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Update: DiggBar NOT an SEO-killer

Digg’s VP of Engineering, John Quinn, just posted to the company’s official blog, weighing on the DiggBar vs. SEO question. The most important thing he said (from an SEO perspective) is, “Prior to launching the DiggBar, we reached out to Google and SEO experts to ensure we adhered to the leading best practices…

That is outstanding. It tells me that not only did the company recognize its value to the SEO community, it paid the SEO community a compliment by finding a solution that works well for every party.

The Details

Quinn says that Digg “took several steps to ensure that search engines continue to count the original source, versus registering the DiggBar as new content.

Ok, how? The answer is brilliant in its simplicity. In English, “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.

Of course. Why didn’t I think of that? Spiders don’t use Javascript, they just read source code. So, print a source pointing to the original content, and use front-end Javascript to point to the DiggBar URL. On top of all that, Digg is gracious enough to noindex the DiggBar page.

Brilliant. And great news. It means that all our DiggBar SEO woes are gone. Digg can return to the top (or near the top) of our Champion of SEO website-list. And, perhaps more importantly, it means I can start promoting my clients via the DiggBar like everybody else.

11 thoughts on “Update: DiggBar NOT an SEO-killer

  1. TJ Kelly

    Francis, thanks for your response.

    To be frank, I DON’T trust you. But I don’t trust John Quinn and Digg either. What I trust is my own two eyes.

    I disabled javascript (that’s the key), went through their source code, and verified that he’s right and telling the truth.

    Links from Digg’s pages do pass juice to spiders, but human users are shown a modified version. And the “duplicate content” served by their shortened URLs is never indexed, so there’s no harm done there.

  2. Jason Barone

    Nice article TJ, it helps clear some of this stuff up. I do think some of the negative reactions have some valid points though. Putting SEO aside, it just didn’t sit well with me that the Diggbar and the other iframe services are framing content and branding it. It’s similar to someone taking my content and putting it on their site calling it their own. It’s hard to draw the line though, Digg sends traffic to sites. The best way to look at it for me would be this: do I want my content in a Digg frame? Or would I want nothing at all in Digg? I’d rather have my content being referred to from Digg. So I’m weighing the options on implementing a breakout script like the New York Times did.

  3. ehsanul

    Some people are claiming that digg pages are in fact being indexed by google. And I’ve been able to pull of a few searches that show a shortened digg url, thereby replacing the original url.

    Now, it seems to me that these links must’ve been spread by people, perhaps through twitter etc, and as such, the digg urls ended up getting indexed as they were posted in blogs and comments throughout the web.

    Does it really hurt a website though that has a frame over it? I mean, whether it’s the digg url pointing to your page in a frame, or your own url, what difference does it make?

  4. TJ Kelly

    Porter,

    Thanks for your response. I see your point on Digg URLs being shared. However, from a strictly-technical SEO perspective, I still don’t see any harm being done. Digg URLs are not indexed (at least, not anymore).

    The only possible harm this causes is losing in-bound links. Links that otherwise would have pointed to http://www.tjkelly.com could now point to digg.com/d1o1uR. It doesn’t take anything from my SEO efforts, but it prevents from being added what could/should have been added.

    The real harm done (if any) may be in weakening the brand presence. For most websites, their URL is treated as part of their brand. It’s not as brand-effective for my website to be accessed at digg.com/d1o1uR with 46 pixels of Digg’s branding added to it, than at my URL, http://www.tjkelly.com with nothing but my own branding.

    And, like you point out in your article, site-framing is nothing new. I don’t see it as “content stealing” and I don’t think it’s anything to get worked up about.

  5. Porter Glendinning

    The worry isn’t so much the links from Digg pages, but from people who take those URLs and link to them elsewhere because they don’t redirect you to the destination URL as other URL shorteners do. For example, you can already see DiggBar URLs showing up in the Delicious Popular list regularly: http://delicious.com/popular/

  6. Porter Glendinning

    The problem is that unless Digg has gotten favored-nation status from the various search engines — considering that every one of them, in the very pages that John linked to in his blog post, says that rel=”canonical” can’t be used to point to an URL on a different domain — their inclusion of a rel=”canonical” link element on the DiggBar pages does exactly squat to allow those inbound links to pass through to your pages. Alternatively, it’s possible that Digg shows the spiders something different on DiggBar URLs than other user agents, and gives them a 301 redir.

    So barring that, John might be correct that the links from digg.com are still followed and ranked appropriately, but it’s also possible that the googlejuice from any other sites reusing DiggBar URLs is being lost.

  7. TJ Kelly

    Skitzzo,

    Thanks for your comment. We’re on the same page. I think my statement was just worded poorly.

    I understand that inbound links are huge in SEO. I don’t mean to discredit that. My point was that the DiggBar doesn’t overtly harm my SEO efforts. The harm it causes is providing a second URL where users can link to my content, thereby depriving me of an inbound link.

    All in all, I like DiggBar. I think it will do more good than harm. And, as you pointed out, it will soon be a moot point.

  8. Skitzzo

    While this issue will soon be a moot point with Digg’s 2nd round of changes to the Diggbar, this statement is quite puzzling:

    The only possible harm this causes is losing in-bound links. Links that otherwise would have pointed to http://localhost:8888/TJK/TJ-Kelly/WPE-Local could now point to digg.com/d1o1uR. It doesn’t take anything from my SEO efforts, but it prevents from being added what could/should have been added.

    Inbound links play a HUGE roll in SEO and the fact that Digg would prevent you from getting credit for those links was a MAJOR issue with the Diggbar.

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