How Social Networking Has Killed Digg and SEO 1.0

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Digg vs StumbleUpon vs Tumblr

Three years ago I boldly predicted that social browsing services like StumbleUpon will kill Digg and SEO 1.0. Did they? No. I was wrong. Social networking did though. Let me explain.

StumbleUpon was the first and only to succeed big time with social browsing. Nevertheless it still is a mix of conventional social bookmarking and real social browsing services: Services that monitor your online activity and match it with your own and others’ patterns automatically. With StumbleUpon you still have to “stumble” manually.

There were other more automated services that just watched your moves. They guessed and suggested the next website you might like based on what you like. They worked like Last FM but for websites not music. Most of them did not succeed though. Instead

social networking and link sharing sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr succeed.

They have replaced SEO 1.0 known for keyword rich but poorly readable copy with high quality SEO 2.0 flagship content.

StumbleUpon, a “missing link” service and the new wave of social networking sites rendered both old school SEO “1.0” and first wave social news media like Digg useless. At Digg you still have to sift through piles of irrelevant and untartegeted information to find something. The “top news” are still the lowest common denominator (crap). In version 4 Digg got better by following the lead of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr but it’s still difficult to get the right stuff in “my news”. You have to find decent people to follow an there aren’t enough on Digg.

Conventional SEO 1.0 that sticks to link building using links that barely anyone clicks fail in an environment where social networking is the benchmark of popularity. Digg dies as there are many and more effective ways to find what you look after without being served the same type of main stream low value content geared towards a mass audience.

Social networking works for all niches and at the same time is better at reflecting overall trends. So you do both: You can communicate with your community on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr and still use services like Topsy to find out what most people deem worthy to be shared. It’s not one size fit all. It’s a collection of all sizes and colors where each one of them has a chance to become popular.

On Digg V4 this still doesn’t work. The obsolete frontpage metaphor only allows content to succeed that offers what the predominantly disgruntled, male, geeky and white middle class aka the average Digg user wants. That’s why I’m on Twitter most of the time. Here every niche can thrive and sometimes you can get traction even outside of it depending on the circumstances.

So I was right about Digg and SEO being replaced by something better but it wasn’t social browsing. I erred here almost completely.

SEO 2.0 is today almost the norm though. It’s still called SEO but it’s something quite different these days. It’s social media outreach, blogger relations and killer content creation.

There is still SEO 1.0 out there but it’s more and more spammy while the real SEO has evolved and is social to the core by now. StumbleUpon is still around but it’s stagnating for years, in spite of the PR the company propagates. Just watch the Google Trends for Websites stats to see how Tumblr has outpaced SU and Digg. Facebook and Twitter are another league altogether. They are huge in contrast to the tiny SU and Digg.

I have removed the list of 7 social browsing services this post contained originally. I admit I was wrong. I’m glad the the more advanced model of personalized social networking and link sharing with followers and friends has taken over. The one size fits all social news model has never really worked in the first place. Also SEO today is much better than the SEO of the old days before Twitter and Facebook went prime time. Your followers won’t retweet crap and even if they will people won’t follow them in future as much.

First published on August 14th, 2007. Republished an last updated on October 5th, 2010.