I’ve read in some places where Digg has actually helped certain bloggers achieve Page 1 listings in Google, both at Digg and on their blog. I concede that this is possible, but why? Furthermore, the question of the hour is, can this happen with other bookmarking sites?
I’m not sure that I buy that Google treats Digg differently than other social bookmarking sites for search engine optimization and link building. It may offer some relevance to Digg due to its age factor and optimization practices, but if other social bookmarking sites were in equal in both regards then they’d enjoy the same favored status. I think the issue is with Google’s algorithms. But what exactly is “the issue”?
I think it’s two things: The inbound link factor and the social voting factor.
First, let’s talk about links as we’ve done for the past few blog posts. Digg, like any other social bookmarking site, provides you with a link back to your website any time you have material bookmarked there. That happens whether you bookmark it or someone else does. The power of Digg links has to do with Digg’s own authority and age. It gets a lot of traffic and usage and people have come to rely on it. That’s a big plus in Google’s eyes. Relevance is somewhat helpful at Digg if your bookmarks land in the right category, but it’s not a niche site so relevance in the more-often-spoken manner isn’t the issue.
Now, let’s get on with the social aspect of Digg. There are two aspects to social voting on Digg – the voting and comments. Comments add new content to any bookmark thread – just as it does in a forum or a blog post. Every time a new comment is added to a Digg, that translates into more content for that page and therefore could mean higher search rankings. But what about the voting? I think, personally, that if you get a lot of votes on a particular Digg story then that, coupled with comments, will lead to higher rankings. But the ranking is for the Digg, not your site.
Ah! But here’s the rub. When your Digg rises in rankings due to the social voting factors, that also increases that thread’s individual authority. The authority for the individual thread rises above Digg’s already established sitewide authority, passing on even greater link juice to your blog or website. BTW, Digg’s links are all dofollow links (you knew that, right?). If your blog post is getting a lot of comments and traffic, and inbound links, then that in addition to Digg’s authority link (based on age and social voting) will push your blog or website up in the rankings too. But can this happen with other social bookmarking sites?
I think in time we will see other sites with similar reputations. StumbleUpon could get there. Delicious has that potential, though I’m not sure why we don’t read more about Delicious in the same way as Digg. SU, however, is good for traffic so if you get a go stumble in addition to a good Digg then you might even do better in the SERPs if your SU traffic isn’t high bounce traffic. Whether or not other social bookmarking sites will ever achieve the reputation that Digg has will depend on time. Age is a big factor for link building and search engine optimization success.