Remember all that great link juice you got in 2008 from Digg? Well, it’s officially gone today as the newest incarnation of Digg goes live today. The old site and all of the previously published pages are gone in favor of a brand new design.
Truth be told, though, that link juice probably died a long time ago. Digg switched all of its links to nofollow and started publishing framed URLs a while back, and while I lost track of the various incarnations they took on after that, it was clear that they’d practically declared war on giving away a single drop of link juice. Of course, slapping that nofollow on didn’t address any of the fundamental issues, so the fate of the site was sealed.
Digg v4 was one attempt to revitalize the dying site, but the backlash was so harsh that the website never really got traction again. Despite being expensive to run, Digg just kept chugging on and shedding users.
Ultimately, the run is done. Kevin Rose has sold his final remaining shares in Digg for a reported $500,000 and stock options, and the ownership has now completely transferred to new hands.
Does the new Digg stand a chance?
As a reader, I lost interest in Digg after a few short weeks. As a submitter, I stuck around for a few extra months. Reddit had better content from more diverse sources, and a big problem with Digg’s disastrous reforms was to focus on content from “authoritative” sources. Instead of being a truly crowd-sourced aggregator that combed the depths of the web, it was turning in to a rather shallow news feed that took a few popular headlines from the latest things published at Reuters, NBC, and the BBC. Who needs a website to sift through a few other websites that also happen to have TV channels? Roping off a shallow pool of media outlets that have a powerful offline presence just defeats the power and purpose of crowd-based submissions and voting. It might help with quality control, but if your user-base isn’t providing that in the first place then you’ve got bigger problems.
The Future of Digg
Does Digg.com still exist a few years from now? Will webmasters want to hit the front page, and users want to evangelize how great the service is? It is really hard to say. Reactions to the new version have been rather lukewarm, but in many ways that is a lot better than the angry reaction they got from version 4.0 and other attempts to redesign the site.
As a mostly crowd-run site with a pagerank of 8 and 14,000,000 indexed URLs, the loss of link juice is going to be a major factor in organic search shifts over the next few months. While none of the individual pages are particularly weighted, the collective effect of these missing links is likely to snowball through blogs, websites, and networks that took advantage of the service in its heyday.
Digg hasn’t been showing up in a lot of webmaster tools link reports, but I’d have a hard time imagining that Google had managed to completely ignore such a site. Then again, the big advantage of going viral on a site like Digg or Reddit is all of the residual links you collect from your popularity, so those who are losing out on published dofollow links of formerly high pagerank might not notice much of a difference at all. Then again, if that was the edge your competitor had over you to stay ahead, just try to relax and hold on while the old index unravels and all the link juice dries up.