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.