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A Downside of Getting to the Front Page of Digg

The Holy Grail of incoming links for many bloggers is an appearance on the front page of Digg. It has the potential to send tens of thousands of visitors and bring about a lot of secondary links from other sites who see it.

However the downside of a site the power of Digg linking to one of your articles is that it is an authoritative site in the eyes of Google.

Yesterday one of my posts – 15 Stunning Lightning Images – got to the front page of Digg. It was actually an old post that I’d recently updated and moved back onto the front page and it already had done pretty well on social media sites so had some link equity already.

The front page appearance on Digg brought a fresh influx of visitors which was fantastic but here’s what I saw in Google’s search results when I searched for Lightning Images this morning:

lightning-images-seprs.png

Yep – Digg out ranks the post it links to.

I fully expect this to change at some point as Google’s rankings are in constant states of change and even the link to my post above will give it a little extra authority but it is an issue that many bloggers face and should be aware of when submitting their posts to social media sites, or other sites and forums with established authority on Google. update: the DPS article now outranks the Digg one.

I’ve seen this same thing happen again and again on Digg but also when a site gets linked to like a site like Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Engadget etc who link back to the source of their story but use a similar title for their post to the post they’re linking to.

I don’t think this is the problem of the sites linking to posts – it’s probably more an issue for Google to work on – but post this as a little warning for bloggers active in promoting their blog posts on other sites.

It is still a good thing to get on the front page of Digg, just one consequence of doing so to keep in mind.

TIP: One quick tip for those of you who suffer from this problem. If you have any control for how your posts are submitted to Digg, try to get the title to be something different to the title of your blog post. For example, if the title of the Digg submission above had been ‘Lightning Pictures’ or something completely different like ‘Flash, Bang – 15 Images of Storms that Will Rock Your World’ then it wouldn’t rank as high for ‘lightning images’ as my own post.

Of course not everyone has control over how their posts are linked to – but if you do, it’s worth keeping in mind.

Update: OK – some have seen this post as me saying that this is a disaster, that people should avoid Digg, me overacting. Perhaps the way I wrote this conveyed that I thought it was a massive problem – it’s not massive, it’s not a disaster, it’s not the worst thing that could happen to a blogger – it’s simply one downside. I’ve commented on this more deeply below here.

All I attempted to do with this post was to point out one thing that people might be interested in when they have their posts on Digg. It’s not the be all and end all, getting on the front page of Digg is still a good thing, it’s just one of the consequences of it.

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. writer dad says:

    I can’t wait for that problem! I’ll have a big giant problem parade with a plethora of purple penguins.

    Front page of Digg, I’m ready to weep over thee.

  2. This is an interesting post about Digg. I myself use it quite a bit!

    http://www.TheBusinessOfMyBusiness.blogspot.com

  3. Todd says:

    Ya, although that may be a bit problematic….I think most of us would not mind dealing with it!!

    Todd

  4. Wow. That is a bummer but one way or another they will get to your blog post.

  5. I’ve run into something similar with my syndication to Seekingalpha.com and other outlets. At one point, I had several investment related outlets picking up my articles and what I started to notice was that my article was 1-2 placements below theirs and it was my content! On one hand, I allowed it and I benefitted from the sporadic traffic, but on the other, I was losing out on Google search traffic.

    I have a dual pronged approach here. I’ve continued to allow Seekingalpha to continue to syndicate my material, but I’ve cancelled out of the lesser known sites since they pretty much only take my content, but send me no traffic. The good part is that since SA only covers investment content and I also post on personal finance/savings tips, I still get Google traffic from those sources.

    This was a bigger deal when I was a page rank 4 but I have since dropped to 2 while my traffic has quadroupled (presumably due to Google penalty for selling links, which I was unaware of until it was too late), so it’s time to start a real blog on WordPress anyway (and not sell any links).

    Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.

  6. John Wesley says:

    I find it hard to see this as a real downside as:

    1) The post probably wouldn’t rank so well without Digg
    2) Odds are anyone that clicks on the Digg link will clickthrough to the article
    3) In my experience, when this happens the Digg submission usually drops in the rankings after a few days while the blog post’s ranking holds

  7. Andre Kibbe says:

    I also fail to see the problem. My posts (or those of any non-A-list blogger) will be the top listing on a search by exact title, but still fail to bring in anywhere near the traffic I’d get if it were dugg.

