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Digg Has A Problem With SEO

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-12-27

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Some sort of battle between Digg's behind-the-scenes moderators and the SEO community came to a boiling point just before Christmas as Lee Odden's domain became part of Digg's banned list.

"Well, Mr. Dallas, we've heard your smut masquerading as songs, and we've heard how teen prostitution, pregnancy, drug use, cults, runaways, suicide and poor hygiene are sweeping this nation. We thought you might like to share with the committee any particular causes you might see for those latter problems."

"I dunno. Maybe the proliferation of narrow-minded, suffocating zealotry masquerading as parenting in this country."


-- Steve Dallas considers the problems of a young generation and tells Congress how those are being mishandled by people in control, from a long-ago Bloom County comic.

The social media site Digg enables the contribution of links to pages online containing items that may be of interest to Digg's visitors. Digg's users can vote up or down on those submissions, with the ones receiving the most votes making it to Digg's front page.

That can generate a big spike in short term traffic for a website. Naturally, sites that benefit from such traffic due to ad placements also benefit from the "Digg effect." This has led to some webmasters trying to find ways to get that traffic through any means possible.

It isn't known how long Digg has had moderators in place behind the scenes, and for some time they did not even admit to having them. But the potential for abuse probably made them necessary. Their actions have not always led to universal approval.

The SEO community seems to have earned blanket enmity from Digg's moderators. When news of Lee Odden's domain being banned became public, a long-seething problem between the two began to garner more notice.

A request for comment from Digg executives about Lee's situation has remained unanswered; Digg personnel have been very reticent on discussing their moderators or their impact on sites affected by their negative actions.

Lee confirmed his posted suspicions of Digg's actions in an email response to me:

Because someone or several people noticed several stories that concern SEO being submitted from our blog (not by me or my employees though) and certain influential Digg users that hate anything to do with SEO emailed spam complaints, dugg down a few recent stories and that was it.

The result has left Lee's TopRankBlog.com domain banned from Digg. Any attempt to submit a story where his domain in the URL fails with this message: url is on the banned submit list.

Lee isn't alone in Digg's Turkish prison for domains. Several other webmasters have reported problems with overzealous antispam policies implemented by Digg.

I chatted with Rand Fishkin, a frequent speaker at search-related conferences and an avid Digg user, about Lee's situation. He believes Digg editors hate SEO and will take any opportunity to ban a site to do so.

It isn't a one-sided problem, though. Rand noted how some SEOs have tried gaming Digg to get traffic. The response to this has been an overwhelming backlash against anything SEO-related.

"I've seen many dozens of articles on SEO get flagged for spam, and many that reached the front page (i.e. weren't flagged by the community) get pulled down very quickly for being on SEO-like subjects," said Rand. "It's a sad state of affairs that has heated up recently due to SEOs trying to game Digg more and more."

He also feels that Digg's actions against SEO have taken place as the editors and the community judge SEO by a few who have tried spamming Digg and similar sites.

"Judging any community by what a few of its more maligned members' behaviors is what creates prejudice and intolerance," said Rand. "Diggers (particularly the editors) should be smarter than this - after all, they hate being judged by what the 14-yr old Digg members write and do."

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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