2009 / 23 April

Digg Selling Links Off

Digg went down today for a little bit and when it came up I decided to poke around a bit to see if anything had changed.

That is when I noticed a new Digg Dialogg was coming up with Richard Branson.


Now I am not an expert on paid links like Greg Boser, Todd Friesen and Michael Gray are, but I definitely noticed the ‘followed’ link to (msaleem had noticed it and tweeted it earlier in the day, but I was out all day and missed it.)

I asked Todd Malicoat, who spoke on a panel with Matt Cutts from Google about paid links, who commented:

“More proof big brands are the new blackhat – different rules for different size sites.”

I should note that I actually see nothing wrong with paid links and I know this is the year that Digg has to become profitable, but are they really willing to sell links of their site to do it? And to a company like

Other complaints have been launched about some of the ads that are being shown on Digg in general, and during a keynote speech today at Ad:Tech in San Francisco, Kevin Rose talked further about advertising on Digg, as per this ReadWriteWeb article:

The site will focus on larger ad campaigns, and according to Rose, turn to its users. “If anything, Digg has users that like voting,’ Rose explained, “and I would love to see a world that if something is really crappy, it gets destroyed or thrown off the site.” Either that, he said, “or we charge people more for crappy ads,” he added with a grin.

Clearly with the links, they have decided to go the way of just making them pay more…

EDIT: In fairness to Digg, they have become much more responsive. They decided to ‘nofollow’ the links from off their site in an effort to avoid doing anything questionable as far as paid links go.


Todd Friesen had this to add in a recent post he wrote:

“Google has us running so scared that we’re once again doing their jobs for them. The link clearly disclosed that it was sponsored. In my book that should be enough. Sure Google would like us to put that crap in javascript, use a nofollow blah blah blah. Google has a ton of pretty clever people over there. How about we make them earn their paychecks and sort out the linking issues on their own.”

Have an opinion? Let me know.

  • Is digg desperate for revenue? It's such an obvious spam link. Google should start penalizing this type of BS text link ads, or at least cut the PR juices to that site

  • Personally, I think this is all new to them and as they've shown before, they're not particularly savvy when it comes to SEO. But, at the same time, I think they've proven that they're quick to fix things like this. My guess is when they realize that they need to include a nofollow link – they'll do it. In all honestly, I think they'll do whatever it takes to keep their community happy – they always have in the past. :)

    • I agree in many regards. Digg has shown an ability to listen and make change when they make mistakes. However, there is having ads and there is allowing someone to pay you for sponsor links all over the site. Not sure how the users of Digg alone will feel about it being on every page in the site messages, in all the ads, and in the sidebar… etc.

  • Yes digg needs to make a profit but at what cost? Im sure they can come up with a better way

  • digg is a waste of time anyways
    go google, shut them down! 😀

  • I think it's great that they broke their contract with MSN to generate their ads. I think out of the couple years I've been on Digg, I've clicked on one ad for a hotel in Vegas…that's it. I agree with your comment, Brent…Digg has said many times that Digg is a democracy and it will listen to the users, but in the end, it's what is best for them and their company and they'll choose that any day over users' concerns/interests. Great post!

  • a very interesting development indeed. thanks for sharing Brent!

  • Wouldn't it be hilarious if Free Credit Report got dinged for buying links and Digg got dinged for selling them in one foul swoop? I'd say this is an egregious example of paid links, though Digg may have saved themselves by adding the NoFollow so quickly.

    The really funny thing here is that if Digg wasn't so "anti-SEO", some of the posts they've buried in the past could have provided them with the information they needed to avoid this episode altogether. I <3 irony! :)

  • Since the average visitor doesn't see nofollow, nofollow is not an acceptable form of disclosure. People need to stop using nofollow on outbound links if they are doing so only to "disclose" their links. Disclosure should be made to visitors in clearly visible text, not through hidden content.

  • Does "presented by" count as disclosure? As a link builder, I love seeing this. But I bet the click-throughs suck.

  • Nice — i think Digg deserves some money — what a great service they provide — no matter what you put on the web it will get manipulated, in some way — seo is taking place regardless and services like Digg simply provide an avenue for advertising — be it a link or a simple “check this out post” how u use it is the key to success!

    Keep up the good work diggers!

  • How has the Diggbar done away with Digg's authority level?

  • Actually they are suppose to take away the digg toolbar links unless you are logged in and didn't opted out of the toolbar

    Thus its back to normal old digg for PR juices