Do Small Bloggers Have A Chance With Digg?

By Steven Snell

I visit Digg on a regular basis to vote on stories that I like as well as to find new and interesting information. A few days ago I was reading through the items that were currently listed on the front page of the technology section, and was observing the rich getting richer and smaller bloggers having a difficult time cracking the upper echelon of Digg success.

The Digg voting system is intended to allow the most popular stories to get the most exposure and to prevent users from gaming the system. But one of the results of this system is that it heavily favors blogs and websites with huge audiences while those with smaller audiences are left with much more difficult odds of gaining exposure from Digg.

If you visit the technology section on a consistent basis, you no doubt see many of the same websites and blogs being featured almost daily. These sites consistently publish new content that Digg users appreciate and they have built very large audiences for a reason. Some of those that you’ll see on a regular basis include Ars Technica, Engadget, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Mashable, Valleywag, Lifehacker, and ReadWriteWeb, among others.

Admittedly, these sites all provide quality, timely articles. However, I can’t help but believe that there are plenty of other deserving stories in the blogosphere. I think most Digg users that visit the technology section already subscribe to most of these blogs, I know I do. In this case, wouldn’t Digg be a more useful resource to users if it introduced them to content sources that they don’t already have in their RSS reader?

At the particular moment that I was on the technology front page, 11 of the 15 stories were from what I would consider to be major players. Ars Technica had four items on the page, and Gizmodo and ReadWriteWeb had two each.

I understand that it’s not Digg’s responsibility to provide bloggers with the opportunity to reach thousands of new readers. Digg’s objective is to show the most popular stories to its visitors. However, as a Digg user, I would like to see more stories on the front page that are new to me and I would like to be able to discover new sources of information. There are thousands of blogs out there that provide quality content that would interest me, but I may never find most of them.

Many of the larger blogs mentioned earlier have such a huge following that only a very small percentage of readers need to digg a story in order to get it to the front page. On the other hand, a smaller blog may need a lot of help to get the necessary votes to reach the front page. The larger blogs often only need to include a Digg button somewhere on the post or in the RSS feed to convert a large subscriber base into a high number of diggs, an advantage that smaller blogs do not have.

So what options does a small blogger have to get to the front page? One option is to build a powerful Digg profile, which can take a lot of time and effort. Digg users with strong profiles (and lots of friends) have better chances of their submissions reaching the front page, but many Digg users frown on someone submitting their own content, so this may not be a great option. Digg’s shout system seems to be largely ineffective, so adding friends and sharing your story probably won’t get you very far either.

I believe this leaves small bloggers with only a few options, some of which Digg itself does not approve. The first method that I have used with occasional success is to create as much traffic as possible with other social media sites and hope that it translates into diggs. Another option is to email friends and contacts with a request for a Digg. This essentially does the same thing as the Digg shout system, except that it may actually work. There are even some groups of Digg users that agree to share their submissions with each other in order to gain more diggs for everyone. Alternatively, you could contact someone with a strong profile and ask them to submit your story. The last option, and one that has gotten many people banned from Digg, is to buy diggs.

What is Your Opinion?

I’d like to hear your thoughts on whether or not small bloggers have a chance with Digg. Do you think Digg would be a more useful resource if it didn’t constantly feature articles from the same sites? Do you have any methods that have worked well for getting diggs for your blog posts?

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56 Responses to “Do Small Bloggers Have A Chance With Digg?”

  • Bilingual Blogger

    Steven,
    Excellent post. Digg is no democracy. It’s an oligarchy. Unless a small blogger already has a following, getting to the top of the Digg mountain is pretty impossible. The amount of work and effort it would take to get there for one single entry ultimately wouldn’t really be worth it in terms of time and energy expended because you’d have to turn around and repeat that process several times for it to generate any long lasting results. There are other sites that are better for the little guy.

    I agree with you that Digg would be a more indispensable resource if it didn’t constantly feature articles from the same sites. It’s ironic that something that began as a way to turn people on to new sites is actually doing the opposite and reinforcing the status quo.

    Thanks for writing about this.
    P.S. I Stumbled this post. 🙂

  • Ben

    I haven’t used Digg for about a year. Found it really frustrating in that it does not have a lot of content pertaining to my niche. Personally, I think Digg is just a lot of hype and not really useful to the average person using the internet. Maybe someone can come up with something similar for the average internet user that is looking for information other than tech info.

