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Thursday, 16 April 2009 04:06

Diffusing the DiggBar traffic timebomb

Ever since Digg introduced the DiggBar toolbar at the start of the month it has come under fire for framing your site content with a custom Digg URL. Has Digg done enough with the latest update to diffuse the toolbar traffic timebomb?

Digg founder Kevin Rose was hopeful that DiggBar would be a useful tool to the site discovery community by allowing users to Digg directly on the destination site, share those stories using a TinyURL-alike shortened link on Twitter, bring comments on to the story page and allow for the discovery of related content in the style of StumbleUpon.

Of course, what he got was a shedload of complaints. At the heart of much of the hostility was the notion that far from creating traffic for online content providers it was actually stealing traffic.

The reasoning behind this argument being that when someone visits your site courtesy of a Dugg link, the DiggBar actually wraps that content, that site, in a custom Digg URL as well as simply framing the page with the toolbar itself.

If you have ever used Google Images to view a web-based photo then you will know the kind of framing we are talking about here. The concern of the vocal minority was that Digg was simply cooking up a whole lot more traffic for itself.

Digg spokesperson John Quinn reckons that in the first week Digg saw "a 20% lift in unique visitors" and, importantly, that "many content providers have experienced similar traffic bumps."

Quinn also wanted to put those traffic stealing allegation to bed, saying "We took several steps to ensure that search engines continue to count the original source, versus registering the DiggBar as new content. We include only links to the source URLs on Digg pages to allow spiders to see the unmodified links to source sites."

What's more, Comscore and Nielson have both confirmed that publisher traffic statistics are not impacted by DiggBar. Yet still the debate raged, so much so that Digg has been forced into making another official statement.

What does Digg have to say to diffuse the DiggBar traffic timebomb once and for all? Find out on page 2 where all will be revealed...


In the new posting made at 9am on the 15th April, John Quinn acknowledges that Digg has "received valuable feedback from the Digg community, publishers, SEO industry experts and Google."

With some 45 percent of all Digging activity now coming via the DiggBar, it has certainly been a success. Quinn reckons that some 25 percent of all DiggBar users have discovered new content they wouldn't have spotted otherwise courtesy of the related search feature.

"Along with all of the positive feedback and results, we’ve also heard your concerns that we take seriously and want to address quickly" Quinn admits, however, adding "We are rolling out a few key changes over the next week or so."

These changes would appear to revolve around a new way to handle those Digg short URLs which means that all anonymous users, on or off Digg, will be taken directly to content via a permanent 301 redirect without the toolbar.

Logged in users, who can always opt out of DiggBar use, will continue to see the DiggBar.

The DiggBar will soon only be visible to logged in users, with the opt out process being made a lot more obvious.

"These changes ensure that content providers receive full search engine ‘juice’ or credit for all links on and off Digg" Quinn says "They also ensure that Digg short URLs won’t appear in the indexes of any major search engines."

Quinn says he is hopeful that the changes will be pushed out live next week, and promises further additional enhancements and updates soon.

So, does this diffuse the DiggBar timebomb for you? Let us know via our user comment feature.



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