ProBlogger Readers Do it Better…. than Digg Users

Wendy writes a great post today in her introduction to Social Media Strategy and Socially Driven Content.

In the post she talks to bloggers about why they should learn about social media, what results they can get and how to start out in it.

What caught my attention was right down the bottom of her post where she did a little comparison to how Digg, StumbleUpon, Netscape and delicious readers interacted on her site over a 7 day period in terms of visitor numbers, page views per visitor and time spent on her site.

She then did a little analysis of ProBlogger readers over the same period (54 visitors). The visitors came simply by writing quality comments on my posts here (and she does write insightful comments).

The results speak for themselves.

While social bookmarking sites can potentially send a lot more traffic:

  • ProBlogger readers stay longer per visit (you stay 18 times longer than Digg users)
  • ProBlogger readers visit more pages over that visit (2.5 times as many pages than Digg users).

Wendy writes:

I’ve grown to really appreciate the Digg crowd (even though they are mean as all hell sometimes), but if I had to pick, I’d take those 54 ProBlogger visitors over a big Digg any day.”

I guess that goes to show what quality readers you all are!

Seriously though (and you are quality readers – but there’s a lesson here) it’s also a good illustration of the power of different types of traffic.

While Digg can send you a heap of visitors in a short period of time they rarely stay long, rarely go deeper within your blog and rarely comment. On the other hand traffic from another blog on a similar topic (even if it’s just a from a comment) can drive a different quality of traffic.

Not only will they stay longer, comment more and view more pages I suspect they’ll also subscribe to your newsletter and RSS feed in higher numbers but they’ll respond more to your income streams (ads and affiliate products).

More reading on different types of traffic:

Being ‘Discovered’ vs ‘Slow and Steady’ Blog Growth

Reader QuestionsKumiko asks – ‘I was studying John Chow’s traffic patterns through Alexa and noticed that his popularity really surged after four of his articles were listed on Digg and his traffic went through the roof. He was ‘discovered’ through these and his traffic levels have never really looked back. And receiving a link in one of your posts has done wonderful things for my own traffic!

What were landmark posts or actions that you did in order to receive the traffic that you have now? Was there a single post or link that sent your traffic sky-high and made you a ‘pro-blogger?’

Good question – although not the easiest one to answer as there have been many such moments in the 4 or so years that I’ve been blogging.

Before answering the question from my own perspective let me make a more general observation.

Being ‘Discovered’ vs ‘Slow and Steady’ Blog Growth

Every blog is so different and for some the process of ‘being discovered’ that you write about above is definitely a factor (usually after a big blog or social network site links up).

On the other hand there are also many popular blogs out there where the rise to success was much more slow and steady.

For this second group it is the accumulation of good blogging over a sustained period of time that gets them discovered – one reader at a time, one day at a time and one post at a time. I suspect this second group represents the majority of bloggers.

Speaking Personally

If i were to plot my own blogging experience on the spectrum between being ‘discovered’ and the ‘slow and steady’ approach I’d have to say that it’s differed for me from blog to blog. Here’s how it’s been on three of my own blogs:

[Read more…]

Connect with me via Facebook… and more

Over the last few weeks I’ve had an influx of invitations to connect with people on Facebook. I’ve never promoted my page on this social networking site but as there seems to be some momentum on it I figure why not – so if you’d like to connect there please do via this badge.

Darren Rowse's Facebook profile

Also – if you’re interested in seeing what happens when some of the b5media team get together face to face check out some of Chad’s photos of the evening last night at a French restaurant in downtown Toronto.

PS: While we’re talking social networking – if you’d like to be my ‘friend’ or be ‘connected’ on other social network sites you might also like to do so at:


Using Social Bookmarking Sites to Find Out What Your Readers Like

Alex Iskold and Richard MacManus have put together a nice analytical post with some insights into how they determined which are the most popular posts on Read/WrightWeb based upon social bookmarking sites Digg and Delicious.

I’ve seen people do this type of analysis of how their blog is going based upon comment levels and page views (in fact there are plugins to do it and post the results on your sidebar) but the idea of using social bookmarking sites as a basis for the information makes a lot of sense and as you’ll see by their post reveals a different picture.

Some of their reflections on the process:

On Delicious

“The pattern on is less obvious, but things become more clear once we realize that and comments on a blog reflect different kinds of actions. Comments reflect passions, bookmarks serve as references – so there is little overlap between them. More importantly, comments (like posts) are short lived. Unfortunately in our day and age, news and even analysis has a life span of a few hours. Once a post is off the front page of a blog, it is less discoverable and typically is not commented on anymore. The bookmarks of, however, have a longer lifespan.”

