A new URL shortener from Digg wraps your website in a Digg frame instead of taking users directly to your website. This results in a number of obstacles for the website owner.
Digg is not alone in utilizing this process. A platform allowing companies to manage Twitter profiles, HootSuite, uses ow.ly to shorten URL’s in much the same method. StumbleUpon will soon release su.pr which may also make use of the same frame-wrapping tactics.
Let’s go through some of the obstacles presented by these frame-wrapping methods:
First, let’s look at analytics as they perhaps take the biggest hit. Because digg.com’s URL shortener always wraps your site in a digg.com frame, it always appears that it is digg.com requesting your site. All traffic is cloaked making it impossible to see where it is originally coming from.
Therefore whenever digg.com’s URL shortener is used, no matter if it actually coming from Twitter.com, a rival’s site, an affiliate or Digg itself, many analytic solutions will always credit digg.com as the referring site.
It may even get more complicated if your social media campaign uses referrals from social sites as a metric. Through this route it can appear like digg.com is driving traffic to your site without your site ever even being submitted to digg.com.
Affiliates will also have an interesting role when this frame-wrapping technique is utilized. Most affiliates are prohibited by affiliate terms and conditions from frame-wrapping merchant sites in order to protect brands.
Since a frame-based URL shortener doesn’t always show the URL, or the full URL, of the site being pointed to, that site domain will end up hidden. For example, HootSuite’s URL shortener, ow.ly, link for bigmouthmedia shows the URL as http://www.zmogo… with the remainder of the address hidden.
So, as the URL’s become further muddled, the tracking codes of the affiliates may end up being passed around when the shortened URL is shared. It then becomes possible when the next gen URL shortener is used in combination with a site like digg.com that a large amount of traffic being driven to your site would benefit the affiliate.
It is important to point out that many affiliate tracking forms will be instantly visible if the URL shortener shows any of the full or long URL.
And next, SEO campaigns will also be affected negatively by the frame-wrapping URL shorteners. The elite first gen URL shorteners assign a 301 redirect from themselves to the initial “long” URL.
In the case where a link from a trusted site to another site counts as a vote from the trusted site to the other then the 301 redirect safeguards that as much of the vote passes through to the intended site as possible from the URL shortener. In circumstances such as this Google requests that 301 redirects be used.
Such is not the case when the frame-wrapping URL shorteners are utilized. The link’s worth is not passed through to the target site in this situation. The worth of the link remains with the URL shortener.
So what now for the website owner and/or internet marketer… complain about it? Seems like there are 2 options: find a way to adapt, or boycott those that implement shady wrappers.
Turning off the DiggBar:
There are two ways in which you can disable the Digg Toolbar. Go to your settings page and select “Never Show Diggbar for external links”.
The above preference is only available for people who are members of Digg. If you don’t have an account at Digg, open this page and hover your mouse between the “close” button and the feedback button on the Digg toolbar. Click the drop-down arrow and select “Always hide the toolbar”.
For an in-depth analysis of the Digg Toolbar, see: The Digg Toolbar Exposed; What’s in the code?
WordPress plug-in to block the Digg Toolbar
And it is so simple. There is nothing to it! I always thought Twitter was a website dedicated to nothing but a Facebook-style status update marquee, and I turned out to be right. I also thought it was a dull concept, but this is where I was completely wrong.
Ok, so I’m a little late to this whole Twitter thing. The website has been going for years and is now receiving a lot of attention from the mainstream media (a few nods on hip TV shows and the flocks of reporters wetting themselves over being an early adapter to the new Internet fad). 90% of you reading this probably have had a Twitter account for awhile now and have melded it into your daily lifestyle.
I can already see who the Twitterheads are on my follower/following lists, they’re filling up my tweet pages with one-liners. It’s great that upon creating my account I was able to add in contacts from various other networks. I felt right at home as soon as I was logged in for the first time, welcomed by many familiar faces and a veritable cornucopia of thoughts, ideas, and other random content. Why did I hold out for so long before joining?
This is just another one of those Web 2.0 creations that is changing the way the Internet works. We’re sharing what we find interesting with our tweets. We’re discovering new information and link destinations through the tweets of others. I’ve already found some new music, a few cool websites, and a great place to get a haircut through Twitter. We’re communicating with each other on a completely different level than we were just a few years ago. It’s all more streamlined and somehow more personal.
But let’s get back to the simplicity factor, it’s true…there is almost nothing here. My profile, all profiles are minuscule compared to most any other social network or web forum out there. Other than your tweets, the only aspects of yourself the world gets to see is your name, a tiny picture, and a bio that condenses the entirety of yourself into a single line. The tweets themselves can be no longer than your average post-it note.
All of that simplicity is just a veil though, hiding a social network that is as deep and addictive as any other. Privacy is thrown out the window as people write on twitter to share their lives and promote themselves and the creativity and beauty they find in their everyday lives. Looking at the tweets of my friends, of celebrities, of random people…it’s all a mash up of lives that are expressed in what I can only call art. It’s beautiful in its own deranged, monotonous, and creative way.
