Analyzing the Digg Effect to Write Better Articles

Last week, Performancing’s article entitled 10 Articles All Bloggers Should Read (at least once) got over 1,000 Diggs and made it onto the front page for almost an entire day. For those of you who happened to be around, a bunch of us had some geeky fun monitoring the Digg in real time.

But that’s not where the real value of a Digg lies. The real value lies in two effects: 1) Establishment of authority and 2) Backlinks.

I didn’t realize I was filling such a big need at the time of writing it, but my meta-article on blogging seems to have become an overnight, authoritative resource for new bloggers. From a preliminary investigation, the article is already getting linked to from the far ends of the blogosphere.

So what can we learn from this example of the Digg Effect? I see a clear lesson. The lesson is this: fill a real need and people will eat it up. Think about how many new bloggers are starting each day. Think about all the blog owners hiring new bloggers each day. Well, I did think about these things because it was starting to drag on my daily responsibilities. Having to constantly summarize the basics of blogging and provide tips for improving headlines was detracting from my more important work in SEO. So I put a list together for myself to fill a need. Then I realized that there are probably others with the same need. Turns out there were lots of them.

With all the junk information floating around the internet, many people have grown weary from the search for good information. Since Google doesn’t give people the information they really want anymore, one of the fundamental tasks for the blogger is to organize and serve good information. This makes you an authority.

Put together useful lists of resource articles for a broad audience and you’ll soon find that your site is becoming an authority. When people recognize it as an authority, you are going to acquire some killer backlinks.

So here’s what I learned from the Performancing Digg: not all Diggs are created equal. I’ve gotten on the front page before and only acquired 7 or 8 backlinks and no residual traffic. But if you make something that a large number of people really need, a timeless resource, it only takes a little nudging;-) and your article is an overnight authority (with lots of residual benefit).

6 thoughts on “Analyzing the Digg Effect to Write Better Articles

  1. Ryan, did you happen to arrange any Doggs in advance to help kick start the attention on the front page. I know its hard sometimes to get noticed from the get go. Also what time of day did you post and get the first Digg. I think that info is important.

  2. I’ll take a swing at it. It is a tall order but I’ll see what I can put together. I suspect that I might be able to kick off the conversation with many of the prerequisites, but not sure I can cover all of them. I will bounce it around the internal group for suggestions after I’ve got an outline up and running.

    Edit So far I have a 12 step program, will continue to put some other things together.

  3. Brett,
    Would you be willing to write an article on “how to make your site an authority”? As you well know, my Dog Guide site is currently not viewed as an authority site and it is suffering because of that. What steps could I take to make Google see it as an authority site?

  4. The article does not stand alone, it stands within the authority of the Performancing site. There are several companies for example that came out with phones that have almost the same functionality, visual appeal and interface as the iPhone but it was Apple’s credibility/authority that drove the iPhone up. (Of course the thing appears to be a bit of a dud right now, so Apple has to react and turn their lemon into a golden apple after the fact or else they risk losing credibility and authority.)

    I’d still posit that if that article had been on any other site it would not have seen the Digg success. In fact, I’m confident that if it had been on a lesser site, someone would have snarfed most of the content, and ran it on a site with more authority, submitted it to Digg under a new digg and pulled in all of those Diggs to the copycat site with more authority. That type of thing happens every day on Digg and is part of the problem with Digg.

    Original ideas do not necessarily get credit if they are ‘out-classed’ by sites with more authority.

    Its kind of like that fedex commercial where the guy suggests a great idea to save money (with fedex). Everyone ignores him and the next guy says the same exact thing but uses some more body language and everyone say “Oh yeah, that’s a great idea.”

  5. You’re thinking about authority on a site-wide basis. I’m thinking of authority in terms of resources. Now, that article could quite well become a classic for new bloggers.

  6. Performancing as a site already had the authority. The big digg I would posit did not increase or cement your authority. Your authority cemented the slightly better than average chance for a big digg with a good article.

    That authority combined with the front page effect is probably what drove the back links.

    That article could have been written on a lot of other sites, but Performancing’s credibility is a big part of what drove it to the top as opposed to drawing the comment of “spammer” on digg, which is what happens to a lot of sites that do not have this level of authority yet.

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