  • Daniel

    I agree that it might be difficult for small bloggers to get featured on Digg. Apart from the “technical” difficulties mentioned ,there is also the wrong perception from digg users (at least those not familiar with blogs) that all the articles come from smaller or personal blogs are spam.

    Even if you get the enough number of diggs and traction, therefore, there is always the risk that the “bury brigade” or bury your story just because it is coming from a small blog in the first place.

    Sad.

  • acca

    Great post. I share your oppinion and I can’t see right way for smaller blogs to get Digg first page. And we will see how this story will goes on Dogg. I just submited it. 🙂

  • Antoine Khater

    I am a small blogger and I guess chances to get to digg front page !

    I did ONE guest post in my life on a bigger blog than mine and it got right to the digg front page with 1100+ diggs when none of the articles on my own blog ever got more than 20 diggs or so !

    In all cases I do not want to get dugg ! No pun intended but I think digg traffic is bad and a loss of bandwidth people there seems much more interested in criticism than in real quality. I, on the other hand, believe in stumble, more than 60% of my traffic is stumble traffic and they tend to have a VERY low bounce rate.

    I manage to get 2k+ uniques per day 60% of which is from stumble and I don’t even discover my own posts

    just my .2$

  • Nadim

    your article is excellent and to the point … when i was new on digg i submitted a few post from my own blog and after one of the post reached the front page i wasnt able to submit another post after that cause all the major player’s as u say have reported my site as spam and get me kicked out of digg… keeping in mind such nuisances happening at digg i have already planned a more better version of digg … which is much transparent than digg and have much better features so everyone can be benefitted through it… as i have seen many blogger’s and very good content website which are banned on digg… it seem there is some major games played by large groups who dont want new sites to come up and destroy their reputation… so they plan to do such things eventually making the smaller blogger with very little or no success to make their blogs on top…

  • murphyz

    I’m relatively new to Digg having never really bothered with it previously. I agree that people should not submit their own content, but out of wishing to try and learn about Digg I submitted a post from another site of mine yesterday – my first Digg submission.

    Within 20 minutes it was off the ‘upcoming’ section of the relevant category, and within an hour it had received one Digg and one comment – nothing more.

    I need to play around with Digg more, because I’m curious if the post would have had different results if I had posted at a different time of the day…perhaps when the US was awake and not while they were mostly sleeping. I think this probably has a weighting on whether or not the story is picked.

    I feel sites that aren’t as popular will probably be better for the small time blogger. Using something such as plime.com instead of Digg would probably give more visitors, allowing them to build up a following a lot easier than they would via Digg.

  • Thilak

    I agree with you. About a year ago, I was a great fan of Digg, but they I found the stories boring because I already read them in my feed reader. Gradually, I stopped visiting Digg.

    Maybe, it’s time for Digg to change their algorithm. Perhaps, make it harder for the top blogs to appear on the front page. What are your thoughts over this?

  • jen_chan, writer SureFireWealth.com

    You present a very good point. Do small bloggers stand a chance? I myself have noticed that the list (most especially in marketing and technology) is mainly dominated by the same names. Not to say that they don’t deserve their position but I think there are other blogs out there who may have a more interesting point of view to share. But I guess that’s the challenge for them.

  • Hank

    I agree with the statement, “wouldn’t Digg be a more useful resource to users if it introduced them to content sources that they don’t already have in their RSS reader?” I think you are on to something here.

    What we small fish need is for a major feed reader provider like Google to acquire Digg. Then Google could tie Digg and Google user ids together. Once that is done, they could build in a system to lessen the Digg vote strength from those users who are subscribed via the Google Reader.

    Hank O
    hoei.com
    GrowingKids.org

  • Eric Atkins

    “Wouldn’t Digg be a more useful resource to users if it introduced them to content sources that they don’t already have in their RSS reader?”

    That thought blew my mind. That’s what I want out of DIGG.

    For me DIGG tends to have: stuff already in my RSS reader + popular stuff from REDDIT.