On Digg

“We noted that the posts that did well on Digg are somewhat different from the ones that got a lot of comments and picked up more links on The full query results told us that while Digg users love posts about search, they also love the posts about browsers. In particular the Firefox vs. IE battle is dear to their hearts. And of course, digg users love posts about Digg – especially when it’s about Digg kicking competitor Netscape’s butt!”

While this type of analysis wouldn’t work for many blogs that don’t get much traction on social bookmarking sites – it is something a little different to what I’ve seen bloggers doing before to find out what readers are reacting to.

Digg To Stop Making Their Users Famous

Digg have decided to scrap the top Diggers list – as of tomorrow. This comes as a result of increasing numbers of people attempting to pay top users to get them on the popular page.

This will cause a big stir among some digg users (especially those who have built quite a reputation on digg) – but what do you think it’s impact will be?

I think one of the things that is behind the success of sites like Digg is that they make their users famous and give them incentive to build a reputation/profile. While it might not impact their day to day user I’ve already talked to one top 40 Digger who’s not particularly happy about it.

Kevin does say that they’re working on new ways of connecting and rewarding users – it’ll be interesting to see what they do.

Hat tip – Tony

Technorati launches WTF Digg Clone

Steve writes that Technorati has launched a new digg clone feature called Technorati WTF (where’s the fire).

It allows users to submit posts that they think are hot – and then people vote for what they think is… hot.

I’m getting an 404 error page when I go there at present so maybe they’re still launching but like Steve I’m a little confused as to why they’re going in this direction.

I guess it makes sense that they might have a service that identifies what’s hot around the web at any given time – but wouldn’t it be more useful to have some sort of an index of hot posts via how many links they have incoming – as that’s what they track with their core service anyway (ie a Tech Meme Clone)? I guess they’re sort of doing this already with their ‘top videos’, ‘top news’, ‘top blooks’ lists.

Perhaps another way to do it would be to index digg, delicious, reddit etc and have a ‘top bookmarks’ list or something.

Anyway – it’s hard to critique something that isn’t working from a screenshot – so hopefully we’ll get to see it working soon enough.

Digg Traffic vs Referral Traffic – Which is Best?

Digital Inspiration has a post on Getting Noticed by A-list bloggers vs Getting on Digg Front Page which makes a few worthwhile observations.

It fits pretty closely to a comment I made last week in an interview with Jeremy when I was asked which social networking site I’d prefer to get traffic from. My response was (and I’m paraphrasing here) that while I don’t mind the rush of traffic of traffic that a site like Digg can bring in that I’d prefer a link from another blogger because it brings a different type of traffic.

Digg Traffic – While Digg brings a rush of traffic – it does so from a site with a very broad focus in terms of topics. It also sends the traffic largely from a link with little context around it and in most cases a link that comes from a largely anonymous person.

Blog Traffic – Traffic from another blogger is different on a number of levels. While it might not come in the same numbers – it will generally come with commentary and context, from a site that usually has some sort of a single focus, from a person who has established some level of trust and/or profile with their readers.

As a result – in most cases the Digg traffic comes and goes quickly and doesn’t usually hang around for dialogue – whereas referrals from other sites is more likely to ‘convert’ either as a longer term viewer, RSS subscriber, newsletter member or comment leaver.

Of course Digg traffic isn’t completely useless – in fact if you harness it you can grow a blog over time. It comes in such high numbers that even if only a very small group stick around it can be worthwhile.

It also brings a round of secondary links – which can be good for SEO and lastly it doesn’t hurt the old ego and can give a rush of motivation to a blogger. The key with Digg traffic however is to work on converting readers into loyal ones.

More reflections on different types of traffic at:

How to Build a ‘Digg Culture’ on your Blog

200612091300How do you build a ‘Digg Culture’ and get repeatedly on the front page of Digg over time?

In this post I’ll share 10 ways that top bloggers do it.

Last week on a post that Tony wrote about Digg Fraud one of those who left a comment wrote:

“I think it’s been pretty much proven that any traffic a site gets from digg is fleeting and doesn’t translate into long-term traffic.”

Many don’t believe that getting on Digg is worth much because the traffic is so fleeting however I think there is much more value for smart publishers than just the initial burst of traffic.

Such benefits to getting on the front page of Digg include:

1. Fresh RSS subscribers

Every time I get dugg I notice a leap in my RSS subscriber count. The first few times a site gets on Digg this is often bigger than subsequent diggings (after a few times I guess those who are interested in your topic will have already been subscribed) but there is a noticeable bump in subscribers each time.

2. Newsletter subscribers

Similarly newsletter subscribers (if you have one) will generally get a bump when you’re dugg. I generally add a link to subscribe to my newsletter on any post that gets on digg to leverage the traffic in this way. In this way (and with RSS subscribers) you are not only getting that first wave of traffic but are building ongoing waves of traffic each time you post or send a newsletter.

