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Is the New DiggBar Good Rather Than Bad Service?

April 14, 2009

There have been vigorous discussions on the new DiggBar during the last few weeks, and ever since the service was launched by the social bookmarking site Digg on April 2nd.

The initial response to the new service was pretty positive. DiggBar was very well received by the average user, especially by the new Twitter generation, which is in constant need of more convenient ways to shorten URLs. Obviously, Digg has responded to it.

In case you are still unfamiliar with what DiggBar is, here is Digg’s explanation:

“The DiggBar enables you to Digg, read comments, find related content, and share stuff from any page on the Web. And it’s presented in a short URL format, making it easy to share in emails, on Twitter, and via other services. In addition to finding it on all outbound links from Digg, you can generate the DiggBar using any of the following solutions.”

The controversial issues about the pros and cons of DiggBar derived from the concerns that the service would have a negative impact on SEO and affect the traffic to publishers' websites. Why?

As opposed to the ordinary URL shortening services, here when you load the Digg URLs, instead of the full URL of the site, a tiny URL created by Digg pops up in the URL address box of your browser. In addition, the content loads underneath the Digg-branded toolbar. Naturally, the concern whether the frame style of URL shorteners is good or bad from SEO perspective arose.

Then Digg responded to this criticism in a blog post:

"Prior to launching the DiggBar, we reached out to Google and SEO experts to ensure we adhered to the leading best practices, as we framed and linked directly to source content via the DiggBar. This process involved gathering feedback from publishers to ensure the execution was as content-provider-friendly as possible. We took several steps to ensure that search engines continue to count the original source, versus registering the DiggBar as new content. We include only links to the source URLs on Digg pages to allow spiders to see the unmodified links to source sites. These links are overwritten to short URLs in JavaScript for users who have this preference.

We launched a few additional updates early this week to address some lingering concerns in the SEO and publishing communities around the infamous (and sometimes mysterious) search engine ‘juice’. We always represent the source URL as the preferred version of the URL to search engines and use the meta noindex tag to keep DiggBar pages out of search indexes. For those of you interested in the technical details, we also include link rel=”canonical” information to indicate that the original URL is the real (canonical) version. Additional URL properties, like PageRank and related signals, are transferred as well. This is recommended by Google, Ask.com, Microsoft and Yahoo!."

Undoubtedly, Digg is the company that’ll benefit the most from DiggBar service. Digg’s John Quinn claims they’ve experienced a 20% increase in unique visitors, and adds that content providers are seeing a dramatic traffic boost as well.

Meanwhile, shortly after DiggBar had been announced, an article on how to block the DiggBar rapidly gained popularity.

So, we will highly appreciate your input on this issue: Do you consider the DiggBar as a SEO and traffic killer, and are you intent on blocking it or keeping it alive?


Yesterday, Digg announced that they are going to roll out a few key changes over the next week or so:

"1. New treatment to the behavior of Digg short URLs. All anonymous users, on or off Digg will be taken directly to the publishers content via a permanent redirect (301), no toolbar, straight to the site. Logged in users that have not opted out will continue to see the DiggBar (200). These changes ensure that content providers receive full search engine ‘juice’ or credit for all links on and off Digg. They also ensure that Digg short URLs won’t appear in the indexes of any major search engines.

2. Because we want to ensure the best user experience, the DiggBar will soon only be shown to you when you are logged into Digg. While the vast majority of Digg users find the DiggBar valuable (only a very small number of users have disabled the feature or hit close with any frequency) we understand that many folks were confused when opting out. We want you to be able to have the option to permanently disable the DiggBar with ease.
For registered Digg users receiving the bar, we are also making a few changes to make the process more obvious."

Digg also announced that roughly 45% of all Digging activity is now happening on the Diggbar and over 25% of all DiggBar users are discovering new content they otherwise wouldn’t have by viewing related stories and content from the same source.


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