Am I getting a little too reflective for you? I see something with Twitter that I don’t with MySpace, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, blogs, etc.. In Twitter’s simplicity and restriction to expression, we are creating something unique and interesting that the world hasn’t seen before. I’ll leave it at that and let you ponder on those thoughts.
I’ve been a Twitter user for under two hours and I think I may already be addicted (between this and StumbleUpon, I don’t know when I’ll get my writing done!). The Twitterverse is still new to me and there may still be some secrets left to explore; I might be compelled to do a followup article.
As many people have tried to figure out, the secret behind Digg’s Algorithm remains to this day a conundrum, a mystery, a secret clouded in obfuscation. Some great thinkers have of recent date conjured up the belief that it might not be a secret at all, and that for all the investigation, maybe a magic formula doesn’t really exist, at all. Perhaps it’s a great hoax, like the Wizard of Oz, a case of smoke and mirrors a pretense held up to keep to the world in the dark, when in actuality it’s just someone assigned to the role of wizard who makes decisions frivolously and on a whim with each and every new entry that is fed into the Digg news bank.
For those of you who are not aware, Digg is a social bookmarking website that offers participants (aka diggers) a way to discover and share content from anywhere on the Internet, by submitting links and stories where other diggers can vote the content up or down in a process respectively called digging and burying. Tens of thousands of stories are submitted daily, but only the most Dugg stories ever appear on the front page. So the obvious goal for diggers is to continuously make attempts at grasping at the illusive gold ring, every time they hop on the Digg-go-round. With its immense popularity, it has prompted the creation of other social networking sites like StumbleUpon, Reddit, Techorati and others to evolve based on a similar premise.
Other lines of algorithm speculation include those proposed by Rand Fishkin, euphemistically referred to as the Wizard of Moz, but who is in actuality the CEO and Founder of SEOmoz, a hub for search marketers worldwide that provides education, tools and resources to help search engine optimization companies improve their skills.
Fishkin believes that even though Digg isn’t as widely used as Google (whose complex algorithm is another story altogether), it has become highly sophisticated in mixing and blending a unique mixture of ingredients into their algorithmic stew!
He, like others, assesses the obvious; i.e. voting in and of itself is the dominant component. The theory being: if one votes for one article more than others, the more popular story should succeed in the final analysis, similar to our recent presidential election (unless of course the Electoral College thinks differently, but that’s another Wizard of Oz story).
Differing from a mere popularity contest, Digg has taken into consideration a factor that is missing in general elections, and that is timing. Any number of votes in a very short period (if not manipulative) is stronger than the same number of votes over a longer time span. The speed of voting is given more weight, based on the idea that a buzz has been created and excited the digerati to gravitate toward the story quickly.
Also if a low number of stories have recently made the front page in a given category (as all submissions have to note content type), the story is likely to get on top with fewer votes; whereas if there is a high number of recent submissions, the opposite may be true. Also the time of day is a trigger. If 100s of people all tag the same item at 12 midnight, this might be a disqualifying factor and Digg red flag the submission.
The idea of manipulation is another dynamic that Digg is known to weigh. They look at the domain from whence the link came. Has it had content submitted previously? Did that content receive votes, get marked as spam or make the front page? And has the domain been automatically flagged for being manipulative?
Then you have the consideration as to the profile of the submitters and voters. Have they submitted or voted on high quality stories in the past? Or are they simply voting for their own work? Also how many friends do they have? Diggers with more friends can obviously sway a vote. And how long have they been diggers. New registrants might be spammers.
Similar to the Wizard of Oz parody video shown above, the truth of the matter is there is some manual intervention. Many Digg users may not realize it, but all the stories to hit the front page are virtually scrutinized by the Digg editorial staff that may or may not pull a story if they determine the content is too marketing-focused, driven by marketing dollars or has a marketing agenda.
The source of the votes is also thought to be a significant algorithmic element. If the same IP address or IP block appears for one submission, or if an abnormally high number of folks came via a certain geographic region to a Digg page (for example, with no referring URL) these methods could possibly signifying a mass email or IM link. In these instances, Digg might be discounting the value of those votes.
Less of a factor is the “number of views” to the actual Digg ratio. Nonetheless, an abnormally high ratio of views with few diggs could mean that people aren’t really fans of the content that they have given it some consideration, but don’t believe in it enough to spend the time and effort to vote for it.
Matt Asay, GM for Alfresco, a leading open source enterprise content management firm notes that in his interviews with Rami Taibah, a veritable Digg rock star, with over a 100-front page stories on Digg have offered up a few nuggets of wisdom for diggers. Rabitha believes that Digg wants a diversity of people to digg up a post, and that if you continually rely on your same crew of diggers, your future diggs will start to slide in the ratings. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt, according to Asay that Taibah “has over 2,500-plus followers (to rely on), which means that he has a ready-made audience of fans that tend to like the things he Diggs, but who’s counting?”
