Donny's Blog
I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation. - George Bernard Shaw

The Only True Digg Effect Study

Posted: Tuesday, 6:24 AM (May 23, 2006)

     All "Digg Effect" stats to date have been inaccurate for one reason: those sites already had regular readers. How can you get truly unbiased Digg Effect statistics? Simple - you get a story front paged on Digg less than 12 hours after registering your domain!

     There are a few webmasters out there who, upon being dugg, have posted info from their logs and given statistics about the Digg Effect - how many hits they got from it, what browsers they use, and tried to guess how much of the traffic digg caused a couple of days after being listed on the front page. However, none of them can give truly accurate information about the digg effect for one reason: they already had an established website, and they already had non-digg traffic coming to their website. It's impossible for them to differentiate between traffic caused by digg users syndicating and otherwise spreading the link to your page and from their normal readers.

     I am the only person who can truly give stats on the digg effect for one reason: I was dugg less than 12 hours after creating this website. Late May 18th (around 10:00 PM) I registered this domain, and started writing my first post, a funny rant about the RIAA suing people. At this point, nobody knew about my website - I didn't tell any of my friends about it, I didn't spread the word on forums, IRC, or chatrooms. At around 11:10 PM, I posted the link to Digg and went to bed. Every single hit this website received originated, in some form or another, from Digg. Either directly from, or from blogs that repost digg stories, or from digg users who posted it on forums, and so on.

     These stats have to be prefaced with a note to those people (spammers) who would try to abuse Digg by setting up multiple accounts to get their site frontpaged: It won't work. Digg users don't click ads! Or, rather, Digg users click ads at 1/5th the rate of regular users in my case. If you get a stupid site frontpaged by using multiple accounts, if you're lucky you might get a thousand hits before it's removed becuase it's stupid. Take your eCPM and divide it by 5 - that's about the most you'll make from getting your site frontpaged. Well, that's enough of that warning. For those of you who are interested, there are some more advertising-related stats later.

     Without further ado, I present to you, The Only True Digg Effect Study:

     First, I will start with a graph of my hits:

Mini Journal of Events:
May 18, 8:54 PM - (Hour 1) Bought hosting, registered domain
May 18, 11:00 PM - (Hour 3) Posted RIAA rant on site
May 18, 11:10 PM - (Hour 3) Posted link on Digg
May 18, 11:50 PM - (Hour 3) Had 9 Diggs
(went to bed)
(woke up for work at 6:30)
May 19, 6:45 AM - (Hour 11) 29 Diggs
May 19, 8:15 AM - (Hour 13) Got to work, checked Digg, frontpaged!
May 19, 1:58 PM - (Hour 18) Temporarily pushed to 2nd page due to new stories.
May 19, 2:15 PM - (Hour 19) moved back to front page due to frontpage stories being deleted.
May 19, 2:47 PM - (Hour 19) 1000 Diggs, still on bottom of front page
May 19, 3:05 PM - (Hour 20) Pushed to 2nd page, 1045 Diggs
May 19, 4:02 PM - (Hour 21) 1150 Diggs
(Since I was on the 2nd page, I didn't bother recording how many Diggs)
May 22, 11:30 AM - (Not shown) Currently writing this journal, 1720 Diggs

Now, on to some actual stats...

Where Diggers Come From:
7763 People came directly from the front page
1978 People clicked on the Digg page (the page with comments) before clicking the link to my page
1377 People came from page 2
719 People came from page 3
269 People came from page 4
149 People came from page 5
157 People came from page 6
57 People came from page 7
52 People came from the music category
41 People came from DiggAll

The Effect:
     The effect is what happens after you get listed on a popular social bookmarking / link posting site, in this case digg - your link gets spread across the net on other social bookmarking / link submitting sites, such as, boingboing, etc. In my case, I wasn't slashdotted, but I was listed on several other sites.
Here's some traffic that came after being listed on digg:
1,466 People came from Reddit
1,363 People came from BoingBoing
1,172 People came from StumbleUpon
258 People came from
105 People came from

Note: A lot of traffic came from other sites - postings on forums, on blogs, but I haven't listed it because individually, none of the sites gave much traffic. If you want, you can see the referring URL's or see the referring sites.

Digg Browser Usage:

Browser Digg Usage Internet Usage Total Hits
Mozilla 73.8% 28.0% 55,159
MSIE 18.8% 62.3% 14,038
Opera 3.9% 1.5% 2,926
Nescape 1.1% 0.3% 858
Other 2.4% 1.5% 1767
Total 100% 93.6%* 74,748

* - I don't know why W3C's stats don't add up to 100%, but they don't.

     You probably aren't surpised that even though most people use IE, the majority of Digg users use Mozilla (Firefox), but now you have some actual stats to back it up.

     If you want, you can see the raw user-agent strings of Digg users or a pretty graph of browsers Digg users use including all the browsers grouped into the "other" category in my graph above.

Advertising Related Stats:
     Of the 27,249 pageviews, Google only recorded 15,305 ad impressions. Thus, approximately 56.2% of Digg users are using ad blockers.

     Due to Google's AdSense TOS, I can't reveal the exact click through rate (CTR) that I recieved, but I will tell you that now (4 days later) it's 4.5 times as great as it was when I was first listed on the front page of Digg.

     For those of you who would try to abuse Digg by registering multiple accounts and getting front paged, it's really not worth it. Your page will probably be reported as spam and the listing will get taken down before you get your thousandth hit from Digg, your eCPM from Digg users will be less than 1/5th of what it is regularly, and if you don't have something worthwile, your post will not be syndicated across webpages like mine was - my page got linked to from a few hundred websites because they liked it, not beacuse they were mindlessly reposting Digg stories.

     That being said, if you do get a legitimate story listed on Digg, you're going to make money (if you have ads, of course), but probably not as much as you'd think. You've probably read stats that you'll get 20,000 page views, or more, within 24 hours of being listed on Digg. Although that may be true for you, as I mentioned earlier, Digg users click on ads much less frequently, and more than half of them use ad blockers. Personally, I didn't make that much money - I made enough to cover this domain registration and a month of cheap hosting, no more. You won't get rich by being listed on Digg, and if you have big files available to download on your site, you may even lose money from bandwidth charges. That 5 mb video on your site is small by most standards, but when 20,000 people download it you're looking at 100 GB bandwidth, all used in 24 hours. If you've got a hosting plan that doesn't give much bandwidth, or if you have files more than a couple megs big, watch out if you think your page will get dugg.

     Moving past all of these warnings, your site will benefit from being listed on Digg. It's not just the surge of traffic that comes for in a burst and keeps coming in at 3000 hits/day for several days later - it's about the four or five hundred sites that now have a link to you, either in a blog, a forum, or other pages. They will continue to give you a small amount of traffic for weeks, but they will also help your search engine rankings. Long after your site was listed on Digg, it will silently benefit you through search engine traffic and a general increase in popularity.

Myths about the Digg Effect:
     One of the most widespread myth about the digg effect is that it is temporary - all the stats I've seen have shown that you get fifteen, twenty, or twenty five thousand hits, but it dies down within a day. This is not true! The traffic coming directly from does slow down, and dies down to virtually nothing within 24 hours after being listed on digg, but that is not the true digg effect. There are still 3000 people/day coming to my website, almost 4 days after being listed on Digg. For days after being listed on Digg, the traffic stays strong. This is because Digg users spread content - digg users post stories on their blogs, on forums, and on their websites. That is the true Digg effect.