every post to Digg – not every post that you make will be ‘diggable’ – and that’s ok. IF you’re going to use some of the above techniques I would recommend that you only do it with your very very best content. Choose that content that people would want to naturally pass on to a friend or bookmark for later – this is the type of content that will do well on Digg – concentrate on promoting these ones, not your day to day posting.