  8. Doug C. says:

    Wow. I wish I had a problem like that (lol).

  9. Great to know but…

    I have found on really popular posts that only 5 to 10% of the incoming people from Google came from the obvious keywords with a lot more coming from long tail keywords.

    do you find that as well Darren

  10. Sid Savara says:

    I’ve seen the same thing multiple times as well. I’m not sure that’s entirely bad though – as long as Digg and your post are both the top 2, you’ve effectively got both #1 and #2 position.

  11. With a less than a month old blog, I’m not quite ready to worry about this particular issue. And as everyone else said, sounds like a good problem to have.

  12. bizlady08 says:

    Writer dad took the words right out of my mouth. I should have such problems. I’ll be whooping it up with you, writer dad! ;-)

  13. Mike Nichols says:

    Thank you, Everyday Finance. I am contemplating submitting my articles/posts to a similar service, and I will keep your experience in mind.

    Since my content will be unlikely to ever reach Digg’s front page, I don’t have to worry about this! Who wants to read about Anxiety Disorders when they can read “The Top 10 Reasons Paris Hilton Is a Bubblehead?”

  14. gina says:

    I’ll take that problem any day!!!

  15. frugalwench says:

    Me! Me! I’ll take that problem! I’ve gotten maybe 3 visits from Digg in all the time I’ve had my blog.

  16. If sites like Digg only copy the headline, then won’t the visitors still come to you for the content they seek?

  17. Preston says:

    You would think that the linkee ranks higher than the linker, but here, I suspect it’s a recency issue. Google might bump it up not because it’s Digg but because the Digg article is newer in time than the one you wrote. Just a thought …

  18. I have to agree with John Wesley’s comments above. How could the benefits not outweigh any perceived downside of the other post outranking yours?

  19. Willy says:

    I had an issue with my site’s Facebook page outranking the site itself. Now, my site is PR6 and has a ton of authority, but not as much as Facebook.

    This is a big problem with social media sites that use nofollow on their links. If I syndicate content, I make sure that I get a followed link directly to the original post, I also only allow excerpts to be syndicated.

    It looks like the problem rectified itself, but it’s also nice to have 2 positions in the top 10 rankings. Without the Digg article, you’d only have one.

  20. Kelvin Kao says:

    Something that’s sort similar that has happened to me is that when I search for own videos, the one on my own site ranks the ones on some video sharing sites like youtube. But of course, in all videos I would include my own url.

  21. heindrick says:

    Incredible. The power of “link juice”

    Darren: ‘I fully expect this to change at some point as Google’s rankings are in constant states of change and even the link to my post above will give it a little extra authority’

    I’m sure other things changed since your screenshot, but I like how you mentioned that this post will likely boost your SERP because of your link in the entry.

    And Lo and Behold, you manage to outrank Digg.

  22. Darren Rowse says:

    Thanks everyone for the comments.

    Let me respond to a few of the common reactions:

    1. Yes Digg traffic is great, for a day or two anyway.

    2. However for a post to reach it’s full potential it is great if it ranks as high as possible on Google for the terms in it’s title. Without this the ‘long tail’ effect is less.

    3. Yes if the Digg page is ranked higher at least it has a link to your page and some traffic will come your way. However it won’t be all of the traffic. For every click that people have to make when they come to your blog you will lose some readers. It might not be much but if I had the choice between my post ranking #1 and Digg’s post with a link to me ranking #1 – I know which I’d choose.

    4. I titled this post ‘a downside’ of getting to the front page of Digg – not ‘the reason to avoid Digg’. I guess the point I was trying to make is to bring a little balance to the hype and frenzy I often see around people’s obsession with the front page of Digg. Yes it’s great, but sometimes there are downsides too.

    The example I gave may not have been the best to give – DPS ranks very well in Google for most of what it writes about and so was only 1 place behind Digg and soon overtook it – however what I’ve seen with smaller sites is that the Digg article can rank highly and the site it links to can rank on the 3rd or 4th page. The same thing is true if a big blog links to your blog.

