How Social Networking Has Killed Digg and SEO 1.0

Digg vs StumbleUpon vs Tumblr

in 2007 I boldly predicted that social browsing services like StumbleUpon will kill the popular social news site 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.


Full fledged social browsing failed

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. None of them did not succeed though. Instead

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

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.


Digg and SEO are both obsolete

At Digg you still had to sift through piles of irrelevant and non-targeted 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 was still difficult to get the right stuff in “my news”. You had to find decent people to follow an there weren’t enough on Digg anymore.

Similarly conventional SEO 1.0 that sticks to link building using links that barely anyone clicks fails in an environment where social networking is the benchmark of popularity.


Why social networking outperformed social news

Digg died as there were 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.


There is no front-page on the Web

On Digg V4 this still didn’t work. The obsolete front-page 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.

SEO is about social media outreach, blogger relations and killer content creation now.

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.

Facebook and Twitter are another league altogether. They are huge in contrast to the tiny SU and the remnants of Digg which was sold and rebuilt from scratch by the new investors.


I was both right and wrong

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. Rewritten and republished on October 5th, 2010. Last updated: June 23rd, 2015.