Does Belong in Google Results?

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There is a little back and forth debate between CenterNetwork’s Allen Stern and Techulate’s William Burn on whether or not listings deserve ranking in Google.

Allen Stern’s argument:

If you look at Digg, from a true standpoint, what does it really offer? It offers a link to the actual story, a 1-2 line overview of the story and sometimes comments from Digg users.

My belief is that this is not enough to warrant a listing in Google. Since at its most basic sense Digg only offers a link to the actual story, then that story should occupy that position within Google, not the Digg link.

I believe content publishers actually lose the chance to see that visitor because the person has to click twice and even understand that they must do that. And I am talking about mainstream non-diggers now, not the group who already understands what Digg is for.

[Read Allen’s Entire Post]

William Burn’s rebuttal: is acting as a gateway to the great content which would (usually) have been lost in Google’s monolithic index, never to be found or stumbled upon by searchers.

Additionally, as a counter to his “the person has to click twice and even understand that they must do that” statement, the interface is very easy to use, it’s almost an exact clone of a Google result (a big blue link/title with description underneath) so the user will already be familiar with it, as a result the user would not be confused by it and will find their way to the content they were looking for; that’s if the content still appeals to them after reading the accompanying description.

[Read William’s Entire Post]

Do you feel that Digg listings should be ranked highly in Google, omitted, supplemented or perhaps penalized a point or two below the initial story they are linking to?

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • Very interesting question – one that I didn’t really think of before.

    To me, the answer has to be yes because of sites like Slashdot where the comments actually matter. If Digg ever corrected their commenting system (i.e. removed the trash posts and comments became informative), then appearing in the Google index would make sense. Not only would you get the original article, you would get a large community commenting on the facts and merit of the article.

    However, Digg commenting is severly broken right now and I think Digg borders on having Google seriously consider what the value added is from those Digg pages.

  • Hagrin,

    I hadn’t thought of Digg’s comments being a good resource because, as you clearly stated, they are broken.

    What’s wrong with Digg’s comment system? I’m not entirely sure but I think that’s an inherent problem with “comments” in general which I don’t think will ever be fixed; comments on large sites rarely create discussion which would be valuable to a searcher, but they create one off comments and bickering/arguments which are usually worthless to a searcher.

  • Hi Loren – thanks for the link love 🙂 One interesting note that someone sent me via email on my article – does Google rank them higher because of everything they send/partner with the via adwords/adsense. I hadn’t thought about it but clearly they must do massive bits of money since they have a custom layout for adsense.

  • “does Google rank them higher because of everything they send/partner with the via adwords/adsense.”

    Highly unlikely, but due to all the bad press (can we call blogging press these days?) Google has been getting lately I wouldn’t be surprised if a few, mostly those crazy Voodoo SEO types, people began to believe it was the case.

    I believe Digg ranks so highly because they have so many inbound links from so many different sites. A quick queery ( shows that there are 120,000 inbound links to Digg, that has got to help a bit…

  • Allen, it’s highly unlikely that Google favors Digg, or anyone for that matter, based on their relationships with AdWords/AdSense. If that where true and they somehow got outed they would lose all credibility. This is more of conspiracy theory in my opinion.

    Google ranks them high because they are a trusted, authority news source. They also have pretty decent onpage SEO; with the friendly urls, proper use of css, good title tags, etc. Not to mention the millions of links they have pointed to the site.

  • Here are some really interesting questions discussed: especially the thing with adwords / adsense is worth to think about it…. at least here would be a natural interest…!?

    (Hope everybpoda reading this can follow me…Sorry for my bad english…)

  • Here’s a BIG reason I think Digg should either be excluded or listed below the original content. Very often diggers repost all of the original content in the comment section of the digg listing “in case the site goes down.”

    For example, look at this digg listing :
    The original content is basically plagiarized by a commenter and if someone comes to that page before they go to the original content source, they likely won’t continue on to the actual article.

  • Skitzzo, that’s a fine point. I’ve noticed this within the Digg comments on numerous occasions.

    Seems that commenters are very likely to copy the target page’s content, especially if that page crashes. Funny thinig is the page may crash for 5 minutes, but the Digg comments would linger forever.

    In such a manner, it would make much more sense for Digg users to post temporary mirror pages of the Dugg site, and not copy the text into the comment area 🙂

  • Allen Stern

    Cameron – Yea, I wasn’t suggesting that – someone else sent me a mail msg suggesting it.

    I do agree with Skittzo – there really is no reason for Digg to be included in Google above the natural resource.

    Cameron – are they really a news source? Or are they just an aggregator of news.

    What kind of annoys me is that my story was on its way to getting to the home page but once again was buried. While Digg was great with support and said they didn’t see anything out of the ordinary on the bury, it sure seems like every story coming from CN is buried.

  • Allen Stern

    And to make my point even more – my story which started this story is buried – yet the article here is at 21 diggs and probably will move to the home page.

  • Allen, this article may make the homepage, and it may not – if it does not get burried it could be because both sides of the issue are covered.