Finally, why not explore what Digg has to say about its own secret formula. Getting it from the horse’s mouth, Anton Kast, with the inscrutable title of Lead Scientist (shades of the Wizard again) is quick to admit that tweaking the Digg algorithm is a continuous work in progress. But he also states that Digg has “made a few notable enhancements to (their) promotional algorithm recently, to ensure that all Diggers have a fair chance at getting their submitted stories promoted to the homepage,”
And with that definitive and enigmatic statement posted to Digg’s blog, February 12, 2009, Kast quietly slips back behind the veiled secret curtain where only the Oz of Digg can hide well, maybe with some assistance of one MC Hammer! Because Digg is an enigma, and like all enigmas, as Hammer prophetically chants: “U can’t touch this!”
Junoba, the social bookmarking search engine, makes finding popular links on your favourite bookmarking sites even easier.
On the face of it, Junoba looks just like any other search engine: it has a simple, clutter-free design with a logo, a few words about its purpose, and a search field. It is a no-frills search engine, and in this respect is much like Google or any other search service.
But what differentiates Junoba from many other search engines available on the web is that it is refined specifically for the purpose of searching through social bookmarking sites, such as Digg, Reddit, Fark, Stumbleupon, and others, for popular links uploaded by users.
Junoba works the same as any other popular search engine: just type in a few words about what you want to find, and away you go. The difference is that instead of giving you everything on the Internet, it brings you a specialized list of links form the most popular social bookmarking sites. You can even specify your searches to pin down results from particular bookmarking sites.
For example: (Warning: SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT!) If one was to search for, oh, I don’t know, “new year linux” one might find my article on Digg as the first result. (Hooray, I’ve garnered an incredibly small amount of attention in the vast and expansive wasteland that is the Internet! Oh God I’m so lonely…)
I find that as the popularity of social bookmarking spreads it gets more and more difficult to manage the plethora of bookmarking sites I regularly visit. Visiting fifteen different sites just to see what people are linking to can get tiresome, and trying to remember which one of the vast array of bookmarking sites had that one link with the picture of the guy getting hit in the junk with a wiffle ball can sometimes be frustrating.
Junoba looks to make that process easier, by bringing all those competing social bookmarking sites together for you to search through quickly and easily.
Of course, the easiest way to see how it works is to check it out for yourself!
For those who don’t know what social bookmarking is, most will define it as putting the Bookmarks Folder from your Web browser on a specific site for all users to see. It has now become a phenomenon as others who look on social bookmarking sites will bookmark others’ content, to turn something popular into something even more popular.
There are several Social Bookmarking sites on the web today, and the top five are:
These sites are set up so a user can create a profile, just as they would on a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace. This creates a community where people will see what other users are bookmarking. As a result of all this chatter amidst users, certain sites can often get more traffic than they normally would have received by just sitting around on the web.
Some writers are using social bookmarking as a tool for viral or guerilla marketing for their content. There are some strategies necessary for this, and they are as simple as a pointing and clicking on a recommendations area to post their article on a social bookmarking site.
Some have recommended that writers who post articles on the web not put every article that he or she will write on a social bookmarking site. Instead, just put the ones that will be helpful or of interest to other web surfers.
The best part of Social Bookmarking is that the user creates an external link to his or her site that will be useful for keyword searches on search engines. Of course, this shouldn’t be the only method an online writer should use for drawing traffic to their content, but it is an effective one. Those who want to become more effective in marketing should study the world of social bookmarking to discover how it works, and how to gain readers from it.
Source 1, Source 2, and Source 3
StumbleUpon has carried many web surfers deep in the night, into the wee hours of many mornings by offering a never ending stream of interesting randomness that is always just a click away.
It’s an adventure. Your clicks bring you to visuals and sounds you never would have expected to find on the internet. Before stumbling existed, web surfing consisted of search engines and links given to you on web forums or by friends on IM. Surfing used to be a mundane process where you knew what you were looking for and only needed to find a way to get to it.
Stumbling has brought us unseen destinations, exciting vistas of information and opinion and stupidity, the exotic dangers of a random NSFW page, and the mindless time wasting flash games we would never have found otherwise. StumbleUpon has given people a reason for being on the internet when they have nothing else to do but explore.
Everything is within your grasp, everything is only a click away. Whether you know it or not, when you stumble your way through the internet you are set on a quest. Your quest is to see the entirety of the internet, its best and its worst. The more clicks you take, the deeper into the web you travel and the more difficult it becomes to leave. You enter a vastness that is impossible to comprehend, yet it is all veiled behind the mask of the click. That click, the next one might take you to something wonderful, some amazing thing no one else has seen before, you might discover the next greatness that will make you an internet rock star to your peers. One click, just one more, just one more, one more…
Parents have always told their children that it is best to take things in moderation, this also applies to the click of StumbleUpon. Most stumble addicts out there know who they are, and that’s a good first step. No more stumbling through papers and meals, no more stumbling until the crack of dawn scares you into your bed. We can enjoy StumbleUpon, but we must not abuse it. The world misses you, and we only want to see you again and we hope you are doing well.
It is the evolution of the web. We’ve moved past railways and roadways and are now flying through the internet, teleporting from destination to destination. There is a new world to explore, and its all at your fingertips, just one more click away…