The DiggBar Changes Things At Digg (Some for the Worse)

By Daniel Scocco

First things first, what is the DiggBar? It is basically an iframed toolbar that was released by Digg this week. The toolbar has two purposes: the first one is to serve as a URL shortener service. The second one is to allow users of the toolbar to interact with the Digg stories in a different way.

Now I must admit that the first part of the toolbar works well. It bring an interesting concept for URL shorteners: the fact that you don’t even need to visit Digg to use it. You just need to add digg.com/ in front of the URL of any web page, and the shortened link will be created on the fly. You can try with this page. Just go to the address bar in your browser and type digg.com/ in front of the URL (which will look like this: digg.com/http://www.dailyblogtips.com/…).

diggbar

OK now that you saw it works, please hit “Back” on your browser and return to my site!

This example brings us to the second part of the toolbar (the one where I am skeptical about). The toolbar now wraps both the pages that used the URL shortening service and the Digg stories inside an iframe. They even changed the way the front page links work. Just head to Digg.com and click on one of the stories on the front page. Until last week, upon clicking there you would go to the website in question. Not anymore. With the entrance of the toolbar, you are now redirected to a shortened URL of the Digg story, and the content is presented inside an iframe.

For Digg, this might be a brilliant move as it will keep all the traffic inside their site. For webmasters and bloggers, it might become quite annoying. Why? Here are some of the reasons:

1. The iframe wrapping technique is quite old on the Web. It started appearing on sites late in the 1990s, and a lot of people got angry with that. Some even called it content theft. Digg after all would be displaying your content inside their website. Some webmasters might be fine with that, but many are definitely not.

2. With the iframe technique, Digg will inevitably take some real estate from the websites that will appear there. Considering that such space is in the header, it also has a lot of value for advertisers. What if they start showing CPM ads there, on top of the content of other websites?

3. Since the front page links are not pointing to the original sites anymore, the SEO factor might be gone. That is, Digg is not sharing the link love with website owners anymore since its front page links are redirects to internal Digg URLs.

For the small blogger those might be small details, but when you consider big sites like The New York Times, the issue gets a new dimension.

It will be interesting to see how the webmaster community will react to this. Of course Digg has the right to shape its service in whatever way it wants, but I am not sure if Digg would be where it is today without the support of bloggers and webmasters from around the world.

Personally I will also stick with bit.ly for URL shortening. The URLs there are shorter, have embed stats, and, above all, they don’t iframe my content….



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25 Responses to “The DiggBar Changes Things At Digg (Some for the Worse)”

  • Eryaman hali yikama

    Good info thanks for sharing with us.Nice information, valuable and excellent, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need, thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here…

  • medyum

    The first time they pushed users away was when they banned a little plugin for firefox that enabled you to quickly digg your friend’s submissions and you could choose if you want to actually read the article or not, however you did your part in helping your friend promote a story.

  • Uli – Cool Products Design

    Yes.. yes.. yes.. This Digg “Revolution” has brought major changes for Digg users, including me. As we may know, that Digg serves love link for everyone who submit their stories. They’re do-followed. But, as the frame-things came up, I think that SEO advantage has been gone. Is it?

    Digg.. oh.. Digg

  • Jim Moran

    They are including a follow link to the destination page (it’s the actual link). Also, the DiggBar is noindexed, so I’m not sure if they’re trying to outrank the destination sites in SERPs.

    But overall, I hear you on link juice – the links on the bar to digg.com pages far outnumber those to the source pages.

  • Oggy

    @Jim Good point! So basically there is 0 chance of any Digg Linklove even if we get to the home page. Another Blackhole is created…

  • Jim Moran

    @Oggy – Nice catch on rel=canonical. I hadn’t looked for it, as I thought Google ignored that value across domains (e.g., the DiggBar could only pass the rel=cononical to a digg.com page, not to the source URL). Strange.

    From the Google Webmaster Blog: http://bit.ly/16fGBA

  • Oggy

    The new Digg URL shortener contains a canonical tag towards the original page. Additionally the Digg URL is noindex.

    How will this affect SEO? well, there is definately not as much value for a rel=canonical as there is to a direct link.

    When people point to the site, will they now link towards the original URL or to the digg one? most likely the latter. So forget linkbuilding through Linkbaity articles.

    Other than that, I find that Digg putting up ads and taking up foldover space is not really moral. This reminds me of Microsoft’s IE trying to insert ads on all webpages seen with their browsers back in the day.

  • ZK@WebTrafficROI.com

    Well this one was really expected and I was really surprised to see that Digg added this features after such a long time.

    Let me see I am going to try this one with my blog.

  • Adam Pieniazek

    I’ve always preferred reddit to digg and now we have yet another reason why reddit is superior. For one, reddit always drives traffic to my site, e.g. people actually click the link before voting, even if they downvote it. Also the comments are a million times better at reddit in terms of layout and content.

    Add in that you can subscribe/unsubscribe to comments, that the friend feature is weak (which is a positive, since you can’t build cliques to bump stories to the front page). Besides half the stories on digg show up on reddit first.