    I’ve made the switch to REDDIT because it gets the news before DIGG and it’s usually news that I wouldn’t get ordinarily. I quit using DIGG once I realized that most of the content that I really cared about was already in my RSS reader. REDDIT covers the rest.

  • TheBloggerTips

    Agree. My opinion that the full time bloggers has a high chance to stand-up in digg frontpage compare to part time blogger. Do you agree? Anyway, I haven’t start to use digg yet. 🙂

  • Thilak

    Eric Atkins: That’s exactly what I had in my mind. Perhaps, Digg can ask us to upload our OPML file and exclude those stories from their frontpage.

    I don’t like the idea of Digg being acquired by Google.

  • Daniel Bates

    Why are you even wasting your time with Digg? I guess I never really saw its value, because since the beginning its been a corrupt popularity contest. Use search engines to find sites that you trust and favor the information from and then subscribe, how hard is that?

  • TzuVelli

    I believe the value of Digg totally depends on your niche. If you are in a newsy niche then there is value. If you are in a content type niche the value is severely reduced.

    For me, the time invested is not worth the ROI. But, that does not stop me from wanting to hit the front page of Digg. I am just not going to go out my way to do so. If I get a natural Digg wave excellent, if not I don’t want to play.

  • David Airey

    I think that if you focus on your own content, rather than building a Digg community, you’ll most certainly win out in the end.

    I’ve used Digg on the odd occasion, and it has certainly driven traffic my way, but for the most part that traffic is very short-lived, and if you’re serious about blogging, you’ll cater more for your long term readers (your subscribers).

    Interesting post though, Steven. Thanks for piecing it together.

  • Carla at WordPlay

    I recently found there’s a much more important reason to be on Digg than just the chance of being on the front page. I submitted a story that got absolutely no attention from Diggers, yet the Digg listing for that story went straight to the number 2 position in Google within a day. Last I checked, it was still there.

    I too was disillusioned with Digg, but when I saw how it gave my story Google exposure it wouldn’t have had, I was impressed.

  • Naomi Dunford

    I think that for many bloggers, especially smaller ones, they seem to think that the purpose of Digg is to drive traffic. When I first made the front page, I got 20,000 hits in about 6 hours when I would have normally got 200 hits in a day. Pretty cool, but not really the point.

    The Digg model is to present content that people either “dig” – the old-fashioned way of saying, “Hey, that’s cool. I dig it” – or they don’t. That’s it. Yes/No. Dig/Don’t. So many people seem to think there’s more to the model. The inherent flaw of this system is that the entire of human socialization is based on a much more eloquently stated version of “do what the cool kids do.” Not only is it not a democracy, it’s often not a meritocracy either.

    In any social voting capacity – from choosing which bar you’ll go to tonight to electing the next president – the more friends you have, the more people you have on your side, the better you’ll fare. Such is life.

    My husband suggested an A-Listers portion of the site where the big guns could go and play. That way you end up with two separate playing fields. The thing is, though, I doubt the majority of heavy Digg users want that. They want to be able to go on their Bury Brigades and they want their best-friends-forever at Gizmodo to be the very bestest and most popular site ever.

  • Bud

    I think Digg has really moved away from the original idea that it was founded on. It seems like the only way you get a front page digg is if you are a bigger site or pay for diggs on a article.

    Its sad because it was founded on the idea of user picked content got to the front but they say only 60% of the digg user base is deciding what is on the front page and its all from same group of sites.

    Some one who is just starting a blog like me or has a growing blog is not going to be on the front page without spending a lot of money for people to digg a article for them.

  • Mitch at Money News

    It looks like there’s more and more of the bigger sites getting banned from Digg though, Copyblogger being of of the recent ones. I think people are starting to think exactly this already, and these sites will start disappearing from their pages.

    I have to agree with the above poster regarding the Digg in the SERPs too. A digg can gain ranks among the search engine, and outrank your own post on a topic. It also shows up in Google’s blogsearch listing under its relevant keywords within minutes of being dugg as well.

  • Daniel

    I agree with everyone saying Digg is not essential for building a successful site. There is one thing you can’t deny though, Digg is a very useful tool to get attention and backlinks to your best pieces.

  • The Digg Experiment

    We’ll see just how true it is that a small blogger can’t get onto the front page… http://thediggexperiment.blogspot.com

    Subscribe and help Digg if you want.

