Social Media

Beginner's Guide to Digg

If you have ever felt like you had to dig around the Internet for good content, you might want to look at something called Digg ((http://www.digg.com)). Digg is a site that will help you avoid the process of digging and instead, get exactly what others have dug up so you can see some of the great sites/stories/things out there on the Internet. Many people reading this might already know what Digg is all about so if you fall into this category, quit reading now and go [elsewhere](http://www.digg.com) or you might feel this is a bit basic. If you haven’t heard of Digg, read further and you can not only understand one of the more successful sites on the web these days but also get an idea of how you can leverage it for your business. Digg epitomizes the value of collective intelligence and community on the Internet in a way that not only brings value to its users, but also to businesses that are savvy enough to take advantage.
###History
Digg was started as an experiment in October 2004 by [Kevin Rose](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Rose). The [concept](http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a9/Digg1.6.png) was to give people the chance to “dig” user submitted tech-related stories in order to get the most popular stuff in front of an audience that was interested in seeing the latest and greatest on the Internet. By December 5th 2004, the site was officially launched. After running for approximately a year, the site surpassed 100,000 users and as a result they were able to raise $2.8 million to help take the service to the next level. Shortly thereafter, digg.com grew to over 500,000 users and over 8.5 million unique visitors per month.
###Overview
There are two main things that you can do on Digg. The first is to submit stories that you think the community will like and the second is to digg stories that you like.
Submitting
diggsubmit Beginner's Guide to Digg
Thousands of stories are submitted to Digg on a daily basis on a variety of topics. There are currently 7 categories on Digg which include technology, science, world & business, sports, videos, entertainment, and gaming. If you come across any stories that you think are interesting, you can submit them for others to vote on.
Digging
digging Beginner's Guide to Digg
If you like a story you have the option of “digging” it, which is basically voting on it and endorsing it. However, if you don’t like a story then you can bury it by marking it as duplicate, spam, wrong topic, inaccurate or even lame. If this is too simple and you’d like to say more, there is a comment section which gives you the opportunity to give your own two cents on the story and what you really think about it.
Front Page
diggfrontpage Beginner's Guide to Digg
There are two separate areas where stories are displayed, one is the upcoming section and the other is the popular stories section that begins on the front page. When a story is submitted, it has up to 24 hours to make it to the front page or longer if it has not been marked as duplicate, spam, wrong topic, inaccurate or lame. Digg’s complex algorithms take multiple factors into account in order to determine if a story should hit the front page. Some of the factors that the [algorithm](http://www.marketingshift.com/2006/9/diggs-kevin-rose-recent-indiggnation.cfm) uses are as follows:
* The number of diggs
* Amount of buries
* Identity of the voters
* Time
* IP addresses
* Category
Example: Stories submitted in the sports category generally require less diggs to reach the front page compared to stories submitted in the technology category. Overall, less people submit and digg sports stories compared to technology stories which is taken into account by Digg.
###Features
Although Digg seems like a simple website it is filled with many useful features:
Digg Spy
diggspy Beginner's Guide to Digg
Ever wonder what other users are digging, submitting, commenting on, or reporting (burying)? [Digg Spy](http://digg.com/spy) shows all the activity on Digg in real time. Every few seconds it polls diggs and updates the page using [Ajax](http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000385.php). So if you submit a story you can use Digg Spy to keep track of it, that way you can see how many people buried it compared to dugg it (digging a story).
Popular Archive
diggpopulararchive Beginner's Guide to Digg
Thousands of stories have made the Digg front page, with the [Popular Archive](http://digg.com/archive) you can see them all in an easy list format. You can back track to older days and months and see the stories that made the front page with the amount of diggs next to each story.
Digg Labs
digglabs Beginner's Guide to Digg
Currently [Digg Labs](http://labs.digg.com/) contains two tools that help give a deeper and broader view of Digg. [Stack](http://labs.digg.com/stack/) is a tool which shows diggs occurring in real time on up to 100 stories at once. [Swarm](http://labs.digg.com/swarm/) is a tool which creates brightly colored circles for stories as they are dugg.
Digg Tools
diggtools Beginner's Guide to Digg
At the moment, in the [Digg Tools](http://digg.com/tools) section, there are 6 features that help people get more involved with Digg.
1. [Digg badges](http://digg.com/tools/buttons) – badges can be placed on one’s website in order for visitors to digg the website.
2. [Digg news](http://digg.com/add-digg) – the latest digg stories can be added to ones website or blog with ease.
3. [Digg button](http://digg.com/tools/integrate) – for those who have a blog a “digg this” button can be added to each blog post.
4. [Google IG module](http://www.google.com/ig/directory?num=24&url=http://digg.com/goog/ig.xml&q=&start=0) – view recent stories from Digg on your personalized Google homepage.
5. [Google Coop module](http://www.google.com/coop/profile?user=017771777217723414381) – see Digg stories at the top of your Google search results.
6. [Video thumbnails](http://digg.com/tools/thumbnails) – enables you to display Digg’s video thumbnails on your own website.
My #1
diggmynumber1 Beginner's Guide to Digg
You may digg thousands of stories, but there maybe a specific few that you really like. [My #1](http://diggtheblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/digg-adds-new-my-1-story-feature.html) lets you save your favorite stories on a separate page in your profile. This way you as well as your friends can see what stories are most important to you.
###Digg Effect
One of the main reasons Digg is so popular is because it can drive [thousands of visitors](http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/traffic-comparison-of-stumbleupon-digg-and-delicious.html) to a website within minutes. As you might expect, this can have a profound implications for website owners:
* It can help increase traffic which can lead to links and increased search engine rankings