    To be fair, reddit also has a toolbar that keeps you within their site, though it seems they’re using javascript to run it, not iframes…

  • Vlad

    @Ryan

    I think I was misunderstood, well.. my fault.
    I really did that, but if you don’t digg your friend’s submissions, he won’t digg your stuff. I get your point, but sometimes you just have to digg an article just for the aforementioned reason. Anyway, usually when I liked an article, I took my time and wrote a comment.

  • Mr. I

    I do not use Digg much(actually, I did not since it for 3 months!) Toolbar or no toolbar, iFrames or no iFrames, it does not affect me!

    However, I tried to create a short URL for my blog and guess what, I am not getting any toolbar. I have enabled HeadSpace option to prevent my blog from loading in frames and hence, I get only blog, no toolbar, no frame! I wonder what they will do about this(anti-frame measures)! Any idea?

    Kicking SEO factor is not good in my opinion. Best way for WP users would be to install plugins that make links to such sites nofollow(digg etc. who use nofollow). There are 1 or 2 in WordPress plugin directory. 😉

  • Daniel Scocco

    @LGR, they were not no-followed.

  • LGR

    Aside from the fact that the iframe inflates Digg’s traffic stats, StumbleUpon does the same thing when you Stumble without the toolbar and use the web toolbar.

    As for the SEO value, I did not visit Digg often enough to notice, but I would guess that the links were nofollowed anyways so was there any link love flowing in the first place? Nothing has really changed there.

  • Nikhil

    It looks like stumble…

  • Ryan – LoveALaugh.com

    There’s a great example at (http://www.wolf-howl.com/socialmedia/abuse-diggbar-fun-profit/) for how you can stop the DiggBar from working on your site

    “put up some frame buster javascript code, this way when someone does hit the page your frame busts out. Want to see it in action check this url out:

    http://digg.com/http://searchengineland.com/george-w-bush-a-failure-once-again-according-to-google-10933

  • Sumesh

    I’m just wondering why publishers have all this complaints. Ads and ttracking scripts still load.
    Publishers are a small portion of Digg visitors, so chances are no one will care one bit about the changes. From a reader’s perspective, I even welcome the change.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Sam, another problem, yeah.

  • Rarst

    Ok, publisher’s culture sure has streak of that desire for Digg front page, spike of traffic and such.

    But taking in account total size of web, size of digg front page and that I personally don’t like quality and type of stuff that makes it high there – I find it very hard to get interested in resource and whatever changes they make.

    Yeah, not doing things I dislike will forever be the curse on my blog’s traffic. 🙂

  • Ryan – LoveALaugh.com

    @Vlad

    You seem to have missed the whole pupose of Digg. Your not suppose to Digg an article simply because it’s from a friends site, your digg it when you like it or you think others maybe able to get some kind of value from the article.

  • Sam Glover

    The real problem is that, when Digg is slow, the links no longer work, because you have to wait for Digg to load a new page. At the moment, Digg is all but unusable, and so are the links.

  • Vlad

    I think Digg is really pushing away users and this is the second time they do it. Personally, I do not want my content to be displayed on their website, it just doesn’t seem right. I think there might be some legal implications as well.

    The first time they pushed users away was when they banned a little plugin for firefox that enabled you to quickly digg your friend’s submissions and you could choose if you want to actually read the article or not, however you did your part in helping your friend promote a story.

    Being active on Digg for about one hour every day was all you needed to make things work. But then, Digg started banning people who used that plugin for reasons that are beyond my power of comprehension. Now, if you want to be really active and help out friends you need to spend hours on Digg which not all of us afford. Personally, I have better things to do than be active on Digg for 6 hours a day, so I quit.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Ryan,

    I believe the the source website will still see those visitors, because the iframe does not load the content itself. So your CPM ads should still see the impressions.

    That being said, Digg also seems to be counting those visitors as theirs, because there is a quantcast tracker in the source code of the toolbar.

  • Ryan – LoveALaugh.com

    Here’s my question.

    If when I click on a page from the Digg site I’m taken to the shortened url I.e. (http://digg.com/d1nr7x) instead of the full url (http://www.dailyblogtips.com/the-diggbar-changes-things-at-digg-some-for-the-worse/) will that not mean DailyBlogTips won’t count me as a visitor in analytics as they won’t know I’m visiting your site?

    So if a story gets to the front page and gets 20,000 page views will that not mean Digg will get that 20,000 page views and not DailyBlogTips.

    If so would that not piss of a lot of people/sites that have advertising on the site and charge by CPM?

  • Marco

    They do display ads in their “bar” -> Click on the “view comments” and you’ll see them.

    Also, the “random” button reminds me (a lot) of StumbleUpon.

    Don’t know if I like the change.

  • Ikki at SEO Blog

    Iframes? That’s not even SEO-friendly! This is a Facebook-like mistake: a lot of people will be really pissed off.

Comments are closed.