The Digg Effect

February 19th, 2007 by Chris

My literature site made it to the frontpages of both Digg and this weekend. I know there is always a lot of speculation about what that kind of exposure that can give you so I thought I’d sum things up for everyone.

Let me say that I never actually saw my site on those pages. I know it was on those pages at one point from my traffic logs, but I cannot say if it was at the top of the page or the bottom of the page. Specifically to too I know it wasn’t on the frontpage very long.

It all started Friday night with Digg. The listing quickly gained votes and sometime Friday night was featured on Digg’s homepage. I however did not notice. I do not check my stat logs daily, it simply takes too long. I rely on Adsense to inform me of traffic spikes. The problem with this approach is that my traffic naturally winds down on Friday nights for the weekend. Also my site’s traffic is large enough that a few thousand extra uniques does not create that large of an abnormality. So I didn’t notice. It was only later when someone reported my position that I later looked back and discovered this traffic. In anycase, being on Digg’s homepage netted me a total of 3,168 uniques. Additionally I received 1,411 uniques from the second page of news and 2,033 from the entry page itself. Adding in all the other minor locations I received 10,288 uniques from Digg over the course of the weekend.

On Saturday all the Digg attention had already started to snowball and spill over to For at least a few hours, though certainly for a brief time, I scored a place on’s homepage and that got me 652 uniques. Other related pages brought my total from them up to 958 uniques.

In looking through my stats I also realized I missed that I made it to the frontpage of back in 2006. That placement got me 3,379 uniques, and I’m not sure how long it lasted.

For contrast, when USA Today picked my site as one of their “Hot Sites” I received 1500 uniques the first day from their website (with tapering volume after that).

Incoming Links
While I drool at the thought of Googlebot crawling Digg & at the moment when I was on their homepage and crediting me with such a link. I do not think that is horribly likely. However there will still be substantion benefit in the incoming link realm as most of Digg &’s audiences are likely content creators, either through blogging or community participation and they’ll undoubtedly be peppering my link in all sorts of places. Additionally there is the possibility of a media source such as a magazine or newspaper doing a story and plopping a link down. All told a very positive experience in the link category.

Page Views Per Visitor

How valuable was the traffic really, did the people stay and look around or hit the back button? Unfortunately most of the traffic was to a poor landing page, as soon as I noticed that I put a message at the top of the page directing people to what is the better location. Here is how the sites stack up in the page views per visitor category, I’ve included a few others for comparison.

digg 2.42
wikipedia 3.44
google 4.32 2.59
reddit 1.92

Do they click on ads?

Often you’ll hear discussion that while the traffic from social media sites is strong, and can build link popularity with a snowball effect, you will not make any direct revenue from such people. As I said above this really wasn’t a huge spike for me, so statistically speaking even on Friday night the Digg traffic was only a small portion of total traffic. As such it is hard to provide an accurate measurement of ad CTR for Digg visitors specifically. That being said, judge the data as you wish.

Friday the 16th my CTR for the first Adsense unit the Digg visitors would have seen was 0.59%. One week prior, Friday the 9th, it was 0.78%. That is fairly substantial. So one could say that Digg users are less likely to click on ads. However to be fair, the ads weren’t targetted well to Digg users, they were targetted to people working on homework for school or doing academic research. For all I know the Digg users might have clicked on the ads had they been better targeted to the Digg demographic.

So there you have it…

Special thanks to Google Analytics for providing the stats (really a good service). If I notice any snowballs or tangent traffic benefits I’ll be sure to post a follow-up.

6/30/2007, a different site made scored with both sites again, read more.

2 Responses to “The Digg Effect”

  1. Agua  Says:

    Thanks for sharing this Chris – I’ve always wondered what kind, and what volume of traffic these social bookmarking sites send – interesting read

  2. Ken Barbalace  Says:

    Very interesting. This tells me that the “Digg effect” isn’t that server overloading event people claim. I personally would never notice a traffic spike like you reported unless I looked at my referral logs and there would be no way for me to determine if it had an impact on my CTR.

    So I guess while getting to the front page of Digg would be cool, I don’t see it as the end all be all objective for traffic generation.

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