3. Secondary link ups

Digg has a ‘blog this’ feature and while it’s not used by every Digger it is used. I find that each time I’m dugg that there is a secondary wave of incoming links to your post via this feature but also other diggers blogging about you. I also find that when featured prominently on digg that you quite often get linked to on other social bookmarking sites (delicious, reddit etc) and get further waves of traffic and incoming links from their users. The secondary link ups don’t generally send a lot of traffic (although on occasion they can be from larger sites) but have the added benefit of helping the site’s Search Engine ranking (Google Juice) which over time helps build a site’s traffic.

4. A Digging Culture Emerges

If you are able to convert your incoming readers from Digg into regular readers you then have a unique opportunity to get repeat appearances on Digg again. I’ve found that with each appearance on digg that I seem to gather more and more readers to my site who will naturally submit my posts to Digg in future. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I guess the type of reader that is now subscribing to the blogs is now familiar with Digg and is even actively looking for things to bookmark. Once you develop this type of ‘culture’ the cycle outlined above can continue.

The Impact of Digg Culture over time:
Once this ‘digg culture’ kicks in a site can experience a series of ‘diggings’ which on each occasion will see the site receive a sudden and short burst of traffic followed by a return to lower traffic that is actually higher than pre-digg levels.

The actual traffic from digg is a nice (but short lived) thing – but the real benefit of being dugg regularly is the increase in traffic from loyal readers (RSS, bookmarks and newsletters) as well as the SEO benefits of new incoming links.

I’ve attempted to graph this below (this is not from any actual site’s traffic but is typical of a blog that enjoys the benefits of ‘digg culture’:


While each blog is different (and the graph won’t apply to everyone) I’ve witnessed this ‘digg effect’ on a number of blogs now.

Can you Encourage a Digg Culture on Your Blog?

So how does one build a ‘Digg Culture’ on their blog? I’m sure this is a question that many of us would like ‘the answer’ to.

I’m afraid I don’t have a definitive answer and while many articles have been written on how to be successful on Digg I’m not sure anyone has really got it completely worked out because it can be a reasonably unpredictable and whimsical beast.

Having said that – here are 10 tips that come to mind on how to build a ‘digg culture’ on your blog. They come both from my own experience of having my blogs regularly featured on Digg but also by watching what other successful sites do.

[Read more…]

Social Bookmarking Icons – Are they Worth It?

37 Signals has a post on a topic I’ve been pondering a lot lately also – those social bookmarking buttons at the bottom of blog posts that so many blogs have. They write:

“Given the Ebola-like spread of these things they must be really effective, right? Not so much. Zero out of Technorati’s top 10 blogs feature those icons. And only two out of the 15 entries in the current crop at Digg’s Top Today page offer “Digg me” icons.

This focus on campaigning over content seems like a classic case of misplaced priorities. The reason posts wind up at Digg, Delicious, or elsewhere isn’t because the authors made it easier to vote for them (it’s already easy). A post winds up at these sites because people respond to its content and quality.”

I’ve been pondering these icons lately too for a couple of reasons – to be honest I’m a bit torn by them.

I’ll come out and admit to having a digg icon on the individual pages of my digital photography school blog. It only appears on individual pages where the item is actually dugg first by a reader – but they do appear (and pretty prominently).

The reason I’ve been pondering them is that on some posts (like this post on polarizing filters) the Digg count is pretty small (15 at the time of writing this). Not many people dugg it and the post didn’t really climb digg’s rankings. I suspect that a few of the 15 diggers dugg it after seeing the icon, but it didn’t really capture people’s attention. I think the post was of a good quality – but obviously it wasn’t viral enough.

On the other hand a post that I wrote last night on how to choose a DSLR did much better with Digg (sitting on 631 at the time of writing this). It made it to the front page of Digg today and brought in 20,000 or so visitors. Now I have no way of telling how many of the readers dugg the item as a result of the icon – but I do know for a fact that when I went to bed it was sitting on 4 diggs and I woke up this morning it was sitting on 25 diggs. However this morning when I linked to the post from my forums and sent some readers to it – within minutes the digg counter went up and the ball started rolling. I suspect that it was a direct result of the icon that tipped the post over onto the popular page of digg.

I guess what I’m saying is that on the majority of my blog posts the icon doesn’t do anything (in fact some would say it might cheapen the look of the site – especially when the counter is low) – however on the occasional post the icon might just give a quality post that doesn’t quite have the legs to go viral a lift that creates a digg-a-lanche.

I guess the question is – is it worth having the icons there for that occasional benefit?

The other thought that comes to mind is that Digital Photography School has a reasonably healthy readership each day that might make the icon’s use worthwhile. On a blog with a smaller readership the numbers of readers who see and click it would probably be too small to have any/much impact.

  • I’m in two thoughts – what do you think?
  • Do you use social bookmarking icons on your blog?
  • What impact have you noticed that they have?
  • What suggestions would you have in using them?