Earlier I came across an interesting question via Search Engine Journal asking does digg.com belong in Google results. The question revolves around Digg snippets and a link to an article appearing in search results instead of the actual article. Should Google include the Digg results? Is it fair to the original article that search traffic goes through Digg first?
The question was initially raised by Allen Stern in his post Why is Digg in Google search results?. Allen argues that Digg in essence only offers a link to the article so why should it appear in results over the full article. He further believes
content publishers actually lose the chance to see that visitor because the person has to click twice and even understand that they must do that.
William Burn offers a counterpoint in his own post on Why Digg is and should be in Google’s search results. William is of the opinion that sites will actually get more visitors because of Digg being included in search results not the other way around. In his own words
Digg.com is acting as a gateway to the great content which would (usually) have been lost in Google’s monolithic index, never to be found or stumbled upon by searchers.
William also isn’t buying the click twice argument since the link in Digg is intuitive enough and quite similar to how an article might show up in Google. It’s clear to read more you need to click through.
Why Not Let Digg Do The Work?
Given my recent knock at Digg not playing nice with SEOs you might be surprised to know I side with William here. In an ideal world the original articles would rank well and pull search traffic directly, but in truth many of the author sites won’t have the authority that a site like Digg has. I’d be willing to bet with enough authority the sites would outrank the Digg snippets, simply due to the extra on topic content that would be contained within the rest of the article.
The original articles may pull some long tail traffic, but they would undoubtedly not rank well for more competitive phrases. Having Digg rank for those terms will likely bring more traffic to the original article even if not everyone clicks through from the Digg link.
I agree not everyone will click. But if I’m not mistaken the snippet on Digg is going to be the first sentence or two from the article and if people aren’t clicking it’s because those first words didn’t capture the reader and make her want to read more. That’s a visitor who was going hit the back button right away. It really makes little difference if that person finds the article on Digg or the author’s site. A few words let them know they’re not interested.
Yes, some may not click through, but there are many more people who are at least given the chance to click because of the authority Digg carries. More authority leads to more search visibility, which leads to more eyeballs on those first words. Isn’t that really all the author is looking for, a chance to convince people to continue reading?
Taking it further there are those will want to read the article more because they first encountered it on Digg. The perception of value often carries more weight than the true value of a thing. Some will see the link on Digg as a vote or recommendation for the original article and continue reading. Those same people might not have clicked on the link from Google, since they are clicking due to the perceived value that comes with the apparent Digg citation.
I’ll argue, in fact, that this is exactly how social media optimization should work. You allow your content to travel to other sites so it can reach a different and perhaps wider audience. Whatever Digg may have it certainly has a big audience. The link and snippet on Digg are working for you to bing traffic to you that you might not be able to get otherwise. Additionally you stand the potential of getting traffic from other parts of the Digg site.
Should Digg Be Allowed To Continue The Discussion?
Allen has written another post asking Why does Digg allow comments? that raises a few more interesting questions. If you followed what happened, his post started getting dugg only to be later buried. The Search Engine Journal blog picked up the post and the subsequent counter point by William and ended up getting dugg and dugg and dugg. That’s hardly fair to Allen and William.
However Allen also adds that as far as the comments go the story is being discussed on Digg, SEJ, his own blog and William’s blog and the story doesn’t need to be discussed in so many places. Here I’ll disagree. That would be like saying that wherever a story appears first is the only place it should be discussed. It’s the nature of the web and blogs that information travels and travels fast.
Each new stop perhaps adds a little something new and brings new people into the discussion. Had the comments been limited to Allen’s and William’s blogs alone there would be less of them and the discussion becomes much more one sided and much less interesting.
Anywhere the discussion travels it brings Allen with it. Whether it’s on Search Engine Journal, Digg, or here it still calls attention to where the discussion started. And that discussion will send links and traffic back to both Allen and William.
I’ll be one of the first to say I think Digg has some problems and isn’t quite the open democratic community it likes to pretend it is, but getting dugg and having your words appear in search results via a page on Digg is social media optimization at it’s best. I’m all for Digg being in Google results. If anything it will help authors get more visitors and put them in front of a wider audience than would otherwise read their words.