  • ~Dawn

    I prefer to watch the ‘new’ news story and also follow an rss of my own search queries that I find interesting. Forget the front page- I can see that on the net or in mainstream news 2 days from now.

  • Chris Thomson

    I run a small blog, and I got dugg the other day. I also feel because I run a smaller blog that more people criticize it, because they don’t know it as being a huge honest blog, just because they have never seen it before. I hate looking at Digg comments, they are just so mean. Anyway, the way I got dugg, is I twittered it. Once I twitter it, a few people digg it, I get in the “Hot in Apple” and “Hot in Technology” sections, where more people see the story. Then, after a while, I hit the front page.

    I do believe its completely unfair to smaller bloggers like myself, so I like to use Mixx.com, which provides more features than Digg, has a nicer community, and well, doesn’t require that many votes to get to the front. However, Mixx just doesn’t give you the thrill of “The Digg Effect” (which when you are hosted on (mt) you hardly feel at all, because your site stays online ;-).

  • Anthony Lawrence

    I feel Digg is completely unimportant to me. I even took the FeedBurner “Digg This!” flare off my site – I don’t WANT Diggs, don’t want Diggers – by and large they are just a bunch of useless flybys why read hastily in their urgency to do lots of “digging” today, and who are easily influenced by whatever the first Digg comment says – if that was inaccurate, most of the rest will barely skim and just go by whatever that person said.

    Don’t need ’em, don’t want ’em. All they do is tie up your bandwidth like a flock of locusts landing in a field.. and just as quickly, they are gone..

  • hellcola

    I have a new blog, and well, digg only helped me once, but it was hard to get diggs, so only one of my articles went to google’s first page, it brought me some visitors, it was good I have to say!

  • Basel

    Great post.
    Watch closely. Something is going to happen to Digg.

  • TrishaLyn

    I agree that it’s indeed difficult to see past the same old stuff on the Digg home page. I’d love to see more varied content, but as long as it’s all a big popularity contest, it’s not going to happen.

    I wonder if Digg could set up a different section that excludes the “power players” just for something new? That way those of us who want a more varied sampling of what else is out there can see some random blogs.

    But then again, maybe that’s what StumbleUpon is for :/

  • download

    What social networks show is that people control the information. But Digg is controlled by big brothers instead of small bloggers.

  • Mark@NewSuccessOnline

    Here’s a couple of quotes from other posts relating to this topic:

    “SEOMoz found that the top 100 Digg users control 56% of the homepage. More recent statistics show that the top 100 Digg users are responsible for 48% of the content that appears on the home page.”

    ‘“Sex With Robots? Not so far off says author“ After seeing this story get 524 Diggs in less than 24 hours, I now believe there is use for the term “flaming geek.””

    Has Digg been Dugg??

  • affiliate

    Small blog must try different ways to get more exposure and to build a community that will help them to get more vote in digg.
    Create high quality content, comment big player blogs, write different posts to different blogs will help small blog to win the digg game.
    Many times peope digg posts because they trust the major player.

  • monkeyleader

    Great post – as usual.

    I think 2008 could see the dramatic end of Digg to be honest. Given that it has now diluted its tech feed with random off-beat stuff I’m finding it harder and harder to useful information.

    At the end of the day even if I don’t use Digg to find something useful, the chances are someone else on my blog chain will have and I’ll pick it up there.

    Digg used to be my first port of call every morning – now I check it when I can be bothered, especially as if you leave it for any more than 24 hours you have around 1000 stories to get through, 998 of which are utter dross.

    Digg = Down.

    Nige

  • Suresh Chowhan

    “I believe this leaves small bloggers with only a few options, some of which Digg itself does not approve.”

    I am agree with this statement. Many people use Digg to generate traffic and build links.

  • Eden

    I get most of my traffic from Stumbleupon.com (speaking as a small blogger).

    I actually stopped using Digg over the past year or so. It just isn’t the same anymore. Stumbleupon feels more like a helpful community and I subscribe to about 100 more blogs now than I used to and that takes away the need for sites like Digg for the most part in my mind.