    Again – at least you’re getting some traffic (see point #3 above) but it can be a little frustrating to see other sites driving traffic to their own site for linking to yours.

    Not reason enough to avoid Digg – but something I thought was interesting and worth exploring.

    PS: a variation of this is when you allow other sites to republish your content (or excerpts from it). In the early days of this blog I allowed WebProNews to republish a small number of my posts on their site. It helped build my profile which was great – however what I found is that WPN’s version of my posts ranked higher than my own – and my posts sometimes didn’t even appear in Google at all.

  23. heindrick says:

    Darren, for “new” blogs yet to appear in google – is it worth it then to try to get a big site to popularize your posts?

    Since they are likely to have a higher page rank and more authority, with SEO and duplicate content in mind, will there be any issues?

    Specifically, I was thinking of submitting to EzineArticles as their posts come up numerous times for me.

  24. allen stern says:

    this is why i’ve written several times about why Digg should NOT be indexed in google.

  25. EelKat says:

    That is not a problem I have had yet, but it is one for which I eagerly await!

    Strangely, I’ve never had much luck with Digg sending me any traffic. I’m guessing my topics are a little bit too small niched, maybe I should add a wider range of topics? Whatever.

    I’m glad to be #1 on Google’s page one for my top keyword, at least, even if it is a rarely searched for keyword.

  26. Noobpreneur says:

    Darren,

    Good point – I noticed that’s also happening to my blog, but I never thought about it the way you mention.

    Changing the title of my dugg page – hmm… how to allow my visitors to do that automatically?

  27. Sire says:

    The thing is where were you before Digg picked it up again. As you admit it was an old post, is it possible that it was actually ranked lower until Digg picked it up. Perhaps in the popularity furor you were dragged along on Digg’s coat tails? Just a thought.

  28. Sharninder says:

    This is happening with me right now ! I’m not on digg, but a post of mine (http://nomadicrider.com/2008/08/has-ubuntu-lost-its-relevance-why-does-it-suck-so-much/) has been linked to by tuxmachines.org (a PR 5) site.

    And if you search on google for “relevance of ubuntu”, tuxmachines is at a higher rank than my site. But, than for a PR1 site like mine, this will not even play out over a day or two. It’ll probably take a couple of weeks but I don’t mind the extra traffic anyway ;)

  29. Bonie says:

    nice trick of digg man, what about browser toolbar…

  30. Chowder time says:

    This will generally only last for a day or two and I’ll briefly explain why. Peoples digg profiles contain quite a lot of google juice, because every time you digg something a link will appear to your profile in the “who dugg this” section.

    On the flipside, your profile lists the last 10 or so things you have dugg giving them each a link back. When you hit the front page of digg you’ll often get 1000+ diggs, this means that 1000+ peoples profile pages are linking directly to your post. A lot of these profiles have hundreds upon hundreds of links pointing at them (remembering each time you digg something you get another link back to your profile) with high PRs. So for the first few days they will often rank extremely well and then drop off fast, this is due to the fact that people have dugg more stories and you now appear on page 2 and 3 of their profile/recently dugg list.

    Couple that with the fact that digg is a trusted domain and you have a killer combination.

  31. Smart Boy says:

    Excellent point Darren; I’ve noticed this myself when visitors are searching for my content – but are referred to the Digg page. I guess all benefits come with equal downsides.

  32. John says:

    The real question is why does it matter?

    If you didn’t hit the front page of digg then your page likely wouldnt rank at all for the keyphrase in question.

    And when you do, the Digg story is right up there with you.

    So if you had to choose between not ranking at all, and ranking in number 2 below a page with a link to you… what would you choose?

    This is a rather irrelevant post as the only ‘downsides’ to hitting the front page of Digg are negligible (as in this case) or irrelevant (for example bandwidth running out).

  33. John says:

    Chowder your theory assumes that Google both crawls AND reindexes Digg about once every hour, which I’m afraid doesn’t happen.

