The Digg Effect – The Aftermath

You may have noticed last week one particular post here received quite a bit of attention. On February 6th, Five Things To Do With A PC When You Have No Internet Connection was submitted to Digg. I didn’t submit the story, but I did notice a small influx of traffic coming that afternoon and evening. When I checked my stats at around 3 a.m. on the 7th, there were over 17,000 referrals from Digg. The piece had been made popular at shortly after midnight CST. So I checked Digg and saw that the story had over 500 Diggs. The odyssey had begun.

First, let me say that when you first see the traffic flooding in from Digg that it’s hard not to simply sit there and keep refreshing your stats. Then it is hard not to keep refreshing over at Digg to watch the Digg number increase. And the comments begin flooding in, and I do mean that it is a flood, both at Digg and at the blog.

Much has been written lately about the quality of Digg traffic and what happens after, these are my observations on the Digg Effect.

The first thing I noticed was that the Digg traffic almost immediately propelled the blog to the front page of WordPress.com for most popular site of the day, most popular post and fastest growing blog. More traffic.

Second was that the Digg visitor comments were generally polite, and after reading some of the experiences written by others, I was expecting to get slammed for the blog template, content quality, etc.

Then I noticed the pingbacks, and the links from other blogs and this was at 4 a.m.

Other news aggregators started sending referrals and then del.icio.us traffic started coming in and then traffic from places like monitor.hr, popurls.com and Google reader. This is a modest little blog, two-three hundred uniques a day.

Emails started arriving, asking to translate the post into other languages. requesting typo fixes for comments, introductions, etc. The Digg count kept climbing. I was ecstatic when the Diggs topped one thousand.

Still wasn’t 9 a.m. By nine a.m. the post had 72 comments at the blog and around 90 at Digg.

Later, the story was submitted to Lifehacker, picked up by Gizmodo, Netvibes was sending traffic, poil.ca, and on and on. Backlinks were still piling up. Currently, the little article has garnered 2057 Diggs.

Quite a lot has been written about the quality of Digg traffic, most of it not positive. Here are my thoughts;

First, I need to dispense with the word ‘traffic’, it is real people showing up, not bots. These people are just like you and I, they have diverse interests and they use the Web. They like to be heard and they aren’t afraid to voice their opinions.

Here’s what I noticed.

Digg visitors are focused on the article at hand, they don’t click around much. That post got 73,169 views that day. The next most popular post received 69. Yep, 69.

What about outbound clicks? Here are the top 10 outbound clicks for that day:

enginepuller.com/engines/114/Thomas%2… 466
feeds.feedburner.com/SpeakingFreely 106
catb.org/hacker-emblem 104
blogburst.com 23
home-office-guide.com 20
newstons.wordpress.com/2007/02/07/6-t… 19
10e20.com 18
learningcenter.sony.us/assets/itpd/re… 17
wolf-howl.com 17
seo-theory.blogspot.com 16

The EnginePuller site is linked from a comment on the post. That next stat is interesting, that’s the subscription button for my feed. Compare that to the Google Reader stat for that day: google.com/reader/view 788

What about after the Digg visitors start tapering off?

Here’s the total referral info since the 7th.

75,865 on the 7th

20,503 on the 8th

3,815 on the 9th.

Google reader for the 8th, google.com/reader/view 753

Google Reader For the 9th, google.com/reader/view 124

Alexa’s rather humorous chart: http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?q=speakingfreely.wordpress.com&url=speakingfreely.wordpress.com

I haven’t finished looking at backlink data, but I do know that I stopped counting at over 300 hundred and that the number of backlinks is still climbing.

Is there value in getting Dugg? Certainly is. Some of that value resides in the experience itself but the most tangible value is the increase in exposure and the connections that are made. I’m still trading emails with people that I would never have met, I’m finding blogs that have useful information that I may have never seen and virtually meeting the people that write those blogs.

What have a learned about Digg visitors? They stay pretty focused on the reason they arrived, they like to comment and while they may not read many other posts on the site, they certainly read the article they came to read. Do some of them miss the point or disagree with what you wrote? Sure, but that happens at every forum I’ve ever participated in and in every conversation that has more than one person talking. ; )

If nearly 75,000 people show up in one place, there’s bound to be some differences of opinion and a little chaos. The experience is certainly worthwhile though.

If anyone would like to see more comprehensive stats, shoot me an email and I’ll send what I have.

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  1. While you hit the jackpot with that one and most people should expect more modest results I think the power of SMO becomes obvious. Target and plan your content around these events get a few moderately successful ones over a few months and you’ll be sitting on nice bunch of natural deep backlinks.

  2. DG

    Danke. And yeah Michael, I figured those results were atypical. Fun, but atypical. ; )

  3. I even picked up a few hits from my couple of comments in that post :)

  4. Interesting numbers. :)

    Your article was helpful to me Not only did I enjoy reading your post as well as the comments; your article led me to another and then another – all with various educational yet entertaining posts.

    I do appreciate the blogs that I can learn something from. So, thank you again!

  5. Just want to say congrats, and that you blog very, very well, and I hope more of your posts get Dugg.

  6. I haven’t been around much, so I had to go back and read that entry and its comments. They were pretty funny. All those people telling you to read a book – you’ve probably read more books in the past two weeks than most of them have in the past year.

    By the way, air cans, not only good for cleaning pet hair out of the computer, they’re good for clearing cats out of a room when they’re being pesty.

    Your entry reminded me…I need to clean out the computer *and* clean up my bookmarks. But, not until I lose my connection, which usually makes me want to cry first. Then, I’ll remember your tips. Hmm, maybe I should print them out. I might forget what they were, and by the time I’m able to get back online, well, I’ll have a connection and forget all about doing anything productive that doesn’t involve the internet.

    Okay, back to work. On the internet, of all things. Damn, whodathunkit.

  7. DG

    Thanks Ashok, I find myself over at your blog quite a bit now, thought provoking stuff you write. Which usually means I can’t manage time to comment until the hour gets late.

    Mckatie, I agree with you, the most valuable part of the experience was finding all those other people with interesting blogs and the wealth of information that is available out there.

    Flippy! I always used a squirt gun for the cats. Now the gentle giant known as Ransom just kicks the cat outdoors. He’s never offered to bite the cat, but he seems to love boxing the cat around with his huge paws. Must be named Boxers for a reason. ; ) Books? Me? Yeah, I read a little. Even had a review of the Sony Reader on the blog while all those folks were telling me to read a book. It’s doubtful that I’ll ever get another Digg quite like that one, but it was fun.

  8. DG

    I was pretty pleased to see that today. I’ve seen that little article in nine different languages now, and four alphabets. The whole Digg thing has been a great experience.

  1. 1 Wired and Annalee Newitz Drop the Ball - Sugarrae

    […] Annalee has not read many case studies on the “value” of Digg (or most social marketing) traffic. Visitors, yes. Catapult a story to the top of Google search? […]

  2. 2 Wired and Annalee Newitz Drop the Ball - Sugarrae

    […] Annalee has not read many case studies on the “value” of Digg (or most social marketing) traffic. Visitors, yes. Catapult a story to the top of Google search? […]




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