  • Rob

    I have several small “Fun Blogs” and by pure accident I had an article hit on DIGG, Google and another bookmark site. They drove me lots of traffic and I really did enjoy the ride. However my niches are so small and competitve I quickly got buried by the “Pros” on Digg and the other site. It never really bothered me since I just write for fun but I could see the frustration if someone was really trying to build traffic and readers.
    My blogs now get all of thier traffic from Google Searches and Stumblers. I compared the stats and found that readers who “Found” me where far far more likely to comeback than ones I got from Digg and BlogExplosion type sites. The tough and humbling thing to remember for a new rookie blog is having to wait 3 to 6 months for readers to actually find you.

  • DJ

    I think I have to agree too. I’ve never been able to get many Diggs. Even with articles that go crazy on Thoof or Stumble, I can never get beyond a few diggs. I’ve read that you need to get at least 20 diggs within the first few minutes to even be noticed.

    I think the reason people have been getting buried is because they are trying to get over this initial hump by having the same people digg their articles. They post an article and then have several people digg them. If the system were fairer to newer blogs, I doubt people would try to defeat their system.

  • Tibi Puiu

    Digg is a totalitarian portal nowadays, if the dudes upfront don’t find your content “worthy” they’ll bury you, although you may have a remarkable post on your hands. Don’t get me started on all the losers and haters out there. Sick and full of digg’s bullshit, stumbleupon and mixx are the future now 😀

  • Tony Adam

    I don’t think people have an “equal opportunity” per-say on Digg anymore, but I do feel that smaller blogs do have a chance of making it to the home page if they do have a large circle of friends on there and also know 1-2 of the top diggers.

    I am using mixx a lot more though to be honest…

  • Video Games

    You do have a valid point. If I only have 1000 readers on my blog, and 10% digg my story, I’m still no where near a blog with 1,000,000 readers and only 1% digg the story.

    So even if my content is better, I don’t stand a chance. The only alternative is to become a big blog. But then again, everyone wants that.

  • harknell

    Digg, like all of the other vote based submit sites has become a “game” system. Any system of that nature has logical rules that can be followed to “win”, and people have discovered those rules. As a result if you are not “playing” the game you have little chance to win. In this case playing requires you to have a team of people who follow a methodical pattern of adding diggs at a certain pace to your articles in order to drive them to the main page. This is essentially how all of the pay services that claim to get you on the main page work. It also helps if you have unpaid help in the case of having an already large audience who will vote you up anyway.

    The concept of democratic merit based exposure is a myth and is gone the second the rules are understood by those who wish to “play”.

  • Chip

    No they don’t.

    When I was a small blogger, a while ago (not that long, actually), I joined a network of reciprocal diggers. Not really correct, but that was the way they fought the system.

    We used to digg about 3 articles per day from each other, sometimes (not very often) our articles got the front page, but not the first result, spikes were somewhat smaller, but, overall, it was working. It helped us build some traffic.

  • Hafiz Dhanani

    As you mentioned there’s the option of buying Diggs. One could use Subvert and Profit to do this. Unfortunately, because of the Digg algorithm changes it could take more Diggs to make the front page. Then there’s also the question of the quality of traffic from Digg, although I think that’s a small issue.

  • Loup Dargent

    Even if you get votes for the story you’ve submitted to Digg, you can’t even be sure that it will show in the search! Happened a few times, the last time being my article/story regarding a campaign from a charity that wants to raise awareness about deaf and hard of hearing people’s situation. It hasn’t been buried, it got votes but doesn’t show in search results unless you click “include buried stories”… A very crafty way to make sure no-one reads it, methinks!

    Thank you Digg for your (lack of) kindness! 🙁

    So nope, small bloggers don’t stand a chance on Digg…

    Mixx is much more open minded, as long as you contribute
    stories/articles/stuff from other sources too and not just
    from your own sites/blogs.

    Oh yeah, and the Mixx groups are cool! 🙂

  • Sexy Social Marketing

    If most small bloggers wrote something of real interest, well researched, keyword optimized, blog optimized, something revolutionary, that no one had ever heard of before, that would help all other bloggers and bring any blogger that read the post better search rankings and more traffic, then…… They still wouldn’t make the front page either!

  • medyum

    I agree with you. About a year ago, I was a great fan of Digg, but they I found the stories boring because I already read them in my feed reader. Gradually, I stopped visiting Digg.

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