Deja Vu: The “Digg Effect” Is Back

digg-logo-200pxClose your eyes for a moment and go back with me to 2006.

Twitter was a newborn. Facebook wasn’t nearly the behemoth that it is today. Google+? Yeah, right. Social media was a fairly new term at the time, and back then it boiled down primarily to two websites: MySpace and Digg.

For publishers, it was really all about Digg. If your content hit the Digg home page, you’d see incredible traffic spikes (like the one a brand new Search Engine Land saw in December 2006). We called it the “Digg effect,” and many websites were knocked offline by the tidal wave of traffic the site would send.

The “Digg effect” eventually died as users abandoned the site, which was sold last year for a meager $500,000, then re-imagined and rebuilt by its new owners, Betaworks, in about six weeks.

Now open your eyes again. Because that’s what I had to do this week when I saw the “Digg effect” come back in full force, sending more traffic to a popular article I wrote than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn combined. Here’s the story….

A Google Glass Driving Ticket Story Goes Viral

I write regularly about Google Glass here on Marketing Land (and Search Engine Land), but I also have a site called Glass Almanac where I write about the non-marketing, non-search aspects of Glass.

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, I published an article about a traffic stop in the San Diego area involving a fellow Glass Explorer: California Woman Gets the First Ticket for Driving with Google Glass.

When I woke up 6-7 hours later, the article had gone viral. I think Techmeme picked it up first, and it spread from there:

And despite all of that, it was another site that sent the most referral traffic: Digg.


The article appeared on the Digg home page (shown above), and also on the Technology tag page (where you can still see it by scrolling down a bit).

As you can see, Digg sent more than 2x as many visits as Techmeme, and more than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn combined. The article didn’t hit the Reddit home page, however. I’m sure the analytics above would look a lot different if it had.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Digg was the top referral source for a viral article — the first time I’ve seen that happen in … I don’t know how long. Not months, years.

It’s not just this one instance, either. Our own analytics show that Digg is the No. 7 social referral source for Marketing Land so far in 2013, ahead of sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon. BuzzFeed noticed Digg’s resurrection last November. GigaOm wrote about it just a couple months ago, in a story where we learn that Digg was getting about three million unique visitors per month at the time.

So, don’t be surprised if you notice it, too, at some point.

The “Digg effect” is back.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Digg | Features & Analysis | Social Media Marketing | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Brian Clark

    The old Digg would have sent 5 to 10x that amount, but still … given how far the site fell, that’s gotta be encouraging.

  • Matt McGee

    For sure, Brian — it may never hit the levels of 2006-2009 (or whatever the time frame was), but still amazing to me to see it be the top referral source when so many other big sites were also sending traffic.

  • TreasurePen

    Betaworks have backed some big winners in the past (including Tweetdeck, Tumblr, bitly, etc) and it’s hard to see how they could go wrong by spending on $500k for the Digg brand name. If the evidence you have presented here is anything to go by, they are back with a bang. Even articles like this will have people scurrying over to it! Michael.

  • Ria Parish

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say “Digg is back”. In my opinion, with the growing popularity of Reddit, Digg is going to have a hard time competing with the value that first page of Reddit can bring to your site. Good for them though for getting back up on their feet at least.

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