By Shayne Tilley

How To Engineer Your Way To The Front Page Of Digg

By Shayne Tilley

As you’re all no doubt aware, digg is a traffic-delivering juggernaut—some of the busiest days in SitePoint’s history have come off the back of hitting the front page of digg.

The ability to move massive amounts of traffic to one site has many marketers, site owners, and entrepreneurs salivating at the very prospect of producing something that the digg crowd will, err, dig.

So much so, in fact, that it is possible to engineer your way to the front page of

Don’t believe me? Try these approaches and see for yourself:

How To Game digg

  1. Nudge, Nudge! Wink, Wink!

    You’ve all got friends—some of them who are members of digg—so sending a few of them a subtle “Is this digg-worthy?” via email or IM might just get the ball rolling. The more friends you’ve got, the better result this approach will deliver.

  2. Spend Cash, Get Traffic

    I have a confession to make—I’ve considered going down this path. But I’ve never acted. What I’m referring to is a simple “pay cash, get diggs” agreement. Here are two examples:

    It’s quite concerning to discover that one of these sites is “not taking submissions at this time. (We’re overbooked.)”. With that much interest, the owners of these services are certainly in a position to expose a few organizations for pursuing questionably ethical promotion strategies, if they wanted to.

  3. Direct Marketing, Digg-style

    Perhaps the most brazen approach I’ve seen to date (and the inspiration behind this post) is to make the most of your network in order to push them to your story on digg. I received an email from a company who I’d had just one business meeting with. It contained the following:

    Subject: Please Digg Our Story…
    Please Digg our recent announcement in
    {link to the digg} story was here
    (If you are not a veteran Digger, please do not leave comments since these tend to backfire.)

    Now keep in mind that I’ve had just one conversation (and a couple of emails) with this company, and all of a sudden they’ve slapped me on a mailing list with no other intent than to request a digg. I can imagine the outcry if I were to email, say, our entire forum user base, and ask them to digg a story for me. Now, I’ve purposefully not named and shamed here, because that’s not the point—the point is that stuff like this does happen, and people need to know.

  4. Be a good little digg user

    Hitting the front page of digg is difficult enough to achieve, but doing so regularly is even harder. To achieve that, you actually need to immerse yourself in the digg way of life. Any time you spot something interesting, submit it; if you’ve got something intelligent to say on a story, leave your comment on digg (and do so early); leave comments and vote for upcoming stories that you think stand a good chance of hitting the front page; build your friends list … this is all essential, but of course you also need to be smart about it. The ideal outcome for all of this effort is to build a reputation that translates to your votes on digg carrying more weight, with the side effect that you’ll gain a whole lot of active friends that you can either shout out to for a vote, or who will just naturally follow your lead.

  5. Of course, this strategy is not going to yield instant digg success, but committing to it for the long term will produce benefits that completely eclipse any other approach.


  6. Content is king …

    It would be remiss of me not to point out the obvious strategy for gaming digg—by focusing on creating GREAT content and using GREAT titles that people actually enjoy reading and sharing with others. Whether you’re involved heavily in the digg community or not, if your content is awesome, then the crowd will do all the digging for you. And that’s the kind of digg front page story that you should be most proud of.

As you can see, there are many ways to engineer an outcome on digg. Some are relatively easy, but run the risk of being ethically questionable. Others require substantially more hard work, persistence, careful timing, and a bit of luck, but are infinitely more rewarding.

The digg crew are combating some of the shady behaviour that I’ve mentioned above. But whilst they currently wield the mighty sword of traffic generation, they’re going to find themselves in an ongoing arms race with people willing (and able) to exploit digg for their own personal gain.

If they lose too much ground in that arms race, they’re going to destroy the fundamental element that makes digg so popular:

Newsworthiness decided by readers, not by commercial interests.

And in that battle, I wish them the best of luck!

  • Hmmmm… this is how it appears to be done… Very pity, I’d say.

    I’ve always thought that if my stories don’t reach the front page of Digg or some other social bookmarking web site, then they are not so good or just they are to specific for the audience and I’d better post them to a different web site, i.e. it’s a lot harder to get to the first page of Digg with a programming story, than get to the first page of DZone.

    But I’ve never asked anyone to vote for my stories…

  • Logan

    You can always make digg frontpage by any content involving scientology, wiretapping, ron paul, obama, bush bashing, 911 conspiracies, etc.

  • I think that with any system there are always ways to circumvent the serendipitous chance of landing the goal, in this case the front page traffic heavy front page of digg.

    I don’t see any problem with these techniques actually apart from the paid one. That’s going a little too far, and I think maybe more than a few people diggers included would agree.

    It’s just about knowing marketing and how to utilise any means to a goal.

  • serg08

    I am very surprised that such a reputable site as Sitepoint is giving advice on how to cheat the Digg…. I have no comments. Really. Besides the fact that people don’t have any idea of who will be “digging” their stories and instead of getting benefits they can easily get banned. Are you guys serious or this advice was a joke?

  • I’m not a regular Digg user but I’ve read from those who are that the Digg community don’t like it when you submit your own content.

  • serg08 its not advice, well certainly not from me. When I got the email marketing piece asking for a digg from someone I hardly knew, it was the inspiration to write the post. I just wondered why people cant concentrate on delivering an awesome product or content. If you find yourself needing to ‘engineer outcomes’ to get results then take a good look at why. That’s why I love working at SitePoint as a Marketer. I stand by the quality and value of our products and content 100% which makes my job so much easier.

  • Tyssen,

    I do submit my own content on the social bookmarking sites. I’ve never had a problem with that, although I usually submit to and, not Digg.

  • serg08

    Tyssen, you probably have no idea how the social sites work. A few years ago, web masters and web owners were struggling with creating “sticky” content so that users like you and me get back often. Today, the new generation sites, such as digg,, propeller and many others, are driven BY users. So, when you say the “digg community” doesn’t like when you submit your own content, I honestly don’t know what you are talking about. You can’t submit your front page – unless your front pages tells something special, but you can easily “bookmark” one of your blog’s post so that to get additional traffic and share with others your point of view. Just don’t bookmark and submit ********.

  • serg08 – thanks for sharing your opinion — I made a small edit to your comment to remove the profanity. Feel free to share your thoughts but try to keep the language clean. Thanks.

  • This are very great ideas, who won’t love to get to the front page of digg?

    Of course you can cheat you way and succeed in getting that sudden burst of traffic, but then the question is: What then?

    My own opinion is first, create something useful, attractive and worth to talk about. Something whichever it is that will make at least 80% of your visitors to come back.

    Then do all you can to get to digg front page. By then atleast there will be a 80% rate that you will retain some of those visitors when that happens.

    Hey this are just my thoughts!

  • Salient

    Joe not to get into a debate or anything, but say you have spent the last six months researching something, have then spent two months writing the best article ever on your topic, how do you get people to promote it? I think the article writer has provided us with one answer.

    And no have never used digg, have no idea how to get those digg sumbol thingies working, and should take time to check it all out.

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