    It’s really a shame that the Digg community does not cover CenterNetworks as much as some of the other blogs in your field such as Mashable, ReadWriteWeb and TechCrunch.

    Digg, and a large amount of the web community, seem to really love those blogs. As do I, they are some of my favorites and models among pro blogging.

    We’ve all seen stories from the more popular blogs make it to well before the original source, even when the more popular blogs even link to the source. This happened today when a Search Engine Journal reader submitted a post where I quoted and linked to another blog. The story made the homepage and then we were threatened as Digg spammers, although a Digg user submitted the story 😛

    I guess that if they are linking, two clicks will get the Digg users to the main story, but the reputation of the Digger and the submitted site (or blog) tend to overweigh that of the original source.

    Is this a new argument? Of course not, as such is the weakness of social media and news aggregators.

    A Solution? Perhaps some kind of Digg Wiki editing system where if enough Diggers vote to change the linked story to its original source, it is changed. Such would be much more valuable than burrying a story.

    Then again, the new argument could then emerge… what was the original source or idea?

  • “there really is no reason for Digg to be included in Google above the natural resource”

    I agree with this but it’s not going to happen; it would require Google to artificially change their algorithm which would lead to a huge influx of link spamming on Digg due to the fact that the submitted links would be artificially ranked higher than it should be.

    Why would it lead to an influx of link spamming on Digg? Because not all results from Digg on Google are “stories” which have reached the front page.

    I apologize in advanced if this comment seems a bit rushed and incoherent, that’s because it is and I’ve got to go… now.

  • Allen, I think it could be considered both. While it certainly is a news aggregator it’s also a source of news for many people. Perhaps it’s better if I reword that to…

    “Google ranks them high because they are a trusted, authority site.”

  • Allen Stern

    Loren, “It’s really a shame that the Digg community does not cover CenterNetworks as much as some of the other blogs in your field such as Mashable, ReadWriteWeb and TechCrunch.”

    Thanks for the compliment Loren, I have only been at this with CN for about 4 months so I am not sure I have the “rep” that the others have. I can only hope to be on the same level as they are. I will keep plugging away at it though.

    I think Digg needs to start to show why stories are buried. I am not sure why they can’t just show the reason. I know the numbers are their highly guarded secret.

    Cameron, (I am working on the results of BloggerMania Round I btw lol), I am not sure I agree with you. Why are they trusted? I would venture that at least half of the stories submitted are spam of some sort. Yes, they are a powerful resource, one which I hope (god willing) will be able to tap for CN. But I still think that the original story should show up first. I do like the idea of showing the original story then an indent to other aggregators below it. That seems fair I think.

  • “I do like the idea of showing the original story then an indent to other aggregators below it. That seems fair I think.”

    Gabe Rivera’s Techmeme and Michael Chen’s Megite do something similar.

    Now a Digg style Mashup using the Meme and Digg model would be interesting!

  • Allen Stern

    Looks like you made it Loren 🙂

  • I never thought about this either. Perhaps as a compromise, the listings can stay the same, but the primary link will go to the original source, with secondary links (like cached or translate) linking to the Digg page. I like it being linked somewhere to the Digg page because the comments are useful in some cases.

    I do find it useful that Digg is listed on Google. This is because Digg’s searching algorithm is quite poor, and at times it is MUCH faster to just pop up Google, and search with a “” filter.

    In the end though, Digg has the final say in what is done. Google can’t just force such a decision onto Digg (they could, but it could get ugly and it would be out of character for Google). If Digg were to offer Google a compromise however…

    –Jon Z |

  • Bob

    Getting up on digg increases one’s outside links tremendously therefore increasing one’s pagerank higher than the digg story itself in many cases.

  • Machine Operator

    Ever heard of tyranny of the majority? That’s what Digg is. I have no interest in relying on the tyranny of the often snarky, elitist, politically motivated Diggers to make up my Google searches or my daily news. They’re fun for tech scoops and that’s about it. Real news is still read on real news sites.

  • bunni

    Most often a Digg story will rank in the first 10 Google results while the original content it links to will rank hundreds lower – in this way I believe Digg actually helps the original content get traffic.

  • Bunni, that is a great point, especially in the instances when obscure blogs and sites get Dugg, or sites which are burrying their own content in non-SEO friendly archive areas.

  • Allen Stern

    Bunni – yes that is true. But let’s look at this case. And this might not be a great example because its a 1-off.

    My original story gets on digg upcoming, then buried for what reason i have no idea. Then Loren’s story makes the Digg home page cuz he is way bigger and has digg street cred.

    So now people click off digg to his story, but since it hit the home page, 3 people have clicked on my link on this page to my original story.

    Now just imagine, if someone clicks off Google and then has to follow that same path.

    So while what you are saying is very true, I think many people would stop at the digg site. Only some people make it through to the article.

  • If we were to step back and look at Skitzzo’s comment, many news sites and blogs would be penalized for this. Sometimes portions of the site are copied and pasted into the comment section for whatever reason, but many sites do this — blogs that simply summarize and link to other blogs, news sites that take a story that was broken elsewhere and simply rewrite the article for their site, etc. In fact if you take a look at this entry, the bulk of it is simply quoting other people who have written their 2 cents elsewhere, and then below the two quotes is a simple line asking people what they think. If we’re talking about Google eliminating all “middle man” content, then blog entries like this one that simply summarize what others have said should suffer the same fate as Digg, no?

