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Home Affiliate Marketing Blog DIGGing the Dirt on Digg (and the Future of Social Bookmarking)

DIGGing the Dirt on Digg (and the Future of Social Bookmarking)

DIGGing the Dirt on Digg (and the Future of Social Bookmarking)

When I first started affiliate marketing, one of the easiest ways to build links and get big amounts of targeted traffic was to submit links to the social bookmarking site, Digg. The excitement of writing a new blog post or article, just for the link juice and visitors that submitting to Digg would bring, was pretty awesome. 

In many ways, Digg was a precursor to the viral factor of websites like Facebook and Twitter. We all use social websites for sharing content with our friends that we find interesting or engaging. This is part of what makes social media so exciting. And guess what? Digg was one of the founders of this movement.

After its launch in 2004, Digg (and company founder Kevin Rose) went on to raise over $45 million in funding from various venture capital firms. Once upon a time, Google was going to buy Digg for around $200 million.

So when Digg was sold about a week ago to tech-firm Betaworks, how much was the going price?

Go on... have a guess!

If you guessed in the tens of millions, you've got the wrong answer. If you guessed that Digg.com sold for over $1 million, you'd be wrong too. In fact, Digg.com sold for a paltry sum of $500,000, which is rather low when you consider how much it was once worth!

(Disclaimer - the sum of $500,000 that Betaworks paid for Digg relates to the site, its servers, traffic, user-base etc. A number of Digg patents were actually sold to LinkedIn for around $4 million, and Washington Post Inc. paid around $12 million for a number of Digg staff)

So what caused what was once such a fantastic website to fall from grace? What ramifications does this have for affiliate marketers and SEOs? What is the moral of the story here?

In the Digg heyday, submitting your content with an interesting title line was often enough to see a noticeable spike in traffic (this was referred to by some as the 'Digg effect'). These days, submitting even a fantastic and newsworthy story to Digg barely nets any substantial increase in traffic. Only the most "Digg-worthy" submissions ever receive link and traffic juice.

Therefore, from the point of view of search engine optimization and affiliate marketing, Digg has lost much of its value. Now I know that social bookmarking sites were never created with the intention of being easy pickings for affiliates, but as an affiliate myself I'm always concerned by anything that makes my livelihood any more difficult!

Digg is not the only example of social bookmarking becoming less and less friendly for affiliates. Sites such as Stumbleupon, Reddit, and Delicious used to be far better at bringing links and traffic to the humble affiliate - but no longer.

So where am I going with all this? Why do we (the Affilorama team) still recommend that you use social bookmarking services? 

Here are the three reasons why:

  1. Social bookmarks are still delivering positive social signals for your website (and any related submissions that you make). Positive social signals are becoming increasingly important for good search engine rankings.
  2. If you have interesting, informative, or exciting content that has a high chance of going viral, social bookmarking is still the way to do it.  Although sharing on Facebook and Twitter can help get more traffic and positive social signals, bookmarking sites like Digg are still great for getting bloggers and webmasters to pick up on your viral content.
  3. Submitting to social bookmarking sites can be a very quick process. In AffiloBlueprint 3.0, Mark shows you exactly how to pretty much automate your social submissions by using the free Onlywire service (check it out for yourself here). You can also get decent bookmarking submissions on Fiverr.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that although the effectiveness of social bookmarking sites has decreased, they can still be a useful tool in your affiliate marketing arsenal.

However, you don't want to rely on just one or two social bookmarking sites. You really need to be submitting to a wide range of social bookmarking/social media sites in one big go. Make it part of your daily SEO routine, that whenever you submit to Facebook and Twitter you also submit to at least 10 different bookmarking sites (use Onlywire to help with this process)

To conclude, let us return to the debate at the heart of this blog post. What caused Digg's decline, and what does it mean for affiliate marketers?

The biggest reason Digg fell into decline was that the site owners gradually alienated users. Advertisements became more and more prominent, while the user experience of Digg increasingly took the back seat. Digg also seemed to take a position of anti-self promotion, meaning that stories people wrote themselves didn't tend to do very well if the submitter was also the writer. Why would you submit to Digg (which has a complicated user interface) when you could submit to Twitter and promote your own content more easily and simply?

There is a moral to the Digg story, and what it means for the future of social bookmarking (and SEO). In short:

  • Social websites need to remain all about social communities - Digg made the mistake of becoming cold and uninviting (especially when v4 was rolled out). It looked like a website designed to please investors, not users!
  • Even though a website can still have large numbers of users, it does not necessarily make it the best social community. Look at Myspace to see an example of this. As an affiliate marketer you want to hunt out the best, most targeted, most active communities (not necessarily the biggest ones!)
  • Social sites are often very hyped - make sure you do your due diligence before jumping on the bandwagon!