* Help increase pageviews which increases [advertising revenue](http://web2list.com/news.php?id=1052)
* Serve as a marketing tactic for branding strategies and promotions
Because of these benefits some people will do anything to get on the front page of digg.com which can include [paying for diggs](http://www.usersubmitter.com/) or even messaging everyone they know to solicit additional diggs. These techniques are effective however don’t be mislead: [Statistics](http://www.seomoz.org/blogdetail.php?ID=1228) show that a select few (100) users contribute over 50 percent of the stories that reach the front page. These users are able to do this because of the stories they find, the text used when submitting the story, and the friends that they have which help them along the way. That doesn’t mean you have no control over the popularity of the stories on the front page, it just means that you need to take a few things into account if you are submitting.
Story
Most of the stories that get to the front page make it there for a reason. If a bad story makes the front page, it will likely be buried fairly quickly. By studying the front page material a pattern will emerge demonstrating the types of stories that are “good” enough to make the front page. The following types of stories tend to land on the front page:
* [Lists](http://digg.com/hardware/11_Ways_to_Become_an_Outstanding_Computer_Technician)
* [How-to guides](http://digg.com/security/How_To_Hack_a_Windows_XP_Admin_Password)
* Stories on high-profile Internet companies such as [YouTube](http://digg.com/tech_news/Its_confirmed_Google_buys_youtube_for_1_6_billion), [MySpace](http://digg.com/tech_news/MySpace_Founder_Sues_News_Corp_Over_Censorship), [Google](http://digg.com/tech_news/Google_donates_30_000_to_CC) and [Apple](http://digg.com/apple/Touch_screen_iPod_directly_confirmed_by_Apple).
* [Breaking news](http://digg.com/world_news/Saudi_court_sentences_rape_VICTIM_to_90_lashes_2)
Submission
When you submit a story, there are many keys to bolstering it’s acceptance by the community which can ultimately effect its popularity. If a story does not have an attractive title and description, there is a good chance that it will not make the front page. A lot of diggers do not click through to actually read the whole story, they just digg based on the title and description. When creating a title and description, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Make a statement and do not be dull.
Example: Senator Ted Stevens Downloads the Entire Internet and Complains It’s Slow!
2. Be controversial and make false promises (it sounds bad, but it works!).
Example: If an article was called “Professor says days of ‘no oil’ are nearing” you may want to use this as the digg title “Days of no oil are nearing”.
3. Use [keywords](http://www.xedant.com/researches/top_422_digg_com_attention_grabbing_words.php) in the title that diggers love and that are also relevant to the story.
Example: Amazing high resolution photos of the Sun.
Friends
diggfriends Beginner's Guide to Digg
Digg is a social website where users interact with each other. Just like MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, or any of the other social websites; you can make friends on Digg too. Looking at the top 100 digg users, there is one thing they all have in common: they have [lots of friends](http://digg.com/users/digitalgopher/friends/list). If a story needs 100 or so diggs to make the front page (number can vary), getting a few diggs from your friends will just help get you their faster. It usually is not too hard to get your friends to digg your submissions as long as you are also reciprocating and digging your friends’ submissions as well. This may sound like “[gaming](http://diggtheblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/digg-friends.html)” Digg, but it seems that Digg has taken this into consideration with their algorithm to stop abusers. Keep in mind that this is still a community and should be treated as such if you are trying to leverage it’s offering for your business.
###Summary
One of the great things about Digg is its simplicity. People submit stories and digg what they like to the front page. Since late 2004, this concept has taken Digg from being a small online website into an [online giant](http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?q=digg.com&url=digg.com) that is still just beginning to take hold with the masses. Similar to Google and the other search engines in their early days, Digg can be manipulated to some extent however the Digg crew seems to be on top of things and they are constantly making changes to fight spammers. Kevin Rose himself said that Digg version 4 is on its way and will be quite different then the Digg we are used to. Judging by Digg’s progression from version to version, version 4 will probably have more social and community oriented features then previous versions.
###Additional Resources
[DuggTrends](http://www.diggtrends.com) – DuggTends provides insight of what & how people are voting.
[Digg the Blog](http://blog.digg.com/) – The official Digg blog.
[8 Ways to Help You Get to Digg's Front Page](http://www.seoegghead.com/blog/seo/diggbait-101-8-ways-to-help-you-get-to-diggs-front-page-p115.html)
[History of Digg](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digg)
[Digg River](http://diggriver.com/) – This site is an experiment to see how we can make digg news easily available to mobile web browsers.
[10 Steps to Guarantee You Make the Digg Front Page](http://seoblackhat.com/2006/10/02/10-steps-to-guarantee-you-make-the-digg-front-page/)
[Integrating Digg Within Your Website](http://diggtheblog.blogspot.com/2006/07/integrating-digg-within-your-website.html)
[Digg Tthis WordPress Plugin](http://www.aviransplace.com/index.php/digg-this-wordpress-plugin/) – Plugin that detects incoming links from Digg.com to your WordPress post and automatically display a link back to the digg post, for people to digg your story.
[Diggnation](http://www.revision3.com/diggnation) – Diggnation is a weekly tech/web culture show based on the top digg.com social bookmarking news stories.
[Digg Black Market](http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/digg_blackmarket.php) – Where Digg submitters pay for Digg users to promote their stories and where Digg users make easy money.
[Digg RSS Widget](http://etl.myfxh.com/digg.html) – This widget gets the latest headlines from digg.com every 15 minutes and displays them in a pleasant interface.
[How Digg Works](http://computer.howstuffworks.com/digg.htm)
[Digg This Toolbar](https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/3040/) – Simple toolbar buttons and a menu to allow you to quickly digg articles.
###Thanks
Special thanks to the following people who helped with the creation and editing of this post.
* [Derek van Vliet](http://www.neothoughts.com) ([bloodjunkie](http://digg.com/users/BloodJunkie/profile))
* Mark V. Johnson ([aidenag](http://digg.com/users/Aidenag/profile))