  • Interesting click and referral analysis Allen, I’ve added some extra links to the end of the quoted content.

    You might also be interested in reading the arguments in the Digg comments, as it seems like more people than usual are discussing this issue on Digg, which is refreshing as doing so backs the “comments are useful content” argument / mindset which is a blogging/social media/news sharing/user generated content mantra.

  • Who cares? if some one doesn’t want to click twice they can find the story link from google (on page 8)

    or is it greed, don’t want digg to have that extra hit?

    not like google is going to exclude digg anyway, they don’t do that (or so I think)

  • FYI – I posted part 2 – why does digg allow comments – click my name to view.

  • Dean

    Digg is more popular than many of the sites it links to ergo it should rate more highly. It is a more informative site and more highly rated. You cannot expect Google to modify their algorithm to favour absolute no-mark websites over one of the most popular on the web just because the popular one points to the unknown one. Indeed, webmasters whose sites are “dugg” should be bloody grateful for the publicity from a site absolutely dripping with PageRank. 99.9% of linked sites wouldn’t achieve such high ratings on their own. How many guest on Oprah complain that the show is billed as Oprah and not “Interview with “?

    Add the fact that surfers end up at your site anyway if they’re interested by the link and the argument is preposterous.

  • Allen, they are trusted because of the number of links coming to the digg site and the authority of some of those links.

  • Digg should be omitted from Google’s search results, or at best, penalized a few points. There is no “value add” to going to the digg reference first. Those people who are digg-ers already go to digg (or use an aggregator or whatever). Searchers are looking for the original source, not a weak copy.

  • Joh Doe

    Digg should definitely be omitted.

  • Ben

    Digg should not be included in Google search results. It’s no different than a link to Yahoo’s page of results for whatever search term you entered popping up in Google results. What would that accomplish? There is no original content on Digg, just links. The only content generated on Digg are comments. The links on Digg should benefit a placement or to for being on Digg, but that’s about it.

  • Digg results themselves should be omitted, but the actual content that digg is linking to should benefit just like ben said. Theres no reason why a person should have to filter through digg, when they are looking for actual content. I hear time after time in SEO blogs that its not smart to link back to linkfarms, but yet Digg is a jumbo link farm and this seems ok? Goofy.

  • IMO Digg should not be given too much preference from the search engine’s view point. There are so many fake accounts in Digg and that may really mess things up for SE and in turn for us in future.

  • Exactly, well said Dave, Digg is social bookmarking site and one shouldn’t compare it with search engine. Both are operated very differently. I have seen some posters are posting all kind of news just one after another. God knows, before posting it to dig, even they have read it fully or not?

  • kav

    Sites like digg are treated like celebrities and given red carpet treatment. It’s elitist in every regard. With google it’s about reputation not content. Small “mom and pop” niche sites can’t and will never be able to compete on that level. At this point digg may be the only way for niche sites to be found on google.

    Personally I think that adsense sites are favored by google, but not across the board. It’s the nature of capitalism to exploit that benefit.

  • Here are my proposed fixes to these issues.

    I think that would give us the best of both worlds.

  • I am of the opinion that any site, including search engines that promote other peoples content are of extream value to the authors. Getting decent ranking in the search engines for any article is impossible today unless the article has tons of sites backlinking to it. Web 2.0 – Social Community Websites like,,, and all websites that publish RSS content and are treated like celebrities and given red carpet treatment because people like them for the good job they do promoting the material.

    Google is actually a very fair search engine, but you need to understand the criteria that must be met to earn a good ranking.

    Personally I think that adsense sites are in no way favored by google. I do know that if your site content is ever-changing, your articles are unique, and many sites link to your website articles that you will have a great ranking website. Digg does all this and this is why Google ranks diggs. The reason the diggs may rank better than the articles themselves is because Digg users can post diggs to their blogs. Thsi is a very efficient way to backlink the digged article hence the digg post can sometimes easily get a better ranking than an article that has not been published effectively far and wide on the internet.

  • I hate when people post blog spam, but after commenting first here today, I really thought about this tons and finally wrote something up (no ads on the site) –

    I’d be curious to see what Pros and Cons I may have missed. Personally, after hashing it all out by writing about it, I’m 99% comfortable with just using the Google CSE option (although, they do need to give users the ability to add this as their main search box on their IG pages).

  • Does digg rank high in yahoo msn

  • Nige

    Lost count of the number of times my Google results have come back with an article, plus loads of useless digg pages pointing at the same article. Digg pollutes search results with repetition and doesn’t add value. I usually find the original article ranks higher than the Diggs — not surprising as it’s got all the link equity from all those Diggs. Nothing else against Digg — all in favour of social bookmarking — just don’t think it belongs in search results pages.

  • well, from my point of view Digg is not so useful for sites who have links listed there, but ok…