    SEO is far to full of people who make up theories to explain things that they don’t understand, and then preach them as fact. To cut a long story short you don’t KNOW why digg pages initially rank so highly, neither do I – though I personally lean far more towards the side of Google tracking click-through rates rather than calculating a site’s own constantly-updating internal link structure.

  34. Andrew says:

    Yep, I noticed this before.

    Actually I submit some url to Digg or Mixx without hoping they will come to the home page, by the way, that might make my server crash. My target is google. As google care more about these sites, and if your url come to there, google will craw and index it very soon, otherwise, google may not take it serious.

  35. Winston says:

    yeah, agreed, the Digg pages shouldnt be indexed in Google. From a user point of view surely it’s always better to get the original page?

  36. TheAndySan says:

    My blog has been up for over 3 months and receives a small amount of views. However, I believe that I’m generating a consistent core audience (thanks, Google Analytics!).

    It’s both a good and a bad thing. On one hand, I’m starting to built a loyal fan base that may help me reach more people by telling others about me. On the other hand, I’m lacking a steady stream of new visitors, which could increase my core audience.

    I believe that Digg and other sites can help me in not only bringing in a shit-ton of new visitors, but also potential returning visitors as well.

    TheAndySan
    http://www.theandysan.com

  37. charles says:

    Digg is owned by google (… Am i right?). Thus, they will surely index them for sure. I think they wanted digg to be a portal to the real or original article. And it will help small players in the market get on top of the rankings.

    Money Making and Blogging Tips

  38. That’s not a problem I have seen ever! Digg!

    LOL, I have less than 5 genuine visits per day and those are from people I keep sending my blog to – people I know.

  39. This has happened on Sparkplugging more times than I can count. But I’ve always seen that the links sort themselves out correctly after a few weeks. I think Google’s algorithm knows how to handle these things, it just takes a while for them to get it right. :)

  40. Jo says:

    Bring it on………I can live with that!!

  41. gout says:

    yes, I know digg very good tool/social bookmarks….but always problems when login….I don’t know….

  42. I fail to see the problem. Either way the traffic will land on your page.

  43. Ilaarijs says:

    ok… I tried, but never got the first page… how it would be possible with such a personal blog like this -

    http://ilaarijs.blogspot.com/

    ???

  44. narendra.s.v says:

    well one of my blog is banned from 2006 in digg :( i asked many all said there is no way back to get in digg, can you suggest any thing to get back!?

  45. Bill Johnson says:

    That’s a problem? Huh? I don’t follow that at all, sorry.

    The link to Digg STILL goes back to your web site.

    I blog on community blogs using keywords and many times have gotten almost the entire first page of Google pushing my competitors to the second page.

    What’s next? Will Darren complain of too much sex or money?

    Reality check: People are dying in Iraq, that’s a real downside.
    .

  46. Constantine says:

    I read somewhere although the traffic from digg is great, the majority of diggers don’t bother to click on your ads, they are just too sophiscated, they block the ads. Digg traffic is bad for business

  47. Bill Johnson says:

    Constantine “Digg traffic is bad for business.”

    LOL! yeah, you don’t want THOUSANDS of people coming to your web site, hey send some of that “bad for business” my way.

    Next you’ll be telling us how universal health care is “bad medicine.”

  48. Adam says:

    This is just a flux thing. As you said Darren, it’ll settle itself out and the original site will get the ranking. It’s amusing to read some of the overreactions though :)

    And traffic is never bad for business.

  49. Mike says:

    This has been a real problem for me, and it hasn’t been sorted out. I wrote a post on the most fuel efficient cars for 2008. It was picked up through syndication. The article that was syndicated was picked up by Digg. Digg has been outranking me for that article ever since it was picked up (It’s number 4 for: most fuel efficient cars 2008).

    Since Digg points to the syndicated article, and my site has no chance of competing with Digg as far as pagerank or trust or whatever the google algorithm is, I don’t think it will ever get sorted out.

    Oh, and people do click through to see the syndicated article (I have access to the traffic that page sees). They don’t click through (except in VERY small numbers) to see my site.

    Digg is basically a directory, a socialized version of it, but still a directory. Why does google push a directory to the top of its listing?

  50. gout says:

    thanks, I still learn about digg