Posted January 24, 2008 10:19 am by with 16 comments

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As I write this, I’m conscious of the claims some SEOs make that Google "needs" them in order to make the results relevant. Google would hardly collapse without optimizers’ interest, but can the same be said about Digg?

Digg’s Kevin Rose has officially announced what we’ve all seen over the past week or so: it’s now a lot harder to push your content onto the front page of Digg. In fact, Digg’s adjusting its algorithm so that you’ll need well north of 100 Diggs to have any chance.

As we point out in our FAQ, occasionally you will see stories in the upcoming section with 100+ Diggs – this is evidence of our promotion algorithm hard at work. One of the keys to getting a story promoted is diversity in Digging activity. When the algorithm gets the diversity it needs, it will promote a story from the Upcoming section to the home page. This way, the system knows a large variety of people will be into the story.

So what does that mean in the real world? It means that social media marketers’ efforts to organize a push to promote a story on Digg will become impotent. Yep, Digg’s move will cause many marketers to suffer from ED – election dysfunction.

Before the algo change, a social marketer could get their story submitted to Digg by one of the top Diggers. A "shout" out to their network, a request on Twitter, and "Digg This" badge on the web page in question, et voila! 50 Diggs later, you’ve been elected to the homepage.

With a homepage listing came thousands of visitors and everyone was happy–or at least the social marketers and their clients were happy. With the change, it appears that any collective effort to get a story on to the homepage of Digg–no matter how worthy it is–will likely work against you. Hence, social marketers will no longer have any desire to work with Digg.

So, where does this leave Digg? It’s likely that Digg will say "good riddance" and continue with its growth, but there is a huge risk it is taking. Without hundreds of marketers submitting stories, talking about Digg, telling their clients about Digg–heck, telling everyone about Digg–will anyone care about Digg? Remember when marketers–including me–heavily promoted MyBlogLog? The site took harsh action against them, and now hardly any social marketer talks about the service.

I hope Hitwise is benchmarking Digg’s traffic today, so we can all take a look at it in the future and see if Digg really was popular because of what is offers the average joe, or because of what it offered marketers.

  • I think we all knew something was up. They are digging there own grave with this one.

  • I think Digg started off by being a people’s social news media outlet. Marketers saw the benefits almost instantly and they helped propel it to where it is but they are not solely responsible as we all know. Kevin has a great site. Granted they have problems but nothing that can’t be fixed. Digg is still being gamed successfully, but the powers that be in social media now have it slightly harder. That upsets many as you know. Everyone wants everthing as easy as possible, but gone are the days when with just a small group of say 20 or so people you can get that Digg effect and land on page one.
    The ‘Diversity’ of votes that Digg is after can be gamed and right now it is already being gamed by people we both and everyone knows.
    Digg will adjust further their algo but again you will see the same people get pissed off ( sometimes understandably) since it does affect their bottom line.
    Digg changing things is akin to Google changing their pagerank computations. Some will be upset, others will cheer depending on who has the easiest time gaming. Life is funny I think.

  • Andy,

    I guess we will see sites like Subvert & Profit really take off. It looks as if Digg would be pushing “marketers” to buy votes to get that diversity they need.

  • I think Digg can (maybe barely) survive without optimizers but their popularity and traffic will definitely suffer.

    There’s no extra incentive to use them now – most of their optimizer traffic will move onto a competing site and start talking about the competitor. Plus, a lot of good information and entertainment is created and put out by optimizers and without that extra incentive optimizers are going to look past Digg and promote their material elsewhere.

    As far as Google, I think that optimizers help them improve their results. Without the constant abuse by thousands of optimizers we most likely wouldn’t get as good of results from Google or any search engine. There wouldn’t be as much abuse and there would be a lot less reported…bad results might stay unnoticed.

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  • Maybe I’m way off base on this (I’ve only been researching the social media game for a little while) but at the end of the day this site is for the people, not the marketers trying to make a buck.

    If this decision is made because the owners feel its for the best of its user base than so be it. Rather than complain they have made your job a little bit harder, applaud them in their effort to deliver a better service.

    Again, maybe I’m completely wrong but it just seems like some people complain because their job got harder.

  • I’m just worried that by making marketers jobs harder I’m going to miss out on some great information or entertainment.

    Andy have you heard rumors about Google using Digg in their search results (similar to Yahoo and Delicious) this might be one reason why Digg is moving towards less spam.

  • @Daan – I agree with you, Digg should be for the people. That said, the marketers are the ones that help spread the word about the importance of Digg–so the people can learn about it.

    @Jayson – not heard anything about that. Digg has a partnership with MSFT – they just dumped Google – so MSFT appears to be a more likely partner.

  • Thanks Andy – that puts that rumor to rest. Think I first stumbled across it on a forum.

  • Yeah, fair point Andy. Obviously it would be beneficial if you could marketers on your side, they are usually early adopters and very good at spreading the message (or should be at least!).

    If it’s a straight choice between marketer and user it has to be the user every time though. Without a user there is nobody to market to for the marketers.

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  • I think that optimizers help them improve their results. Without the constant abuse by thousands of optimizers we most likely wouldn’t get as good of results from Google or any search engine.

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