I hope you've enjoyed today's blog post, and that you take something useful from it. This is an important topic for affiliate marketers, so make sure you join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.

20 Comments Add your comment
  • Reply Clwyd Probert2463 days ago

    Interesting perspective about what happens when a company loses focus on its users and core values. There is an interesting new social site called http://www.phinkit.com which is all about allowing business uers to get their message out. it will be interestign to see how it goes - I think that they are positioning themselves as a 'better LinkedIn"

  • Reply Irene • 2463 days ago

    thanks for your informative article, it definitely provides food for thought regarding Social Media and SEO

  • Reply Dawud • 2463 days ago

    How to find the most target social site for one niche

  • Reply bigjim • 2463 days ago

    Very informative post, Sam. Thanks for the useful information. You've got me looking into social bookmarking again.

  • Reply MICHAEL K AGBODAZE JR2463 days ago

    Yes, this is another great one from you, Sam. I'm very appreciative of it and hope to take advantage of it with immediate effect.

  • Reply DrKavita • 2463 days ago

    You are right Sam, Digg did alienate its users and that was what led to its decline. Social bookmarking is a wonderful tool to drive traffic towards one's site / blog. The best ones that work for me are Facebook & Twitter

  • Reply Tony Chandor2463 days ago

    Thanks for the post. Its a reflection of a business not adjusting to the marketing trends and customers needs.

  • Reply john carruthers2463 days ago

    Good Deal Sam,

    Isn't it Amazing that something can fall in valuation from $200 million to $500k

    NB. Take advantage of your opportunites at ALL times.
    It pays to know WHEN they are.....


    ps. thanks I will be signing up with Onlywire ASAP

  • Reply Anton Grantham • 2463 days ago

    I certainly still believe in Social Book marking. That is why I use an automated bookmarking service.

  • Reply Kate Green2463 days ago

    This was fascinating. I'm new to all this and found your comments to be most enlightening. Who knew there was so to consider?

    Thank you. Kate Green

  • Reply Darnel Manu2463 days ago

    Awesome info. It's incredible how much value has been lost.

  • Reply Gregory • 2462 days ago

    Great history story since I'm new at this. Did Digg's fall have anything to do with google "Panda or Penguin?"

    Samuel Frost2458 days ago

    Hi Gregory,

    As far as I can tell, Digg's decline had very little to do with Panda and Penguin at all. Basically, it was more about Digg alienating its community members.

  • Reply Angela Thompson Bandoo2462 days ago

    This is exactly what happends when GREED steps in....money is important, but people are the most important...without the poeple there is money.....

  • Reply aiman_almasry20002462 days ago

    It's nice to find out more successes

  • Reply Jeff Cutts2462 days ago

    Thanks heaps for this valuable information. Internet marketing has certainly had some very big changes, and I feel some have been for the betterment of our industry! With all the updates, mostly brought about by Google I still feel Affiliate Marketing is a great way to do business from home, so don't get discouraged.... as Tom Hua would say ... Never Give Up!

    Samuel Frost2458 days ago

    Thanks for the kind comment. I'm glad you really enjoyed this post!

  • Reply Pat Brosnan • 2462 days ago

    Thanks you Sam for this update on the social site scene

  • Reply Zayne Thompson • 2461 days ago

    Hey there Mark,

    I just wanted to say what a great Blog and site you have here, its also great to hear a nice Kiwi Accent in the mix of all of these American Marketers! :)

    I stay in Auckland, and I love your take on the Social Bookmarking thing, I can see a steady decrease in my traffic where I used to be able to write and article, submit it to Facebook and Twitter and see the traffic soar!

    But yet again great site, and keep up the good work!

    Kind Regards

    Zayne Thompson

  • Reply Philip Keller2460 days ago

    Interesting post and some food for thought. Also very interesting about the price value of digg. Thanks for the information Sam

    Samuel Frost2458 days ago

    Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.

  • Reply altuk712458 days ago

    Sam, when last time (together with Mark Ling) did you use Onlywire.com? It's NOT FREE anymore. $10/months. They offer a free trial. Also, there are some peoples asked you questions, would you be so kind to answer? Thanks.

    Samuel Frost2458 days ago

    The free Onlywire trial is good enough to give you a taste of the platform. If you see results with Onlywire then it's worth paying for a basic membership.

  • Reply Endy Daniyanto2437 days ago

    Hi Sam,

    Thanks for the update on Digg. You say that the other social bookmarking sites have also experienced a devaluation.

    The question becomes: for an affiliate marketer who has a limited amount of hours to work each day on various aspects of building an affiliate website, in which order would you recommend to do SEO?

    Since there are plenty of options like submitting to article directories, building Web 2.0 properties, then social media, which one gives the most "bang for the buck" so to speak, according to your experience?

    It seems that I won't have the time to do all of them on a daily basis.


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