 Beginner's Guide to Digg
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at Quick Sprout.

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28 thoughts on “Beginner's Guide to Digg

  1. Beginner’s Guide to DIGG

    Chances are, you’re very much familiar with DIGG, and you probably visit DIGG every day. But you might be mentioning DIGG to some people who aren’t too familiar with the site. Here’s a fairly comprehensive guide that does great at…

  2. As mentioned before, long but very useful.
    Thank you very much. One thing you could have made better which is adding links to web developers that have digg related plugins and addons for popular blogging interfaces.. google on diggpress for example ;)
    Good luck, Ruslan

  3. Thanks! Lots of good info for a newbie. I’d been completely ignoring the upcoming section and just refreshing my browser to get the latest info.
    -C-

  4. Neil-
    Very nice introduction to digg.com.
    I recently launched a site called MegaKarma.net that could also be considered a useful Digg tool for your list; it helps get around the “top 100″ user phenomenon by emailing your submitted articles to our growing userbase to vote on.
    The site can’t guarantee a front-page listing, but it could still help out if you want to get your content noticed without bugging everyone you know to vote you up. :)
    -Joe

  5. Joe, I like how megakarma.net is not money oriented like User/Submitter, but I am still not a big fan of it. If a story is good enough to make the Digg front page, it will make it naturally.

  6. Nice.
    That is except for your suggestions on titles for submitted stories. #1 is good but encouraging people to lie in the titles of the stories and to use keywords just because they are popular is irresponsible. While technically true, they are very bad habits which degrade the usefulness of the site.

  7. Digg is great when you want to read about how great the Nintendo Wii is compared to the suckage of the PS3. Did you notice my savage sarcasm?
    May I recommend reddit.com instead of digg?

  8. Digg User, as long as the keywords are relevant to the story, I don’t see a problem with it.
    As for “encouraging people to lie”, maybe I should have been more careful with my words. Hopefully you did not feel that I was telling Digg users to manipulate Digg.
    Thanks for the comment.

  9. Thanks for the information about diggs. Surely diggs, if used properly can be a means for driving traffic to our website, though we need to be careful of spamming and gaming it. Our profit should not be someone else’s loss.