Authority Link Snowballing

In the past week I had two drastically different articles make the front page of Digg, with drastically different results.

The first one resulted in authority link snowballing, the second one did not.


Well, the first article was amazing, the second article was mediocre. The first article was written to attract attention, the second one wasn’t even written to get on Digg (it happened accidentally because a Digg poweruser just decided to submit some random opinion article).

What is authority link snowballing

I’m assuming that everyone knows the concept of snowballing. It’s the idea that a snowball gets bigger and faster the longer it rolls down a hill.

Well, if you’ve ever written a really good article, and it’s gotten a bit of exposure on a really popular blog, then you know what I’m talking about.

First, a major blog or website links to your article. Then, all the smaller blogs who use the bigger blog as a reference, link to both your article and the bigger blog’s article about your article (usually in the form of a Hat Tip or a Via).

If you monitor this dynamic in real-time with pMetrics you’ll see a cascading effect develop. First the major blogs, then some medium sized blogs who reference the major blogs, then the smaller blogs who reference both the medium sized blogs and the major blogs. Pretty soon you’ve got this sweet set of authority level backlinks.

But getting on the front page of Digg is not enough. Your article has to be good and interesting. And you have to be lucky enough to get picked up by a major news source. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does happen, it can be massively rewarding.

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11 thoughts on “Authority Link Snowballing

  1. Just wanted to point out, to Garri, that StumbleUpon got one of my sites mentioned on a major radio station this weekend. Along with a link from their website. I’m willing to bet that a handful of those new visitors will come back for more.

    It’s all part of the branding concept. StumbleUpon can certainly help get your property in front of the right eyeballs.

  2. Niche social media can be very effective, so long as the right people are monitoring it.

    Back to stumble, I have a site that receives over 30k visitors per week from Stumble. It has about 12 articles that have all gone viral at one time or another (over 30 votes on Stumble). And the nice thing is that some 6+ month old articles are still getting bursts of traffic on a weekly basis.

    Those bursts of traffic would be worthless, outside of the fact the fact that they almost always result in 1) comments 2) RSS growth 3) 3+ pvs per visit and 4) about .3 cpm

    Hell, I’ll take .3 cpm over nothing. And branding, repeat visitors, etc. are priceless.

  3. Ryan, I’ve had a few 2 day bursts since September, each time there are more visitors probably due to the increasing community over at SU. It’s usually over the course of a weekend, rarely during the week though it does spill over to Mondays.

    The definition of a conversion will be different to different people. If the goal is to obtain link building then SU fails miserably for me. If the goal is SU visitors clicking on some of the external links, which in my case they have, then that’s MY definition of a conversion. Other goals for me are RSS subs and social bookmarks.

    I must admit to a tiny increase in RSS subs from the SU ‘steaming’ session, which is OK and one can assume this will increment each my site gets ‘steamed’.

    On the subject of Digg, I haven’t bothered with it yet. That’s not to say I won’t in the future. Instead I’ve been experimenting with Treehugger’s Digg-like news site called – I’ve been posting our eco-related content over there and although there’s been a trickle of visitors it’s not mind-blowing. Early days maybe but may as well get into the habit of doing it now.

  4. Haha. Good to know that some people have their heads in the right place, Garri. I had never heard the term used in a sexual manner before… shows how naive I am.

  5. Funny, cuz I find that Stumble traffic converts relatively well. Not nearly as well as search, but well enough to justify it’s pursuit. Plus, if the article is really good and tightly niched, chances are an entire niched stumble community will find the article. Part of that community will be bloggers, and what do you know, but a few links.

    Garri, I wonder how often you get these 2 day bursts to make a judgement as to their conversion and link building potential.

  6. I didn’t have to join Hive yet I got a third of your proposed visitors over the course of 2 days by doing nothing other than have someone I didn’t know ‘stumble’ upon my site. The visitors didn’t do much apart from distort my stats 😉

    It sorta reminded me of the London tube (our subway transit) phenomenon known as ‘steaming’, whereby a bunch of hyped up rowdy youths rampage through carriages. After a while the ‘excitement’ dissipated and everything was back to normal.

    Snowballing has an unfortunate sexual connotation but I did get your point Ryan, if you walk around town with a dissected frog pinned to the front of your t-shirt, you’ll not only get noticed but you’ll most probably end up in a police cell and you may make the evening news 😉

  7. Of course, if you focused exclusively on my mention of Digg, you missed the main point which is: good content increases your chances of getting exposure on big blogs, which increases your chances of authority link snowballing.

    Digg just happens to be the easiest way to get your good content in front of the eyeballs that matter. But if you’re not into Digg, you could spend an entire day or two emailing important people about our content. You might get lucky and have one of them link back to you.

  8. Digg is still the place to go big and get noticed by important people.

    But sure, we’ll post more on reddit, stumble, delicious, etc.

    Stumble is very easy. Just join Hive, post a stumble request, and you’ve got 3,000 visitors to your site the next day.

  9. Andy Warhol famously talked of 15 minutes of fame but in the age of blogging that’s now down to a tenth of a second, if not shorter. Dugg today, well and truly buried not that long later. My feeling Darren is that Digg only works for certain types of content.

  10. Ryan you mention Digg alot in your posts, and whilst I am sure it refers tons of traffic to alot of niches, it’s pretty ineffective for others. I’d like to more posts with results using reddit, stumble, delicious and other social sites.

    Maybe a few experiments using Performancing so we can see the results for our self too would be good.

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