Digg v4 is Losing Website Traffic at an Alarming Rate

Digg.com used to be one of my favorite sites on the web to check for breaking news, random interesting stories, funny comments and the occasional LOLcat. However, since they released the new version dubbed v4, it has been nothing but a colossal clusterf*ck. Kevin Rose’s cavalier attitude about how “nobody likes change at first”, which is true for the most part, but not when you completely abandon the fundamental core of the site. Anyways, the whole point that I started writing this post was to show how I am not the only person who does not like the new version of Digg. In fact, according to Alexa, Digg v4 is turning into a disaster and is actually losing website traffic at a rapid rate. Here are few snapshots from Alexa today:

Digg’s Alexa Traffic Rank:

Digg’s Daily Pageviews

Digg’s Pageviews Per User

Digg’s Time Spent on Site

Digg’s Bounce Rate

Now it doesn’t take a genius to see that the numbers shown in the graph below are not good. At all. And since Kevin Rose proudly proclaimed that it is impossible to switch back to Digg version 3 and that we will have to just get used to Digg version 4, it looks like we will be watching the demise of Digg as users flock to sites like Reddit or create their own sites to pick up where Digg v3 left off.

Here are my beefs with Digg v4 at the top of my head:

1. Publisher accounts – Digg was founded on community. Users submit stories and other users vote for them to make them popular enough to reach the homepage. But now with v4, so-called “publisher accounts” for selected partner websites are able to automatically syndicate every single one of their stories on Digg through an RSS feed. This change alone will be the ultimate downfall of Digg.

2. Trying to be too social – Digg made these changes to hopefully reach the mainstream status of Facebook and Twitter. And so they attempted to emulate them by turning Digg into a social network. The problem is, Digg is not a social network. Most of the users on Digg do not care about what their so-called friends are digging, mainly because nobody is actually friends in real life with anyone on Digg. And that’s perfectly okay. I don’t care about “following” anybody. I just care about interesting stories and links. A website can still be an enormous success with 30 Million visitors a month and doesn’t need to hit mainstream status to be insanely profitable.

3. New layout sucks

4. No bury button

5. Still has tons of random errors even 3 weeks after the launch of v4.

And on and on.

Alexa Toolbar Removal Tool – Uninstall Alexa Tool Bar

There is really no need for a specialized Alexa Toolbar Removal Tool. Just follow these instructions for removing the Alexa Toolbar from Internet Explorer if you are getting the errors “alexa user info tracking detected” from Symantec or McAfee. Luckily, all versions of the Alexa Toolbar come with an uninstall option. You either click on the down arrow by the Alexa logo and select Uninstall from the drop down menu. Or you can simply go to the Windows Start Menu and uninstall it via the Add/Remove Programs feature. That should take care of it.

Now that you have removed the Alexa Toolbar, now your best bet is to never install it again! Apparently some other software programs include it as part of their package so make sure to uncheck the Alexa option during the initial installation.

Alexa vs Compete vs Quantcast vs ComScore vs Hitwise vs Nielsen

All of these third-party analytic services are terribly inaccurate but will continue to be used until a more accurate tool is available. Below is an overview of the methodologies used for collecting data for each of these services:

Methodology: Captures traffic data from users who download and use the Alexa Toolbar in their web browser. They also claim to use other “diverse traffic data sources”, which is very vague.

Sample Size: There is no known number of current Alexa Toolbar users, but it is said to be in the “millions.” I would bet that size continues to decline as more and more spyware programs flag the Alexa Toolbar as spyware/adware and either uninstall or completely block installation of the toolbar in the first place.

Problems: Well, there are a few:

1. Easily skewed – Since the Alexa Ranking is determined by users who have the Alexa toolbar installed, it is often in the interests of a website owner to install the Alexa toolbar themselves to increase their own Alexa ranking. And that is precisely the case. That is why you will see most webmaster forums and SEO blogs have high Alexa rankings, even if they don’t get much traffic overall.

2. Easily manipulated – Even though Alexa claims they have since added measures to prevent intentional manipulation of their rankings, it is still possibly to increase your own Alexa ranking by installing the toolbar and visiting your own site. Try it out for 7 days straight and I guarantee your Alexa ranking will increase significantly.

3. Catch 22 – Most webmasters nowadays are aware that the Alexa ranking is often inaccurate and thus say “oh the Alexa ranking doesn’t mean anything.” But in reality, most of them do care about it because many advertisers use Alexa ranking data to determine which websites they want to advertise on. And people looking to buy a domain name or website will often do the same in determining the value of a site. So it’s a Catch 22 – the webmaster knows the data is inaccurate and shouldn’t care about it, but they do care about it because advertisers care about it. And that will continue to be the case until more accurate data is available.

Methodology: Captures traffic data from “diverse sources” such as the Compete Toolbar and ISP logs.

Sample Size: Approximately 2,000,000 U.S. users, or 1% of total market

Problems: While not as easily skewed or manipulable as Alexa, the sample size is so small that the data is often wildly inaccurate.

Methodology: Quantcast measures websites that have installed their tracking code directly in the HTML of the website

Sample Size: They claim to have 80,000 “Quantified Publishers” who have installed the tracking code across 10 million websites.

Problems: Again, the sample size. The majority of websites do not have the QuantCast tag installed on their site so it is impossible to compare the traffic of a website that is able to be directly tracked with their tracking code and ones that are not.

ComScore, Nielsen, HitWise (I am lumping these three together for the time being)
Methodology : Most of these get their data from willing participants. Their users agree to install survey software on their computers to track their usage. These companies also get data from ISPs.

Sample Size: 2 million to 10 million in the US

Problems : Sample size, sample size, sample size!

(I will continue this post later, I just had to get something written since I’ve been meaning to for quite some time!)