We all know that building solid, natural and authoritative links to your site or blog is the best way to obtain unshakable rankings. There has been a lot of chatter lately about using social networking sites to help build traffic and eventually links. Those links are hard to get, unless of course you have a power user account at a popular site like Digg. Unfortunately, getting a power user account involves a lot of work that most bloggers are not willing to put in.
Power users carry more weight than regular ones, the main benefit being that you need far less votes to make it to the Digg homepage. One hundred power users account for around 50% of the stories that make it there. The traffic you would get by being linked to the Digg homepage is not itself profitable, but many of those eyes glaring at the screen are the linkerati – influencers that will link and blog about your story, giving you a lot of very valuable natural and authoritative links.
The basic ingredients for success at Digg are: diggable posts/articles, a power user submitting your article, and a digg-friendly landing page. Most stories make it to the home page if they get over 50 votes in less than 24 hours. To help you achieve such numbers, I've seen many blogs directly or indirectly promoting a service called Subvert and Profit (S&P), designed to get all the votes needed to land on the Digg homepage. You basically pay $1 per vote and they pay $.50 cents to the Diggers. This means that if you create a diggable post and a digg-friendly landing page, you only need to invest around fifty bucks to make it to the Digg homepage. And if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Right.
Here is the problem. Loyal Digg users are finding ways to join the S&P program. They digg the stories as instructed and later change their minds and bury them. This flags the stories as suspicious and prevents them from reaching the homepage. The Diggers get paid and the advertiser loses his or her money. S&P makes no guarantees, and currently they have no way of telling if Diggers are burying the stories after digging them. Adding insult to injury, there is a good chance that your URL will get banned from Digg. Ouch.
How to become a top Digg user—legitimately
In some way, we as SEOs (Search Engine Optimizers) and SMOs (Social Media Optimizers) are playing games with search engines and social networks. We are leveraging our understanding of how they work in order to make our stories and sites successful. If we follow the search engines’ and social networks’ rules of conduct, and we are providing something truly useful and letting people naturally link or vote for our content, these sites don't have any problem. It’s only when we try to take shortcuts that things get interesting. Leveraging your friends and/or site visitors to increase your vote counts and the probability of your content making it to the homepage of Digg is something that is actually encouraged. But paying a service such as S&P to provide the artificial votes is not something anyone will be thrilled about (except for S&P). You are free to do what you want with your site and marketing, but I suggest you carefully weigh the benefits versus the risks here.
If you don't want to take such risks (and I hope you don't after reading this), here is what you can do instead. After reading some posts on Pronet Advertising and carefully looking at Digg's top stories, I’ve laid out this simple plan for any top Digger wannabe.
Follow it religiously every day:
Monitor the front page and open, read and digg at least 12 stories that match your interest per day.
Subscribe to the RSS feeds of the source sites, provided that they are news sites. It is very likely that they will produce other front page–worthy stories in the near future.
Add the submitter as a friend and comment on the story. Try to get at least 200 friends in a month by doing this.
Check your new friends against the Top 100 user list, and give high priority to their submissions the higher they are.
Monitor your friends' submissions and try to be the first, or among the first, to digg them. Leave a comment too. This will increase the chances that the other person will add you as friend and digg the stories you submit.
Visit the popular archive and try to add all the best authoritative sources to your feed reader. The key is to submit fresh stories as they come out. It’s best to use a feed reader that can poll feeds every 10 minutes or less. Google Reader and most web aggregators are no good for this.
Write attention grabbing headlines with every submission. Looking at popular archive stories should give you a good example of what the Digg community likes.
Submit each story as soon as possible.
Monitor what the top users are submitting and digging to get a feeling for trends.
This is obviously a lot of work, and you’ll notice that nowhere did I say how you are going to benefit your site. Depending on the stories and friends you pick, the whole process outlined above should enable you to create a power user account. Later you can create websites and blogs that are not visibly related to you and digg stories posted there. One trick I know some bloggers use is to create a separate domain, send the diggs there, and after a few months of clicks and links they redirect the traffic to their website with a HTTP 301 permanent redirect.
If you are involved in social media, I'd appreciate you share your strategy.